How are you all,
This will be our last letter home and as we are busy preparing for the long trip home we would like to share a few new highlights of our adventures in Kenya.
Let us introduce you all to one of our new communities which immediately stole our hearts. Shamberere is an Early Childhood Centre located near the Mumias Sugar Refinery. The refinery brings a lot of work to the area but it also brings many social ills such as alcoholism, prostitution & family neglect. This group was formed to support and nurture the often forgotten & neglected youngest members of the community. Thanks to the generous support of our donors we were able to implement a feeding program five days a week for eighty-five children. This is usually the only meal the children receive. The meal consists of rice, beans and fruit. What a privilege it was to serve each child a huge portion and then watch them eat with gusto. Everyone found a spot on the grass and did not move until every grain of rice was consumed. After eating their bananas the children – right down to the littlest – voluntarily took their bowl to the washing station. We were thrilled to be able to give the teachers some much need classroom supplies, early childhood books, posters & soccer balls. There was much excitement as each child received a beanie baby. Thanks to Francis Scarpallegia, MP, everyone present received a Canadian Flag. Keep your eyes peeled for photos in the 2012 calendar. We look forward to helping these teachers and community workers to continue to protect and guide these children through their formative years. Two flat tires later we found ourselves safe & sound at Mill Hill Guest House in Kisumu.
Wednesday morning took us to Shanyinya where we celebrated the official opening of the well that had been funded by Air Canada Vacations. This well is in memory of young Isabella, an orphan who resided at Mukumu Childrens Home. Ten year old Isabella passed away in 2011 due to complications from Aids and waterborne illness. We were entertained by a choir of widows whose energy and harmony were inspiring. This was followed by children singing and dancing. Shanyinya is one of the communities that was identified as being most destitute. Our emergency food relief program has made a huge impact on the whole community. Their appreciation was evident. We were escorted to “Isabella’s Well” and treated to a most welcome sip of clean cool water straight from the well.
Wednesday afternoon we celebrated the well that was constructed close to Mukumu Children’s Home. The area is called Lukhule. The “Ebi Kiminani Memorial Well” is up and running with a plentiful amount of water for the whole community. We made a quick stop at Mukumu Children’s Home and found our friend “Lena the cow” walking herself through her labour pain and she produced a healthy calf the next morning.
We were delighted to meet with Fr. Paul on Thursday morning in his house. He welcomed us with tea and mandazi. Yum, Yum! We had planned to spend the whole day with him. Emalindi has the highest per capita rate of AIDS in the Kakamega area. Fr. Paul was sent to Emalindi as a “baby Priest” and his official role was to accompany the dying. He soon earned the nickname “Father Ambulance” . Two years ago the Ministry of Health had a dispensary build in the parish which to this day has remained vacant. The government protocol is that the community must outfit the facility before a nurse is assigned. Considering the poverty in this area and the high level of illness, S.F.A. would like to make this one of our funding priorities. Fr. Paul took us to Mwirembe Primary School where another S.F.A. well has been constructed this year. Out of love and respect for their priest, the school has been renamed St. Paul’s School. To put you in the picture this school has 500 students; only forty-eight desks and no supplies. In one class there are 56 students sitting on the dirt floor and the wall serves as a chalk board. A 10’x10’ room is the classroom for ninety early childhood students and has one table with no other supplies. As if this isn’t enough to cope with the students have to line up for their chance to use a very dilapidated, unsanitary pit latrine – in fact that very day the staff had to push up the walls that had collapsed to one of the latrines. Phew! We can only imagine the health hazards the children & the staff face day after day.
We are really anxious to get home and start talking and sharing our stories to help make a positive impact on Samberere & Mwirembe/St. Paul’s School. Together we can make a difference.
Our last Sunday in Kenya took us to the home of John, our trusted friend & driver. This was a little bit of heaven way out in the country. The view was stunning and well worth the half hour downhill trek through mud & rocks. The home is totally inaccessible by any vehicle. John built his mud house in only one month. The women in the family had prepared a traditional Kenyan meal of ugali, chipati & kuku. We were blessed with the fellowship of family, friends and chickens wandering in and out.
On this trip we have experienced a wide range of emotions. Thanks to the twenty-four year old van we also have seriously “rattled bones” . Now that we have showered off the kilo of dust each day from driving the back roads of Kenya we realize just how fortunate we are to have had these experiences. We leave a little bit of us behind with all our old & new friends. Having witnessed the ravages of the famine & drought first hand we leave hoping that help comes soon to this land & these good people.
Darlene, Wendy & Charlotte.