"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, December 23, 2017

Saturday, December 16, 2017

We decided to give up on the rhino, which meant that we could sleep in.  We did.  Breakfast this morning was at 9.  This morning we were headed back to the Masai village to distribute the pillowcase dresses, followed by a trip to the hippo pool at the Mara River.  It’s quite a drive, but something that youdefinitely don’t want to miss while you’re here.  Although hippos are the main attraction, you’ll usually see crocodiles, too, as well as some birds that stay closer to the river.  Unfortunately, if you want to see flamingos you have to go to Nakuru.  Don’t ask me why.  I have no idea.  I’ll try to remember to ask Isaac the next time I talk to him.
Male Spring Buck
The village was close by, so after breakfast we packed up the duffel with dresses and headed out.  Because we only had about 40 pillowcase dresses, the plan was to go inside one of the fenced areas and distribute them slowly so that we didn’t draw a crowd.  More importantly, Andrea was really concerned about having to turn away children if we ran out.  We stopped in front of the fences gate and didn’t make it 5 paces until we were deluged.  Children seemed to be pouring in from everywhere.  I don’t know if word got out or they just sensed it, but it was like breaking a piñata in a elementary school courtyard.  They were spilling in from all directions and to say it was overwhelming would be an understatement. 
Fortunately, some of the Masai men that were nearby came to assist and we were very grateful when all was said and done.  They helped thin the heard significantly once we showed them the size of the dresses.  This made a huge impact on the size of the crowd.  Next, I’ll tell you that it’s not easy to distinguish boys from girls when everyone shaves their head.  Fortunately, again, some of the younger ones weren’t wearing pants.  I think it’s a given that if you’re under 3’ tall and you’re not wearing pants, you’re a boy.  That might be universal.  Anyway, we finally started removing dresses and holding them up to the children to check the length.  Once we were sure they would go past the knee, we had a winner!  The dress was slipped on and every time the head popped through the top, there was a smile on the face.  This was all being done close to the truck, so Andrea wisely took a higher position inside to survey everything that was happening.  We asked them all to stay so we could take a picture afterward, but many of them took off running.  I think this might be why Andrea searched for a birds’s-eye view.  She spotted some mothers quickly removing the dress and sending the child back for another.  This wasn’t rampant – she only spotted two, but that was enough to keep a watchful eye on them.   Interestingly enough, I’m only just now realizing that those were the only mother’s I remember seeing, and I didn’t even see them – Andrea did.  I’m not sure that signified anything other than they were probably working; preforming chores or selling handmade jewelry and the Sekenani Gte (that’s the entrance to the park that ever visitor passes through).  For them, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel.  A truck full of foreigners pulls up and stops while pasports are checked, and the women surround the vehicle’s open windows holding bracelets and chains and earrings and necklaces.  Once you touch one, they have you… at that point, the hook is set.  We’ll get back to that later, though.
Karen, Sam and I continued to hand out the dresses until they were all gone.  Andrea continued to keep one eye on the surroundings and one eye on the girls.  It was easy for her to point out a girl that a dress would fit.  The men watched her and would bring the girl closer to the front for fitting.  She stuck the landing every time.  I don’t want it to sound like we picked girls for dresses and didn’t pick others.  It was always a manageable crowd that consisted of very young boys (who stood around like boys do) and slightly older girls who wouldn’t fit in the dresses.  That fact did not prevent them from blocking the path for their younger counterparts.  All the same, we managed.  It took all of us to do so.
There was a small group of girls still milling around.  I’m guessing they may have been related (in one way or another) to the men that were helping.  We snapped some quick photos and thanked them for their help.  They seemed genuinely grateful for our visit and the gifts we gave their daughters.  The young girls ran alongside the truck as we pulled away.  All-the-while cheering and waving.  Another great start to the day.
Off to the hippo pool!  First, though, we had to pass through the aforementioned, “Sekenani Gate.”  We stopped the vehicle to get out and were immediately recognized by John (Karen’s suitor/husband from before).  We stopped and said,”hi” and chatted a bit.  Andrea had an entirely different experience.  5 women rapidly approached her with their “jewelery for sale” hanging off every inch of them.  I thought this was a well planned attack, but I was wrong.  They extended their hands and smiled saying, “Nalatuesha!”  They just came to say hello to the “rain bringer.”  If I didn’t mention it before, it’s been raining on-and-off since we arrived.  We had packages of underwear for little girls left over from the village so we gave them to the women to distribute.  Moma Maria was among them so we knew they would go where they were needed.  The lines in her face spoke kindness and honesty.  Her smile; compassion.  She’s one of those women we will always remember.
Once again, we were back in the truck.  It was a long ride, and I think this was where Isaac let Karen get back behind the wheel to drive.  I may be mixing this up with a different day and if that’s the case, I have nobody to blame but myself.  This blog is already 7 days late, and I’m still trying to get back to Eastern Standard Time.  We spotted more animals that we were able to get closer to than on previous days.  We saw large packs of hyenas and a few large elephant herds.  Even the giraffe’s gave us some new poses.  When we finally reached the hippo pond, we found that all of them were in the water.  As if on cue, Sam once again called out the name of the animal she spotted, “Hippos!” with a wide smile.  That’s been the norm, and it never get’s old.  Her first sighting of an animal gets us all excited, but Sam’s is childlike.  That’s not a dig in any way.  It was just such genuine joy and “childlike” is the best way to explain it.  That joy makes everyone smile, too.  It makes you wish you could bottle it and give it to people who need it.
We got out to watch them from above the embankment.  Climbing down would have been a very poor choice.  These animals are very territorial and once your shoe hit the beach you’d have an enormous bull coming out of the water like an orca at sea world jumping to catch a fish held high on a string.  I’ve seen it happen first hand (the hippo scenario, not the killer whale) and it’s as terrifying as it is awesome.  They made their baritone gurgling noises while they rose and sank in the water.  There wasn’t a lot of action, so Isaac decided to up the ante.  He lowered himself onto a fallen tree that Andrea, and Sam were standing on, then grabbed onto a large bush that was growing on the bank.  He began to make the noise of a male lion while shaking the life out of the bush.  Mission accomplished.  The hippose rose much higher out of the water, often climbing on top of one another as the huddled closer, with mouths wide open showing their tusks.  Isaac is like the Rich Little of Masai Mara.  All of you under 30 may have to google him, but suffice to say that he can mimic any animal on the mara… including birds.  He will explain the species, then the sound, then what it means.  It’s very impressive… as demonstrated by the hippos.  Sergio gave it the college try, but the hippos weren’t impressed with it.  They just went about their business.  Karen pointed out something that we’d never seen.  The hippose that were deep in the water would not break the water with their heads to get a breath of air.  Instead, many would just barely poke their nostrils above the surface.  It looked like a couple tricycle tires floating in the water before they once again submerged. 
We headed downstream, but it was too cool to spot any crocs.  They prefer to sun themselves, and although it doesn’t make any sense, they had retreated into a cave… where there’s no sun… and it’s probably cooler… in the water.  I’ll chalk that one up to tiny brains.
We started to head back and admire the landscape as we did so.  The animals were everywhere and usually in mixed heards.  We’d occasionally stop when we saw a herd of gazelles all staring in the same direction.  That usually means that there’s a predator coming from the direction their gaze falls.  There’s no telling how far away they are, though, so after a quick look through the binoculars, Isaac would let us know whether we should stick around or keep moving.  The few times it happened, we always kept moving.
We got back to camp before dark and then managed to get to Entumoto’s version of “Pride Rock” before the sun set.  Isaac calls them sundowners.   This enormous rock (yes, it really does look like Pride Rock from the Lion King) is only a few hundred yards from camp and it’s a wonderful spot for drinks, a snack, and a fire.  We hit all three and clowned around for about an hour, telling stories and trying to get some portraits of Zachary and Sam.  Zachary is the young man who has been serving us our meals and drinks every day since we arrived.  He’s an incredibly nice man… and Sam is single.  Andrea and Karen asked if he could join us for the sun-downer and Isaac immediately said, “Shoo-ah!”  We took some wonderful pictures before heading back to camp for dinner.
Steak!  Everyone was excited.  Not so much Andrea, because she doesn’t eat much red meat.  I am always the benefactor of that choice, so I split hers with Sergio.  It was delicious.  The group split up with some going to bed and others (myself included) heading for the lounge to type.  My head kept dropping in exhaustion.  The fact that I’m 7 days late with this entry tells you that I accomplished nothing.  Since I’ve been back, I’ve tried on several occasions to publish posts, and sometimes it works, and other times I’ve got to do it all over again.  A friend of ours is going to help redesign our website and help me with a better blog solution.  Sleep awaits, but it won’t wait for long.  Tutaoanana kecho.  Talk to you tomorrow.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Friday, December 15, 2017

It’s going to be difficult to top yesterday, but we’re going to try.
We woke up early (5am) because we were starting with a game drive at 6:15am.  The only way to see a rhino is early in the morning before it heads back into the hills.  Breakfast was packed and in the Land Cruiser when we got down to the dining area.  Isaac was there to greet us with the usual smile.  We loaded in the car and were on our way.  It was cool in the morning, and once the car got moving, it felt even colder.  We saw so many animals that I don’t know where to start.  It will probably be easier to just tell you that although we didn’t see a rhino, we saw a lot of other animals.  I’ll post the bulk of the pictures at the end of the blog so you can see what we saw. 
We had breakfast out on the mara, and it was delicious - the scenery was fabulous, too.  We had pancakes, hard-boiled eggs, fruit, coffee, tea, juices… the list goes on and on.  We also took some time to take pictures and fool around a bit.  There’s no shortage when it comes to “fun and entertaining.”  We’ve been laughing a lot.  The two of them make a good team, and they have no problem playing off each other.  Time passes quickly, and soon we were back at the lodge, then the dining room for a light lunch.
lot this trip and the credit for that belongs to Karen and Sam.
No luck with the rhino, but we did see some new animals today.  The lions probably tops that list.
 On our way back to the camp, we stopped in a Masai village.  We stopped outside the fence for them to show Sam and Sergio how they communicate between villages by blowing into an animal horn.  We then entered the compound to see how they make fires.  It wasn't working well, so we moved into one of the huts.  Masai are traditionally tall, and I have no idea how they can live in those homes.  They're made by the women, so the roofs are quite low.  Couple that with the fact that entire hut could fit inside a small American kitchen, it makes for interesting setups.  The reality is that they probably don't spend much time inside at all.  Meals and sleeping... that's probably it.  And trust me, if they're sleeping, it's in the total fetal position.
We went back outside to find them much closer to making fire.  It was a success.  Karen joked, "How
many Masai does it take to make a fire?"  It was a fair question.  The appropriately funny answer would have been, "It takes a village."  There had to be at least a dozen men trying to create a spark by spinning a stick on a piece of wood, and they finally made it happen.  We then moved into another area inside the fence.  Not all compounds have this, but this one is well traveled by tourists so they have their own little Masai Mall.  The women clucked with disapproval when we left empty handed.  I didn't see any familiar faces from previous meetings for the maternity, but regardless, we had to get back for lunch before our meeting at the maternity.  The sun was beating down on us without thought, and everyone had a nice sunburn working so seeking shade inside Isaac's vehicle was nice.
We got back to camp and had a light lunch before heading right back out. 

The meeting was to start at 2, but it was probably closer to 3.  We were the first to arrive, but when the builder showed up, it was time for a tour.  When you’re standing in a room that is under construction, it looks rather small.  I remember standing between unfinished walls staring up the sky thinking, “How is a midwife and pregnant mother going to fit in here?”  Now that it’s finished, I can see it plain as day!  When we stood in the delivery room, one of the men said, “A future president of Kenya will be born here.”  “That would be wonderful!” I exclaimed.  There were lots of thumbs up as we exited.
As the women arrived, you could see the smiles of recognition wash across their face as they 

approached.  Andrea was the most recognizable of the group.  They’d say “Nalatuesha” through wide smiles as they walked toward her with arms wide open.   For those of you that need a refresher, Nah-lah-too-ay-shah means “rain bringer.”  During that trip, they rain arrived the same time we did.  There were familiar faces and unfamiliar ones, reminding me that this maternity serves a large area… I imagine that we’ll never see all of the women this maternity will serve, and I think that’s wonderful!  I wonder if we’ll even meet all of the midwives!  As you would expect, the men arrived and came to me first.  I don’t know if they remember the name that they gave me (Lamangan = lah-mahn-yhan=blessed), but a smile works just as well.  They laughed quietly as they embraced me.  The laughter wasn’t so quiet when they saw Karen, but you’d expect that, too.
Some of the younger men began organizing benches for the ladies to sit on.  The men sat in resin chairs facing them.  The area chief spoke first, followed by the local chief (the village elder).   The area chief translated for us.  Next came the chairman of the maternity board, then Haret (the builder), then Isaac.   I was up next. 
Prior to leaving for this trip, I printed up some large pictures of the ladies that have been attending the meetings.  I had them laminated, and I had a plan for them, but used this opportunity to introduce them into the conversation.   I retold the story of the future president being born here.  That was met with applause.  I said, “Just as it will be important to remember where he came from, it’s important for us to remember how we arrived here, too,” referencing the series of events that led to the construction of this maternity center.  I pulled out the first picture from my first meeting with the villagers.  It was a smaller group comprised of about 15 women.  Then I pulled out the second picture from our trip in July.  This one showed closer to 60 people!  I then suggested that they should be hung in the maternity so that we all remember those responsible for getting us to this stage in development.  They cheered, then passed the 13”x19” pictures among them.    Laughter began to rise above the conversation.  A lot of laughter.  Then Kiswahili and ma’a (the language of the Masai) amid the laughter.  Then a translation from the chief.  Although I never got the impression that they were laughing at me, I would soon be made aware of that fact.  After inspection of the pictures, the one from last year, and the one from 6 months ago, showed that I was wearing the same outfit.  The very same outfit that I had on today!  Oye vay!  Olive pants, light blue shirt, hiking shoes.  It wasn’t like they were similar, it was literally the exact clothing in each picture.  I joined in the laughter and felt compelled to inform them that I do, indeed, own more clothing.  When I told them I was going to throw it all away, they protested.  I have to keep the outfit for the grand opening!  The laughter continued for quite some time until everyone else was in on the joke.  I’m still laughing about it now.  What are the odds?
Andrea spoke next, and although it was brief, it was powerful.  Masai are predominantly Christians, many are Catholic.  She suggested we take a moment to thank our maker who brought us all together.  I do believe that the Holy Spirit guides us from project to project, and this one was no exception.  She then said, “Let us pray the Lord’s prayer together.”  That’s exactly what we did.  With all heads bowed down, she began with “Our Father…”  What followed was the Lord’s prayer said in three different languages.  It was simply beautiful.  Even though we each spoke it in our own tongue, we concluded at virtually the same time.  The following silence was broken by birds chirping, goats, and cowbells. 
Karen spoke next, as only Karen can.  She bounded up to the front of the group, through her hands in the air and yelled “Hello!”  Everyone smiled and clapped… including the village elder who doesn’t speak a lick of English.  Karen can have that effect on people – it’s why she’s going to be a great teacher.  She thanked everyone for taking time out of their day to attend and then introduced Sam.  Sam, who shyly approached the front of the crowd to greet everyone.  It was time for her to get a Masai name.  Naserian.  Nah-she-ree-ahn… accent on the “ree.”  As she returned to her seat, we were informed this means “blessings.”  Karen heard enough.  “Wait a second!” she shouted. “I’ve been here before and I get ‘third born’ and this chick shows up and gets ‘blessings’?  Laughter erupted!  It was hilarious.  I thought the area chief was going to wet his pants.  Again, no translation was needed – if it was coming out of her mouth, it was probably funny.  They should have named her “laughter.”  When the laughter finally broke, the chief clarified that the her name (namgak = nahm-nyak) means “good luck.”  “Oh, okay,” she said, “You can proceed.”  Again, laughter.
He leaned over to me and said, “She should be a politician.”  I said, “She’s a teacher.”  He then said, “So was I once.”  This time we were the ones laughing.  “Seriously,” he continued.
The meeting finally ended while pictures were being passed around.  Another picture was taken out front, then it was time to plant 24 trees.  They were seedlings, so it wasn’t as involved as you think.  I can say that because each of us (including Isaac) planted one before the chiefs and I began talking.  What I was (slightly) unaware of was that Andrea, Karen, Sam and the other women continued to plant the remaining 20 trees.  It was very Masai.  The men stood and talked while the women did all the work.  I played my role by making sure that no lions approached while they worked.  The men are the protectors, and I told them that when they returned.  They were not impressed.  We said our “goodbyes” and returned to camp. 

It was dark when we got back, and everyone was hungry.   Before I forget, if you’re wondering why Sergio wasn’t introduced, it was because he chose to stay behind at camp.  He was there when we returned.  Tonight we had tomato soup and chicken with green beans.  Delicious.  Now, sleep.


Sunday, December 17, 2017

Thursday, December 14, 2017

--> Andrea and I woke up earlier than expected. There was a cow wearing a bell just outside our window and the darn thing refused to stand still.  We were so bothered by it that I think Andrea would have made him into steaks if she could.  Of course, once we got dressed, the clanging stopped.  I was still looking forward to a steak.
We checked out of the Park Villa shortly after breakfast.  Isaac called to let us know that Sharon was already on her way to the hospital in Nakuru to get her eyes checked and receive a new pair of glasses.  Veronica and her mother left with her at 5:30am… that means that they should be back by nightfall and Sharon should be seeing things clearly for the first time.  We are extremely excited to see her when we head back through Narok on our way to Nairobi.  Today, it’s a 2-3 hour drive to Masai Mara after we quickly hit an ATM.
There was nothing quick about it.  It turned out that the stop at the bank also included a stop at the market to pick up supplies for Entumoto Safari Camp.  No worries, after some shopping we were on our way.  The ride was picturesque for the first 45 minutes.  The asphalt road was well maintained and smooth.  We passed a giraffe about 20 minutes into the trip and I though Sam was going to come out of her skin.  I was unable to get a photo of her expression, although it lasted about 20 seconds – mouth wide open and eyes popping out of her head.  It was priceless.  Unfortunately, after those 45 minutes, the smooth tarmac turned into dirt road.  They’re trying to pave a new road into the mara, but they are very slow… I’ve been told for the last 7 years that this road was going to be paved.  This is the first time I’ve seen them actually working on it.  That means the next 2 hours are going to rattle our teeth and test our vertebrae.
Test them  it did.  If you’d like to have the experience, drive your car at about 45mph down a train track.  The car rattles so hard it’s a wonder that pieces don’t start falling off.  We snuck onto a section of new pavement, but that lasted for under 7 kilometers before we were back on dirt road.  Oh, by the way, the rippled soil is also laced with football sized pieces of granite which makes you drive like you’re being shot at – serpentine!.  It’s so bad, you’d think they didn’t want anyone to go to Masai Mara in the first place!  We stopped again another 45 minutes later.  David, Isaac’s brother was driving by and stopped to give us a proper greeting.  Oh, I almost forgot, Onezmus was back!  He’s going to drive us to the Mara then drop us off and Entumoto before turning around and heading back to Narok.  He wants to have a more thorough repair of the cooling system in the car before we take it back on Sunday.  He’ll be returning with the repaired vehicle on Sunday and we’ll probably drop him off in Narok as we come by.  We’ll also be stopping to see Sharon and her new glasses!  And now, back to our story.
So there we were, stopped in the middle of the dusty Mara Road talking with David.  A young boy herding cows came by to see what the commotion was about (apparently we were a little too loud while greeting David).  He stood about 20 feet from the car, just staring apprehensively.  I would guess he was around 10 or 11, dressed in a thread bare t-shirt and dirty shorts.  The shoes on his feet were sandals made from old car tires – a common “recycling” program here in Kenya.  I approached him slowly and held out my hand while speaking Kiswahili.  A small grin came across his face.  Yes, a grin… not what most would expect from a 10 year old boy who’s in charge of 30 cows.  I know, right?  We actually chatted for a little while, and I eventually slipped him a 20ksh coin (usually referred to as “20 bob”) and he slid it into his pocket without any indication of doing so.   It was almost like slight-of-hand.  He then asked if I had a pen.  Sure I do!  I went back to the car to retrieve the pen that was at the bottom of my backpack.  I’m sure he would have preferred a soccerball, all I had was a pen.  I know he wanted a soccer ball because that’s what he asked for first.  I couldn’t fulfill his first request, but that wasn’t the case with the second.  I took a quick selfie with him, showed him the picture to make sure it met with his approval, then headed back to Isaac and his brother who will still talking with the girls.
I caught up with the conversation and we told him of our plans for the remaining time in Kenya.  He hoped to meet us again when we drive through Narok on the way to Nairobi.  It looks like that’s the third thing on the agenda.  Leah and the kids, Sharon and her new glasses, and now, David.
The ride continued to be bumpy but I knew that we’d forget about it in it’s entirety as soon as we arrive at the preserve.  I was right.
In the first 15 minutes of arriving at the conservancy, we saw zebras, Thompson Gazelles, giraffes,  antelope, warthogs, water bucks and maribol (sp) storks and elans.  Sam was on cloud nine.  Sergio was excited, but Sam was over the moon.  She wears her heart on her sleeve, and she wears it well.  We emptied the land rover and entered the lounge are to have lunch.  It was a wonderful departure from the previous4 days… we had pizza!  Two ladies run the kitchen here at Entumoto, and they’re like unicorns - everybody thinks they’re great, but they’ve never seen one.   Everyone cleared their plates before we headed to our respective “tents” to drop off our bags and get ready to head to the Rescue Center.  We didn’t really drop off the bags, though.  It was more like the Masai that work her dropped off our bags, and we were grateful because the family tent is pretty far away from the dining area and lounge… and it’s all uphill.
I’m not sure how, but by the time we were ready to leave, the plan turned into everyone (except Karen) walking up the mountain (don’t let anyone tell you it was just a hill) and down the other side to get to the Rescue Center.  Isaac would drive, and meet us there with Karen.  Who am I kidding?  Of course it was Andrea’s idea… and up the mountain we went.    What started out as a walk up a 136º incline rapidly turned into what seemed like a 120º mountainside.  Yes, I’m still sticking with the mountain vs hill defense.  James (Masaii #1) was in front of the group, keeping us save.  His friend whose name I can’t remember (Masaii #2) was   James was quite talkative and answered all our questions.  There was only a brief spell where he was not in front.  Andrea took over during the 120º section, and James was quick to hand over his spear so that she could take point.  I was the guy in the back panting and sweating… in that order.  It really was a neat experience, and the views were spectacular.  We came down the other side on more gradual pace.  Yeah, why did we seem to run up the hill and then stroll down it?  We were about 10 minutes from the Rescue Center when Karen called me.  “Where are you?”  It was 3:45 and we were going to a 3:30 meeting.  I was relieved when she said, “We just got here.”  Karibu Kenya.
bringing up the rear.
We finally met up with Isaac and Karen who were waiting outside the main office, usually occupied by James.  Sure enough, out came James with a big smile and hearty handshake.  Kenyan’s do this thing when they approach you to say, “Hello.”  If they already know you, and are excited to see you, they hold their hand almost even with their head like there coming in for a “high five.”  But no!  They want you to slap hands with them but the cracking sound culminates with your thumbs wrapping around theirs and your fingers and hands falling naturally around their hand.  The louder the sound, the more they like it.  Sometimes it makes your palms throb, but these are the things you do when you’re in Kenya.  Again, when you see what’s going on around you, you don’t think about the cold showers (yes, I know, I haven’t had one on this trip), bad roads and extreme heat.  Instead, you think about people you’re serving and the lives you are forever changing by being here and working to help them meet their educational and health needs.  Moreover, you’re simply showing them that you care.
We stopped into James’ office, which is very small but everyone squeezed in, including James and Masaii #2 (although they were forced to stand).  We talked about the girls, the center itself, and schooling.  Unlike at Masakonde, the fact that the students were on holiday worked in our favor.  When we finally left and entered the great hall, all but 8 girls were there… that means we had approximately 60 in attendance.  James said a few words before asking me to speak but before that, the girls wanted to sing for us.  Their voices were beautiful and the sounds echoing off the walls and tin roof only accentuated the songs.  When they finished, James spoke some more before asking me to come up and say a few words.  He translated so that everyone was sure to understand what I said.  I told them how beautiful they were and how much people cared about them and wanted them to succeed.  All of it was met with cheers and applause. Next, I introduced Sam and Sergio.  Sergio gave his wide smile while Sam was overcome with emotion.  They were tears of joy, and nothing was going to hold them back.  Almost immediately, two of the older occupants of the center came and sat on either side of Sam, supplying compassionate hugs and a shoulder for her to rest her head on.  That almost got my waterworks going.  I choked some back before my thoughts were overtaken by Karen voice as she helped hand out the games that we brought.  Uno, Trouble and Sorry topped the list, but it was Bop-It that really got them fired up.  Sergio held a wide smile the entire time.  Isaac tried it a couple of times to show them how to play Bop-It before handing it over to them… they giggled into their hands as they watched each other play.  It was beautiful.  
Next came the dresses.  It started out quite smoothly.  Karen was handing out dresses one at a time, but things weren't moving quickly - we would be there for the next two days if we didn't pick up the pace. We sped things up and it may have seemed like a bit of a free-for-all, but it actually went pretty smoothly.  We brought   We distributed a lot of pillow-case dresses during our last trip, so this time the dresses were geared more towards the older girls… in this case, older means 10 years of age to 18.  Karen and Andrea would each remove one dress at a time and James would call out to a girl that would fit in it.  Again, it looked like chaos, but it was well organized. Everyone got something!  Even the younger girls who got pillowcase dresses last time were given a t-shirt to wear under them.  Each girl immediately changed into their new outfit.  The drab concrete floor and dark walls were made brighter by 60 bright colored dresses and shirts!  Everyone was smiling.  Everyone!  James then had everyone go outside so that we could take some pictures.  I thought the colors looked bright inside, but when they were placed against a pale green backdrop, they popped up like Easter lilies.  We took pictures of the entire group, then while the children continued to play in the courtyard, James called them over one color at a time.  “Red!” he would shout and all the girls who’s t-shirts were red.   Unfortunately, they stood behind a bush so you couldn’t see the bottom of the dress and how simplistically beautiful they were.  A group of girls were stroking Karen’s long blonde hair on one side of the yard while another did the same with Sam.  As you can imagine, long hair is rare, but long blonde hair is almost mythic.  The same curiosity fell upon the hair on our arms… it made me glad that I wasn’t wearing shorts.  I think it's important to give a special shout out to those ladies (our friends) back home without whom we would not have been as successful at the Rescue Center.  Sue, Adelle, Peg - you know who you are and we can't thank you enough.  You are changing lives.  The smiles on these faces speak volumes. 
Eventually, we had to leave.  Although she walked out under her own power, you could almost sense that Sam was being dragged from these girls kicking and screaming.  This is the most difficult place for Andrea to leave, too.  She felt a connection here before we even visited for the first time, and this place will always occupy a special place in her heart.  It was a spectacular day, just spectacular.  What a powerful way to bring the day to a close.  We continued to talk about our time at the center as we drove back to camp.  The sun was going down, but our spirits stayed on a high.
It was dark when we got back to the conservancy entrance.  It was another 15 minutes before we’d arrive at camp.  Darkness had enveloped the Land Cruiser.  The only light came from the headlights, and bright yellow eyes danced in the bushes as we drove.  Occasionally, we come upon a heard gathered on the dirt/stone road.  A group of Cape Buffalo really startled the group.  By “group” I mean Sam.  She let out a loud, high pitched, “Oh!” which startled everyone else.  It resulted in giggles from everyone except the Buffalo.  They just let out low groans as they got up and walked out of the light of the headlamps and back into the darkness. 
We freshened up before gathering again for dinner.  This time it was Tilapia and it was wonderful.  Chakula ni kitamo.  The food is delicious.
Ni me choka sana. I am very tired.
See you tomorrow.