"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.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

I got a half-decent night’s sleep.  I think I fell asleep around 11:30 and woke up at 5.  Considering the previous 7 days, 5 ½ hours is pretty good.  I’m going to try very hard to beat that record tonight.
As it turned out, I was the only resident in the building they placed me.  6 rooms, 1 guest.; not bad at all.  When I opened the gate to leave, a bellman appeared out of nowhere, and he was rewarded for his perfect timing.  The smallest bill I had was a 500ksh note.  I handed it to him say, “Good timing.”  He grinned from ear-to-ear saying “Asante sana!” (Thank you) repeatedly.  I said “Sawa, sawa, karibu.” (it’s ok, you’re welcome).
I met Isaac at the reception desk just after 7.  There weren’t too many people milling about, as the early morning game drives depart before 6:30am.  In there place stood a couple small travel groups waiting for their transportation to take them back to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.  I settled the bill and walked with Isaac to the car.  En route, Isaac asked if it was okay if we bring one of his friends with us – he was also on his way to Narok, and a ride will save him from hiring a matatu.  I didn’t have a problem with it.
Once in the car, Isaack carefully backed out of the parking spot.  He stopped, put the car in drive and was staring at the dashboard.  Before I could say, “Is everything ok?” he said, “I think we have enough to get there.”  It wasn’t at all convincing.  “No, no no,” I said, “We are not taking a chance on running out of gas!”  Isaack was laughing before I finished the sentence.  “Okay, okay,” he said through his smile.  We got another 9 liters and proceeded out of Sarova.  The sign just outside the exit warned of “Wild Animals Roaming Free, DANGER.”  I guess if you get past the armed guards so that you can go for a run, that sign is the last line of common sense).  We picked up two more ‘hitchhikers” - a young boy and girl waiting for a matatu to take them to school.  Their mother’s were there selling curios to the tourists who have to stop at the entrance gate. Despite my inability to speak or understand Maa (the language Masai speak) I could tell they were pleading with Isaac.  He turned and looked at me and ten minutes later we were on the road to Narok with three passengers.
 I don’t know how, but I think the road is worse in this direction! I had to push my teeth back in every 15 minutes.  Perhaps I should have timed it with the poor guy that was throwing up every 20.  I felt bad for him… after 90 minutes, Isaac was asking if he had malria.  Fear not, the man is okay.  Isaac saw him one hour after the trio disembarked and he was fine.  Motion sickness is not exclusive.
The migration has begun a month earlier than usual as evidenced by large herds of impala and zebra we passed long after we exited the park.  I was surprised to see so much trash on the ground.  The majority of the refuse was simply plastic bags, but they were everywhere.  You don’t see anything like this inside the park, and it’s sad to see it at all here on the open land.  Isaac said that it would only take an area governor to organize people that would walk through and pick everything up.  The desire, however, is just not there.  If the government doesn’t care about the road that leads toone of largest revenue generators in the country, why should the people care about the trash littering the countryside.  We’ll soon find out, because the drivers will be starting a strike on July 1st.  They’ll park their vehicles in Narok where the dirt road begins and no one is able to pass in either direction.  People get stuck inside the park and outside the park until someone from the government shows up to appease them by providing a date in the near future when the road will be paved or graded.  They’ve been saying they’re going to pave it, but I’ve been hearing that for 7 years.  At best it will be graded.  That should last about 3 months.
There was a lot more traffic on the road today, so there was extra dust getting kicked up, and we only passed one broken down van.  I was elated when I finally saw the tarmac approaching.  I don’t know if the vibrating car had any effect on me, but the sun beaming into the car was giving me the nods.  Tonight might be my best opportunity to get some sleep.  It’s only 9pm!  I might get to sleep before 10.
Isaac wanted to take me to a curio shop next to the Kenol gas station.  It was actually one of the first ones that I was ever in, although they’ve definitely downsized.  I later learned that the rains forced two shops to evacuate.  It also severely damaged all the dirt roads through the small villages on either side of the asphalt.  It also explains why they’re digging what looks like a moat along all those same dirt roads.  The drainage has been so bad as of late, that Narok was flooded, the streets were destroyed and, worst of all, two people lost their lives.  The roads are so bad that I actually thought the car might flip over at one point.  Again, I don’t know how he manages driving over the deep crevasses in the road.  I thought to myself, “This is how the Grand Canyon started.”
Eventually we made it to the office of Vivian Mpetti.  She’s the local government executive in charge of community development.  She was all smiles as we entered her office.  We were about 20 minutes late, but not because of Isaac’s driving.  It was because the he should run for office.  From the security guard that let us onto the facility, to the receptionist, to the woman making copies, to the girls in the hallway, to the military men in the hallways… every single one of them called to him and gave him a hearty, “Jambo sana… long time…”  If he had any interest in politics, he’d be a shoe-in.  Fortunatley for the current governer, he’s not interested in the least.
We sat at the two chairs in front of her desk after greeting her.  Isaac filled her in on who I was and what our plans were.  I repeated most of it with more detail and started an exchange with her regarding next steps.  It was an easy conversation because she had already heard about me before I got there.  This is a pretty big city, so I was surprised.  She gave us some ideas on how to avoid a couple of steps towards getting quotations from contractors and assured us that the county government is eager to help.  She also added that it doesn’t hurt that we’re in an election cycle.  The national government would love to have some “wins” in the books.  She informed us that there was a birthing center built on the opposite side of the park.  She thought it might be helpful to get those plans and then scale it up or down depended upon what our needs were.  She said there should be 3 rooms: pre delivery, delivery and post delivery.  I said we were going to do 4 because we didn’t want to completely eliminate the midwives from the process.  The additional room will be a consultation room for them.  In all actuality we’ll have 5 rooms so that we can accommodate to deliveries.  She thought that both ideas were wonderful, so 5 rooms it is!  We said our goodbyes and left her office.  Then we said our goodbyes to everyone else.
We got outside and before Isaac turned on the car, he said, “Oh.  So sorry.  I forgot to take a picture.”  We were only gone 3 minutes, but it was like the people inside had already begun to miss him.  He is clearly loved in this community, but what’s not to live.  He is probably the most amiable person I know and he’s always eager to help or please… whichever is needed at the time. I can’t imagine anyone having a disliking for him.  I just don’t think that’s possible.
We went back in and Vivian laughed as Isaac took our picture.  She put her hand on her cheek as if she was thinking (and she probably was) so I said, “Perfect! Don’t move, you look like you’re making a very serious decision.”  She laughed out loud again, but it was after Isaac snapped the picture.  It came out beautifully and she was very pleased with it, too.
We left for the second time and made phone calls trying to get the plans from the other birthing center.  We had some luck and should be fetching it later in the day. 
We went back to Isaac’s home for lunch where his wife Leah was preparing rice and goat stew.  Before we went into the home, Isaac had to give me a tour.  It’s been a few years since I’ve been there, and there have been many changes.  His home is really attractive, and he’s still making improvements.  Leah’s growing sugar can and bananas in the back. Isaac built a second home next to his and will be renting it out soon.  The revenue generated will pay for their children’s (Caleb,8 and Tatiana,5) fees.  There’s also a room inside their home that doubles as a shop with a window on the end so people can come and buy… you guessed it, goat milk!  He next told me the changes that are in the works: water tank on the roof, gas heater for the water, septic tank for the indoor plumbing and a second rental house next to the new one.  He’s quite the entrepreneur.  We then entered his home and after a chai (tea made with goat milk), she brought out plates and the food.   The chai was presweetened.  For me, it was like drinking a sweet tea from South Carolina after a lifetime of unsweetened Lipton.  It was pretty good, but there was know way I could do 2 cups.  BTW, she filled the cup right to the top – no fear of me burning my nose.
She pulled out a large spoon and put 3 large ladles full of rice on my plate.  I was like a deer in the headlights.  I was thinking, “Stop!” but couldn’t speak.  I managed to get out a “simama” (stop) as she was ladeling in the goat stew.  This was a lot of food.  Isaac got served pretty much the same thing.  Isaac was laughing watching try to figure out how to get all this in my stomach.  Well, I did and I’m not proud of it.  I told him I wasn’t going to eat again until Friday.  Leah’s a good cook.  The goat was cooked with fresh coriander, tomatoes and onions.  Deeelicious!
While we ate, there was a change in plans regarding the drawings of the maternity.  Now they were going to be delivered to us tomorrow.  It looks like we’re in a holding pattern.  I wasn’t sure what we would do next, until Isaac said, “Adam, would you like to go visit Caleb and Tattiana’s school?”  Would I?  I’d love to!  We waited for Leah to change and the three of us loaded into the car and drove back down the dirt road.  Because Isaac spends so much time on Masai Mara, Leah knows all the shortcuts that Isaac doesn’t.  It was nice to see him ask for directions as we came up on intersections.  We later pulled up to the royal blue Legacy Mixed Primary School.
We entered the compound and immediately went to Tatiana’s classroom.  School was letting out, so we weren’t really disburbing anyone.  Tatti came with us as we went to the Headmasters office.  His name was Kevin and it pleased him when I told him he shared the name with my son.  It pleased him even more when he found out I speak Kiswahili.  He asked me to say a few words to his eighth graders and I obliged.  They don’t see mzungos very frequently.  That was deduced when I left that classroom and was mobbed by a big group of 2nd and 3rd graders.  They looked at me like children at the zoo for the first time.  The only difference was that I wasn’t in a cage.  They kept their distance until I held out my fist.  “Gota” (go-tah), I said.  It’s the equivalent of a high-five.  I got a fist bump from the first boy, and the levy broke.  Next thing I know, the headmaster and Isaac our laughing hysterically and the curious kids rubbed the hair on my arms, touched my skin, asked to touch my hair, and peppered me with questions.  The next question came before I even finished the first.  Isaac and Kevin continued to watch me interact with them.  At one point, they wanted to see me run.  Seriously.  I told them I was too old.

“Where are you from?”
“Where is your mom?”
“Where is your dad?”
“Are you Masai?”
“What’s your favorite color?”
“What’s your second favorite color?”
“Do you have children?”
“What are their names?”
“How old are they?”
What’s their favorite color?”
“You have a lot of hair on your arms.”
“Why is your hair different colors?”
“Why are you so tall?”
“Are you sleeping here?”
“Why do you wear glasses?”
“Can you take them off?”
“Can you see me now?”
“Show us your muscles?”
“Let’s run!”

They really were adorable.  I enjoyed every minute of it, and as they rubbed their hands in my hair, I thought about what they’d say if Katie and Karen were here.  I can’t imagine that they’d ever seen red or blonde hair.  During their interrogation, there was also a flurry of hi-fives and the occasional gota.  When I finally said I had to leave, the two that were having a laugh at my expense (Isaac and Kevin) said, “I’m sorry,” but no apology was necessary.  I really did have fun with them.  Isaac took a few pictures of me with the hangers on that followed me to the entrance to the school.  Several of them had no intention of letting me go, but I managed to get free.  Yes, I overpowered a 2nd grader… in my defense, there were several of them.  I hope your laughing, because that’s a funny line.
We then headed back to Isaac’s house with Caleb and Tatiana, along with their niece and nephew.  Isaac’s brothers Andrew and Antony live very close together, so we brought home Andrew’s youngest children.
Another chai followed as the kids tried on some of the shirts I brought them.  Leah broke open the Dum-Dums and distributed a few to everyone.  It wasn’t long before Tattiana stacked a couple chairs together to go retrieve additionl lollypops from the top shelf.  Isaac just watched.  “Oh man, she’s got you bad.  You are in so much trouble.”  He said, “She has complete control.”  He’s right, she does.  We took some pictures as the 4 cousins were clowning around striking poses and laughing. I have no idea what they were saying, but they were having a lot of fun saying it.  Isaac gave his customary, “Adam, are you ready to go,” to which I responded, “Yes.”  I was getting very tired, so I had no problem going right to bed.  I wasn’t even interested in dinner because I’m still working on all the rice.  Next time I’ll ask him to clarify by saying, “Go where?”
We arrived at Antony’s house and met his wife Margaret.  She was very sweet, and asked us to come in for a chai.  Kenyan hospitality is unyielding.  In we went.  The children came with us and continued to play and fool around.  We chatted with Margaret before Isaac said, “Okay, we should go.”  Again, should have gotten clarification.
We arrived at Andrew’s house and met his wife Veronica.  I’ll point out that both there husbands work at Masai Mara and neither of them will be home until tomorrow.  Veronica was just as personable as Margaret, maybe a little more talkative.  She’s a special needs teacher, so we talked about that a lot.  She also insisted on feeding us dinner.  Beef, broth, onions, carrots, peas and potatoes… my stomach said “simama!” (stop), and my brain said, “twende” (go).  Vanessa’s a great cook!  Everything was fabulous.  Now the goal was to get back to the guest house before the food coma began to kick in.  Isaac turned and said, “I should take you to the guest house.”  No need for clarification there.  “Perfect,” was my response.
Isaac left the children behind, which was a huge disappointment to Tattiana.  Tears rolled freely as Veronica scooped her up in her arms.  That little girl’s got it bad.  In Isaac’s defense, she really is a cutie.

I grabbed a couple of waters to consume while I repacked then typed.  It’s now 10:45 and I’ve got the nods again.  I’m going to try and quickly add pictures before falling asleep.  I’m still waiting to hear from Isaac with a start time for tomorrow.  I wouldn’t mind if he said, “9.”  Nope, I wouldn’t mind it at all.  Heck, I’m not kidding anybody.  I wake up no later than 5:30 every day.  It’s very frustrating because I’m exhausted at night.  I’m shooting for 8 hours of sleep.  Place your bets…

these are just pictures that i thought were interesting or funny

At the Guest House.
I think there should be a cover on that.
On top of the wall that surrounds Isaac's compound.
Broken glass is cheaper than razor wire but just as effective

Wegmans.  If you look closely at the butcher shop, you'll
see mutumbo in  the left window.  Mutumbo is Kenyan
tripe... without the USDA.  It's the only food I will not eat

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Hopefully I won't have the same problem with my watch that I did last night.  Just so you're aware, my watch shows me two independent times - it normally enables me to keep track of what time it is back home.  This morning I was obviously confused.  I'd like to have a good night's sleep, and I'm fairly confident that a rooster is not in my future.  I'll explain in a bit.
Today we were meeting with the community.  I was ready at 7:00am, bags packed - Isaack was pretty confident that we'd have to spend the night at Masai Mara because we wouldn't be finishing until later.  As it turned out he was right.  The morning was quite chilly - 62ºF is not what you think of when somebody says Kenya, yet here we are and there it is.  Apparently it's a characteristic of the lowlands here. 
We first went downstairs to have breakfast.  Just so I don't get confused myself, here in Kenya all "hotels" are restaurants and a "Guest House" is a hotel.  Now that we've got that sorted out, this is a great Guest House.  The breakfast was phenomenal, and the accommodations were head & shoulders above the Peacock.  If that weren't enough, the Peacock is 2,500ksh per night (approx $25).  Here at the Park Villa, it's 1,900ksh per night!  Yes, that's only $19 AND it includes a wonderful breakfast made to order.  You can't beat that with a stick.
We sat and talked about the day's proceedings while I drank my tea.  Isaac insisted on taking a picture of me to show that my nose doesn't get burnt.  Kenyans will only fill a mungo's (white man's) cup halfway because their noses are so big - "they're not flat like ours and we don't want you to burn your nose on our chai."  I heard that story 8 years ago and proved them wrong then, but it's a characteristic that people here just want to hold onto.
It's a 2 hour drive from narrow to the Sekenani Gate at Masai Mara, even though it's only 105 kilometers away.  The catch is that the first 40 kilometers are nice hard tarmac that we're accustomed to.  The subsequent 65 is absolutely treacherous.  It's horribly eroded from the traffic (not the rain) and the government's been promising to fix it for at least the 6 years that I've been coming here.  It's not uncommon to see somebody broken down on the trek.  This morning we passed two.  Most of the time, you're actually trying to get off the road so you can drive on the paths next to the road; at least there are fewer rock's sticking out over there. 
We finally made it to the Sekenani Gate at 10:30, and the meeting was supposed to start at 10.  Hapuna matata; we were the first ones at the hospital which is right around the corner to the gate.  It gave us time to walk around the compound to check out sizes of the exiting clinic and complimentary buildings.  The clinic is located in the northwest section of the property, and the staff quarters are located nearby.  They are pale gray brick building that look more like small barracks than someone's home.  There's a pit latrine near the end of the clinic, but it's boarded up and the back of it is sinking into the earth.  Whoever built it failed to reinforce it enough.  I'm not sure why it's even still here.  
There's plenty of room for additional buildings.  Our plan is to relive the congestion in the clinics "maternity ward" by construction their own Birthing Center.  The clinic is probably 75' x 30' so i would think that a 50' building of similar depth would be sufficient.  This will not only provide a safer environment for mothers, but it will free up two room in the clinic.
The members of the clinic board began to show up slowly.  First, the chairman, then some community members.  Then another board member followed by more community members.  Eventually the group got be around 15 so we got started.  There's nothing like talking to a bunch of Kenyans about a birthing center.  I'll remind you of the Job's comment about his future child.  Fortunately, the chairman stopped the meeting so that women could be present.  That made me quite relieved.Ina  very short time, the crowd almost doubled.  It was like standing at a freshman dance; boys on the left, girls on the right.  There were brief introductions, and someone translated into Masai and somebody else translated into English.  I told a couple funny stories and it would appear that they didn't all translate well.  At one point I was really bombing.  I made a comeback, however when I spoke about how honored I was to work with such a strong tribe.  I got some unexpected applause, but that didn't give me enough reason to try to make them laugh again so I just moved on.
I finished my part and asked if there were any questions.  The ladies asked most of them. They wanted to know about my family and where I've been in Kenya.  Of course, all this was after thanking Building Futures for showing an interest in the Masai.  I told them that I had been at the deliveries and cut the umbilical chord at each of my children's births.  I thought the women would laugh, but instead they made a face like they just bit into a rotten piece of fruit.  This is a tough crowd.
The village elder then got up and talked a lot.  He gave assurances about the communities involvement and gratitude.  The same sentiments were said by the local chief and the chairman of the clinic committee.  We talked, exchanging ideas, for quite some time.  They asked how they could help, and my first response was to over-communicate.  Everyone needs to know what's going on here because each one of them is a stakeholder.  More applause.  Next, I said it would be helpful if they kept an eye on the project to make sure that everything is going well - Isaac and I are not always going to be here to keep an eye on things, so it was up to them to make sure things aren't done inappropriately.  Lots of head nodding.  After a couple more hours, I said, "Oh! There's one thing you can do... I want a picture at everyone here so that when this project is complete we can hang the
picture up to show all of the people involved on the very first day."  Lots of applause.  I was not sure how to react other than smile.  I had always been told that you should take pictures of the Masai.  Much like me burning my tea, I think that's a rumor.  We had someone take pictures of the group, and he hit the shutter a lot.  Everybody then had ideas. "Just the ladies."  "Just the men."  "Take more pictures."  They were photo hounds and were loving every minute.  I kept turning the camera to show them the images and they laughed and cheered in excitement.  Finally, it was time for everyone to return to their homes. Their bright red clothing was easy to see against the green and brown landscape.  As they walked away I expected them to fade into the distance, but in actuality they just seemed to disappear.  I talked more with the clinic doctor about the needs of the facility and he joined us for the next meeting with the chief (Mr. Kasoi),the chairman Jackson Naeku) and the doctor.

The five of us, sat talking about next steps and the roles that each would play. They are all incredibly articulate and their English is very good.  It's certainly better than my Kiswahili!  There was a lot of back and forth, and I only had to push back on the idea of using the maternity for overlook inpatient care.  Although that may be something they choose to do in the future, I wanted to make sure that they understood that we're not simply coming in here to build whatever they want, it's more about what they need.  This building will be roughly 30% smaller than the existing building.  It will have 1/2 the rooms, too, but that's because some of the rooms need to be bigger to accommodate equipment (much of which they already have).  We ended up having a good discussion about communication and clear messaging.  Then our focus turned toward letters that needed to be written.  One from the doctor, who also happens to be the secretary of the committee, and one from me.  I wrote it as we sat there together and had each of them approve my wording and, in some cases, my spelling.  Their letter was hand-written and didn't copy well so I offered to type it on my computer and print both letters at the same time.  They were amazed at the speed with which I typed, and the fact that I didn't have to look at the keys.  Good Lord, if I still had to hunt and peck these blog posts would be significantly shorter.  When I told them that I took a class in typing for secondary school, they said, "Oh, computer class."  "No, computers weren't really popular just yet.  I'm older than I look."  Good, bad or indifferent, I'm pretty sure I was the oldest one at the table.  The chairman and the chief don't look like they're even 40 yet!  By the way, Andrea's faster... and more accurate.
We finished with the letters which everyone approved and had the front desk print them up.  Isaac had to run all three of them home, because that's where the stamp is.  Stamps make everything official here; it's somewhat like a notary in the US.  Without the stamp, nothing gets approved because it's considered suspect.  The stamp is proof that whatever's on the paper is accurate.  That will be important for tomorrow.
I'll wait here at Sarova until Isaac returns, then we'll grab some dinner.  I've been to this camp before with the entire family.  It's absolutely fabulous.  Isaac's older brother Anthony works here as a guide and it's always nice to see another familiar face.  What I didn't realize is that the chief and the chairman don't live anywhere near the clinic which is only 10 minutes away.  Andrea and the kids are now realizing that when we come back here to check in on the birthing center, it only makes sense to stay here.  Isaac didn't return until closer to 7:30pm, when our plan was to eat at 6:30.  It was okay, because I had a lovely conversation with a woman from Houston who was there with a large group on a mission trip north of Nairobi.  We talked about children and work, then a lot about the work that both of us do.  She kindly accepted one of my business cards.  
We may have started dinner late, but we still enjoyed a Tusker and stories.  He told me that the chief lives close to Sakenani which is really far away, and when he arrived people were already talking about the birthing center.  "Thank you so much for what you are doing!"  News travels fast, so fast that we don't have any approvals yet.  That's what we have all day tomorrow.  We'll see the executive in charge of public works and construction, then the county governor, then representatives from the CDF (Community Development Fund).
Wish us luck!

Monday, June 27, 2016

I woke up out of a sound sleep, looked at my watch and saw 6:50am and thought I was missed my alarm!  I jumped up, turned on the light, walked into the bathroom and saw abject darkness through the window.  It's 6:50 in the US.  It's 1:50 here.  Ugh.  I climbed back into bed and tossed and turned; I have no idea when my slumber began, but it didn't last much longer than a couple hours. That same rooster from Chulembo must have followed me here - he started crowing at 4:30am.  Katie's right - if I find him, I'll fry him.
We had a lot to do today before we had to leave for Narok.  I originally had us leaving Maseno on Sunday, but my illness forced me to call an audible.
Teachers Office

Our first stop today was back at Agulu.  The shirts that were donated by Julia Nunes (technically I got them from her father, but they were from her) were destined for this school.  We arrived to find an assembly already in progress, and while the deputy was addressing the students, Margaret, the headmistress, came out to say hello.  The government was there building a new two-classroom block for her students.  It was a testament to her, her staff, the parents and definitely the students.  We talked about the shirts and how best to utilize them.  Ultimately, we decided to choose the best performing 3 students from each grade level.  3 grades were taking exams and could not be disturbed, but we had fun with the remainder.  They loved the shirts and were happy (and proud) to put the on display for the entire student body.
We then sat and talked for a bit with Margaret before departing.  While sitting in the administration office, I pointed out to Job and Isaac that the teachers are in the building that’s in the worst shape!  Unlike some other schools in the region, these teachers put their students first.  The new classrooms are beautiful and could be easily converted into a new office.  Instead, they reside in the most dilapidated building and make sure the students education the top priority.  They’re truly a remarkable bunch.

Violet checking in patients
We said our goodbyes and went to the next stop.  We were returning to the Hugh Shields/Mbaka Oromo Health Center to see John and Dan one more time before leaving.  The clinic was already crowded with a steady line of traffic coming from every direction Mother's with children of various ages, and adults of all shapes and sizes were seeking care.  During our entire stay there wasn't any time when you didn't see someone approaching.  I was awesome in every sense of the word.
Greeting Dan after meeting 
Dr. Desiree LeBeud, Ass.
Professor, Dept of Pediatrics,
Division ofInfections Diseases

We got there before they did and while we were waiting, a car pulled into the courtyard.  The Kenyan that got out of the driver’s seat said he was there for the study.  “What study?” I thought to myself.  She's a pediatric doctor from Stanford University - her speciality is infectious diseases.  This clinic has been chosen to be part of a study that's been going on for 3 years!  They are trying to narrow down malaria markers in young children to try and stop the spread of the disease much earlier than normal.  They're catching mosquitoes, performing blood work, and doing other procedures that were well above my pay grade.  She was using words with 5 or 6 syllables and there's no way I could remember them... or spell them. Just as an FYI, I'm not getting paid, so everything is above my pay grade!  Their presence here is another glorious, unintended consequence of this clinic.  I can feel Jim smiling, and it causes me to look into the bright blue sky for a moment which thankfully stops the water from welling up into my eyes.  It's not presenting it from happening now as I type. 
This hangs inside the
registration room.
Dan approached, and John soon followed.  We talked to them both about the visitors and filled them in on their study.  John shared my sentiments. "We ah heeyah, at Mbaka Oromo... who would theenk such theengs could be posseebull?" he said as he looked over the countryside.  He paused and continued, "We have done great things togethah."  Dan added, "Aye."  
Job came and informed me that Violet would like to talk to me over in the maternity ward.  I entered the pale blue tiled room where she was standing patiently in the corner.  She's the one here running the show.  Since her arrival late last year, the clinic has flourished.  She is the heart and mind of this clinic - she keeps the books and treats the members of this community like they are her children.  "Meestah Adams, kindly," as she gestured next to the bed.  "When the muthahs come to geeve birth, we have no way to keep them warm.  Perhaps the next time you come back, you might find a space heetah to help the mothah dooring delivah-ree and aftah.  Dr. Petah needed a computah to do hees job.  I need a space heetah to do mine."  What a wonderful idea!  I told her I would help.  If Andrea were here, she'd already be on her way to Nakumat to buy one.  I'd check Tusky's when we go to town.  The reality is that it gets surprisingly cold here.  It was in the 60's during most nights. 
I emerged from the ward to find Dan seated by the office.  He asked if everything was okay, and I explained to him what the request was and why.  He looked at me like I had three heads and turned toward Job without saying a word.  "I know.  I have no eye-dee-ah what he ees talking about!" he said as he was laughing.  I did my best to explain the energy expended in giving birth and how the body loses heat.  He shook his head and laughed.   "We don't know of these theengs."  "I know I responded," and remembered a conversation my family had with Job while he was visiting.  We take to him about child birth and the father's involvement.  It's like ours was in the 50's... maybe earlier.  The fathers are nowhere near the process and have no interest in involvement.  Job continued to tell us that when the babies are born, they will usually go to their mothers house to stay for awhile.  "That is way-ah they ah most comfortable," he added.  I said, "When do they come back?"  You may want to sit down for his response.  Are you sitting?  He responded, "When the child is walking."  Yup, that's the same reaction everybody has.  I must have had him tell that story a dozen times.  In fact, I had him tell it at Jessica's last night and she and Dana simultaneously exclaimed, "WHAT!?" in utter disbelief.  It still makes me laugh, but that is the culture.  I've been told that it's getting better.  Miles to go...
Me, Dan and John... and my thumb
John joined us and we continued to tell stories and laugh.  John would start a bible story and leave blanks in his sentences with a short pause expecting me to fill in the hole.  Once a teacher, always a teacher.  That is very common among all teachers here.  They begin the sentence, pause, and expect the student to be able to finish it.  I imagine Gene Rayburn talking to Fanny Flagg on Match Game.  You youngsters can google it.  I can can't imagine that the upcoming remake with Alec Baldwin will be better, but I have such fond memories of that show that I'll be sure to tune in. I'm digressing again.
They once again walked us to the gate to send us off.  As if it were rehearsed, they both requested that I tell everyone back home that they said hello and thank you.  John that grabbed my arm and said, "Please bring sometheeng back to Ann and you-ah family, sometheeng from my heart."  I said, I won't forget the present for her, she is very excited."  "No," he responded, "breeng her and you'ah cheeldren thees," and he gave me a big, strong hug.  "Yes, yes," Dan added as he spun me around and squeezed.  I smiled wide and assured them that their hugs would reach America.  I truly love these two men with all my heart.
Now it was time to head back to Kisumu to find the store that sells elastic and velcro for the pad projects - those were the items I left behind.  Would you believe that I also went back to the Masai Market!  We first found the shop with the items we were looking for, then headed quickly to the market.  I owed John (the other John) some money from the day before.  He let me walk off with a beautiful soapstone carving for Katie, but took the last 750ksh I had left (kph is "Kenyan Shillings").  The piece was easily 3,500ksh.  He simply said, "Pay me the rest when you come back."  It is painfully obvious that I spend too much time here... but it is so much fun!  I can't help myself!  I saw John, and paid him his money, then went to another shop (that was closed yesterday) for something for Karen.  I stopped by and saw Edward, and bought one more small painting as well as some zebra bowls for a friend,  I then snuck over to see Elizabeth (she's the one that always says, "Oh, my God") one last time to say goodbye.  They all stood outside their shops and waved as we departed.  Next was Tusky's.  Again, this is a big store and not something you'd associate with Kenya.  I took a picture from the second floor where the furniture and appliances are.  Then went downstairs to look for a space heater.  Most were gas operated, which would not be a good idea, and the only one that wasn't looked like it would fall apart inside the box if we picked it up.  It wasn't nearly big enough.  We'll have to add this to the list for the next trip.
On the drive back I still had Susan and Emmah on my mind.  These were some very special young girls that occupy spaces in the hearts of Ann and Karen.  On the way down to Kisumu, Job said that he didn't think we'd have time to see them.  If we wanted to get to Narok before nightfall, we would have to leave by 3.  "I am sorry sah, we do not have run out of time," he said.  I looked down at my watch as we driving back to the Peacock.  
"Job, it's only 1:30," I said.  
"Yes.  You can rest for 30 minutes before we push off."  
"Is there a back way to get to Susan's house?" I continued.  If we take the normal route, it would gobble up at least an hour for the formalizes at Mbaka Oromo.  It was an hour I didn't have.
"Yes, sah.  We can entah through the back."
"Job, we're going to see Susan and Emmah."
And so we did.
Isaac drove as far as he could.  The winding dirt road was in terrible shape and he had to stop because the path was getting too narrow to accommodate the car.  We walked the rest of the way which was nice.  We've travelled so much this trip that this was the first opportunity I had to walk.  It's a narrow maze of paths than run along the borders of everyone's property.  You get to see dozens and dozens of families when you travel this way.  As you walk by and wave, they call to you to say hello and are more than happy to take the time to chat.  This time, we were on a mission, though, so they had to settle for waving hands and big smiles.  We bought some food supplies for the family that Job was going to take after we left.  He was now carrying the bag as he walked ahead of me.  We stopped at the corner of their property and surprised them.  It's customary to call before showing up, but nobody was answering their cell phone.  We' requested permission to enter the property before continuing to the house.  It was very similar to asking the captain of the ship if you could "come aboard."

Emmah jumped out of a small mud and dung hut wide eyed

with a big smile.  Danton soon followed as their mother sent someone to fetch Susan from the schoolyard.  Although the news would travel, it's better that we see them this way rather than walking by the school first.  They often get badly teased about their relationship with my family.  I snapped a quick selfie with Emmah before susan arrived.  We walked into their home to sit and chat for a short while.  Esther said a short prayer before asking about Ann and Karen... then Kevin... then Katie.  The girls said they were doing well in school and gave us an update.  The time had passed quickly and we were forced to decline the sodas and bananas they wanted to serve us.  We went outside for a few more pictures before heading back.  Susan is growing quickly and her personality is starting to become more vocalized.  When we walked outside she looked at me and said, "You ah so tall!" with a big smile as she looked up at me.  It was if I was on 5"5" yesterday.  I said, "I have always been tall, it just took you this long to say it out loud." I rubbed the back of her head as we talked, and rested it on her shoulder for the pictures of the family.  We said our goodbyes and headed back to the maze.  Which, coincidentally, is surrounded by maize.  God I'm corny.  That actually made me chuckle.
We came back to the car to find Isaac sound asleep.  We called his name, but no response.  I posted a picture of Job sleeping, so turnabout's fair play.  We made it back to the Peacock by 2:15, said our goodbye's to Job, and after a small plate of fries, we began our trip to Narok.
Sunset behind us shot blindly out
the window
After many turns, this one was shot on
my sideof the car
Sugar can fields
The trip was marred with me trying not to fall asleep and me trying to take pictures as we drove.  the sun had begun to set but it was behind us.  I had to roll the window behind Isaac down and blindly hold the camera outside to try and take a picture.  It was a winding road, so it took another 45 minutes before it actually appeared out my window.  At 6:45 Isaac estimated that we would be in Narok in "about 15 minutes."  This is why you can't nail down a Kenyan on a time.  We arrived in Narok promptly at 8:15.  
I've checked into a new hotel that's more similar to the Peacock just to get a change of pace (and to avoid the praying from the mosque near the hotel where I would normally stay).  The power went out 30 minutes after I arrived, and my computer died soon thereafter.
It's 6am now and time to get ready.  I'll try uploading the pictures while I clean myself up.  If I'm lucky, I'll get this posted before we leave at 7am for our first set of meetings at Masai Mara.  Wish me luck!  I realize by the time you read this it will be too late, so I'll save any well-wishes for later.