We arrived in Meru a few days ago and it was well worth the trip out here. Our surroundings are beautiful. The Eastern part of Kenya seems so much nicer from a sight point of view. It is more lush and green and there is a lot less garbage on the streets. We are surrounded by Mount Kenya here so driving to go places there is always a fantastic view of the mountain. You can see the peak up in the clouds on the clear hours of the day.
On our first day here, we had a whole itinerary planned by Mercy and her staff to visit the Ripples International Centre and then participate in the Prenatal Workshop the entire staff was attending. When we got there they had asked me what I wanted to talk about and I was like I have no idea? Why don’t you guys run the workshop and I will just interject whenever necessary. I was really panicked about the whole thing as it was never really revealed why we were there in the first place so it seemed so weird that they wanted me to present. Before the extremely long workshop took place, Kendall and I were given a tour through the entire centre and it was amazing. I can’t believe the work this woman has done here. Mercy and her husband had originally worked for the United Nations and eventually quit their jobs and sold everything they had to start a centre for teenage rape rescue. They started with a small space that had one room and 10 years later they basically have a compound of three amazing building and a staff of 72 people. The Rescue Centre right now has about 17 girls living there. About 3 were pregnant, a Few already had babies and some where living there as their cases were being dealt with in the courts. Most of the girls were subjected to incest rape and some of the babies were from girls being raped by their fathers, or uncles. Me and Kendall still talk about what would we do if…. It’s just so unfathomable. I mean, it happens even in North America and all over the world but when a small town like this has 17 girls living in their shelter it’s a big problem. then there is the building that houses the abandoned children, Mercy saves kids that have been left as babies on the street or both parents have died and they are under two. These children live here and are looked after until the age of three where they are then send out to random adoption agencies ready to be adopted or adopted within the community under guardianship. These kids were soooooo cute, I could just take one or two of them home. There were two little babies there around 6 months old and to hold them and tickle them and see them smile was so amazing I can’t even explain the feeling. these little children are human beings. They are so precious and innocent and to be so close to them and understand their realities is just pure gut rot. There to many to save but again to look around and see how Mercy has given all these children hope has been so inspirational to me I still can’t believe I met this lady in a random hotel, in a random moment. From there, we went to the school they have built. this was a three story building of amazing classrooms, computers and teachers. They run kindergarden to grade 8 here. Some of the orphaned kids will attend school here, some of the teenagers from the rescue centre will attend school here and then mostly, kids from the community that have parents attend school here. the idea is that if a family wants their child to attend the school then their fees are higher which then helps to fund the kids that are orphaned. Most people in the community want their kids to come here because of Mercy’s international work and her ability to provide better opportunities for kids. Some of Mercy’s best work is that she has managed to have 11,000 children sponsored within Meru from local families and from international sponsorship. I am just in awe over the work that has been done in this community.
The Seminar went from about 11:00am till 5 and it was basically like taking a childbirth education class. I have to admit it was very well organized, I was kind of expecting some half understood knowledge of pregnancy and labor but it was not the case at all. There were a few things where I was scratching my head and thinking well, I am not sure where they got that fact because it’s wrong, I’d interject in a polite way and say well actually it’s more like this…. Throughout the workshop when a challenging question was asked by a participant the nurse presenting would simply say Why don’t we let Dorothy answer that question for us… so here I am explaining things like placenta privia, gestational diabetes, posterior and anterior babies, iron deficiencies and the cause for women who eat dirt when they are pregnant in Africa (yup!!! dirt! at home its Mcdonald’s Sundays with a pickle here it’s actual dirt) I spoke about labor support as some of the men in the workshop were curious as to why women were “mean” in their pregnancy, was it voodoo? Which was mind boggling so I explain the shifts in oestrogen progesterone and prolactin… and basically say why don’t we give you a massive watermelon to carry straight for 9 months in this heat… and everyone laughed and applauded. And the big question of the day was…. is Abortion a crime or a sin? when that question came on the screen me and Kendall literally looked at each other like WTF are we really going there? This was going to be interesting in a major christian community that in many ways is tied with lack of education and social stigmas and child rape pregnancies. The conversation had many opinions like let God decide, let the Doctor decide, there was NO let the girl decide. That was for sure!
The following day Mercy had arranged for her brother to take us on a mini safari to a National Park about 2 hours away called Sweet Waters. On the way we get to stop in a small town that the equator passes through and stand on the line of the equator. It was a nice day, we did the typical driving around this open landscape looking for the big 5. We saw plenty of Rhinos, elephants giraffes but none of the cats. We did get to feed and pet a blind Rhino that was really cool as most had to watch it from a ramp but he took us down to actually have hands on with him. We also got to feed chimpanzees that were being kept and raised in the sanctuary part of the Park.
As we head back home to Mercy’s a nice day turns into a disaster. But in fairness, it should have been expected as nothing here in Africa is ever easy or just plain simple. So a safari day could not just be a nice safari day, too easy! Mercy’s brother and the little Mercy that we brought stop to take us to the local market in town because Kendall wanted to buy some mango’s. I was fast asleep in the car but woke up to go check out the fruit. We go into this little stand and we are investigating the mangos which seem to not be ripe enough, the man cuts one open for us to try and we eat it and the next thing you know I hear a CRACK CRACK CRACK….. behind me. I freeze, I don’t look behind me and I look at Mercy and Kendal and say OMG what was that? By the looks on their faces, I know it’s bad. I turn around and his fresh eggs are pretty much smashed on the floor, they had tipped over and I swear I never ever touched them once! Mercy is on the phone trying to call Big Mercy about what to do, her brother is no where in sight and I am standing there going now what? now what? now what? It doesn’t help when Mercy is NOT answering me and I simply know I am in for big money just cause I am white. I sit down on a rock and men start to come over from everywhere and they are all trying to get the eggs together. One man then 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 50, 60, 80, 100, women, children, I can’t even tell you how many people came. Now Mercy’s brother shows up and like Mohammed Alli he is taking them all on. He refuses to let me pay the amount that NO ONE HAS EVEN TOLD ME IS we just know the number will be atrocious. So on top of these broken eggs we have Mercy’s brother and the egg owner yelling and around them we have about ten other individual fights of who knows what. I am trying to see who is fighting on my behalf to see if it was a town divided. It was not. I had two supporters Mercy and her brother. Now, I am sitting on the ground I look up and I swear I am surrounded like a lych mob. A man is taking photos of me and I get pissed, In Africa you are not allowed to pull out a camera and take pictures of anyone or anything when you have not asked. So when I get up and yell oh ya you want to take photos of me then here I go too…. I take pictures… and OMG that made the whole things WORSE. EVERYONE and I mean EVERYONE started yelling at me. In that moment I felt like I was going to be attacked for my camera. Bad Idea… so I put my camera away, and I start giving everyone the finger! ya I know I resolved to absolute finger profanity… That did me in… The men in the crowd were horrified by this and Mercy quickly started pushing me and telling me to run to the car. The men started pushing Mercy and Mercy’s brother starts pushing some men back. ME? I run for my life to the car and hide. Kendall comes with me and she is like WTF have you done… Why is there chaos everywhere you turn, why couldn’t we just have had a safari day? Before you know it the mob has surrounded the car. Mercy’s brother is trying to open the car door to get away and then men keep pushing it shut, Mercy is not being allowed to get into the car and there are hundreds of people surrounding the car. I start to hide my phone and camera and NOW for the first time I am SCARED and start to cry. The worst is we look up and a psycho deranged girl that looks possessed by a demon picks up a massive boulder type rock and shes yelling some demonic stuff and threatening to throw the bolder through the windshield. I ask Mercy what she yelling about and Mercy says she’s telling everyone to put pressure on us so that we will give them all our money. OVER EGGS, really people? over eggs? This is beyond insane. Especially when I said I would pay for the eggs. However it’s not about paying for the cost of the eggs it was about how much the town stood to profit from the muzunga. the actual egg owner is at my back door and he sees I am freaked out and crying and finally he says ok no problem 2000 shillings and no problem, I make everyone go away. I hand over about $25 CDN and he tells everyone to leave. Just like that. About 40 minutes of the scariest thing ever and it’s done. I am so shaken up and crying and I really really really really want to go to the airport and go home! Really it’s time to go home.
This becomes our dinner conversation for the night. Mercy has now returned from Malawi this evening and hears the story and I am so embarrassed over the fact that the town went up in eggs over me. Go Figure!
Today we wake up to the news that we are going to church. OH MAN! I look at Kendall and both of us are like know we are in for swahili devil rebuking seizure episodes for hours. However it was absolutely nothing like that. It was a beautiful pentecostal service with worship music just like my meeting house back home and all in english. I am thrilled and so happy we got to experience some awesome worship on the last day of our trip. In fact, it was very fitting to have prayed, listened to how life is about experiencing God and not watching our lives like it’s just a performance. After the service the Pastor sat me and Kendall down privately and prayed for us. I am so in my element and just love it. So today I am feeling super blessed! except for the red dots forming on my hands and face that has me googling every african disease on the internet and driving Kendall crazy.
It’s our last day our plane leaves tomorrow at 6:00pm, if it’s going to be simple it leaves at 6:00pm and it’s my birthday tomorrow!!! March 3rd. for my 42nd birthday I will toggle three continents Africa and then cross over into Europe where we stop in Rome and then to Canada, kind of a cool birthday, as travelling is the most amazing part of my life experiences. My ability to come here to Africa and begin the long journey of caring for vulnerable children and dedicating my work to Rebirth the Word One Village at a Time and actually feeling like I am not watching a performance but that I am actually living a life of Godly experiences. Little Mercy said something to me a few days ago that has sat in my mind…. “we don’t give because we have the ability to do so, we give because we are called to by God” so Dear God, for my 42nd year I don’t ask for a thing (well maybe just that these red dots on my hands and face are just bug bites) I don’t ask for material wealth or abundance in possessions. I simply ask that you stand beside me or in front of me and lead me towards a life that changes this WORLD in the years that you have given me left to live. May the people in my life or come across my path be called through some inspiration that I emit to also do the same.