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E mail from Wendy and Charlotte Sent April 21st 2012 from Maseno, Kenya

Jambo from Maseno, Kenya

Hi everyone. I thought I was going to wait awhile to write a letter home but we have just had such a good day I think I have to share it with you.

I will start at the beginning though. I left Montreal last Sunday evening and following a long and tiring day and a half of airplanes and airports I finally landed in Nairobi on Tuesday morning. I experienced some frantic minutes of panic over a few lost bags, one being my personal carry-on that required a trip in the hold of the aircraft at the last minute in Amsterdam. After about fifteen minutes of searching all was well and I had all fifteen bags on carts and was ready to face customs. OhOh! I was one of the last to arrive at the customs counter and the agent was not impressed that I was traveling with that much luggage all alone. He grilled me on what was inside the bags, where they were going and asked to search one of them. Luckily he chose one that contained a fairly accurate account of what I had said was inside. He still wasn’t happy and called for a supervisor. She sauntered over and asked all the same questions. The long and the short of it was they finally released me and all my bags and I was on my way. David met me 15 minutes later and he had all the bags loaded into a van and off we went.

David dropped me at the Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi where I was greeted by a new friend named Shariffa. We had communicated through email but had not met. Shariffa is the founder of the Hawkers Market Girls Centre in Nairobi and I had the distinct pleasure of spending a couple of hours at the centre with her and talking with the girls. What a fun & enlightening experience.

Following a quick stop at Shariffa’s home to meet her grandchildren and her dogs I was off to shop a little in Nairobi and then back to the airport for my flight to Kisumu.

I found an enthusiastic welcome waiting for me – both Fr. Paul and Charlotte were there as I left the airport! Smiles and hugs all around! Following the hour or so drive to Maseno we arrived at the apartment that Charlotte has called home for the last 3 1/2 months. It is great. We have two bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen and A SHOWER!! The apartment is about 45 minutes from Emalindi – where the new medical centre is located that Charlotte has been working on for the past 2 months or so.

SFA started preliminary planning the clinic in the late fall of last year and here we are about to open the clinic next Saturday. Charlotte and David (our Kenyan agent) have worked tirelessly to see this project come to such a successful completion. We will have lots of photos to share following the grand opening ceremony.

We won’t bore you with all the details of the various meetings we have endured in the past three days but will get straight to today.

Today we had a packed schedule with all of the education sponsorship students we have in our project in Khayega. There are 28 students in this program and we have been fortunate in finding caring people in Canada to supply the funds to sponsor these students so they can stay in school and get a valuable education. The day began with four students performing self-written poems for us. This is the end of term 1 and the students had to bring their report cards for review. Each Canadian sponsor had written a note of encouragement to their student. With a little assistance these notes were read and a reply note written back. All students receive new uniforms each year, school supplies, all school fees paid and one meal per day at school. Thanks to some extra money that was donated to the program this year we are able to purchase shoes for each student – most children do not own a pair of shoes and they suffer the consequences of injury and jiggers etc.. We could not take all 28 students to buy their shoes so we traced their feet and will buy shoes for them one day this week. We then handed out the new uniforms – all the children went immediately to change. They looked fabulous. What a transformation. The uniforms are a success story also – one of the students that was sponsored through a sewing internship made them all. Her name is Phyllis.

Next it was treat time. Again thanks to a specific donation we were able to purchase a soda pop for each child and tea for all of their caregivers. Pop is a really special treat for these children – you should have seen their faces! I brought maple cookies and maple candy (donated by St. Georges Church in Ste. Annes) for the children and they found the sweets very tasty. The caregivers got chocolate covered cranberries and that was also a big hit. The students are all flourishing thanks to their sponsors and most of them are enjoying improved marks. It is a real pleasure to see the difference in them in the three years since the program started.

We celebrated the completion of our packed agenda by taking Susan (another of our agents here) out for lunch. We ate out of doors under an awning and it was so refreshing.

Tomorrow we will be with the Shanyinya community to meet the new cow that was has just been purchased. Later this week we will actually go to market to purchase a cow for another community group – will report on that in the next letter.

We are having a great though hectic time here and feel very lucky to be representing SUITCASES FOR AFRICA. We have a very busy week ahead in part preparing for the big day next Saturday. Please all join together to hope and pray for a sunny (not too hot) day.

We hope you are all well and enjoying spring. Has it warmed up a little??

Love to all of our families and friends,

Wendy & Charlotte