OPEN LETTER from Darlene and Wendy Sent July 14th 2009 from Kakamega, Kenya
I am so excited to get on line !! It is a very hard thing to accomplish here so hope this gets through to you all. All is well with us and our days are still packed with events and emotions we go from highs to lows and back again in one day. Our visits to the school projects we support were amazing. There are such big improvements and we can see how much the feeding programs are helping. We visited 6 schools in 3 days spending half a day at each. Each time we could here them singing at the gates before we arrived. At Itegero the children were excited and our car was completely swarmed by happy children. It was delightful. The new library books were received by eager hands and they began to read them on the spot. The new water tank is great and the girls no longer have to be at risk walking to the river to haul water. Chekombero School for the deaf also sends all their thanks back to Canadian friends for the new roof after a tropical storm tore it off.
They are doing well although hunger haunts them too. We have had to increase food funding here. While there we watched the children line up eagerly for their meal of beans and rice. After this David the head teacher took us to visit the home of one of our deaf children in our Relief Program so we could see why they had to bring these children in to live at the school. It was a heartbreaking sight. Both parents had died and she slept on a blanket on the floor with only an old trunk for furnishing. Her extended family nearby are quite destitute. We stopped by their mud and tin hut as we returned. Their harvest from their corn plot failed and the sum total of their yield was spread out on one blanket to dry. It will not last more than 1 month. We gave them mosquito nets and the two little children each a teddy bear wishing we had more. As we walked sadly away an old man from the family ran after us to give us a tiny quail in a homemade straw cage. We were astounded as always when this happens. They give even when they have nothing. The woman began to sing and dance with happiness. We are so humbled by these patient courageous people.
We decided to take an afternoon off to recharge our batteries and our driver John took us to the Kakamega Rainforest. What a crazy time that was. We arrived at 4 pm and set out for a 1 1/2 hr hike. About one hour in a huge storm blew up and torrents of rain came down on our heads !! We should have known as it does this every day at this time but we were a little brain dead with all the work. We were slip sliding back down hill on paths that were washing out quickly but having a good laugh at ourselves ! John ,our long suffering driver whom we adore was worried again about these silly Canadians. He drove up to where we went in to find us and got the van stuck in the mud. By the time we reappeared he jumped out of the van ran over to Wendy and I hugging and kissing us both with relief and apologising for not rescuing us quicker !! He is a dear man and we all want to bring him back home with us along with our Masaii guard Lazaro. We will really miss them.
Our days in Kakamega are winding down and we are preparing to head back to Nairobi and a couple of days in the Masai Mara to enjoy the animals and the beauty of Kenya as well. We take our hats off to three young women who came with us at their own expense and time. The children have enjoyed them very much. They were often surrounded by swarms by the hundreds as they blew bubbles, played games and puppets and served food, drink, medicine and the much loved stickers to the long lineups of children. As we share our thoughts about the images we will all bring back with us one thing is very clear….we are all enriched by our time here. We look forward to sharing our stories and photos with all of you who have helped so many here feel hopeful again. There is much to do and the work will never be done, but this visit has reaffirmed to us that we belong here on the ground, we have a bond with these good people. See you all soon, love Darlene and Wendy