"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.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Saturday - July 21, 2012

We're leaving shortly, so I'll write some more when we get to the airport in Nairobi.  We have a 3 hour wait, so I should be able to accomplish something.  Check out is at 9am, so we'll go to the mall where the KFC is located.  It will give us some time to do a couple other things while we wait, too.  We downloaded some movies for Isaac's iPhone, and just talked.  It's a gorgeous mall, filled with some very nice shops.  I'd come back to this place in a heartbeat.  The traffic is horrendous, but only because they're in the middle of building a new road system to relieve the congestion.  Much like Kisumu mall, the 
"anchor" store is Nakumat.  Unlike Kisumu, this Nakumat was beautiful.  The floor was immaculate, the store was bright... and they had a croc section that Job inspected.

We decided against KFC after all.  I think that was a wise move.  We sat at the mall where it was located, and I transferred some movies for Isaac, and once again wrestled with the internet.  We got through this time, so it must have been something about the Royale Guest House that caused the problem.  I managed to get Thursday's blog posted while here in the airport, now I'll just add the pictues to this one, and I'll be done!  We were talking earlier, and we're going to try and stay on US time for the remainder of the trip in the hope of reducing the effects of jet lag.  It's 8am back home, so all we have to do is stay up for another 16 hours.  We've been up for 9 (Kevin's been up for 6) so that 25 hours.  This should be a cakewalk.  We can't fall asleep until we're on the plane for JFK.  We didn't get bumped for this flight, but it's only 5 hours flying back to Dubai.  The flight to NYC, however, is longer... 13 hours.  I think by then we'll be tired enough that we'll crash.  We are praying that we get moved into Business Class for that flight.  Please keep your fingers crossed-it makes a world of difference.

We're sitting at our gate in Jomo Kenyatta Airport in Nairobi, after seeing Job safely off, and one last "goodbye" to Isaac.  As we walked to the lounge we passed people of many different nationalities. Kevin said, "Mom would fit in great here.  Everyone says, 'The Facebook', 'The Twitter', 'The YouTube.'"  That one made me laugh, but just a little.  A couple just walked by us, and I said, "We should do that next time - matching shirts!"  Kevin added, "... and pants... and crocs."  Okay, maybe we won't do that next time.

I just hung up with Isaac who sends his greetings to everyone back home and hopes to sees us all soon. He's anxious to Skype with the entire family after we get home.  Here's the last picture taken before we left.  We're going to miss him.

See you in Dubai, unless the internet is horrible.  In that case, we'll just see you at JFK.  As I recall, despite the cutting edge airport in Dubai, the internet is dial-up at best.

Friday - July 20, 2012

We left for the airport at 7am, and got there in plenty of time.  The internet connection has been a problem as of late, but I don’t know why.  It indicates that I’m connected, but I can’t get to any website.  Last night I was trying to figure out what our baggage weight limit was.  I didn’t manage to get to the site until close to midnight, and it wasn’t the news I was looking for… both bags were overweight.  No big deal, I just distributed the items among three bags. It worked out better than I expected, and at 1:30am I was back in bed.

Samuel and Caleb wanted to come with us to “push us off,” but we had a smaller vehicle, so they weren’t able to join us.  Samuel insisted that we stop at Chulembo on the way to the airport. As we approached the small town, Samuel was sitting on his bicycle, waiting for us.  Two more back breaking hugs, and we returned to the vehicle.  He’s a good man.  He took great pride in the fact that while we were skyping yesterday,  Andrea asked him if he was taking care of Kevin.  He talked about it most of the night.  We got back into the Prado, and off we went… Samuel continuing to wave as we vanished in the distance.

The flight was uneventful.  A little late due to the fog, but it didn’t interrupt our plans at all.  It was Job’s first flight!  I asked him if he was nervous, and he said no.  He enjoyed looking down on the changing landscape very much.  Kevin (who was seated next to him) was not so thrilled.  All he wanted to do was sleep (do you sense a theme with him?).  Every time the steward came by, Kevin was hit in the arm, “Kevin, water?”  “Kevin, nuts?”  They laughed about it later.  It’s only a 40 minute flight, so I don’t think it really matters in the long run.

He can’t be too tired.  While I’m typing this blog, he’s down at the exercise room with Job.  Yes, I said, “Exercise Room.”  The Royale Hotel in Karen is just outside of Nairobi.  It’s beautiful.   Karen is apparently a rather affluent area, and it shows.  We’ll be joining Isaac for a barbecue downstairs tonight… after Kevin and Job exercise, then take a swim (yes, there’s a pool, too… and a sauna and a spa!).  Here’s the view from the window.  The town Karen is apparently the "Beverly Hills" of Kenya. And what other name could you give it than "Karen?"

What a day we had.  We sat and had lunch at the hotel first.  Then we went to the Giraffe Park.  It was awesome.  Andrea and the girls would have loved it!  We’ll definitely come back.  They take care of an endangered species of giraffe here, and you can tell they’re well cared for.  We were able to feed them by hand, only because Job and Kevin were afraid to put a pellet in their mouth for the giraffe to take it.  I wasn’t afraid at all!  The giraffe we were feeding by hand walked away to be with the other 5, so the workers had to call them over.  The tallest one slowly made her way over.  I gave Isaac the camera, put the pellet in my mouth, and WHAM!  I think she should have sent flowers first!  I got giraffe saliva from my chin to the tip of my nose.  Next came Job, then Kevin, with similar responses.  I needed Kevin to go twice, though, because I she grabbed the pellet so quickly, I missed the shot.  He later tweeted his friends that he kissed a giraffe twice.  My favorite response came from his friend Meg who immediately said, “TAKE THE MEDICINE!”  We were seated in a bar having a Tusker when he got that response, and it made the entire group laugh out loud.  She said she’d think about going with us.  I think she’d be a blast!

We got dropped off at the park by one of Isaac's friends, and we were close enough that we could walk back.  After 3/4 of a mile, Isaac asked if we wanted to stop and get something to drink.  I thought he meant water, but he wanted a Tusker!  We stopped at a club, and everyone had something.  Apparently, this place is packed with people dancing. There's a pool table in the back, too.

We came back to the hotel, and now we’re waiting to meet for dinner.  I can hear Kevin lifting weights with Job.  His voice is unmistakable.   It sounds more like he’s teaching Job how to lift weights.  I couldn’t believe the amenities at this place. If you ever get stuck in Nairobi, this is the place I’d go.  Isaac gave us some great news, too.  Between our traveling group to Kenya, and the nurses form Wegmans School of Nursing at St. John Fisher, he got together with his brothers (who are also guides at Masai Mara) and formed a travel company - Leopard Claws Safari.  Isn’t that awesome!?  Now, all we have to do is call him to set us up in any camp!  Perfect.  We’ve already begun planning the next trip.  Rather than fly to Nairobi and then to Masai Mara, he will come pick us up in vans like the one pictured (not matatus) and take a 3 hour drive to Narok.  There, we’ll have dinner with his family and spend the nice at a nice hotel.  The next morning we take a 2 hour drive to Masai Mara and the sight seeing begins.  There’s more to discuss, but it sounds like a very cost-effective and enjoyable way to go!  We’ll see.

I’m going to try to post this as soon as I get service.  It hasn’t started yet, so I’m not hopeful.  I still need to add the pictures to this blog, as well as yesterdays, so I can post that too.

Andrea, Katie and Karen would have loved this part of the trip.  Between spending quality time with Isaac, the Giraffe Park and the beauty of Karen (not you, honey, the town), it would have been fabulous.  

I’m still wrestling with the modem while we wait for dinner at 7:30pm, and here’s the exchange I had with Kevin,

Kevin - “Do you think we should take the medicine because a giraffe licked us?” 
Dad – “No.”
Kevin – “Bacteria, man!”
Dad – “Did his tongue go in your mouth?”
Kevin – “Well, no, at least I don’t think so.  Actually, I think I’d have known.”
Yes, I think he would have… the sucker was about 9 inches long.
Dinner was outstanding!  Isaac wanted to take us to a barbecue, and the best part was that we didn’t have to go far – it was here!  We had goat and chips (French fries).  I was a bit leery, because the last time I had goat it was very gamey.  That was during the celebration of the completion of Mbaka Oromo Primary School.  They walked the goat passed me, then brought him back on a plate.  I didn’t get to see him beforehand on this occasion, but I’ve got to tell you, he was tasty.  It was the equivalent of a mild lamb.  Fabulous.  Kevin even like it, although I’m pretty sure he liked the chips more.  He said, “Mom would have like this.”  I don’t think so; she’s definitely not a lamb person.  I’m sure she’d at least try it.  

We got back to our room at about 9pm to try and skype one last time, but no luck.  I’m not sure what the deal is with the modem, but it’s very frustrating.  At least when I do get service I’ll be able to post these in succession – all I have to do is cut and paste.   It’s actually quite cold here, so I’m sure we’ll sleep soundly.  I don’t think it’s above 65 at the moment, with a light rain.  Kevin convinced Isaac that we should go to a place that we passed on the way here from the airport.  It’s actually about 5 minutes from this hotel.  Would you believe we saw a KFC?  I don’t think I want KFC before a 1 hour flight, so my stomach’s already upset thinking about having it before a 6 hour flight, then a 13 hour flight.  Ugh, no thank you.  Well, maybe I’ll have a taste.  I can’t imagine it’s anywhere as near as plump as a US KFC.  They probably just deepfry the bones with the crunch on the outside and the inside.

See you all tomorrow

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Thursday - July 19, 2012

We got to the school by 8am.  Job had some family issues to contend with, so he apologetically arrived at around 9am.  We met with Charles again to discuss procedures.   Just to break up the monotony, we went to the courtyard to take some more pictures of the kids.  Wendy continues to wear her backpack (that still looks completely full) and it would appear she’s a big fan of crocs (sorry Amie). Simon’s (contractor) arrival was a God-send.  That meant we had to head up the hill to dig.

The placenta pits would have to wait – the septic tank was more pressing.  This one was about 10’x20’ and would eventually be 5’ deep.  We dug for a while, giving the fundis a rest.  They laughed as we dug.  Kevin was hoping that we had more spades to use, so I went down to the Primary School to inquire.  Another organization was building a latrine here.  In fact, it was being dug when we arrived.  As soon as I saw it, I knew there were going to be problems.  First, it was about 10’ from the classrooms.  2nd, it was at one of the lowest parts of the property!  Normally, latrines are 15’ deep.  They hit the water table at 8’.  So they moved it.  They started digging a few days ago because Marlene (from P.A.L.S.) came running into the office, “They need to stop digging, you can’t put a latrine 2’ from a garden!”  She makes a valid point.  I’ve digressed a bit, but they are now digging a latrine on a higher spot far from the garden.  What brings this story full circle is that the spades they were using were purchased by Building Futures.  This is where the politics come in… and the “possession is 9/10ths of the law.”  Long story short, we made due with what we had. 

It was then time to “take tea.”  Nothing’s better than hot tea on a 90 degree day while your digging a ditch.  Kevin drank water and I had tea as we sat with some of the members of the clinic committee, Job and Samuel.  Groundnuts (peanuts) are always present, as was bread with olio.  After a few minutes, Samuel went and picked some avocados from his home.  They are significantly larger than the ones back home, and much sweeter.  I made avocado sandwiches.  We even got Kevin to try it, and he said, “not bad.”  I don’t know why, but they’re just different in Kenya… I would say that the taste is sweeter and cleaner.  We told stories while we ate, and when our bellies were full, we returned to the pit.  I made sure to put some suntan lotion on Kevin and I because the sun was peaking and it was really burning down on us.  We dug for a bit more.

Simon, Job and I left Kevin and Caleb digging with the fundis so that we could talk about the next series of structures to be built.  Kevin later told me that the fundis were impressed that he didn’t get any blisters after digging for so long.  He explained to him how his hands get tough from lifting weights at university.  They joked around with him while they were working. 

Kevin joined us a little later to take part in the conversation regarding the potential work to be done at the Primary and Secondary Schools.  We’ll get some additional quotes for Charles, but Simon’s work is excellent, and more importantly, he can be trusted.

It was close to 3pm by now, and time for lunch (yes, 3pm, lunch).  Samuel had killed two of his chickens for us.  We began the walk over to the secondary school where lunch would be served.  We had some time while they prepared, so we paced of a potential site for a science lab and administrative block.  We moved around a bit and discussed what our options were.  The secondary school sits on a pretty good-size piece of land, and the layout is perfect for additional rooms.  We were told that lunch was ready, so we made our way to an empty classroom.  Samuel, however, had taken Kevin by the arm and taken him behind the classroom.  I didn’t give it another thought, but it made me think of someone being “taken out behind the woodshed.”  I was telling the story to the remainder of the group, and they told me they didn’t think Samuel would be beating Kevin.  I agreed, and realized that the story was lost on them.  The both emerged before we made it to the classroom door.  Kevin walked up to Job and said, “Sam is not bald.”  Job cried out!  Samuel finally showed Kevin his hair… underneath the head garment that he wears are 12” long dreadlocks that nobody has seen, and I mean nobody; except for Kevin.  Job began peppering Kevin with questions, and his answer was always the same, “That’s between Samuel and I.”  Samuel grinned with pride from across the table.  More stories were told, this group is big on parables, as we ate.  Because we were leaving for another round of skyping, we said our goodbyes to the majority of the group and pushed on.

We went beyond the secondary school, almost to the field that is used for sports.  We found a nice patch of grass that was devoid of ants and sat down.  Susan, Emmah and Danton were already walking toward us to help close the distance that much faster.  They had remembered that we told them we would skype Andrea and Karen.  This is a real treat for them, and they love it.  I signed onto the computer, and sat Emma and Susan right next to each other.  I got Karen on Skype, then put the computer on the girls legs.  They were front and center when Karen said, “Hi girls!”  Smiles immediately came across their faces.  They speak very softly when we’re around so we constantly have to tell them the need to be loud.  They just seemed to sit in amazement that Karen, who was now joined by Andrea and our friend/interior designer John on the computer screen.  More smiles, and whispered “Hi.”  Their little brother Danton came in to joined in on the fun, so I place him behind the girls so he could see Andrea and Karen, and they could see him. Samuel and Job enjoyed it, too.  “Hallo, Hallo!” he’d shout, “How are you my friends? I miss you!”  Andrea asked, “Are you taking care of Kevin?”  “Yes, yes, yes,” he replied, “He is my good friend!”  Job then began teasing Karen about the dogs.  “I’m bringing a spear and I’m going to eat one of them while you are sleeping.”  It made the girls on this side laugh just as much as the girls on the other side of the camera.  To be honest, he seems more interested in Sox.  In fact, when Karen walked away from the camera to get Ann (we were getting ready to sign off), he was calling to Sox, who was still in the frame.  He was very disappointed that Sox didn’t come closer.  “Yes, that’s the one.  Katie will forgive me.”  This guy just cracks me up.  I can only imagine what Katie would be saying if she were there.  Andrea came back and asked where Kevin was.  He had found Bruce, Susan’s cousin and was playing with him through most of the skyping episode.  The talking was often interrupted by Bruce’s giggling as Kevin would pick him up high off the ground and hold him in the air while tickling him.  He put Bruce  down for a moment and brought his head into the screen.  “Hi everyone,” he said, then returned to Bruce.  We signed off and started heading over to see Ester (their grandmother) to say goodbye to her.  As we walked, Kevin said, “Mom’s got Susan, Karen’s got Emmah, now I have Bruce.  Katie’s going to have to find someone from this family soon.”

Ester was delighted to see us, and even though we were only able to stay for a short while, she insisted we take a papaya with us as we leave.  Before we walked out the door, Susan tugged on my shirtsleeve and in a sweet little voice said, “Where is Ann?”  Emma, almost at the same time, did the same thing with Kevin, “Where is Karen?”  We again told them how much the girls missed them and that they would come back as soon as possible to see them.  They ran out of the house with smiles on their faces.


We went back to the primary school to say goodbye to Charles and any other teacher still left. It was now after 5:30pm.  We started the walk to Maseno.  Samuel and Caleb came with us to keep us company and show us a shortcut.  Well, at least they kept us company.  Although they said we’d avoid the hill, we ran into two more.  I practice my Luo and Kiswahili on passers by.

Job was waiting for us at the guesthouse.  He went on ahead of us to to print out the tickets for tomorrow morning.  We’re going to bring Job with us when we go to see him and his family in Nairobi.  I took everyone across the street for dinner at the Green Park Tavern.  Good food and more pleasant conversation.  By 8pm, it was time to move on.  The plane tomorrow leaves at 8:30am now, instead of 11:30 like before, so there’s not much time to rest.  It’s already 11:30pm, so I won’t be getting much sleep tonight.  Please forgive me if there are too many typos or sentences that just don’t make sense.  Ni mechoka sana (I’m very tired).

Then next time we speak, we’ll be in Nairobi wih Isaac.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Wednesday - July 18, 2012

It’s 8:45pm, and we’ve only just returned to our room.  Kevin and I are completely whipped.  We spent the day running around to see different people.  We started with a meeting to discuss equipment needs, then went to Huma Girls Secondary School to visit with the Headmistress, Mareb.  Our attention will turn to her once the clinic project is over.  She has a beautiful school, (pictured left) and she runs it very well.  The girls are triple bunked and are crammed in like omena (sardines in Kenya).  Mareb had just had an operation to remove her appendix and she was still recovering. She is staying in a home on the school grounds, so that is where we visited her.  She introduced us to a young girl whose parent cannot afford to send her to school.  She always finishes in the top 4 for the school, but constantly gets sent home because she can’t pay her school fees.  She does so well, though, that Mareb has been trying to find her a sponsor.  She wants to be a doctor, and is relentless at finding ways to stay in school despite the problem with the fees.  One time, she was sent home and rather than traveling the 30 miles to her parents, she stopped in the next town and convinced a woman to pretend to be her mother and plead with the school to keep her.  It was only during the interview process that they learned that this woman was a stranger.  She’s one resourceful young girl.  She’s in Form 3, which means she’s a junior in high school. She is truly a delightful girl, and based on her grades, she should be given an opportunity to become a doctor!  We'll will definitely sponsor this girl!  She will do well in life, and the small part we play in pushing her through will be paid back tenfold when she becomes an MD.  I have no doubt that a girl this resourceful will not stop until she reaches her goal.

We then went to the Chulembo Hospital to meet with the administrators that came to the clinic the other day.  The hospital is more of an HIV center, but the government is adding a facility to make them more well-rounded.  Tom was excited about the project… it will take a lot of pressure off of the Chulembo Hospital – the people to the north no longer have to travel so far, so they will come to Mbaka Oromo instead.

The next stop was Margaret at the Grail Center.  Jim and I used to stay with her when we were here.  Her place is a little bit further down the road, so it requires a matatu ride  before you can begin walking.  She has a main house with 4-5 rooms it, and because Jim and I always talked to her about building a facility for visitors can stay, that project has begun.   The first floor is almost finished, and we went up to the second to see the view.  In my backpack is a small stuffed animal that is pictured here, overlooking the valley.  Karen gives me a stuffed animal every time I travel, and I always keep it with me.  He finally got to see some daylight today!

Our next appointment was with Hilda Aiyeko, the public health officer that has been involved with the clinic project from day 1.  Our 2pm appointment got changed to a 3:30 appointment because she had to conduct a polio clinic in western province.  We had some time to kill (it was only 1pm), so we went to Kit Mikayi. 

It’s a small area with a bunch of really big rocks.  I had driven by this place numerous times, but never gone in.  There’s a lot of history behind the rocks, both figuratively and literally.  Legend has it that the first man in this area made his home in the rocks, and named the area “Kit Mikayi” (First Wife).  It was a place of worship before it became a place of war.  People would seek refuge in the rocks, as well as attack from the vantage point they provided.  Many tribes still travel here to pray and worship.  Wax drippings are in several places where pilgrims would place pictures of their loved ones, or their god(s).  We encountered two such people when we were there.  We were told that there are usually many more.  We made our way through the rocks to the outside, then climbed toward the top.  These things are absolutely huge.  It was amazing to see.  Kevin and Job went with the man showing us around to a specific stone.  They shimmied there way around it, and it was obviously a bit harrowing, because Kevin’s face spoke volumes when he came around to where I could see him.  He told me that he had to stay on his toes has he slid around a 2” ledge, with nothing really to grab onto besides the curvature of the rock.  It was about 100’ down.  They both made it around, however, and should be commended for it. 

We got to the bottom of the rocks, and were met by widows dancing, and singing Luo songs.  Our driver Moses joined in the dancing, and while they were circling a small blanket, the must have noticed me moving back and forth with the tune.  The oldest woman in the group left the circle and pulled me in.  Kevin found it quite humorous.  I owe Andrea a dance or two when I get home.

We thanked them for their hospitality, and went on our way.  We made it to Hilda’s office by 3:15.  She showed up at 4.  Karibu Kenya.  She really didn’t have time to see us, but she made some.  It was actually very kind of her to do so.  We took a good chunk of time, out of a day that she really didn’t have.  We talked a bit about the additional structures needed, and the final requirements necessary before the government takes over with staffing.  All seems to be going according to schedule and there should be no reason that the clinic can’t open before the end of the year.  We will begin purchasing equipment in October.

We headed into Kisumu for dinner.  On the way, I took a picture of a sign that I saw on the way out.  It’s the first “no pooping” sign I’ve ever seen.  I don’t even know what it means!  Are they talking about animals or people?  Job didn’t even know wat it meant!  Then we came upon a checkpoint so I thought I’d snap some pictures so you’d have a better understanding of what it looks like.  There’s a hunk of medal laying across both lanes with railroad spikes sticking out of it – there’s no way a car could get past them.  It’s looks mideval, but it does the trick.

Kevin and Job were jonesin’ for a pizza.  I ran into Nakumat to get some much needed minutes for my phone, and we ate to our hearts content.  The ride home was interrupted with a stop at Moses’ house so we could switch vehicles.  We got the better end of that deal.  We got out of the matatu and into the prado.  Any vehicle with a suspension and shock absorbers is ok with me.  The roads here are absolutely hellish.  Here are pictures of both.

Here we are, back in bed. I don’t have the strength to write too much today, and I could use some extra sleep before digging begins tomorrow (finally).

The last few days are always the hardest.  As we continue to visit people and complete tasks, there are always times where I wish Andrea or Katie or Karen, or any combination, were here with us.  Sometimes because I think they’d enjoy it (like Kit Mikayi), and sometimes because I just want them near me.  I miss them more and more each day, and can’t wait to see them on Sunday. Soon, very soon. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tuesday - July 17, 2012

Another day, another run.  It’s pitch black at 6am, so we had to wait until 6:45.  Although the land appears level, there are enough little holes that Kevin would certainly break his neck.  That wouldn’t be good.  The sun was just clearing the trees when he finished.

We returned to the Guest House to find that Josephat was nowhere to be found.  He holds the key to the locker that holds the keys to the rooms.  You’ll probably have to read that a couple times before you grasp the concept.  As people leave, you leave your skeleton key behind.  It’s attached to a wooden block with your room number on it.  When you return, you retrieve the key.  It’s a simple process that usually works.  Josephat (or whoever is running the place at the time) lives in one of the rooms and is always there.  Except now.  It took another 30 minutes before I went behind the counter to find that the key was never locked up.  That was very fortunate.

We quickly changed and headed for the school. 

We got there by 8 where we took pictures during the assembly and met, once again, with Charles, the headmaster.  Another 2 hour meeting – Kenyans can talk.  There’s no such thing as a “yes or no” question.  Every response is lengthy, and includes stories and pregnant pauses.  I finally convinced him that we could not wait for tea and we headed for the clinic.  Simon had not arrived with the fundis yet.  We can’t dig until Simon arrives.  Welcome to Kenya.  Planning anything is difficult, because there are rarely guarantees… even when you fly half way around the world to be here.
 We made some phone calls and sent emails in an attempt to set up an appointment with the American Embassy to get Job a visa to visit the US.  When we finished that, we received 4 visitors.  They came walking up the dirt path with John Ogungo and the area Chief.  They came from the Chulembo Hospital and were here to inspect the clinic and house.  They apparently have been discussing the site for quite sometime but had not seen it.  Now they have!  They were impressed with both structures.  In fact, two of them commented that they would like to be the ones to move into the house!  “Beautiful,” they said when they entered.  Immediately, the cameras came out and people started taking pictures.  The same events occurred at the clinic.  On behalf of the community, they thanked and praised us for the work we are doing.  They assured us that they would do anything they can to help get the facility registered with the government.  They thought the site was so beautiful, they asked if we could take their picture in front of it.  They asked me to join, too… bad day to wear my “Fly like a G6” t-shirt.  We will visit them at the Chulembo Hospital after Hilda’s visit.  They can give us additional advice on purchasing equipment for the clinic.

We then ventured back down the hill to play with the children while they were on their 30 minute break.  We’ll have to remember to bring jump ropes with us.  They don’t have rope, so they use long thick weeds tied together.  It’s pretty impressive, actually.  They had just finished playing double dutch when they dropped the “rope.”  I picked it up, asked Kevin to hold the camera, and much to their surprise (and mine) I jumped rope for about 5 minutes.  They all giggled and cheered.  When I stopped they asked me to juggle, so I did.  They handed me three pieces of brick, so everytime the pieces collided, little specks would fly into my eyes.  They thought that was funny too.

We then moved over to watch Susan and her friends playing a game that looked like hopscotch, but even Job wasn’t able to figure it out.  I’ll have to ask her about it the next time I see her.  Kevin continued to play with the children.  What starts out as primarily boys, soon turns into everyone under the age of 10.  He lie the pied piper.

We then went back up to the clinic to meet with Simon.  He was supposed to come with the fundis and start digging, but his mom’s passing took precedence.  He still came, although alone, and sat with us for an hour talking about construction at this site, as well as what was needed at the primary and secondary schools.  He is a good man, and doesn’t mind people watching over his shoulder.  In fact, he was happy to have Samuel overseeing the supplies.  He thought it was an excellent idea.

The matatu that was supposed to pick us at noon showed up at 2pm.  We then made our way to Kisumu for kuku at Mamba’s.  They bring out plates of chips (French fries) first, then bring out the whole chicken and cut it up for you… in our case, it was 3 chickens.  Job, Caleb, Samuel, Kevin and I (along with our driver Benson) devoured all of it.  It was a nice treat for the group.  Job and I thought it would be good to get all of the Building Futures employees together away from the school to talk about projects, and that is exactly what we did.  It was lively conversation that was incredibly informative.  Kevin and I both left much wiser than when we arrived.  Samuel, especially, doesn’t get to Kisumu often, so even the trip there was something of a treat.

We then had to return to the Masai Market to pick up some “special request” items that Andrea talked to me about the day before.  Job and Kevin came to supervise because they think I buy too many things.  We were looking for masks… very specific masks, and fortunately I found one; literally.  There was only one of these masks in the entire market.  I dickered as best I could, and we ended up leaving with two backpacks full of items… again.  I just love this place.

The van ride back was uneventful until the first police check.  They stop every vehicle and look inside – again due to Al Shabaab.  This stop was particularly interesting.  The van stopped, and as the officer approached the car he said, “Samuel,” with a wave.  The entire car too a breath in disbelief.  I don’t think we exhaled until the brief conversation they had was over.  It happened to coincide with the officer waving us on.  We drove through the road block where two officers with rifles waved us over.  Next thing we know, they open the door and get in, sitting down in front of Job and I.  I turned behind me and looked at Kevin.  He was pale and wide-eyed.  They closed the door, and the van drove on.  We were just giving them a drive to Maseno.  Job and Caleb spent the next 15 minutes trying to figure out how Sammie know the first officer that stopped us.   He refused to tell them, saying, “It was official business.”  I could see him grinning in the rear view mirror.  You have to understand that Sam is older than all of us, so he likes to take advantage of opportunities like this to get under their skin.  Job is 26, Caleb is 29 and Samuel is 56.  I started talking to the officers about what their work and how it was assigned.   Then I told them the story about Kevin’s first trip here and how he woke up with a gun in his face.  They thought it was much funnier than Kevin did.  Our friends were dropped off at the Chulembo stop, and we continued on to Maseno where we disembarked a few minutes after the officers.

Kevin called home to talk to his mom and sister, then I took the phone for a few minutes.  I’ve been trying to type the blog during the day, and I’ve managed to catch up this evening.  I plan on finishing at 8pm so Kevin and I can watch a movie together.  We’ve been trying to do it since we got here, but one of us always falls asleep.  It should work tonight.  We wish you could all join us!

Here's a picture of Kevin's drawers drying outside the guest house.  Nice.