Sunday, May 31, 2009

It's MADARAKA DAY in Kenya

Happy Madaraka Day . . . it is independence day in Kenya . . . a holiday for most but not for us. MCC is "open" and working everyday except Sunday and some of us are here others are celebrating the holiday. The children will have no school but they will get lunch. I am going to see if it is possible for me to take some of them to the celebration . . . some is not possible, it will be all or none, I suspect. I an not sure yet how many will come today. The celebration starts at 10:00, Kenya time that is anywhere from 10 until noon. I say this from past experience here although I am seeing more and more that people are getting better about being on time!!! That is a good change. This past week we (MCC) has distributed "relief" food to the guardians for the children in our three areas - Makindu, Kiboko and Twaandu. They received beans, sugar and maize flour. It is probably enough for a few meals. They seemed appreciate, or most were, however; in this culture, please and thank you are not common.

I received a message from David Kioko from KISMA in Loitokitok last week and he informed me that your generosity has now sponsored 17 children to school. THANKS again!! Barbara (Wings of Peace International) tells me that $600 plus is targeted for November. David and Susan, the fund coordinators, are thrilled. Thank you again . . . only through education of the youth in Kenya will life ever change here. It is so important and they deserve the opportunity to go to school and it is NOT free!!

Tomorrow I am taking 10 MCC guardians on a "field trip" to see a very successful women's group oin a nearby town. Their group is called HURUMA. They are 30 plus women who work together on MANY income generating activities to help better their lives. They own their own thrashing and grinding machine and it is located in a building which they also own. They make many, many different types of flour from every grain you can think of and many that you don't even know in the US. They also weave, sew and cultivate a shamba (farm) which they are currently renting. I am hopeful that this group of guardians from MCC will learn from this group and take their ideas back to Makindu and put them into action to better their own lives and the lives of the MCC children. It is my "job" to provide them with information, it is their job to turn that information into income generating activities. I cannot give them the motivation, that has to come from them. I can only hope that this group, chosen by them, is the right group to lead others to "do something". Many just wait for something to be given to them while others go out and "get" and "do" for themselves.

Yesterday my Kiswahili teacher (Kilonzo) and I visited (for the second time) a VERY successful shamba. The owner and his wife, Pascale and Christine are wonderful people with a nice "big" family. Their shamba is so productive and beautiful because he dug a 40 foot well to irrigate - what a difference!!! It is all about water and people wanting to work hard. They grow virtually everything you can imagine; maize (corn) 3 types, bananas, papaya (the trees must have 50 plus on every tree), sweet potatoes, onions, beans, tomatoes, cassava, mangos, sugarcane, watermelon, pumpkin, kale, kunde(like kale). That is all I can think of at the moment. They are also very generous, they give the first harvest to the church, then they eat then they give and sell to others. They gave me a watermelon, papaya and corn. I regifted the watermelon and the corn to my neighbors. It is so good to see some people doing so well. They also have a dairy cow and chickens. They are few (the ones doing well) here but the ones that there are, are GREAT MODELS for others.

This week (Wed-Fri) I am attending a workshop in Wote - a town not too far from Makindu. It is sponsored by the group that the other PCV (Erin) works with in Makindu. They were gracious to invite me. It is a training for farmers who do "collective marketing" of indiginous chickens so they might train others. I never knew when I was assigned to Kenya I might return to the US trained as a farmer . . . one never knows what opportunities lie ahead in one's life.

I also plan to work with our MCC boy, Nyamai, on his speech. That will take some time but he will come around in time.

We are also making plans in Makindu for a BIG celebration called Day of the African Child, that takes place on June 16th. It is a busy month . . . that is all good.

I hope everyone is doing well and all are healthy. I think I gave the wrong info to you in case you want to call me. I believe you dial a + then 254-722-370-165. Don't be shy, you can call me anytime, I would love to hear from you. The phone service is FAR superior to the internet service. Take good care!!

Love always!! Paula

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Second Post Attempt on DAD's Birthday!!!!

This must be a lucky day . . . continued from last post.  I don't think I have mentioned this before, if I did, sorry!!  There must be around 25 to30 children (growing by the day) that I see and greet on my way to work and home again.  I have taught them to greet me with a high-five hand slap then I say "watcha" which is hello in Kikamba to young people and they respond "ah",  then we do the Obama fist bump and we say "Obama"!!  This is so much fun and the word is spreading fast - so now instead of greeting me with "mazungu" meaning foreigner or "how are you?" we greet the NEW way, I love it!!  I also taught the kids in Loitokitok the same.  I wonder if our President knows how often his name is spoken with love and respect EVERYDAY? I  for one am glad Obama is taking a harsh stand on the government corruption here, it has to improve before the people of Kenya will benefit from the decisions of their elected officials.   I want to THANK!!! so very much Lyzette and Barbara for all they have done to help with donations and understanding of our work with the children here is Kenya.  So little goes so far and as I keep saying to all, the future of Kenya is the youth and children, change will not happen without them.  So all we are doing to make their lives better is ALL GOOD!!!
I have sent my camera chip to Lyzette who will try to give my blog some spice wth a few photos . . . I hope all goes well in this regard.  I really believe is is hard for you to believe that internet access and reliability is hard here in Makindu - a lot of it is probably me too.
I hope you are all well and happy . . . all is good here!!! Happy Birthday to my relatives in June; Broke and Lilly!!  Thanks to those who write to me . . . I love getting your letters and cards.  Sorry about those who email - those responses from me are less frequent and will continue to be.  I love what I am doing and can only hope I am making a little difference to some.  Bye for now.  Love to all, Paula

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Frustration . . . Patience . . . HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!!!

Hello . . . it has been a while . . . I tried to publish this blog on May 16th and the internet failed as I was attempting to send, so here goes again, I hope it is successful this time.  It is now the 28th of May;  HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!!!
I had a good first success this week (May 11th). I was successful in securing a surgical procedure for one of our MCC children, Nyamai (5 1/2 years old).  This was a follow up request from Winnie Barron, MCC's founder.  She visited us in April for a couple of weeks from Oregon.  After a few blunders trying to navigate the hospital system, the doctor agreed to do the procedure on Wednesday, May 20th.  Nyamai cannot speak at all clearly because he is "tongue tied".  We have to go thru one more appointment to reconfirm but I am hopeful all will go well.  Now this is the 28th, I can tell you that all went WELL!!  The doctor agreed to do the procedure free of charge.  Otherwise we would have had to wait until AMREF sent a doctor in June.  The procedure is normally done when children are very little.  I have no idea why Nyamia fell thru the cracks for so long but he was scheduled last year and "they" scratched him off the list and told him to go home and eat sugarcane . . . that obviously was not the answer.  He has now returned to school and I and the teacher will work with him to improve his speak by teaching him how to use his tongue.  His father is very happy and I hope in time Nyamai will be too.  I am not too sure he understands what happened, it will take time. It was supposed to be a simple procedure but he ended up spending 4 nights in the hospital, I'm still not sure why about that either.
The MCC guardians finished up 5 sessions of goat keeping training that I arranged thru the Ministry of Livestock.  The trainers were very good.  All was in the Kikamba language, but I benefited as well.  The guardians seem very appreciate and have already made changes in feed, housing, grazing and they have used medicines to improve the health of their stock.  I just hope this improvement continues.  They are reporting that their goats are much healthier.  YEAH!!! I am hoping that some will be interested in dairy goat keeping.  This milk would be very good for the children and the milk production is much greater than in meat goats.  I am going to send this blog now and continue with a new one so I don't lose this one again!!