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Wed Sept 25th 2013, Mukumu, Kenya

Jambo from Michele & Wendy,

We are sitting in the dining room of our spacious cottage on the grounds of St. Elizabeth Hospital in Mukumu. We are reflecting on our first ten days visiting our friends and our projects through out the region. Following is a synopsis of our travels so far:

Our trip did not get off to a good start. British Airways did not honour their commitment to allow all 30 bags to come with us to Kenya. Thank goodness our husbands, Gordon and Richard, had not just left us at the airport because we had to consolidate the luggage down to 26 bags – and we did it!

Our first real African experience was to spend some time at the Hawker’s Market Girls Centre in Nairobi. What an amazing accomplishment for Shariffa to educate and train over a dozen young women every year and actually find jobs or further education opportunities for them all each year. We got to learn how to make paper beads and watched as some of the girls made aprons and bags. It was a real pleasure to be with them all.

We left the centre and made our way to a facility that recycles discarded flip flops into imaginative masterpieces. Please visit their web site at ocean-sole.com for photos and information.

As we were heading back to our hotel the driver asked if we would like to visit the Giraffe Sanctuary in Nairobi? Of course we couldn’t refuse and gladly paid the 1,000ksh to meet Daisy the giraffe. What a treat that was.

We left Nairobi and flew to Kisumu on the 18th. – just before the terrorist attack on the 21st. Everyone in Kenya is devastated and the country is in mourning. Even though we were far away and safe we still felt the shock of such a horrendous action!

Our first official visit was to St. Paul’s/Mwirembe School where over 600 students were waiting to welcome us. Due to the rain the night before the road up to the school was virtually impassable and we got hopelessly stuck in the muck! A quick call to the school brought the cavalry in the form of all the bigger boys running down the road laughing and cheering as they came to push us out of the mud. What a sight that was. A sea of handsome boys with bright pink uniform shirts. This was Michele’s first exposure to hundreds of smiling cheering students. So fun!

As an SFA project the school has been freshly painted Bermuda Blue and they were all very proud to show it off to us.

The children were very excited and it took the head teacher – Danson – about 30 seconds to have them all calmly & silently standing, waiting for us to officially greet them. It was inspiring.

Off we went for a late lunch with Fr. Paul and believe it or not Michele really liked the Ugali. We then moved to the Beraldo Family Medical Centre for a quick introduction to all the staff. Saturday we spent most of the day at the Medical Centre where we were delighted to meet a little baby girl who has just been born late Friday night! Her name is Vero and she is truly beautiful. She is the 15th baby born at the Centre.

Sunday found us at Shanyinya Pentecostal Assembly of God Church where we were privileged to sit in for a brief time as their service was going on. The singing, drumming and passion was awe inspiring and the women had already been taking part in the service for three hours. It was scheduled to continue for another few hours. We met the early childhood students who are benefiting from a special project funded by a donor through SFA. They looked so cute in their new uniforms sitting in their colourful chairs at their tables.

Monday morning was a real threat for us to visit St. Ursula Special School for Handicapped Children who proudly showed off their new uniforms that had been paid for by SFA and had been made on site as a vocational training endeavour. We toured the facility, had lunch with the principal and bid the students an fond farewell hoping to get back home before dark. It was really great to see them all doing so well.

Itegero – Ebi’s primary school – was our next stop. Another animated welcome greeted us as we pulled into the compound. All students and staff were thrilled to see all books that we brought with us for their library. The soccer uniforms and new soccer ball where a huge hit – as were the stickers that we handed out. The teachers were very pleased with all the teaching supplies.

On Tuesday we bid our friends at Mill Hill Guest House in Kisumu a fond farewell and headed to Mukumu. Typically the power went out as we entered our new lodgings and did not return until mid-morning the next day. We sure rushed through an icy cold shower in the morning.

Today was our best day yet – we got to visit and play with the students at St. Joseph The Worker facility in Malava. These children are severely handicapped. Most of them suffer from epilepsy or cerebral palsy. We were treated to an impromptu song which turned into a traditional African dance & song performance. We ended our visit by allowing the kids to try their best at blowing bubbles and trying to catch the bubbles. The laughter was contagious and everyone had a great time.

We can’t wait to show you our photos and videos as soon as can manage to set them up on our website.

We want everyone to know that we are really safe here and having the time of our lives with our friends.

We are about to head off to bed – snug in our mosquito tents for a much need restorative sleep as we have the honour of attending a special ceremony to officially open Joshua’s Well tomorrow.

Thank you to everyone who has been emailing messages from home. The Internet is very limited here and not very reliable but we do enjoy hearing from you & we hope to be able to send this letter home tonight.

Lala Salama everyone – Good night.

Wendy & Michele