A Town up in Eggs

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.

Chimpanzee sanctuary

Chimpanzee sanctuary

 

Feeding Barrack the blind Rhino

Feeding Barrack the blind Rhino

Nanyuki Kenya the equator

Nanyuki Kenya the equator

The Ripples International complex

The Ripples International complex

A crowd of men gather over broken eggs

A crowd of men gather over broken eggs

 

the people surround the entire car as I hide in the back.  Over broken eggs really??

the people surround the entire car as I hide in the back. Over broken eggs really??

 

 

 

 

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Mercy and How it all Came to Be

Another day, another ridiculous twist of events.  What has transpired today has us both laughing hysterically over the fact so much stress was caused the last couple of weeks for pretty much nothing.  We are constantly in disarray and always exhausted by the lack of ease here.  The lack of consistency or the fact as I mention that no plan is a plan cause nothing makes simple sense.  Well, ironically enough the one time we actually had a plan that we were suppose to count on, we shredded it 100 different ways and basically assumed it would fall through and sabotaged it ourselves.  But one thing we both agree on is SOMEONE higher than us had his own plan and he was going to make sure we followed it.  Where we are now, is so opposite to all I have talked about in two weeks, this is not a slum or a cheap Nairobi hotel or a shanty make shift orphange. We are actually living in the lap of the finest Kenyan luxury and we are stunned and acting like we have never seen a couch or curtains before in our lives.  In just over a couple of weeks we went from middle class Canadians to living a life of struggle and basic needs to being dropped into an eastern Kenyan mansion and we are afraid to touch stuff cause we feel don’t belong. It’s so weird.  Meanwhile back at home this is not even that luxurious but for Africa, this is living with Simon Cowell.  How it all came to be…

Well, when we first arrived in Nairobi back about a million years ago, we met Mercy.  We spent about 10 minutes together in a car with her and her friend Koi.  This and that leads to we have plans to be in Meru on the 27th for a birth kit workshop that she has organized for me at a teenage rape pregnancy rescue center.  Well we exchange numbers and she guarantees that she will come get us in Nairobi on the 27.  No time given, no place given.  Just see you the 27th.   No big deal, we will just be in touch over the next week and all will be straightened out and organized.  Nope.  Doesn’t work like that…. you see fully made organized plans are failed plans in Africa, but plans that are not real plans but suggestive and seem sketchy in nature are the ones that are a 100% guaranteed to be fulfilled and we are just two stupid muzungas that didn’t know that duh! It kind of reminds me of this conversation me and Kendall had that sums it up Africa driving to Meru:

Driver – in Meru there are plenty of vegetables and fruits and he lists all the stuff we will find…. it is eastern coast and they have good soil

Me: oh in Matunda we didn’t have a lot of that.

Driver: oh you will have lots of Matunda….

Me and Kendall:  Huh what we will have not much?

Me: oh you mean fruit (matunda means fruit in swahili)

Driver: yes! you will have watermelon, passion fruit and oranges

Me: oranges wow I haven’t seen any oranges at all that would be nice.

Kendall: what are you talking about there were oranges everywhere in Matunda

Me: what no there were none I would have bought some.

Kendall: they weren’t orange they were green

Me: what those were limes

Kendall: noooo the limes were those tiny tiny green things the oranges were the big green things.

Me: are you freaking joking me the whole time we could have had oranges that I thought were massive limes.

Kendall: yup green oranges.

Me: of course we are in Africa why the hell would an orange be orange now that would just make to much sense and be way to easy.

Kendall: no kidding is this an orange or is this green?

and of course we are exhausted just having that conversation!!!!

So, basically what happens is we make this plan that seems like a plan but when there are no details it’s not really a plan.  Through the week I had emailed Mercy about 5 times and had no response, left messages at the Ripples organization which they kept saying Mercy is not around, and tried calling her cell that was pretty much off every time, we assume there is no plan. Well, we still keep the possibility alive because she said the 27th.  So by the end of our first week in Matunda, and all that we had been through, Kendall is not keen on another village, orphange or any type of charity work.  She is dead set against it and no way no how is she going to meru if the lady happens to call.  Well, I on the other hand really feel that a plan might still be a plan and I say that we have to go if she calls.  Kendall is like nope nope nope.  So it’s the 25th and we had made an agreement to leave that day when we thought we had a meru plan and even though we didn’t we made arrangments to spend a day in nairobi and then go on Safari thursday and made a new plan to have a safari driver pick us up.  I am NOT happy about the safari at all.  I think that safaris are ridiculous and chasing animals though a wide open space for three days while hitting my head on the steel roof from the bumpy roads was not fun and just disturbing the wildness of the animals and really how is that different than walking a zoo.  So her and I are at crossroads.  but the safari is booked.

My phone rings in Nairobi and we are in a tour at the Karen Blixen house and I can’t answer it.  I am sure it’s Mercy and Kendall is not happy and says I’m not going to Meru.  the number is a 233 area code which is Malawi and I am like it can’t be her.  of course I call back and again phone is off.  so nothing no more calls.  I have a heavy weight in my chest like something is not right and we need to go to meru not a safari.  I finally say if Mercy calls I am going to meru myself and you go on safari and she is not happy.  But something kept telling me that I had to be in Meru and I can’t even explain it.

We get up today and we are packing for the safari driver coming at 7:45am. I am clearly disappointed and she just wants t0 get in the safari and know exactly where she is going for the next 4 days and just have a plan.  At this point I have no choice there were no calls and today is the 27th, I am sure we would have heard by now.  Driver comes, and we have to go downtown first to the Safari head office to make our trip payment.  We park, go through some convoluted contraption of a building to the top floor and it’s shady and nasty.  I am NOT happy!  I tell her something feels wrong.  and she just wants to get on safari…  Well, we sit down to pay and because we are using credit card they try to up the fee.  We freak out and they are telling us to go to the bank right now and get the cash.  We can’t even take out that much cash from a machine and we are trying to tell them its not possible.  Well then you pay more… I am furious and we are now scrapping with the entire office.  They think I called them rip off artists (and for some reason people here take offensce to being told they are ripping you off even though clearly they are trying to squeeze you, they just want you to be ignorant to it and can’t stand it if your not!) so finally they say no extra fee and then charge my card in shillings.  I look at the amount, do the conversion and realized they upped the conversion amount by at least 2 points so essentially they took the extra fee. So, I call them out on it, they freak out I am suggesting they are ripping me off and they are mad at me… I am now DONE WITH THIS COUNTRY, I officially lose it…. This is not what we are here for.  we didn’t come to Kenya to take a safari.. this is not where we are suppose to be.. you wanted plans and we had them in Matunda or meru… She is pissed and voila my phone rings…. It’s MERCY!!!! at that moment in that second!  but….. I am stuck, I just paid for Safari and Kendall won’t go to Meru and we are set to go and if I leave her she will kill me.  So I tell Mercy that I tried contacting her and there was never a response and we didn’t know what to do and so we booked a safari and we were at the office paying. She was extremely hurt that I didn’t trust her and said but there is a workshop I have planned for you to teach tomorrow, I have health workers and nurses coming, they are excited about the kits and hearing you talk about childbirth, I made so many arrangements for your visit to Meru.  I am telling her I am so sorry I can’t go.  She did not yell or say a negative word only that she told me she was travelling and was not reachable and that her word was a promise and she thought  mine was too and that the plan was the 27th.  THE PLAN. WE HAD A PLAN?? geeze so confusing and nothing is easy. She asks when we will be back but its too late to make a trip to Meru since we leave Monday.  I am so upset, I hate the safari and I knew we should have trusted her.  She is a prominent women here in Kenya, with a name, substance and not some flake.  She runs a huge organization that has 11,000 children sponsored in Kenya.  I hang up and I am crying.  I need her in my life right now.  I need her experience, her expertise and I need to be in Meru to build a relationship with her to help me with my own sponsorship organization.  I just told her I couldn’t go.  It was done. I lookup at Kendall and I am crying.  But it gets better cause the safari people are so mad at me for questioning there authenticity that they refund all the money in my card unbeknownst to me and so I say why did you refund the money now and the lady is like you didn’t want to pay and Kendall’s like she never said that now what….THAT’S IT!!!!! this was a sign.  I am not going on a safari. I grab my stuff and tell her to go on safari but I am not going and I am going to do something else.  I walk out and leave her there.  I call mercy back and of course phone is off. She is in Malawi with no reception. I am screwed.  So I am in the hallway crying and Kendall comes out and I say what are you doing she’s like I am not going alone and if you want to go to Meru then call Mercy, I tell her I did and that the phone is off. I told Kendall the fact we mistrusted her and she was the one person  we actually should have trust all this time makes me feel so guilty.  That Mercy was clearly disappointed and hurt and I did that to her.  Kendall at that moment has a brilliant idea… Mercy’s friend that was in the car with us that day gave us a business card let’s call her and tell her what happened and how we got all mixed up and maybe she can find Mercy somehow in Malawi. WELL BINGO.  Koi knew that all the plans were made for us in Meru and the Mercy was delayed in Malawi and could not make it today to get us but that a driver had been hired for us and that people were waiting for us in Meru and that she thought we would have tried calling her this week since we knew Mercy was in Malawai (which we didn’t know know but for some reason they thought we knew) SOOOOO after all this nonsense all we could have done was call Koi and voila we would have had a full proof plan in Kenya this entire time!

We take a taxi back to the hotel Koi said she will call me back as she has to contact the driver now since we are going after all and let everyone know.  Three hours later we are in a car with the driver that was already arranged apparently a week ago… there is a game drive arranged for us, a big seminar for me to teach tomorrow, and our rooms made up and events organized.  This plan was legit and the hospitality that was arranged for us is at absolutely NO COST TO US. It was so heartfelt and amazing, that we hated ourselves.  So we think we are on the way to a village to spend another 4 days in a similar environment as Matunda and when we arrive our jaws hit the ground.  A FREAKING MANSION… big iron gates with a guard. our rooms await with private bathrooms, this place is the Taj Mahal of Kenya.  We are touching the big huge awesome sectional couch like we never saw a couch before, we are standing in the bathroom like we never saw one before, there is even a beautiful white dog that looks like a long haired chihuaha all groomed and dainty, we act like a dog is alien to us… the funniest is we look to them like poor mazungas taken out of a village and don’t know how to act.  Well Mercy won’t be back till Saturday as she is delayed in Malawi but she has made all the arrangements for us and we will be looked after and this is her home and to feel very comfortable… there are chandeliers, a fridge a stove and even a water cooler. we are mesmerized!!!!

We then freshen up we get into conversation with the girl that let us in.  Her name is Mercy as well, she is in first year of college. Mercy saved her.  She lived in a Nairobi and as a teenager she had been sponsored by a family from austrailia.  This family randomly picked her and she never met them, they paid for her to go to school.  (Me an Kendall are just like are you serious this is not happening right now this story…) well the man collecting the sponsorship fees was apparently stealing and not giving her all the funds she was entitled to get.  She never knew the total amount it was never disclosed and all she knew was that she was able to go to school and that was enough.  But the family had sent money for her father to fix their house, for new uniforms, for medical bills (her father had been in a serious accident and bed ridden, her mother took off when she was small and never came back)  well this family one day decided t0 come to Kenya,  they had been sponsoring her her since grade 7 and she was now in grade 11 they had never met only exchanged letters.  they show up and they realize they had been cheated of most of the money that man had been keeping for himself.  They cut off the sponsorship and this girl had to quit school.  Essentially by cutting off the man they took the one thing away that to her was saving her life.  As this girl is telling this story, you can guess what i am doing.  YUP CRYING!!!!! right in front of her.  So she continues that she ended up not being able to finish grade 12 and gets a job as a waitress in a low quality hotel and worked 12-15 hours a day really hard.  Her plan was to work on getting promoted and making money.  She stressed over and over how hard she worked.  One day Mercy walked in and asked her why a girl like her was working there and not in school.  She said that Mercy coming in there was so random and that the place was not of Mercy’s quality.  The it was to low class.  Mercy had tea and through conversation gave the young girl her card and asked her to call her.  The girl threw the card away.  A few weeks later Mercy shows up again orders tea and said to the girl I asked you to call me why have you not called?  The young girl is telling us she didn’t know Mercy or why Mercy took such an interest in her.  But within a few months Mercy took the girl to Meru never asked one thing of her brought her to her home paid for her education and gave her all the luxuries she could and has never asked for a thing and she now calls Mercy her mother.  Now, with this story we hear of a few more of Mercy’s generosity in the community.  I am blown away…. WE WERE MENT TO BE IN MERU and I can’t wait to see how the next 4 days work out…. but for some reason I believe Mercy was at the hotel that day for a reason, that we were meant to meet. Mercy many years ago left her job with the United nations, her and her husband sold everything they owned to fund kids through school and now 10 years later has 11,ooo kids sponsored and has won numerous awards internationally and in Kenya for her charity work.  This was meant to come into my life. Mercy’s sister had come to eat dinner with us and to guide us on our day for tomorrow and we talked alot about my plans for raising up a village and school kids and kibera and her words were WOW I think my sister Mercy was sent by GOD to you.  the funny thing is that the weight I had about the safari and not being in meru was real, the call from Mercy came at the most opportune time, where we are right now, the stories we have heard about her, I honestly believe this all is a GOD send.  It has to be.  And so here in Africa where not planning is really the guaranteed plan, we will be spending 4 days with someone who has made huge strides here in Kenya and I am sure that it will lead to BIG PLANS for my work in the future here in Africa. Stay tuned…

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Kibera the slum of earth

Only in Africa can you go from feeling total despair, to absorbing the vast lush rolling lands of green beautiful trees, to feeling like maybe it’s not so bad, to smelling and seeing nothing but garbage, and reconfirming once again that it’s actually horrible.  Honestly, I have never in my life felt such love hate in moments all day long.  It’s almost as if the moment I walk out the door, I do so excited at the possibility that today I will find something that will make me say YES this is it, this is why I love it here!  and for a second maybe it’s a fresh mango or a masala tea, or a really cool tree.  But it doesn’t last long. Because, as you get the mango, you step over about a ton of smelly rotten garbage in the market.  The garbage here is unbearable.  I can’t understand how they can live in this dirty nasty smell and sight all day every day.  Here in Nairobi it’s chaotic, beyond any crazy place I have ever seen, even Saigon is a crazy place but in Saigon’s crazy chaos there is a peacefulness to Vietnam an immediate love affair that lingers forever.  In Africa the chaos is hopeless and unorganized and just down right exhausting.  When we step out on the streets of Nairobi it’s literally a death wish.  For many reasons… you never know if you will be robbed.  Nairobi carries the nickname nairobbery all through Kenya, there are hardly traffic lights people just drive.  There is no regard for pedestrians and there is no consideration for anyone. Here in front of our hotel we have deemed the road the “401″ it’s 5 lanes one way and 5 lanes the other way and the traffic is fast and never stops and if we want to leave to go anywhere we have no choice but to cross it.  I’m telling you I am not one to feel fear in my travels but this Kenyian 401 is honest to God a death wish.  We have kind of mastered a little trick to crossing, it’s almost like bettering your odds at survival.  what we do is rather than cross alone, we look for a crowd waiting to make a run for it. We join in, position ourselves so that there are more people to the side of us so if a car hits we can hope that 5 people will be hit before us.  And I swear to you this is not a lie.  It’s basically playing traffic chicken because many times you think everyone is going to run and then a few pull back and then you have a mili second to decide jump back or leap forward.  I am pretty sure that I can cross the actual 401 at home now with a blindfold like it’s my new special trick.

When you make a plan here it’s as good as useless.  It’s gotten pretty comical though.  I am glad that I have come to accept this african way of “surely no problem” or “sorry sorry” cause here if you put all your ducks in a row and think that what you plan is fool proof cause you double checked, tripple confirmed and glued the ducks in place, well then your just stupid cause one of the ducks will probably croak or just get stolen and what you thought was fool proof was actually you just being a fool for making a plan in the first place.  I think the idea of living here means taking on the attitude of kind of knowing what you think you want to do and then just kind of heading towards that direction.  Maybe that’s why everyone here seems like they are walking to nowhere or sitting waiting on nothing.  But yet in a chaotic way.

We met a driver 2 weeks ago, got his name “Fred” and made a quasi plan to have Fred take us sight seeing when we are back in Nairobi.  So we get to the hotel make arrangements with the lady at the desk who originally hooked us up with Fred, to call Fred again and tell him we are back and to take us for a day trip.  She call “fred” passes me the phone, I say so Fred, remember two weeks ago when we made arrangements on what we needed to see and he said YES (which is another African thing, the word yes, everything is YES…. even when the question is “what is your name?” the answer is YES) Well, Fred and his yes, to me and my foolish north American dictionary means “yes” we are on the same page.  So All arranged, Fred will be coming at 9:00am.  So we go to our room for the night, reassured that we “fool proofed” our following day.  and sooooooo now, we wake up, go have breakfast and out the window we think we see our Fred and we head to the lobby.  The lady who made the call yesterday said “fred” is coming in.  A man walk in and it’s A “Fred” alright but who the F@#$ is this Fred?  We look him, look at her? totally confused and say who is this?  He is like I am Fred.  We are NO your not Fred. He is like “YES”  I am like “NO” and he is like “YES”  OHHHKAY listen to me your not FRED!!! and Kendall is just going OMG WHY THE HELL IS EVERYTHING SO DIFFICULT.  So, I say please tell me why on the phone you said you remembered me and out plan? his answer “yes”  OH GOD I can’t take it anymore.  So now we have to decide if we use this Fred or try to find our REAL FRED.  so after negotiating and testing his knowledge on the things we were hoping to do he promises to be a good guide.  So we decide to give him the job and be done with it.  Only downfall was that the real Fred could speak perfect english. This Fred was extremely confusing but in the end he got the job done, with Kendall and I each having moments where we wanted to choke him from not understanding us.  We ask for a market to buy crafts and art he takes us to a store downtown… stupidness like that and it takes us half hour to explain what a market is which is ridiculous since here there are markets everywhere!

Well we start the journey doing some really fun things.  We see a side to Kenya that is kind of touristy.  And trust me this place is no tourist disney land.  In fact when we see a white person, we are like the african people who stop and yell mazungu.. except we yell “WHITE PERSON”  So there are no line ups at the few tourist places that are here. We went to the Giraffe feeding centre.  Really really cool, for $10 you can kiss them, hug them and feed them all day long which in relation to safari at $500-$3000 it’s a better bang for your buck.

giraffe Park

giraffe Park

 

giraffe Park

giraffe Park

DSC00606After our make out sessions with giraffes, we drive to the elephant rescue centre.  Here we get to watch the baby elephants drink from bottles and have play time.  These babies have been rescued after their mothers are found dead from poachers killing them for their tusks.  From there we proceed to what I think is going to be my highlight of fun.. the Karen Blixen Farmhouse.  I loved the movie out of Africa and so this was going to be cool. for a cost of $12 and not being allowed to take pictures inside the house, it was merely a semi half interesting 30 minutes. However lunch at the Karen Blixen restaurant in “Karen” area was delicious, set in a n awesome garden and had a really cool beautiful bathroom (yup, when you see a bathroom here that’s nice it’s very exciting).

Karen blixen farm yard

Karen blixen farm yard

After all the fun stuff, I make it clear that I would like to see Kibera, known as the biggest most dangerous slum in the world, I guess a bucket list item for me, Kendall says I have a demented bucket list!!!.  I know that Kendall was not excited about the idea and wasn’t keen about going but she went with it cause Fred said we would get escorts.  We drive to this area that becomes really nasty and we start descending into this crazy market with absolutely no cars and surrounded by a million people literally in a narrow market street of stalls.  We are like ummm what is going on?  Fred is like to get to the police we have to drive through here.  It’s really really freaking scary.  We have hundred of people around our car and he can’t even keep going cause of mud.  and you can’t reverse back. OK maybe my idea was not so brilliant to be here.  Anyway, he ploughs through the mud and we end up in this little mosh pit of 6 cars and the most disgusting site I have ever seen in my life (so I think).  He goes into this tin hut and then comes back and said the Kibera administration wants to talk to you about why you are here.  We aren’t with a mission group or medical care, we are just two stupid white girls that should not be in kibera.  Kendall is not happy with me AT ALL!!!  I am trying to be calm and not panic.  So we go in, these two ladies, very very nice ladies, want to know who we are.  We chat for about 20 minutes where she is basically telling us how bad it is inside the walls.  That we just can’t go in there.  That even the health care workers and the police do not go in if they don’t have to, and that she is the administrator for this entrance (which is not an entrance but just a gap in the market that you walk through to get into kibera) and she has not been “inside” since 2010. So, here I go, what motivated me, I do not know?  It was clear we were not allowed in, and Kendall wanted to leave, but when she started telling us about “flying toilets” (there is no latrines or holes in the ground or running water for bathrooms, people crap into plastic bags and basically whip them anywhere) and open sewers and people living in a space that’s 5×5 and maybe 4 or more in that space and how the people in there have their own rules outside the law and children and women are raped at night…I am motivated! I give the Rebirth the World speech, I explain to her how I saw a midwife movie on women dying in “there” behind those walls giving birth and I know all about it and that I raise fund for Clean safe birth kits. She is intrigued but not enough to let us in…. so I explain how the birth kits work, now she is listening, I tell her how I can donate them to her by raising funds…. she is now on the phone calling someone “important” so, while she is making that call I go for the final seal the deal and I pull out my phone and show her a video on how the birth kits work, from my website and before you know it, I am being invited to train the health care workers in kibera, bring birth kits and we are given the right to talk to two armed guards to negotiate a price for them to take us inside.  If they agree to take us then we can go.  Kendall is NOT HAPPY! I negotiate, we pay a fee, we have two armed guards and we are going in!!!  WHAT THE HELL WAS I HOPING FOR?

It was NOT for the faint at heart, it was NOT for the strong at heart, it was not for anyone.  It was a HELL on earth that I will never ever be able to describe.  If I thought garbage in Africa was a problem, well then Kibera proved me wrong.  Africa and it’s garbage is a joy! actually Nairobi is beautiful. It’s amazing how your world can change and your perception can change the minute you know what you know.  Your levels of disgusting and poor just keep getting altered.  Kibera is literally 1.8 million people living in a small space amongst their crap (literally plastic bags, and plastic bags of human feces) rivers of piss, and your everyday garbage.  There was this organized disgustingness to the whole place.  It had its own shops, stores, houses, medical clinic, school, all within this space of garbage and crap.  Tin huts on top of tin huts on top of tin huts that had families living in them that were no bigger than 5×5 spaces. Here we were, taking pictures, walking through this world of absolute hell on earth, taking pictures while people stared at us, kids chased us and mostly people slamming their doors to avoid pictures.  There is this inner kibera pride that the people live with, the government has tried to move the people out but they won’t leave.  We had our men in military suits, with guns and that gave us the right to walk through the shit and take pictures.  It was creepy and beyond sad. There weren’t even tears, you can’t cry, it’s so jarring and shocking that tears don’t run. It is what it is. However in my head, I am chalking up another task that will tie me to this crazy place called Africa, that I basically dislike most of the time.  I will commit to getting birth kits to Kibera.  It’s the least I can do.  Please look at these pictures and imagine your baby being born on the floor here?  $5 can give them a sterile sheet, gloves, soap, a razor to cut the umbilically cord and a clamp to protect the baby from infections.  $5 is a chance to live.  OH GOD as I type that it seems so STUPID that I actually hate myself for it.  $5 stupid idiotic dollars for a stupid idiotic birth kit in a place like Kibera.  STUPID and ridiculous.  Who the hell would even want to have a “chance” to be able to live there.  Why oh God why do women have babies living there?  wouldn’t death be like actually getting a chance to live happily ever after?  THESE AE THE THINGS THAT NOW SIT IN MY HEAD forever!!! why give them birth kits? who the fuck cares? honestly! but you know what…. As much as I am thinking stupid birth kits and just get outta here and let these people live in their horrid conditions, I ACTUALLY CARE. I CARE! and THAT brings tears! that I am a human being, that I share the SAME “world” as them but clearly the world has levels: very rich rich, rich rich, modestly rich, modestly average rich, not poor, barely rich, barely poor, poor, poorer, extremely poor, and kibera. It’s the real pillars of the Earth and Kibera is the bottom.  I was standing there.  At the bottom of the earth, I saw it, smelt it, took pictures of it and I am pretty sure YOU will never ever go there. But it exists and they are still humans. They still deserve clean birth kits.  I have a meeting on Monday with my contact from Advance Africa.  I quickly realized that in order to get my organization Rebirth the World rooted in Africa, I need resources.  Slowly, but surely, Africa is becoming a pillar in my own reality.

On that note, I am happy to say that there are 14 kids now sponsored through Rebirth the World.  I started with 4 before I came here. There are now 14 kids that will go to school and have a chance at becoming the possibility of change in their village, in their country, or maybe even in this world?  I want to thank you for reading these blogs and being compelled to step up and sponsor a child, or buy birth kits, you that have become part of my world here in your own committed contributions.  Together, maybe we can lift a village up a level and provide a stronger pillar for survival from its current scorched earth?  I don’t know, but I am trying and so are you.

An alley of tin homes

An alley of tin homes

the walkways through kibera

the walkways through kibera

Our escorts

Our escorts

more tin homes, more alleyway

more tin homes, more alleyway

the railway runs through kibera and you can hear the train horn miles away as it warns people off the tracks, The term flying toilets stems from the people throwing their plastic bags of human feces at the trains

the railway runs through kibera and you can hear the train horn miles away as it warns people off the tracks, The term flying toilets stems from the people throwing their plastic bags of human feces at the trains

a doorway into a home was only 4 feet high showing how small it was inside

a doorway into a home was only 4 feet high showing how small it was inside

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A baby plays in one of the alleys

A baby plays in one of the alleys

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Saying Goodbye

It’s our last day :( as hard as everyday is living in these conditions and as much as me and Kendall sit down at night and compete over who can come up with the best item we miss… the keg, wine, pizza, ginger ale, a hot shower, a shower even cold, a bath, electricity, our cars, bugless homes and the list goes on and on and on…  I still am heart broken to leave all these beautiful smiling faces behind.  I know we have helped a lot of kids and a lot of families in many ways over the 10 days we have spent here, I am so heavily burdened by all the faces that don’t have sponsors, that did not get a special gifts, that wrote potential sponsorship letters but did not get to write “thank you so much for sponsoring me” letters.  so many kids today asked me… how about shoes for me?  how about school for me?  how come you didn’t come to my house?  Out of almost 200 children there are 10 now sponsored.  So you can imagine all the questions of why not me.  And I wish I can say IT IS YOU NEXT or Yes now it’s your turn.  but for now it is only the 10.  I do hope that as you read my blogs on the work that Kendall and I did here, that you are moved enough to help foster from a distance one of these many kids all with sad stories.  I hope to slowly started giving you their stories once I am home.

Today we finished our last final home visits of two of the sponsored kids.  The grandmother to one of the sponsored kids gave us the best thank you and we did finally get a happy dance.  This chid was sponsored by Klema and the Milton Rebirth Studio.  We also went to revisit one of the other sponsored children where we brought shoes for all the kids as he has such a big family.  Thank you to Sinead for her sponsorship for this child!

I wanted to shared one of the thank you letters that was written by one of the sponsored boys.  I swear to you my heart melted when I read his letter,  He spoke so openly about how life was over for him.  And that this sponsorship (thank you Julie) had given him a chance and he promises to now make an effort to live a happy life.  I stopped mid way through and told this child that he has the world to live for and we will make sure of it and that life may have been hard for him with all his family deaths and losses but he is here for a reason and God has a plan for him. That this sponsorship was meant for him.

There are many many many stories some will be heard and some may not.  I just know that we have played our part on this mission here in Matunda.  We ended the day by gathering up all the things that were not handed out and walked through the village to get as much handed out as we could.  The final walk of goodbye was hard for me.  I know there is so much more that can be done and I hope that one of you will take this journey with me the next time.  I have to give Francis a huge thank you as he made sure everything on our agenda was completed today.  This man is made works harder than anyone  have ever met. Pamela and Francis went out of thier way to make all this possible for us.

Kendall and I are headed to Nairobi tomorrow to do some sightseeing, goinf to Karen Blixon’s Farm featured in Out of Africa Movie, the giraffe feeding reserve and some of the kenyatta parks. We are also hoping to go through Kibera the worlds largest slum if our guide will take us.  then we will either head to meru to tackle another orphange if we can make that connection or a safari through the massai mara and serenghetti.  All we know is we just need a break from all this. I am so grateful to Kendall for making this journey with me and I couldn’t have asked for a better companion.  She went knee deep, head on and fully committed, she helped me make great strides in where this is all going and creating a path for Rebirth the World.  I know she has her own stories to share about her journey, some great and some deeply traumatizing. I know this trip over all was diffuicult and challenging.  It’s a lot to take in and be a part of.  She took a chunk of her vacation time from her job to basically not be on vacation but to have her heart tugged at, her emotions swing from moment to moment and to have her conscience tested as a human being in the toughest way possible.  But I think, like my first visit, where all I wanted to do was run home and cry and never ever look back, I  eventually did, I looked back a lot and then I came back.  I am so grateful that I did.  For now the next week here in Kenya Kendall is saying please nooooo more orphanges hahahah!  How much sadness can you expect one person to take in a few weeks she keeps asking.  My answer is how many zebras will be fun for us to see after we see our first one on safari in the Massi Mara?  So where the next few days play out who knows…. we are still in Africa so anything crazy is to be expected.

All the kids together.  our front line have been sponsored. So many more to go..

All the kids together. our front line have been sponsored. So many more to go

Our sponsored kids. Clearly they are happy

Our sponsored kids.

A child thanks his sponsor for saving him.  His letter melted my heart

A child thanks his sponsor for saving him. His letter melted my heart.  This is the very reason I have dedicated my life to connecting sponsors to children

 

Our school

Our school

this child wrote a letter asking for a simple bar of soap.  So we made dreams come true

this child wrote a letter asking for a simple bar of soap. So we made dreams come true

Giving Machuma the medicine she needed. thanks to her sponsor

Giving Machuma the medicine she needed. thanks to her sponsor

handing out shoes in the village

The home of one child sponosred

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handing out random shoes in the village

Meet a few more kids that stand out on my radar. Please hear their stories and help them.  $25 a month is nothing to you and I when you look at your pocket change and the miscellaneous items you don’t even know you buy.  If you commit to one child your $25 saves a life, provides an education and is by far nothing even close to misused pocket change

This 8 year old lives with 8 other kids with a guardian. He is super cute and one of my favorites. Both parents have died

This 8 year old lives with 8 other kids with a guardian. He is super cute and one of my favorites. Both parents have died

 

This boy lives with his mother who is dying.  When she is gone it will only be him and his brother alone. We gave him some things

This boy lives with his mother who is dying. When she is gone it will only be him and his brother alone. We gave him some things

 

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Around the Village We Go

Last night Kendall and I both went to bed super early. It was just after 6pm here.  She was sick all day and I started to not feel well later in the day.  Just when you think that your going to have an amazing long sleep this really loud church going music comes on that can be heard through out the village.  I am kind of wondering if I am losing my mind, in a weird dream or what the heck is happening cause first off how is there even speakers so big, plugged to what? so that an entire village can hear this?  It went on ALL NIGHT and ALL DAY today.  Apparently, it was some annual religious crusade.  There was some man that has created some cult following where people are suppose to wear sacs and can’t do their hair and women have to wear really long skirts… he is like our Tammy Faye Baker or Benny Hinn’s of North America.  He was making his way out to this village today or at least some of his top leaders were so they started a 24 hour vigil for him.  Now,  am not talking light some candles and humm some nice tunes. No way, I am talking roll out the massive generators, bring in the biggest speakers and a microphone and sing so loud the devil will run for his life.  After managing it through the night, the preaching started at 10am and the yelling screaming cast out the sins and miracles are happening, alleluias people can walk again kind of preaching and we could hear it from all over the village, all day!!! by 1:00 we were absolutely insane. Pamela and Marsha had gone over at one point just to get a good laugh.  We had to laugh at the fact these honchos came in the convoy of vehicles through the village to get here. just ridiculous. it finally stopped around 6:00pm silence.  and after the tithing I have to say the poor probably got a lot poorer and we were sure there were absolutely no miracles.  Never a dull moment though.

We had a really busy day trying to get as much done as we could.  We are only here another day before we head back to Nairobi.  So we had to finish our home visits for sponsored kids, hand out the many shoes we bought for the village kids, hand out soccer balls and treat the jigga family with the medicine we bought.

We started by organizing all the stuff we were handing out.  Then we separated it to bags so that when can plan our route and be able to come back and pick stuff up.  Walking to houses here is literally like walking through gardens, houses, trees, farms and just ending up in the right hut.  It’s crazy how you have to find someone without a road and just a navigation of north south east and west. walk, walk walk walk, walk and it super hot here to make the village trotting harder.  We started at Charity’s house.  Charity is by far the smartest girl at school and I know I had mentioned her in my past blog a few days ago. Well amazingly she has been picked up for sponsorship the last few days through my blog.  Her house was by far the worst one we have seen.  I was completely shocked, and really I don’t know why.  just cause she is smart doesn’t mean she was going to be living in some upper class hut.  I guess I just felt so sorry for her circumstances.  They don’t even own the place they live in. It’s basically considered living in the market. or the market ramshakles, kind of like the lowest of the lows even to poor standards here.  They rent this awful place.  The roof was practically caving in and a wall falling down.  When we explained to her mother that Charity will be looked after and an education provided for her, as usual no circus fan fare but you can see her face tear up in shock.  I told her mother, you really need to know that Charity is by far without doubt the smartest girl in the entire orphange school and to please, please, please make sure nothing happens to her. That her sponsorship funds are there to make sure she stays healthy and that highschool and university are within her reach. Charity wants to be a lawyer and I am sure that she will succeed.

Charity's home

Charity’s home

We made special purchases for our 14 kids in counting.  So we went over to their house and gave every single person a pair of new shoes, soap, and gave all the kids a soccer ball. People started showing up and I had no idea who was who and gave some man shoes because I thought he was the Dad,  Francis was like no he doesn’t live here, and so he literally had to tear the shoes off the mans feet cause the man refused to give the shoes back.  Apparently, the man was a little drunk and Francis was calling him drunk.  It was a little comical but also a little disturbing. We could have probably given him shoes after but because he was so rude… no shoes for you!  How pathetically and emotionally ridiculous.

14 kids in counting all get new shoes and soccer balls

14 kids in counting all get new shoes and soccer balls

As we begin to walk to the next house, now we are starting to get a following… people want us to come to their house… and how bout me… why not us… uh oh.. this may not have been the brightest idea the mazungus had.  So we had to make a couple of detours through trees, streams, and farms and visits other houses, we did bring enough stuff so that we cold just give things out as we go.  As one lady was taking us to her house she happened to step on a snake and that freaked everyone out! not cause it was a snake but snakes are frowned upon as extremely evil, its a bible thing. Francis kept saying gee that snake was really rude, throughout the day.  Lol well, I thought it was quite calm for being stepped on and then photographed.

the rude snake

the rude snake

Once we get to this ladies house, we get swarmed with all kinds of women and their kids… they all wanted photos and gifts.

a crowd gatheres

a crowd gathers

As we walk further, this really old man comes running for us.  I am talking old, 89 to be exact.  He came to fetch us because he wanted us to come see his home too.  this man is looking after at least 10 orphans none of which are related to him.  He is a retired school teacher that had 13 kids of his own, all of which have died except for one that lives in nairobi and he can’t even remember his name.  He was the sweetest man I ever met.  He made it clear to us he was born June 7, 1925.  His wife died in December after 64 years of marriage and her grave was nice and fresh right in his yard.  We gave the kids a soccer all and they kept kicking it and it would roll onto the big pile of sand where the grave was and it was like grandma was still here playing soccer.  His name was Joelle.  Retired from teaching 30 years ago but talked about his education very proudly.  When he invited us in he changed his shirt to a dress shirt and I swear he was the cutest thing ever.  S=He had a picture of him and his wife on the wall and he was very proud.  He said that when he dies he just will leave his land to any relatives that come to fight for it.  He basically didn’t care to go through the hassle of finalizing his deeds.  It was all kind of sad and I said to Kendall, gee you spend 64 years with someone, have 13 kids, all have since died, you have one left and don’t know him, you raise all these orphans, your wife dies, she’s right there buries in the yard… all this for what? what is the meaning to all this.  But he loved those orphans dearly and kept calling them his grandchildren and how all he wants is to see kids get educated in Africa.  I couldn’t agree more.  That his land means nothing.  But his life dedicated to helping these kids was everything.  Now, I am sure if we can get one of these kids sponsored he would give us the circus fan fare we were looking for lol!

89 year old man with his guardian children

89 year old man with his guardian children

dressed for company

dressed for company

playing with their new ball

playing with their new ball

We then made our way over to the jigga flea infested house.  We bought enough medicine to be able to treat the family for two weeks. We were dreading going there cause we didn’t know how bad it would be.  Let me say, that the feet on these kids were so gross.  Even the mother had jiggas.  When we got there the mother spoke pretty good english, she came right over and told us to come in.  We didn’t want to go in because we were waiting for Francis, he had run back home cause we forgot the soap we were giving them.  She gave us a speech about this being Africa and Africa has a big poverty problem.  No way really, you don’t say??? and how everyone need financial aid.  She basically thought we were coming to help financially and me and Kendal were like ummmm we came with jigga treatment that’s about it.  Well needless to say they did appreciate it.  We did the first treatment on the one boy from the school, we mixed the hydrogen peroxide with the required water and when he stepped into it, it was like alka seltzer sizzling from his toes, where the toes were infected they went completely white! and they were literally sizzling. OMG I don’t know how we didn’t puke on the spot.  but I can say, you could see it working.  Now hopefully they stick to the treatment for everyone over the next week and maybe we will have cured them of jggas!  we only stayed for the first treatment cause Francis didn’t want us to catch the fleas with everyone around us.  We went home and scrubbed our feet big time!!

waiting for the first jigga treatment to be done

waiting for the first jigga treatment to be done

 

before treatment

before treatment

 

during treatment - see the white toes burning off jiggas

during treatment – see the white toes burning off jiggas in the mix

 

voila! 1st of 14 treatments to go... a little better

voila! 1st of 14 treatments to go… a little better

While, I have been here we have had random pregnant ladies show up at the house for prenatal check ups.  I have been doing due date estimates for them, checking the heart rate of the babies, feeling for head down positions and making sure there were no breech issues and of course giving out birth kits.  Kendall makes a joke about it now saying… and would you like a prenatal exam with your peanut butter and jam sandwhich (usually the ladies are here at 7am and wait for me to wake up which is not till 8:30am most days, so they just hand outside) crazy! but hey, it’s Africa what else is there to do?  So, as we were walking home form the jigga treatment this lady came out from this smokey tiny tiny hut, and she was sick.  She had a spontaneous miscarriage yesterday cause she had malaria and she was sick.  First off why are you cooking in your 2×2 hut with charcoal? I told him she had to get to the clinic because she had to make sure there was a full miscarriage or she could die.  She was 18 years old.  I felt her for a fever but she seemed ok.  She said she did go to the clinic and they said she was fine.  But she clearly was not fine. I didn’t know what we could do for her.  I just told Francis please tell her to go again.

So now, we go back home, have tea and prepare to take the motorbikes to our next home visit for a sponsored child.  This child Ruth is my most favorite child here.  I just love her smile, her personality and everything about her.  She was the face I never forgot from the last time I was here.  There is something about this girl that just tugs at my heart and makes me just want to hug her all day.  She is the ONE thing that stay with me for my whole life.  Her face in my head.  and just writing this and thinking about leaving her makes me so ill with sadness.  I just want to bring her home.  Ruth lives about a 15 minute motorbike away and she walks everyday with her sisters. Almost 1.5 hours to school and then again home. And the one thing about her is she is always always always at school!  her older sister is the one that doesn’t like to walk and barely comes.  She also had two other adorable sisters that come to school and a few smaller siblings that don’t.  they live alone with their mother. They lived in this old hut that they rented and one day a few months ago the landlord threw them out on the street and put up a brick wall.  This other man gave them a room in his unused hut in his vacant yard to rent.  This place was so small for all of them it was beyond sad that my little Ruth lived this way and yet she has a smile that forever sits in my head.  Ruth has been picked up for sponsorship in the last few days an I couldn’t be more overjoyed! I was so excited to be able to tell her and her mother.  Now, I will always and forever be connected to her and be able to guarantee her quality of life.  With that said I still don’t want to leave her behind when I go. :(

My bestest friend Ruth

My bestest friend Ruth

Ruth's family

Ruth’s family

Where Ruth's mother cooks

Where Ruth’s mother cooks

arriving with the news of sponsorship and gifts

arriving with the news of sponsorship and gifts

Coming back we still had two more home visits to do but it started to rain.  I was kind of relieved, I was exhausted!  Kendall decides now is the time to start her coffee project at 4pm.  She sends Francis out to hunt for the raw beans. And sure enough he comes back with a massive tray.  Now they sit down her, francis, Matchuma and grandmas cousin to gruelling task of hammering the 1 million beans, pulling out the green coffee bean inside for her to take home and roast and make coffee.  Have fun with that…. This was a joy to Kendall because she works as a Franchise rep for Tim Horton’s.  She gave all her coffee helpers Tim Hortons shirts that she had brought to donate and they loved them!  They have no clue what Tim Horton’s is!  With that I take a nap!

 

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Declaring Village Day

The last couple of days we have been working really hard to finish profiling the children and working through home visits.  We spend all of Friday having the 5-8 year olds draw pictures for us so that we can get to know them better.  We did a few more home visits of sponsored kids, which is bitter sweet because it feels good to let them know their child is sponsored and yet, the impact is not quite felt by them yet…. Machuma the little 2 year old that everyone back home is just enamoured with has a sponsor and her great grandmother was the only one that did the happy dance over sponsorship.  Which was super cool.  But her great grandmother is a super cool lady, I just really adore her.  These families are so in need that I just can’t put in words how much the help makes a difference.  And yet in their very basic simple lives they would go on even without us. It’s all so confusing and so emotionally challenging.

As of today, I think we are just feeling really beat down and drained.  Kendall has gotten sick and it has taken a toll on her.  We had to make a decision as to how much longer we can stay here in the village.  As much as we are doing good for these kids it’s really hard to go to bed at night, your head is spinning with all the images, stories and just having to deal with the basics of living.  And we have it pretty good here in the house as Pamela and Francis have more than then the villagers so we at least have some things like a bed, blankets, our water heated for a cup and bowl bath, we even have a good lunch and dinner.  It’s not by any stretch of the means a meal like at home but it is more than just a bowl of ugali like most of these kids eat in their huts.  But that makes this harder. Coming here, we feel so guilty for what we do have so we reach out to help, then being in this home compared to how the kids live in the village our mentality changes again and the guilt is worse over just having the bare essentials here when almost all of the village families live with so much less.  That you just don’t know where it ends.  You don’t know how much more you can fix, how much more you can see, or take in.

Today even though Kendall was sick, we made the crazy ride to Eldoret.  Doing anything here takes HOURS! waiting, waiting some more, driving, stopping, driving, stopping, waiting.  No one has an agenda or a plan.  We just know we are going to Eldoret and you sit in the matatu and want to lose your mind. Kendall says she is done with this entire continent. hahaha.  We decided to put a hold on finishing home visits and pictures and just really do something for the village kids that don’t have the benefit of coming to the orphange.  We declared our own real  ”Rebirth a Village Day”  so our trip to Eldoret was to get as many shoes as we can to be able to just hand out to random kids, soccer balls to some of the families with a lot of kids, and medicine for kids with fungal skin infections. We also got shoes for all 14 kids in our 14 kids and counting family, we bought enough hydrogen peroxide for the boy with jiggas and his family that hopefully he can cure this infestation in his house.  We just went out and expanded our help over and beyond the kids in this orphange and really want to reach out to the kids that don’t have even the ability to come here for a meal everyday.  It was the only way we felt we could balance the scales from Canada, to the orphange to the rest of the village.  And for sure, in the end, we feel like we did something good, I know that more so, we will feel like we could never do enough to make anything good.  Stay tuned as I update on village Day!

Here are some of the links to our village day purchases..

Maybe we can find our future soccer stars with all these balls we will be handing out

Lets cover as many feet as we can

Marsha’s first latte experience.

And some home visit photos.  Sponsoring a child is the most rewarding thing, to hand them gifts directly and to know there is hope for THIS ONE CHILD is the honest meaning of what love really is, I hope these photos inspire you to sponsor a child of your own.  I have many many many children that all need a chance.

Sheila loves her gift bag from her sponsor

Sheila loves her gift bag from her sponsor

ittle boy Sammy in the grey suit has been sponsored.

ittle boy Sammy in the grey suit has been sponsored.

Machuma loves her clothes!

Machuma loves her clothes!

Posted in Africa - Rebirth the World One Village at a Time | Leave a comment

Pack it up Pack it in Let me Begin

I came to win
Battle me that’s a sin
I won’t tear the sack up
Punk you’d better back up
Try and play the role and the whole crew will act up
Get up, stand up, come on!  Throw your hands up.

yes…. House of Pain.  how appropriate.
It’s been a very busy couple of days.  I didn’t write the other day because it was a day where we just took some time out and a little bit of a breather.  I think we needed the day to put ALL of this into perspective.  This seemed like a wonderful idea when I decided to start Rebirth the World.  I got to fulfill my philanthropic dreams and do something meaningful.  In reality, I think I was smoking something very seriously mind blowing when I decided to go ahead with the plan, however, I wish that psychedelic drugs could be blamed for all this. Lol.

The truth is I put one toe in and realized that it was quick sand fast and I had to choose all in fast. Sitting with these kids one at a time doesn’t make this a philanthropic dream anymore.  It makes it a harsh reality that I have taken on a role to facilitate sponsorships that I KNOW WITHOUT DOUBT will give these kids a fighting chance at a better life in the long run.

When we took a down day from all the interviews and just to clear our heads we sat down with Pamela and Francis and really had to look at the impact all of this has and just how serious this is becoming:

Can I do this in a way that doesn’t exploit the situation over here in a negative harsh way?  In contemplation it was clear, I only tell it like it is.  I have no choice to sugar coat the needs here because if I can’t drive it home hard to everyone reading then no one will ever understand. Many of you will read, maybe cry and go on about your day, but I write in the hopes that MAYBE one will read and say yes, I can be a part of that and help.  The only way to get help is to write exactly what I see, exactly how I feel and exactly what it takes to get someone out there to CARE ENOUGH to put there hand up and say “hey, yes, I can help”.  And I have to thank with the greatest sincerity I can muster up, with all the love I can share to those that have reached out the last couple of days and sponsored the children I have spoken about.  You may know that you are doing a wonderful thing, but I only wish that someday you would come visit your child so that you will see how much you have helped.  I hope that over time you establish personal relationships with these children, where you can speak to them on the phone and easily congratulate them the day they finish highschool because of YOUR HELP! And believe it or not, you actually can talk to your child if you would like to, I can make those arrangements for any sponsor that would like a phone call.  That’s the beauty of sponsoring a child with me over a huge organization, I personally know these kids.

As I took the day off to just go through all the details on how I am going to make this work. I am not going to lie, the day I did not write was the day, I actually started packing to go home.  After spending two days in interviews and reading letters, it was too much, I was sick.  I did get sick!!!  I felt like I had the world up against me and that there was no way I was going to be able to make promises to these kids, involve the help of Pamela and Francis in a way that was fair to them and think it would be a success story in the village.  I was down right scared of moving forward another day.  Kendall, was pivotal in putting an outside eye on calming me down and making me take a breath.  That morning as I started to pack up she begged me to go for a walk.   Now, she too is exhausted and overwhelmed and I think would have been happy to go home.  But she knows with her own eyes and emotions that we just can’t run from being here.  So we went for a really long walk.  She basically said, this is hard, it’s hard for her and she isn’t even responsible for carrying out the future of these sponsorships.  But that she can see how much I actually care about what I am doing here.  She can see how much work this is right now, how much it will be when I get home and how much it will be as long as I keep doing it.  I have to let the little things go, and just keep focus on the kids that will benefit.  She said that all the politics in this will mean nothing when a child is actually able to go to school when they leave this orphanage.  And she was right.  After a lot of tears, and I mean A LOT.  We went back to the house and mapped this out on paper and clearly defined a vision for rebirthing this Village and put together a concrete plan that will sustain through to the other villages in the future that will one day benefit, if, I am crazy enough to start another village.  According to Kendall, she say’s I am certified crazy.

What Pamela and Francis do here is take care of 200 orphans in the village by providing an education when they would not receive one at all.  These kids live with circumstances that are so difficult that they would never have had the chance to attend even grade 1-8.  They also make sure a child is fed lunch.  This means that a child here will get at least one meal that day.  What they do is take care of these kids at the very basic level.  They meet the needs of these children on a short term immediate need.  Their organization is survival at high costs, a day to day reality in making sure that they are educating for today, with the hopes a child will make government sponsorship to highschool with no guarantees.  What I have done is expanded that care and said how can I help make this better, so that kids won’t rely on the feeding program which can help with their feeding costs, won’t have to only hope to get medicine at school and then not have it at home.  How can I make sure that kids actually show up to the orphanage to go to school everyday.  Yes the education is here for them but they need to be healthy enough every day to show up.  This is where Rebirth the World comes in and covers the long term need.  I start at the home with sponsorship.  My primary goal is to make sure the care is there at home, medicine, food, sanitary living spaces, healthy caretakers…  The children that are sponsored will be looked  after outside of school with the primary  focus being making sure they have a future waiting for them and that once the orphanage is done past their grade 8, my organizations steps in a carries them through highschool with their fees.  They now have a financial backing to ensure the medicine is there the moment they need at home, the matatu fees to the hospital can be paid, the medicine is at home… thus they can go to school.  They have another incentive to continue showing up at the orphanage because by finishing their education there with high marks they have the high school funds from us without worry.  Thus they don’t have to give up!

 

In Africa everything is minute-to-minute survival.  Its immediate need.  What do we need to do now to get through this day.  In our first world country we worry about what will happen to us when…. And we create many horrific senerios for ourselves that may or may not happen such as will I have a job at 50, what if I loose my job, what if I can’t pay my mortgage in a year, what if I have a car accident next year, what if I lose an arm or get ill with cancer? SO…. We buy car insurance, health insurance, medical insurance, dental insurance, home insurance, life insurance, for GOD SAKE we even buy pet insurance.  Here in Africa and to be more specific in this village, today, right now, this second, this breath, I am alive and that’s all that I need to focus on.  Because this breath means I have another chance today to find something to eat, I can go to class and learn TODAY,  Right NOW what is the most immediate thing I need to make sure that I have a tomorrow.My organization with your help is their tomorrow and their 10 years from now.  We are their only insurance policy they will EVER NEED.

So with the politics out of the way, I would like to share my day today.  We continued with the interviews and the letters and I will share a few that stood out for me today.  But as for the other awesome events, we gathered up all the kids and did the donation ceremony.  I was so amazing to see them light up over sooooooo many pencils and crayons, stickers rules and the list goes on.  We gave stickers to the ones that wrote the best english letters and it was hilarious.  Kendall went to put the sticker on their shirts but NOOOOO Francis said it goes on the forehead.  hahahahaha I was cracking up cause I knew Kendal felt like a spaz sticking stickers on kids foreheads.  She comes over to me and said :ok that was officially the weirdest thing ever” but you know what, those kids wore those stickers on their foreheads all day.  Talk about flaunt it if you got it.

We also started home visits with the children that actually have been sponsored.  When I left Canada I only came with 5 guaranteed sponsorships. Over the last two days I have 5 more commitments to 5 awesome kids and 4 more possible over the next few months as current sponsors are adding kids.  If I could make one wish right this second it would be that by the time I go I have a total of 20 sponsored of the 200 in the immediate time I’m here.  These home visits were amazing to show up and give a child a a gift bag full of goodies and the amazing story about Rebirth the World and guess what you have been chosen.  Now let me say that I expected circus theatrics and happy tears from mothers and guardians, but it was nothing like that.  In fact I had to say ummmm Francis do they understand what is going on because they look confused?  As I spoke in English and he translated in Swahili.  and he laughed each time and said everyone is in complete shock. They can’t believe it.  I do know they were shocked because you could see their eyes light up when he was speaking, one women made a scrunchy face and leaned in to him speaking like she couldn’t believe her ears.  One women kept touching a bag that was given that was glittery as if to keep making sure it was really there.  All in all., every moment, every second was worth it, and this was only the beginning, we just started, these families have yet to feel the financially benefits as the funds begin to show up monthly.  After these first home visits, I concluded that I am actually excited to carry this through and come back in the future and see homes that are sustaining themselves, healthy children, smarter children! It’s too much to even explain to you in words.

With that being said meet a few on my radar looking for sponsorships, I have decided to leave names out for sake of privacy and will reveal that info to their potential sponsor.  (sorry for the sideways profiles, I didn’t have internet time to do fancy editing)

6 year old Masai boy

6 year old Masai boy

This 6 year old caught our eye immediately as he was really tall for his age.  He was brought here by his granfather.  He is tall because his decent is the Massai tribe.  His family still practices the Massai rituals which means female circumcisions, polygamy, cow blood is their dietary staple.  Hi mother died and his father has 6 wives and did not look after him.  This child is known as the smartest in his class.  He is always the first one at school and eager to learn.  We simply adored his energy and his smile.  It was clear he had something in him that was like a shining star.  His sponsorship will give him a fighting chance at continuing an education and motivating him to keep coming early and knowing highschool awaits.

11 year old Doctor

11 year old Doctor

This 11 year old boy won our hearts when he underlinded the word Doctor in his third sentence of his letter.  Most kids saved their future until the last page.  His was right at the top.  He didn’t even say hope, or want, but I will be a Doctor.  He comes from an very difficult situation of being without both his parents that died of HIV and lives with a guardian.  It seems though that he clearly has made a choice in his young life to be a somebody and I will do everything in my power to get him a sponsorship so that his affirmation becomes and abundant reality.

12 year old girl

12 year old girl

This girls story brought tears.  Her eyes don’t shine very bright nor does her smile because her life has been nothing but horrible.  In her letter she wrote about how bad her town where she originally came from was.  She was suffered from repeated sexual incest by a family caregiver after her parents passed away from HIV.  She has suffered emotional trauma and repeated would run away from any new caregiver home afraid of the same thing happening again.  She would run away and it would need to be reported on the news to find her.  Clearly her pain was so intense she just kept running.  She has had alot of counselling and has finally settled into a new home through this orphange.  I would love for this year to get a sponsor to giver not only a chance at an education but to show her that there is a lot of love in this world that does not resemble pain but can actually be here reason to smile and brighten her eyes.

13 year old Boy

13 year old Boy

This 13 year old has a big smile on his face but I just can’t get understand it.  His circumstances are heartbreaking.  He lives alone with his mother who is dying of HIV. She is bed ridden, paralyzed and can’t look after him.  Sometimes he comes to school and sometimes he does not.  He needs to go out into the village and look for work and can sometimes manage to work in someones garden.  When she dies he will be all alone.  I can’t imagine it!  I can’t even get my head around how this would be possible in our country, clearly it wouldn’t.  But that will be his life.  It will be the only life he will ever know without a sponsor.  And I swear it sucks and makes me angry that this happens in this world of plenty.  However the plenty is 1st world, here the plenty is just loads of cow shit everywhere. without sugar coating it politically SOMEONE SPONSOR THIS WONDERFUL BOY.

So I hope you enjoyed todays shenanigans from a remote village in Kenya.  Here are some other photos from our home visits for sponsored kids, donations to the kids and of course the water tank going up.

DSC00355DSC00333 DSC00316 DSC00330

DSC00354

 

 

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Myself is Called Dorothy

Myself is called Dorothy. I have house in Mississauga. Myself I has 1 brother two sister. Myself is good be cause myself clean.  I had help writing this as Kendall was correcting my work to make sure it sounded right.  My self is thinking my self is crazy.

We spent all day reading 4 page handwritten letters that the standard 5 and 6 class wrote.  We had given them the assignment of writing 1 page about themselves, a page about their family, a page about their school and then one page drawing on how they saw their future. Based on the 50 letters we have so far it is fair to say that Matunda Kenya will have in influx of matatu drivers and possible airplane pilots.  And the army will be well equipped.

image

Charity writing her amazing letter.  A Brilliant child

Charity writing her amazing letter. A Brilliant child

 

kids doing sponsor letters

kids doing sponsor letters

The letters were raw, pure and just really really sad.  Some were just very funny in the sentences.  Such as I am impotant.  Impotant? How is that possible when she is 11?  Ummm I think she meant important.  There were also the tear jerkers.  As one 11 year old explained “myself had a mother and father, a blanket and a bath.  myself could make tea in the kitchen in the morning before school until few days later…. My father died of cholera, my mother died and I was called orphan.  I had no blankets, shoes, clothes.  Then my brother died cause of no food and bad water and when he died I can never forget that day.”  This letter was the one that just killed us.  Kendall was like OMG just hook up the IV line cause of the tears.

Then there was the letter where Edwin explains how everyone is sick at home and there are 8 people with no parents only uncle and at school he is happy and at home they cry.  Ironically we read that letter and he is the brother of the girl that cried yesterday when we asked about her family.

Then the kids letters where the writing is brilliant like Charity who used words like and in my leisure time I like to dream. She would like to be a lawyer (the only one in 50 that was not a pilot or matatu driver) and that when she is a lawyer, she will build a home for needy people.  Her letter was just by far brilliant.  What happens to girls so intelligent here, what happens to a child so smart and yet living in circumstances that may never allow her to continue to high school and then university.  There are the ones that bring tears because their stories are sad and in Charity’s case the tears come because she is way to smart and has so much potential and she is here lumped into a world of no hope.

I can talk about so many of these kids such as Cornelius that has one arm because he had a flesh eating disease and they needed to cut it off.  He is 6.  His smile is bigger than the moon.  In fact, me and Kendall took such a liking to him that some of the kids started tucking one arm into their shirts so that we would notice them.  It was actually very funny when Kendall goes OMG look what the kids are doing.

Cornelius what a huge happy smile

Cornelius what a huge happy smile

Then there is Sheriff Merichu.  8 years old and his feet are rotting.  His family is infected with jiggas.  These are ticks that get into the skin starting at the feet or hands and suck the blood and then they lay eggs in the skin and when they hatch there are over millions and millions and they start to eat the skin.  His condition was so bad that flies and spiders were on his feet eating the jiggas.  I swear we almost puked.  Now, his whole family has it and their house is infested.  Francis said he treats the school every morning with a jigga spray killer and but he can’t spray his home.  That they can’t go and do that so I say that I would look into the the cost for his family and immediately he gets on the phone calls a Doctor and tells the Doctor I am treating the whole school and 10 families in the village? The medicine is $30 a shot.  WHAAAAT I never said that?  So it begins……

Jiggas flesh eating worms

Jiggas flesh eating worms

Slowly we are starting to get pulled and yanked in all financial directions.  Now the water tank is costing more, the guy needs more money, the cost to fund more uniforms, help one with medicine then you have to do treatment for the entire village.  If he sees I am not drained enough he then brings a  women into the house that is pregnant and she has a major rash that has spread to her kids.  They want me to diagnose her.  I am like Why can’t you understand I am not a nurse.  And Kendall is like nurse Dorothy heal her. Well, I do the prenatal exam and the baby is due I figured in two weeks the heart beat is there and I tell her you need to go the hospital and get that checked in case its measles.  Here we go… Francis said she is a guardian of one of the orphans and she has no money and needs transport to the hospital and the medicine.  AND?  I am like Francis you can’t do this to me.  Kendall is just in shock and shaking her head at me basically saying nooooooo don’t’ do it we will be infested with women here tomorrow.  So I say flat out NO.  Francis, you have these kids here and these people need help why don’t  you help them?  And he goes into a speech to her about he has no money and he has to feed these kids….I just am so EXHAUSTED AND DRAINED.  It’s so hard when you become a human bank machine and you want to help everyone especially since in small numbers the cost is so little but when one person turns to 20 people I just can’t do it alone.

Kendall and I just sat at the table and there was a knowing between us that we are DONE.  WE ARE SOOOOOOO DONE.  Francis saw it and came over and said What’s wrong and Kendall just spazzed, put her sweater over her face and said I WANT TO GO HOOOOOME!!! I just can’t take it anymore.  The money, the diseases the kids, every minute its something else.  I just can’t do anymore.

But this is how it is.  This is what traumatized me the first time I was here.  I was just done emotionally.  This time I feel the same but my skin got thicker and my voice is stronger.  I know they are poor, the whole village is poor, but it gets insane when we are making Sophie’s choices all day long on who gets help and who does not.  And then live with the fact that you know some that didn’t get your help will probably die.  I have said this before that the ones you don’t help weigh stronger on your soul then feeling the blessings of those you did help.  Before I felt the need to help the one that were sick and poor and this time I am starting to see the ones that can be shining stars, to raise them up and get them out of here.  It’s a choice of helping or saving.  One minute I think I am sure about my decisions I am making, the next I am crying that I am in way over my head.  I just know for sure I am once again feeling DONE and can’t take it anymore. BUT then I will wake up tomorrow look into the yard and see all these faces.  Happy to see me, too innocent to know about the hard choices I have to make everyday.  And I get dressed, go outside and do it all again, another day because what I do know for sure is any ONE CHOICE is better then having never made a choice at all

Me and my kids

Me and my kids

Posted in Africa - Rebirth the World One Village at a Time | 1 Comment

Emotional Therapy

Today started out uneventful as we did the usual 2 hour routine to get anywhere.  We headed out to the hospital in Matunda, Kendal wanted to come along in case she was able to see a birth.  Wen we got there no one in labor so we hung out in the prenatal and family planning clinic.  She found it cool feeling babies in bellies, feeling for the head, assessing due dates and just learning all the prenatal details.  The hospital wants me present at one birth; assist the second and then the third onward I am on my own.  Well I am suppose to go back tomorrow but I told Francis I am not interested in doing prenatal visits and family planning needles so they can call his cell if a lady shows for labor and I will work on call.  Kendall is all hyped for a birth so I’m sure she will get a birth fill before we go but I warned her that the African delivery methods could traumatize her in the future. Before we went home we spent some time in the other parts of the clinic. We were taken into the counselling and treatment room.  Now, this is where they treat the Tuberculosis and hand out the HIV treatments. we with two other nurses just touring and we happen to stop in there and have a chat.  Kendal was looking at the TB treatment pills and the ARV’s for HIV pills.  asking about how many they treat and how babies get it from breast milk and of course the nurse tells us that HIV is very very low in breast milk and that babies don’t get it (this is the same nurse that told me this in July) I just shot Kendal a silent that is a BIG FAT LIE look.  Then it gets better she said that TB even though we have the shot we can still get it and OH when you sit in the little crammed matatu and people have it you can catch it.  I think at the same time me and Kendal said WHAT????????? the fear of death swarmed over that moment and she back tracks and goes oh don’t worry the windows are open hopefully and you don’t have to panic and cover your faces in the matatu.  I said to her aren’t you scared to catch it here?  and her answer… no God takes care of us. OHHHKAY THEN.  We asked if there is a lot of TB cases and she said in the few hours this morning there were 9 just that day.  9? in this room? here? where we are? germs all over this stuff?  OMG and sure enough we slowly back up and bolted out of the room.

This afternoon we watched as the new 1000L  water tank and filter system was brought in.  The kids were just mesmerized as a big truck brought it in and they had never seen anything like that come through the village.  I was actually confused a little myself as to how the truck made it to the house.

 

There was an awesome moment where the kids were so thrilled to be eating rice today.  They were all so happy and it’s amazing how you can see their energy and their spirits change over simple things.  The funny thing rice really is not even that simple here.  It really is a pure luxury.  It’s expensive to feed it to them regularly; the cost of rice here is almost triple to that at home.  So when they can eat it, I guess you can say it would be like how we look forward to an awesome pizza party.

Rice for lunch many happy kids

Rice for lunch many happy kids

We started the project of profiling children today in order to set them up for sponsorships.  It’s a big task we have on our hands by taking each child’s picture, recording their family facts and history and then having the child write a hand written letter in English to their potential sponsor.  Kendall has been so awesome in doing this work and getting them organized and she is really looking forward to the letter writing with them.  Now, there are over 200 kids and do get just 20 done took two hours because some of these kids won’t even speak up.  We set it up where Kendall was the photographer, I sat at table with Pamela, Pamela gave me the details, Pinny spoke to the child in Swahili and said say your name, how old are you (and not one child knew this info but we started with the youngest kids today)  It was actually funny how some of the 4 year olds would say 10 yrs old.  Pinny asked where is your mother or father and thats when it would be hard because the kids would go silent or they would point and say out there in swahili and Pamela said out there means their parents are dead an they don’t really understand.  some kids were just so cute that we choose them to be our video kids. on the mini video clips of profiles we are doing.  Some kids stories were so incredibly sad that Kendal would walk away to cry and I would have to drop my head and cry.  There were many moments were we were like ok enough for one day I can’t listen to anymore.

The hardest thing, was when a child was asked about parents or brothers and sisters their face would change to a sullen painful stare, they would go silent and would not smile anymore.  I have no clue how to put this in words but it’s almost like we know what happens here, we know these kids and many like them are orphans, we know parents die from malaria, typhoid, HIV Aids, whatever it is we just know that that is the harsh reality. However, today, I didn’t see the harsh reality as just a circumstance, what I saw were innocent kids.  Kids like mine, like yours back home, innocent beautiful kids that are in extreme emotional pain.  Except that pain does not get treated, there is no counselling, there is no therapist and they have never even spoken about it until we asked some questions today.  When I see these kids outside in the yard I honestly see happy faces, singing, dancing and living a life amongst each other that seems full of joy and love. But I realized that this school orphanage that Pamela and  Francis put together is what saves them emotionally as a group.  Individually pulling them aside they were vulnerable children in desperate need of serious therapy.  Again, another day where my emotions are just pulled, yanked and outright stripped from happy to see rice, happy to see kids play, to crying over individual stories and I actually feel that today I really saw the kid for the first time.

We had some other village drama tonight as well.  A man had come over before dinner to see Pamela, Pamela is a teacher in the public school system and there was a child in grade 8 is 16.  Her father had paid her school fees and she was registered with the government as a school child. One day in December she did not come home after school.  She was kidnapped.  A man twice her age snatched her and married her.  He took her from the town and kept moving houses but eventually they found him.  They want help getting the man arrested.  So tomorrow, Pamela and the father are going to the chief of the village to get him to arrest the man and get the daughter back.  they have to prove she was a registered chid at the school in order to validate the marriage as not legal or authorized.  I know this sounds so sick and demented but unfortunately if he kidnapped her and claims to be married to her the chief can’t do anything.  So Pamela pulled the school registration showing her fees paid for grade 8.  Tomorrow they will get the girl, arrest the man and take the girl straight to Matunda clinic to have her tested for HIV and pregnancy.  It’s just a horrible horrible story and the sadness and desperation in the father was just too much to look at.

At this point when the man left, We asked how this man could get away with this and she just looked unfazed and said men that are uneducated believe crazy things and they just do whatever they want.  she then told us the story of their youngest daughter Perot.  Perot is about 12 years old.  She is the sweetest child ever, always hugging and saying thank you and welcome over and over.  But there is something about Perot that you know might be wrong.  Well we just found out that at 4 years old Perot was outside at the neighbours and there was a 26 year old man/boy.  He started raping her and his mother came out and saw him raping her and screamed.  Pamela said that the man is still around today and has never been arrested.  Perot had suffered urinary tract problems growing up from it and has suffered severe trauma. I was in shock.  I can’t believe this poor baby girl went through that.  Perot suffers from attention disorder and will not go to school even at the orphan school.  She literally just runs around all day just playing randomly almost like a 6 year old.

Perot

Perot

Me and Kendall have been talking about this lady we read about in the kenyan paper, she was 27 with three kids, her youngest was 1 month old.  she wanted to go out and party and gave the one month old a sleeping pill.  She left the house at 10pm returned at 4am and the baby was dead.  She was charged with first degree, then man slaughter then they switched to probation and then they just let her go because there was no one to look after the other kids.  LOL it’s awful the justice system here but we have been cracking jokes about that story the last few days in a mocking way about oh well that’s ok no big deal if you are able to go home from jail to watch your other kids after killing one.

One child we spoke to today, she is 6 years old named Elizabeth Moi, she is HIV positive.  she lives with a guardian in the village.  Both her parents died of HIV.  When Pinny said can you say how many brothers and sisters you have she just stared and then all of a sudden covered her face and started bawling her eyes out!  that was it for us.  She was one of the kids that struck us in the heart and we cried our eyes out.  This child needs help severely and she will never ever ever get it.  She is alone with HIV 6 years old and lives with pain so deep that how can she ever have a normal life.  How will any of these kids live a normal life, I don’t even mean first world normal, but here village normal.  They are so many odds against them.  Disease, poverty, food, family, they don’t have any of these basic things.  I turned to Kendal and said OMG these kids desperately need therapy this is horrendous I can’t take another story.  She was like THERAPY they can’t even deal with therapy cause they have to get up every day just think about survival.  Then she said I can’t do another day of this.  I just can’t.  Everything is too much.

then there is Victor he is 7 years old.  His father is extremely abusive and used to beat his mother badly, he was an alcoholic.  His mother last year just could not handle it anymore and she hung herself.  Victor watched her do it.  Victors father never committed a crime so he is not in jail and Vitor still lives with him.  We just stared at this child.  and I mean stared.  we were speechless!  and then when Pamela said you can go now,  HE SKIPPED BACK TO THE KIDS.  and of course we cried.

This are only the stories of a few kids.  There are 200 here.  I am emotional writing this and I just can’t continue with anymore for one day.  Please stay tuned.  If any one of them tugs at your heart, well then you know how to help!

I will upload pics tomorrow.

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14 Kids and Counting

Today was NUTS! thats all I feel like writing.

I’m exhausted and today proved that I may just be in way over my head.  Thank God for Kendall cause honestly I think I’d be crazy to come here and think that I can help this village alone.  Honestly, you tackle one problem and then you realize there are about 14 more that exist.  On a side note though I had such a laugh today walking through the village with Kendal on our way home from a 3 HOUR cast out the demons, women having Jesus seizures Pentecostal Church service.  She went into a speech about how it is here and she is exhausted just doing one thing that can take all day to get done.  I have to video record it and upload it cause it was a perfect rendition of a day in the life of an African village. example: to wash your feet – go walk to well, lift water, pour into bucket, carry bucket to house, transfer water to another bucket, wash feet, go outside return bucket and feet dirty again.  total time taken 35 minutes. Then this one, go to get a few groceries – get dressed, find a motorbike taxi takes 20 mins, sit on motor bike 30 mins, transfer to matatu, wait on matatu till its full 45 mins, drive 60 mins, go through town, go into store, get stuff, pay, go find a matatu, wait till its full, drive, transfer to motorbike total time taken 7 hours (NO JOKE)  nothing here is easy. NOTHING. Make tea, go to well, get bucket, lift water, transfer to another bucket, warm coals, transfer to another bucket….. I think you get the drift.

Well anyway, to get to the point. We had discussed this water project this morning and went over the details and the costs.  It seemed rational to have running clean water for the house and the orphans.  We looked at the costs when the contractor came over and for me to fund this alone was simply expensive. I had to really have them look at their costs and try to bring the expenses down.  We had agreed on a price of $400 to make a simple water line through the house, and this is just a basic line and nowhere near the kind of lines they need for efficient water flow.  So as it goes when I give a green light and hand over some money then action begins and within hours we have the start of the wood being delivered to build the posts to hold the pump and generator.  All is good right? so far… just wait.

trees delivered for the water system

trees delivered for the water system

Next we take the tasks of organizing all the donations.  Now this was totally awesome.  Even when I saw it laid out I was completely overwhelmed by how much everyone actually gave.  We had to take a few hours to really sort through how every child in the orphanage will get something.  Whether it be a pencil, a toothbrush, crayons or whatever… also that the school is equipped to with these resources in supply and putting aside packages to do home visits with some of the families and ensure they receive something and then looking at the stuff that kids that actually have sponsors are getting.  I am telling you it was a a lot of work.  We basically piled it all into sections and we had tasks, Kendal organized the packages for the teachers and a few of the home visits, Francis put aside stuff for the school, I organized the sponsored kids and then we put aside the individual items that all 200 kids will get something of. This in itself was an ordeal but a very good problem to have.  I assure you.

Donations organized

Donations organized

Now just when you have it all organized…. 14 kids and counting.  It comes up that Kendall mentions the show we have back home 19 kid and counting and how crazy it is that this woman has all these kids, well Francis is not shocked and kind of looks at her like and??? so we then find out about the lady next door lady.  14 KIDS! and three of the oldest ages 15, 16 and 17 now also have kids.  Guess where all these kids live…… Well look at this pic (not all kids made the photo)  I wish you could see how they lived.  We took some of the donations like toothbrushes and soap and walked over there.  they live in a house that is made of mud.  The entire house is about the size of a 9×9 bedroom and they all sleep on the dirt floor with no mattresses, blankets, sheets or any stitch of anything.  THEY HAVE NOTHING.  What’s worse is that none of these kids go to school because the parents cannot afford the public school and they can not go to the Orphanage school where we are because they are not orphaned. Now, you have to understand what happens here, Kendall and I just sorted out donations for over 200 kids, We started a water line project for Pamela and Francis and then to boot there is a big discussion over Pinny’s university (Franics and Pamela’s daughter that I have taken as my own) that I will tell you about in a minute.  So walking into this place where we have basically only brought two toothbrushes, a tube of toothpaste, two bars of soap and a hand made dish towel.  I handed it to Kendal and said OMG this is all we have… she is like OMG YA why didn’t we come here first before we opened the donations.  I was like… OMG you give it to them, she is like no way this is just awful you give it to them… so we handed it to Pinny to give them.  And I stand in the corner with my back turned to them and cry.  We were all jammed in the house like sardines.  it was dusty, dark and smelled awful.  16 PEOPLE in this house.  Kendall brought her polariad camera to take photos so she had taken this one for this family.  They loved the little paper picture looking at themselves.  I think that gift was better than any toothbrush or toothpaste.

14 kids and counting

14 kids and counting

 

16 people live right in  here

16 people live right in here

 

A poloraid family photo

A poloraid family photo

Here is where the day turns into disaster.  I am haunted by the fact that not one of these kids can afford to go to school and I ask why they can’t come here to the orphan school and Pamela and Francis said that they can’t take just one they would have to take them all and they are not orphans.  I was like SO WHAT.  Take one kid. Take the one with the most potential. In their world of hierarchy as fucking messed up as it is they can’t disrupt their order by taking any of the kids.  I AM FUCKING REALLY REALLY PISSED OFF NOW!

 

Do you know how much a child needs to attend public school down the street here for one year? $20. that’s grade one and the total by grade 8 is $95 as it increases a bit every year.  JUST $20. A lousy crummy stupid $20 can save one child in that family.  At the most expensive case scenerio to send all their kids ranging from grade 1-8 is probably about $500 and everyone of those kids gets educated to grade 8 and can have a chance at highschool. A CHANCE.  but because they are not orphans they can’t come to this school.  I am dumb founded.  Why am I putting in water lines, giving kids pencils and books and then there is the kids next door that will get NOTHING cause they are not in this system.  So I make an announcement: These children are going to go to school no matter what I have to do and tomorrow I am going over there and talking to their parents about making sure they show up.  I will pay for at least 3 myself.  because that family is the reality of Africa.

but here is the missing part of this story, I will tie in now… As we finish organizing donations before we head over to dooms day family next door, Pinny has just arrived home from University.  Literally just arrived.  As you may have followed my blogs from my last trip Pinny is Francis and Pamela’s daughter and I have become very close to her.  She is 17 and in my heart I feel that this girl is in many ways is my daughter.  I deeply care for her and I think of her as their golden egg.  She is smart and skipped two grades in school.  When I was here last time, Pinny did not receive the government funding to attend universty so Pamela and Francis wanted her to stay home and help with the orphans as education was not going to be possible to pay for.  Well as you may have read, that just did not sit well with me and I took her on a trip to Lamu and showed her life outside Matunda and explained that with her passion to learn french she can have life at the palm of her hands.  I begged and pleaded that she do everything she can to make it to university, to make a long long long story longer..well…  here we are and she is home and I say so when are you going back to write the exams and the a sudden hush hush happens and I immediately put my back up and WTF NOW?

so Pamela goes in some odd circle I don’t understand, Pinny, head down is not making sense either and I am like Francis WTF is happening.  and soooooooooo it begins…. NOTHING HERE IS EASY!  Francis sits me down and explains that they have no money to pay the $600 semester fee and she has been refused her exam writing till her fees are paid.  so, we didn’t know how to tell you this.  YOU DIDNT KNOW HOW TO TELL ME THIS???  are you fucking joking?  you had no problem telling me how much a fucking water line to your house was going to cost and ran out to get the wood to begin in less than 10 minutes.  BUT PINNY HAS NO FUNDS FOR SCHOOL AND YOU DIDN’T KNOW HOW TO TELL ME THIS?

There is no damn ass way in hell I will help put water in a home so you guys can have clean water while the smartest chid I know that actually has a chance to do something with her life will be sitting at home with fucking water (and please people reading this don’t get me wrong, clean water is so important.  It can reduce the amount of Typhoid and hepititis diseases in this village and save lives, but at the same time if kids are not educated this villages will always suffer anyway in many other ways)  So I am a mess.  It’s never just one problem.  Kids have no food, I buy rice, it won’t last, they have water water  but the village does not, Pinny needs $600 but next door they only need $20 for 1 kid and $500 for all 11 kids to go to just elementary school for one year and I really need to find sponsors badly now.  HOW THE HELL DID I TAKE ALL THIS ON?  and poor Kendall is just in absolute dismay cause she can’t make heads or tails of whats right or wrong either.

Now to tie this together… 14 kids in counting all sleep in one room 9×9, no cement floor just dirt, no matteress, running water HAHAHAHAH are you fucking kidding me? food? NOT A CHANCE! and not one of them has ever been educated.  So you wonder why their three oldest at 15 16 and 17 have babies too? OMG.  But let’s bring it back to how I am told that they can’t attend the orphanage school when I flat out ask to please take one child, we will pick the one that has the most potential and please help that family.  But they can’t because it doesn’t work that way for them.

If you are reading this can you even imagine how I am feeling?  I have just been working on installing a running water line, paying for Pinny to finish school and make their life better and yet they have village poverty protocol to follow.  Now I don’t mean to sound harsh, it’s the African mission work bitch in me BUT I SIMPLY SAY to them WELL my friends you can make a choice…. The waterline or your Daughters university expenses.  Cause I can’t fix all these problems in two weeks.  Now you see this was a test. Because they know how I feel about educating the village children. and we were at dead lock.  Francis said that I really made them think in a different way and they never saw it come down to this.  Really, you want water, you want Pinny to go to school and yet you can’t take one child next door?  Well in my world of protocol we can’t always get what we want.  Now, I need you reading to know that I would have made sure that line goes in cause I know how important it is to the village, I would have made sure Pinny went to school but this is an extremely poor village and for the first time I saw that the orphanage has its own poverty heirachy.   It’s mind blowing.  There is never just one problem.

After much intensity in the room I finally said this…… look, I didn’t come here in July and make it an experience and leave.  I hated it.  I was overwhelmed, confused and plain out had a hard time.  BUT I went home and I sat with it and I thought about it every day, and I looked at my own graces in life and I made a decision to take this on.  By myself.  Yes, I started a non profit to help YOU.  yes I asked for donations to HELP YOU and these orphans.  and I came back and with a recruit to boot!  I am 150% committed to helping making sure these kids have a fighting chance.  It really is how I am going to leave my life one day, knowing that something in this world changed for the better cause I was alive!!! Now Pamela and Francis you have to take a look out that window of your house…. you are poor compared to me, you have nothing compared to me but if you look out past this orphanage you do not seem poor to those people that are not orphaned and don’t fit the criteria to come here.  We need to sit down and figure out how every blessing that happens in this orphange, one child or family that is suffering out there benefits as well.  Then Kendall says to them, after seeing that family a while ago as sad as it is to say I can’t even say your poor. and she was RIGHT! and I said, now if I keep bringing volunteers here and we gave you running water, kept looking after these orphans and then walked out the gate to the 14 kids and counting home what do you think people will think?  Yes, when they see just you then this is extreme poverty.  When they see beyond you they see an extreme injustice. So how do we make this work?  then the solution came from Kendall…..

the water line will not be connected to the inside of the house.  The water line will run from the well to the side of the house that has a sanitary cleaning system and tap that is accessible to the entire village.  People will not need to draw from the community well, they will now draw from the community tap that is on their house.  Eventually someday as we raise more funds the pipes will go through the house and directly to the outdoor toilet holes for flushing toilets and a public running shower, maybe someday… but right now the water system is for the entire village not just the orphans.  I’m happy, you happy? and they completely got the point and were very happy.  You see, cause I am committed, I have come this far and I will make sure I finish this to the end and when its all done move on to the next village in the world and start over.  Now, with Pinny, since we pay a home stay fee to them, we agreed that they will put some of those funds to their daughters education, I will take care of the balance of her school fees.  cause they have to care that she goes to school, they have to invest resources too or I shouldn’t have to care about everyone else.  DONE!! I’m happy, you happy?  And finally 14 kids and counting… Their daughter Hilda who has the brightest future will have a chance to come here to orphanage school and be educated and I personally will take care of at least three of the other kids financially at $60 to go to the public school… REALLY why wouldn’t I?  and to be absolutely blunt to you reading this WHY WOULDN’T YOU?  so I’m happy, you happy?

And that’s a day in Africa.  I’m off to bed cause I am just exhausted, depleted, my mind is fried and tomorrow is a new day, and a hospital day of all things.  God knows what happens next!  On a positive note Matucma and Blessings got their donated dolls.  Matchuma also got all new clothes from her sponsor and the joy in these little 2 year olds washes away all the crap that happened all day and quite frankly every day. So maybe you can help make more joyful days here… Please think about sponsoring a child at $25 a month. maybe donate a one time amount? help a village child go to school for a year from $20-$95, how about sustaining rice at $30-$100, maybe help fund the clean water lines at any amount?  If you are moved in any way please reach out and donate through paypal at Rebirth the World one village at a time dorothyguerrayoga@gmail.com

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Machuma gets new clothes, look at that smile!

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