Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A New Year Always Brings Hope . . .

Here we are in 2010!!! I celebrated Christmas Eve with PCV Erin and her visiting parents, sister and other Kenyan friends. We ate traditional goat (we witnessed the slaughter that morning) with a variety of side dishes, ALL fresh and good. Garlic mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes and beans, very traditional ugali (Kenyan cake) and greens, all wonderfully prepared and fun. We had a follow up dinner the day after Christmas at the rural home of MCC's new chairman, Joseph Kithome and his wife Mary.
New Year's Day I did community trash clean up - the group said they would be there but were not, I wondered about that when they said they would be there,then the next week they told mee they had forgotten that it was a holiday. Oh well!!! It kept me busy anyway - good way to start the new year - clean up!

During December, 25 new PCV's (education) came to visit MCC from PC's training site in Loitokitok. They toured MCC, met our staff and a few of the children. I gave them a briefing on our mission, vision and program content, as well as, my opinion and experience regarding the importance and manner of community integration. Our Winnie Academy (pre-school) children sang songs and recited portry. One of our MCC "graduates", Babu, who is now attending Moi University in law, told them about his life and the role MCC has played in it. Juliet, who is just moving from primary to secondary school, and has been in MANY poetry competitions and always does well,recited a beautiful poem in Kiswahili for the group. Recently (August) Juliet competed for her school, Kiambani Primary, in the Nationals in Mombasa (coast). The PCV's seem to enjoy themselves. 15 PC staff and trainers also accompanied them. MCC has many stars! Another is our academic star, Fidel. He recently completed Class 7 (primary) as the number 1 student in his class, again!! Fidel always finshes the year in the top 1, 2 or 3 spot. He loves to read which thrills me as I rarely see that in Makindu children or adults. Probably because their access to books including school books is limited. We have no public library of any kind and often school textbooks must be shared.

The holidays have been celebrated and the children of MCC are returning to school. MCC was closed for a few days, staff is now back renewed and refreshed and ready for a year of challenges, some new, some not so new, coupled with ambitious goals for improving the lives of more and more OVC's (orphans and vulnerable children) through program improvements . . . like a permanent classroom for our younger students in pre-school. Our 2010 goal amoung others!! Raising funds will be a 2010 focus to meet this goal.

The rain continues to pour all around Makindu but little, or more like none, in Makindu. Our crops look dwarfed compared to the areas around us. The green is a wonderful change, however, from the brown and dust that will return here too soon. But hope rings eternal . . . so we continue to hope for rain. I like that about Kenyans. All is lost without hope. They are predicting more famine - I hope "they" are wrong!!!

MCC has a new finance person, Ruth, a welcome and valuable addition to the team here. Cathy, a board member of Makindu Children's Program (MCP)in the US, who works for NYU paid us a visit in December. It was good meeting her. The children always enjoy visitors!! Her goodwill and enthusiasm are what helps the continued success of MCC in Makindu. She is currently working in Abu Dhabi setting up a new campus for NYU. MCP coordinates a major fundraising event evry two years called the Proper Walk . . . through areas in the Rift Valley of Kenya so Cathy; MCC's founder, Winnie Barron and others will return in August to Makindu to kick off that event - Winnie and other board members do the walk as well as donors who are tough,don't whine and can raise, I think $10,000 USD. It sounds like a great challenge and FUN!!

This week we were without water for four days . . . who knows why but rumor has it that the water company didn't pay their electric bill to run the pumps - anyway, whatever, it was a little inconvenient but you just adjust and today all is OK with water again. The mama's with young children have the hardest time as they wash (by hand of course) almost every day!!

As I told you, I read a lot. That's my night life . . . EVERY night and Sunday (my day off). So I have a couple of books to recommend, Richard Branson's (Virgin Companies) autobiography is a good read - what a full life he leads. Also, 2 books by Nobel Peace Prize winner, Muhammad Yumus - Banker to the Poor and Creating a World Without Poverty - I should have been HIS kind of banker, it fits me better . . . maybe there is still time? Erin (PCV Makindu) and I visited a similar banking operation in Nairobi, Jamii Bora, check out their website; if you have an interest, our friend there is Gabriel Kadidi. He is their communications "guy"; born and raised in the Kibera slums in Nairboi - a great success story. He has a weekly radio program also. The company appears awesome from what we saw and learned. My kind of banking . . .

A quote came in our monthly PC newsletter as a reminder to us from our Country Director, Steve. I know you have heard it before but it always a good reminder . . .
"The world is a great mirror. It reflects back to you what you are. If you are loving, if you are friendly, if you are helpful, the world will prove loving, friendly and helpful to you. The world is what you are." Thomas Dreier. It's a good reminder to all.

That's it for now. All is good here. The BEST to all in 2010. May you have a year of hopeful dreams that you assist to make come true!!! Love to all my family and friends. Paula