"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.
Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead

Building Futures, Inc.

Building Futures, Inc.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The night was a bit of a mixed bag.  I was exhausted, so I decided not to blog for the night.  Now, I’m 2 days behind and hoping to catch up.  Here goes.
These showerheads are horrible, and I’m sick of getting shocked.  The water that comes out of these unites is probably ½ the diameter of a pin.  Couple that with the fact that it comes out of the showerhead in 10 different directions. Ultimately, there’s no way to get wet. Andrea was really looking forward to hot shower, but I’m not sure today’s the day.  She wasn’t tall enough to reach the thermostat, so I had to stay close by.  I told her that I had an idea, but my record on ideas is not a stellar one.  She did finally emerge, though.  When I got in, I tested my idea and it worked for me although it did take time to manage. I cut the top of a large water bottle off and added the scalding water coming from the showerhead.  Because of the streams, it took awhile before I had a couple inches in the bottle.  It was hot enough that my fingertips were burning where they held the bottle. Because the shower/toilet/sink are all in one space, I took two steps toward the sink and added cold water until it was tolerable, then dumped it over my head.  It wasn’t ideal, but it worked.  When I got out, the ladies were finished packed and we (when I say “we” I mean “I”) were rushing to get downstairs in time to have breakfast before Isaac arrived and we started our drive to Masai Mara.
Don’t ask me why, but Karen, Ryan and Sue got a hard boiled egg and toast.  Andrea and I got a scrambled egg.  That was two days ago, so I’m not positive on the mix.  All I know, was that I was looking forward to a hard-boiled egg but was denied.  The conversation as we came down the stairs toward the restaurant area was illuminating. Although they had water last night, Ryan and Sue had none this morning.  Again, their tolerance and awareness of the locale was greatly appreciated.  Sometimes this happens, and it’s not always receieved well.  
Dabash came by as we were eating and asked “How was yoo-ah night?” I said it was fine, “but Sue and Ryan had no water this morning.”  He said, “Oh,” and followed it with, “but you had wah-tah?” pointing at me. I responded, “Yes,” and he said, “Okay, that’s good,” and walked away.  It made us all laugh out loud, and we continued to do so as we traveled.
We hopped in the jeep and headed for Masekonde Special Needs at about 9:30.  We picked up Sharon and Nasinkoi on the way and were greeted by Veronica and some of the other children when we arrived.  Brian was there, and Karen spotted him immediately.  Brian is a young Luo boy that Karen really connected with during her first trip to this school.  Their bond has only
grown stronger with each visit.  She was the last to emerge from the truck.  I blocked Brian’s view so that she could sneak around the jeep and surprise him.  He seemed puzzled that he didn’t see her once the car was empty, then she popped around the front of the car with a big smile and out-stretched arms.  He ran to her and gave her a long hug.  It was a sweet moment.  We entered the office and distributed the gifts to Veronica.  The puzzles with colors and letters were a big hit. Karen immediately started playing with Brian and Mwangi (who sat on a chair behind them).  She would point ask him to point out the letters as she sounded them out.  Ryan pumped up some balls (a soccer ball and a kick ball – no, they have no idea what kickball is) and played with some of the kids outside.  Sharon was in the mix, but Nasinkoi uncharacteristically stayed at a distance.  Mwangi’s

little sister came with him, so they were playing and laughing as they chased the ball that Ryan kicked.  He’s wonderful with the kids, and is quick to get them involved.  We finished handing out the supplies in the office – they should have enough standard pencils for the entire year!  They got enough colored pencils to last two!  They also got some other tools to help with their education. Then Andrea, Karen and I went outside to join in the laughter that we heard through the open door.
Once thing I forgot to mention was that the government had built a 4-classroom block next to the existing Special Needs Classroom.  Veronica explained that this was going to be a vocational school for them.  That’s awesome!  We were very excited to hear the news.  The fact that the government has recognized the need is great… the fact that they have acted upon it is miraculous!  They will now have the opportunity to learn how to sew and do beadwork as well as becoming more self-sufficient.  
The laughter outside was mixed between Sharon, Mwangi, his sister and Ryan.  Sue sat on the concrete slap porch outside the building and watched the fun.  As you’d expect, Karen and Mwangi joined right in.  Both balls went back and forth between all the participants until fatigue set in.  Mwangi was the first to head for the same pad Sue sat on.  Nasinkoi stayed quiet and she told us that she wasn’t feeling well. Actually, she told Veronica, who told us.  Isaac had made a quick trip to the bank to transfer some funds (probably for entumoto), and we informed him of Nasinkoi’s condition.  Sue was confident that she had a fever.  If I haven’t already told you, traveling in a third world country with a nurse is pretty handy.  She never complained once, but a tear would consistently roll down her cheek and she would quickly wipe it away.  Our hearts broke for her, so we cut the visit short so we could get her back to her mother. All the excitement and animation we had she exhibited over the last two days were gone.  We got to her home quickly and walked her to the door.  Her mom wasn’t in, so we called and waited for her to arrive.  Isaac didn’t tell her why we were back early for fear of scaring her.  I juggled some large stones while we waited, and a weak smile came across her face.  It was fleeting, and she nestled her head into Isaac’s chest where they sat.  Her mom arrived after a few minutes, and Isaa relayed our concerns to her.  We handed her 3,000ksh (about $30) so that she could go to the hospital and get medicine if needed.  It also covered transportation to get them both there and back.  She said she would keep us updated on her condition.
Back in the jeep and on to drop Sharon off.  She gave us big hugs as she got out, and disappeared toward her home.  Now we were headed for Leah who was working in her shop selling clothing.  
We never made it.
Everyone was snapping pictures of our surroundings.  The butcheries seem to be very popular.  Raw meat hanging in a window, unrefrigerated... this is after it's delivered on a motorcycle.  Always worth a pic.  We saw a Barrack Obama blanket hanging in front of a small shop and Isaac stopped so we could get a picture.  The shops are lined up along the meandering dirt road with alleyways dispersed from time to time.  The road is barely wide enough for two vehicles and people walking.  Just as Andrea snapped the picture, a woman walked by and thought was accidentally included in the shot.  As luck would have it, this was someone that did not want their picture taken.  Sometime it’s a legitimate concern, sometimes it’s an opportunity for a shakedown.  We weren’t sure which it was, we just knew that she was really not happy.  She glared at us as Karen yelled “Go, Isaac, go!”  There was some laughter as we slowly moved in traffic.  It ended when Andrea said, “Oh.  She has a machete now!”  She was walking parallel to us with her eyes fixed on the jeep.  It was like something out of a movie.  She walked behind the shops to our left and would disappear behind a shop before being spotted in between the adjacent one; her eyes still fixed on us.  Isaac quickly navigated down the street to create some space and stopped after a good distance.  He decided to have Leah come meet us rather than travel back up toward the woman with the machete.  Good decision.  She arrived quickly, and we learned that we’d be seeing her in a couple days as she would be joining us at the maternity grand opening.  The kids will come, too.
We stopped at a bank so I could get some funds and stopped at a coffee shop that we frequent en route. I’m not sure it happened in that order. Karen and I got vanilla milk-shakes and the others got lattes.  How they heat water to such extremes is beyond me.  I just couldn’t stomach the idea of holding a scalding hot cup in this heat, let alone drinking it.  The shake, on the other hand, was fabulous!  Isaac introduced me to another friend of his that came over to greet him. His name is George, and he’s a print journalist for a local news outlet.  We chatted for a bit, and he’s going to try and be at the maternity, too. We got back on the road, and I think is when we went to the bank because when I got back in the car, I didn’t have my laptop.  
Isaac didn’t want to leave it in the car (despite being parked in front of the large glass storefront) so he brought it inside the shop as we ordered our drinks.  When we left, it remained on a table in the window. When I noticed it was gone and asked if anyone happened to grab it, there were a lot of blank stares.  Isaac called the shop and it was still sitting where we left it.  George (the journalist) ran out of the shop towards the car with it in his hands.  He happily handed it to me smiling and saying “Safari njema” (safe journey).
Then we drove to Masai Mara.
Isaac said it was a 1½ and only 30km was dirt road.  The government contracted with a Chinese company to pave the entire road and that was all that was remaining.  I have to admit that I wasn’t buying it.  Not the Chinese involvement, but the time and distance references.  In my experience, Kenyans have no concept of either.  I kept those thoughts to myself, and instead we laughed and joked the entire way.  Seriously. It was a lot of fun talking about our adventures in Nakuru and Narok.  We are really having a wonderful time, and there have been really special moments every day.  
The trip began on that “30km” stretch of dirt road.  We weaved back and forth across the road trying to make lemonade out of lemons.  If we managed to make lemonade, it wasn’t very good.  We passed huge mounds of marrum waiting to be spread on the road, but I never saw any heavy machinery… I never saw machinery of any size!  Yet we drove on.  We passed young Masai children herding cows and still younger ones running to the road’s edge asking for money or candy.  After 30 minutes, we were on paved road.  It didn’t last  after another 30 minutes, we were back on dirt.  Not cool
At the 79 minute mark, things took a dark turn, but it’s not what you think.  The first 30 minutes were on dirt road, but we had been driving on pavement for almost 50 minutes.  I was in the front seat and  Isaac was obviously driving.  Sue was behind me with Andrea behind Isaac.  Karen and Ryan were in the 3 row of seats.  Sue said, “Issac, I think you have a problem with your windshield.” She was right.  The windshield had begun to fall into the car.  The top had come out of it’s rubber housing and was beginning to lean into the vehicle. Nobody was nervous or scared.  In fact, we laughed about it as he pulled over.  He got out of the car and immediately pulled out a key to try and pry the window’s edge back into it’s hiding place.  I pulled out my Leatherman hoping to make the job easier. I think it did… until the window cracked.  The fisher was in the upper corner of the window directly in front of me.  Before long, it was in the lower right corer, then another appeared, then another.  Another guide stopped by to assess the situation.  We decided to try and push the top half of the window to the outside and hope for the best.  The entire incident took 30 minutes.  We continued on.  Isaac stayed behind the wheel, shifting with his left hand.  Did I mention that it was also his left hand that was holding the windshield in place?  Yup, same one.  At one point, his phone rang and I said, “I can’t wait to how you’re going to manage this one, Issac.”  He laughed, and answered the phone. 
We switched back and forth; Isaac would hold the windshield, then me.  My side was the weakest point, and the cracks started to splinter off in different directions.  It didn’t look good at all, but it held up until we arrived at Sarova.  En route, Isaac called someone to have it fixed. It sounded like it was going to be done this evening. We were all just happy to get out of the car.  Because of some miscommunications, we were actually arriving a day early.  Sarova Mara was full and the only room left was a family tent that we had stayed in before when traveling with the family.  Sue and Ryan were on one side, and Andrea, Karen and I were on the other. The two rooms were separated by a common area.  The resort has several animals wandering around the grounds – dik dik, banded mongoose, bush babies and bush bucks (no relation) are usually seen throughout the day.  I stepped out of our tent for a moment and found a dik dik just off the walking path.
We reconvened for dinner and discussed the plans for the next couple days.  We were pretty confident that we would be doing this each day. This is not an easy country to solidify plans in.  Something always seems to make you have to adjust on the fly.  You know, like your windshield getting blown into the car. Just another day in paradise. 
Sarova Mara serves dinner buffet style, and they have something to cater to everyone.  Every night you’ll see Indian dishes, pasta, chicken, beef, fish, vegetables, salads etc.  It’s difficult not to find something you like.  I was thrilled to have a cold White Cap.  Although Tusker is the “official” beer of Kenya, White Cap is not as strong so it’s bit more refreshing.  It hit the spot.  So did the bed.  I’m two days behind on the blog, so this will have to be the best I can do.  If I think of anything I missed, you’ll be the first to know.

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