"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, October 16, 2019

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

October 15, 2019
I’ll pick up where I left off, which will save me a little bit of time.  First, a couple comments about the prior post.  1.  The blood/fat/meat/herb mixture is munono, not “menono." 
Another friend of Isaac’s was driving us to Masai Mara.  Jax (i’m not sure about the spelling) drives a Toyota Sky Box and from what Isaac says, it’s ideal for this drive.  I’ve never heard of a Toyota Sky Box, but now that I’ve seen one, it’s pretty ugly vehicle.  That being said, it got the job done.  One hour and fifteen minutes after we left, we entered the Sekenani gate at Masai Mara.  We stopped once along the way for Jax to water the bushes.  I should have taken advantage of that opportunity but I didn’t.  The mara road is closer to being complete.  There is only 25 kilometers of dirt road, but keep in mind, it’s pretty bad dirt road.  The skybox went through all of it.  We entered through the checkpoint and continued on to the maternity.
We were expecting to see Chief Kasoy, but the only person there was the doctor.  No matter we greeted him and checked on the facility.  I inquired abou the births and he brought out the register.  Based on the numbers he rattled off, we’re averaging 15 births per month.  That’s marvelous!  … and not one death.  Even more marvelous! 
We knew Chief Kasoy was en route, so we went outside to look at the existing staff quarters.  Once continues to fall prey to the rain water that runs into the foundation.  Thankfully, it was condemned.  While safer for the doctros/nurses, it means that they now have to find lodging elsewhere.  The government has not held up their end of the bargain, so we’re going to meet with them in Narok on Thursday.  The reality is that these building should not have been placed in this spot on the hospital’s plot of land.  It should be on the other side which is higher and away from the water runoff.  I’ll make that suggestion to the new Health Officer on Thursday.
Chief Kasoy arrived soon after.  I heard his motorcycle before I saw him.  We gave each other big hugs and I extended a greeting from Andrea and Karen.  “I wish Nalatuesha was coming.  Every time she comes, it rains.  We need Nalatuesha!” I assured him that she and Namanyak will be coming in February, but I hope they get some rain before that.  They’ll just have to make due.  During our discussion with him about the staff quarters, we learned that Vivian Mpeti has returned to her old position as Health Officer.  Great news!  She was the one that made the deal with us!  Well, I hope it’s great news.  Again, we’ll find out Thursday.  We said our goodbyes and headed outside the gate toward Siana Girls Secondary School.
While the skybox got us there in one piece, it was a very bumpy ride.  We went from going 40km/hr to 5km/hr as we traveled down into ravines and back up the other side.  The wheels spun on several occasions, but Jax did a great job navigating every one.  It seemed to be a longer drive than I expected.  I still need to find a bathroom, and I’m about to walk into an all girls secondary school.  Brilliant.
We entered through the front gate and parked the car in the shade of a tree (as instructed).  I forgot to tell you that we stopped and picked up Haret before entering the Sekenani gate - his shop is in a small town just before the gate.  He immediately asked how Karen and Ann were, and I sent along their greetings to him, letting him know that we’ll be back in February.  I only add that because Haret was with us at Siana Girls Secondary when we were talking with the head teacher.  I’ll give you the Reader’s Digest version, because I really shouldn’t give you my take on the conversation.  Suffice to say that we’re trying to supply her with what she needs, but she is adamant on what she wants.  At the end of the day, I think everything will be okay, but we’re adding a stop at the Education Officer’s office in Narok, immediately following our meeting with Vivian Mpeti.  We’ll call Madam Wanjiko tomorrow and try to get a face to face.
It was already 6pm, and it was too late to go see the adjacent Rescue Center.  I spoke with Isaac to see if we can stop there on our way out Thursday morning, but that’s going to depend on when we can schedule meetings.  Regardless, we’ll build them a dormitory, and the government will need to supply the beds.
We took the long drive to the other side of the hill where Entumoto sits.  We got out and as soon as my foot hit the grass, I was wishing Andrea was here.  The staff came running up to me to say hello and asked where she was.  I feel like a broken record, but I told them we’d all be back in February.  They were actually quite excited at that prospect!  I was handed a cold washcloth that smelled of eucalyptus and mint, and rubbed it on my face and hands.  The smell was intoxicating.  My next stop was up at the main tent… where the bathrooms were.  At the top of the steps I was handed a glass of freshly squeezed mango juice.  I downed it and three gulps and headed for the bathroom.  
I feel like a new person.  I sat for a few minutes before I decided to have them take me to my tent.  We left the main tent and made a right.  What?  I didn’t know there were tents back here!  That’s because they were put in last year.  It was steeper hill that the more familiar tents, but it was a shorter walk.  I don’t even remember the name of the tent, but it was just as spectacular as the ones we’re used to.  It was a bit smaller, and the bathroom had a different layout, but I can’t wait to see the view in the morning.  Although it’s behind the dining/common areas, it’s nestled quite high on the mountain.  I opened my bag and removed a couple things before heading back down the hill.  I could hear animals fighting outside my tent, so I waiting until they were finished before I unzipped the “door” and departed.  A maasai stood outside my tent at the bottom of the steps with a flashlight shining on the stairs to aid in my descent.  At night, you never walk alone here.  Ever.  He took me right to where we began and disappeared back into the darkness.
I sat talking with Isaac until it was time for dinner.  He said the the owner, Karl von Heland, was going to be here and he was excited to meet me.  I know he’s told Karl a lot about me, because he’s told me a lot about Karl.  We were informed that dinner was ready so we made our way over to the neighboring tent.  Karl was the first person I saw.  He was sitting on the far side of the table with three women to his right.  Kelly (from New Zealand) was celebrating her 60th birthday.  Next to her were a mother/daughter combo from Texas; Jen/Jody.  A Maasai guide I know, Abraham sat at the head of the table, with a Swede, Katie, sitting to my left, then Isaac, then another member of the staff, Sam, then one of the administrative staff from Nairobi (his name starts with an L, but I can’t recall how to pronounce it.  “Oh!” exclaimed Karl as he stood up.  “You’re younger than I thought.  I was expecting someone much older.”  I gave him a hearty handshake and said, “It’s truly a pleasure to meet you.  Isaac talks about you all the time.  I’m only sorry that my wife isn’t with me so you could meet her, too.  I think she loves this place more than I do!”  “There’s plenty of time for that,” he said with a smile.  His Swedish accent was soft and his words floated in the air.  He’s a man (i would guess) in his 70’s who’s very comfortable in his own skin.  We sat directly across from one another.
The Birthday Girl was very chatty and said “shit” a lot.  I don’t know if that’s a New Zealand thing or not, but she was a hoot and a half.  We talked about everything from sitting naked in a spa (yes, it was the Swedes) then jumping into an ice pool to watching rugby to special needs children to lung cancer.  I was a bit surprised to hear that Isaac did the whole spa thing (Yes, he was in Sweden at the time).  This was a very eclectic group.  Although Jen was pretty animated, I don’t think her daughter said two words; I hope she's just quiet and there's nothing wrong.   Literally, I don’t think she said anything the entire meal; which by the way was delicious.  Beef stroganoff with rice, green beans and tomato soup.  They finished things off with a chocolate moose, followed by a Happy Birthday song by the staff and a beautiful cake.
When the meal was over, I grabbed a cup of coffee and moved to the community tent.  There are chairs placed strategically to facilitate conversation among the guests, along with some single chairs facing the valley below.  They installed a beautiful stone fireplace that gave off a lot of heat.  I sat on a couch next to the fire while Karl talked with Isaac and someone else (I couldn’t hear them well enough to tell who it was) about his day in a Narok courthouse.
I typed today’s blog (which I’m finishing from my bed).  Things fell quiet behind me, and Karl plopped himself down on the couch opposite me.  I immediately closed my laptop.  Earlier, he seemed glad to hear that I was staying two nights so that he could chat with me tomorrow.  It looked like we were going to chat now! He asked a lot of questions about me, and followed it up with questions about our organization and the things we do.  He was already familiar with our work at Siana Secondary because they’ve done some work there, too.  Similarly with the Rescue Center.  We laughed and told stories until 12:30 when we both realized that the other was ready for bed.  He’s in one of the tents below mine, so I’m sure I’ll see him tomorrow morning, and when we chat tomorrow night, I intend on asking him lots of questions about his history and how he got here.

For now, it’s time to sleep.  I spoke with Ann and Karen while I unpacked and prepared for tomorrow.  Now it’s 1:40am and I have a game drive at 6;30am.  It won’t take long to sleep.

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