Thursday, August 20, 2009

Back In Action . . . MCC; Makindu

We (some PCV's) have been away (Nanyuki and Mombasa; Kenya) for the last 2 1/2 weeks in Permaculture Training and HIV/AIDS - PEPFAR funded program - this one with our counterparts. So . . . late July and early August were great in the "treat" department for MCC children. Our friends from the Sikh Temple passing through on their way to either Nairobi or Mombasa stopped to provide milk, juice, snack foods, clothing, new serving dishes and candy for the children. ALL is greatly appreciated and it is fun to watch the children enjoy these special gifts so much.

Due to the drought, we had a zebra friend have a bad experience next door to our school. At about 9:00 a.m. one morning we observed a zebra in the "water district" compound, he apparently had jumped the fence looking for greener pastures and water. Next thing we knew, he jumped into a shallow well, a dry shallow well, and got stuck. Several men came to pull him out, successfully, but he was very weak and couldn't stand after his atruggle to free himself. Later the Kenyan Wildlife Service came on the scene to assess the situation. They had a hard time believing our story but eventually they did. The zebra was allowed to rest for a while but wasn't recovering very rapidly. The KWS returned after a couple of hours and loaded our weak zebra into the truck. We all believe he was nursed back to health but . . . we won't know. The animals we see everyday, mostly cows and goats are very skinny as we still have had no rain so there is little or NO food for them to graze on. Most are seaching for water. I hope the National Park's animals are in better shape. We have had no further wild animal sightings.

Permaculture Training (permaculture is integration of beneficial relationships/use what you have at hand) was great!! It was held in Nanyuki, a view of Mt. Kenya everyday that the clouds allow; I hope to climb it before leaving Kenya. Our training was focused on how to make life better for PLWH (People Living With HIV). We learned how to make compost for shamba (farm) use using indigenous materials, soapmaking, how to make beet root juice, aloe juice, sack gardens,along with various cultivation and planting methods (I'll fit right in back in the US if I can find a farmer who needs help!!) Seriously, it was all very useful information that we can pass on in our work at our individual sites. In fact, we had a soapmaking training just yesterday for 17 guardians in the Kiboko area for MCC.

Then . . . we traveled to Mombasa, on the COAST of the Indian Ocean. Our training facility was right on the water, tough to concentrate but the sessions were interesting and helpful. We focused 2 days on more language training and then on HIV/Aids issues and information. We were asked to bring one of our counterparts with us. One of the social workers from MCC, Mumbe, accompanied me. She has been at MCC since late last year, a recent graduate of Kenyetta University in Nairobi. She had a great time, learned a lot and it gave us a chance to get to know each other better. Our interactions with the other Kenyan counterparts was very valuable. We are different in our approaches and cultures and the exchanges were enlightening and valuable for better communication. I stayed with a few PCV's one extra day to do some siteseeing. Mombasa is a large port city and very diverse in culture and people. The people are very nice and take life at a slower pace. I think because it is SO hot and humid most of the time. It felt very much like Florida in the summer and this was their winter. The summer is supposed to be almost unbearable.

I plan to travel to Loitokitok next week to "check on" our KISMA project there. I will meet and talk to the sponsored children before they return for their final term of school for 2009. They have been off for much of the month of August except those who stay for special/extra help.

We have more income generating activity trainings scheduled for the guardians at MCC during the next few months. My hope is that they will really take hold and make a different in their lives. It is frustrating when we have to cancel a training because they would rather (or are forced to because they have no food)stand in line for Red Cross food relief than learn about an activity they could do that could earn them income and they wouldn't need food relief. That happened today - we had a training scheduled to teach them how to make donuts and crisps (potato chips made from cassava and sweet potatoes) both are popular and could generate good income but the Red Cross is doing food relief and no one would come so we cancelled and rescheduled for the 3rd. They admittedly have a culture of dependency,we are trying to break that but the task is not easy. Day by day we work to change it . . . my belief is that there are those who want to change and those that will never change, we focus on those who want to change, you can't force it. We are all waiting for a copy of the book Dead Aid, which has been sold out here, but it might be better to read it when our service is complete.

Tomorrow, Friday,I am headed to a three day meeting in a town close by called Kibwezi. The staff of MCC is getting together to discuss policies and procedures and develop some new ones for the organization. It will be time well spent.

The children are doing well. I am anxious for the small ones to come back to MCC in total in September. They also have been "off" for August although we continue to offer lunch for them every day, not all of them come and it is quiet.

Thanks to my friend, Lyzette, in Winter Park, you can see some photos on the blog!! Thanks Lyzette!!! Thanks to each of you who write and send "stuff", it is a delight to get mail. I'm good and continuing to do what I can to make a small difference, one never knows. The only small issue . . . I think I may have broken my toe in April and it healed kind of crooked but adhesive tape works wonders . . . repair before I leave Kenya . . . maybe. It is not a big deal!!! Love to all and the best in whatever is keeping you busy these days. Be safe and healthy!!


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Photos are finally up

Lyzette here for Paula, I've finally got all the photos up and captioned.
Cut and paste this link to access: