Monday, March 28, 2011

Sunday, March 27, 2011

moving on.

Ali and Myles arrived yesterday! It is so great to have them. Apparently the animals heard they were coming and came out to welcome them. In our walks/runs out and about today we saw baboons, monkeys, a chameleon lizard thing with three horns, a wandering tortoise...The baboons were out in force, as were the monkeys. We haven't seen this many in one day ever! The recent rains have made everything really green again. I think the animals like this too. Ali and Myles had amazing energy for the first day, fueled by the excitement of being here and the newness of everything?? Finally they felt the jet lag and the elevation and fell into bed. We were impressed!

Erika and I just returned from a few days in Ethiopia with a group of Seattle friends. We had a whirlwind tour of HIV/AIDS work going on there, all connected to many other efforts as well. It was amazing. It was a great distraction after our road episode a few weeks ago and a total change of pace. Just before that we had a road trip to Western Kenya with the same people. We thought we were going to see a clinic which might be an example of a self sustainable model...something we were interested in learning about. Instead we found patients lined up to see health care professionals...Communication has challenges! While the rest of the group worked at learning about the clinic from the perspective of funding etc. we saw an ever increasing line up of patients! When we got there 12-15 people were waiting. When we left there were about 30! I think this would have been the trend. But we only had a few hours. It felt like the edge of the world, on the shore of Lake Victoria and FAR off the beaten track.

In a few days we will leave for our climb of Mt Kilimanjaro! We are excited!

By the way, Erika had her hair twisted again. This time we went to a market in Nairobi. 4 women worked on her hair at the same time and it took just over 2 hours and cost half as much! Last time it took 2 full days!? She said it was painful the entire time, but the twists are back!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

TIA....another version, not so nice.

Erika and I had a scary experience today. Erika wrote about it.

About 45 minutes after this episode we were in an amazing center called Comfort the Children, listening to about 8 handicapped children sing to us with all their might. It was amazing and beautiful...

It is like there is amazing beauty, love, touching courage and strength...and what seems to be a very thin veneer over great tension and potential violence.

From Comfort the Children we went to a nearby IDP camp...Camps that were built by the UN 3 years ago after post election violence here in Kenya. Tribal groups broke out with violent acts against each other and people moved back to areas where their tribal group is dominant. This caused homelessness all over the country because many of these people had not lived in the areas they moved to for generations. The UN put up tent camps, and many people still live in these same tents. 3 years of wind, rain, can imagine the tents. Habitat for Humanity has built many houses as replacement living structures, but then there is the issue of sustainability. Having a house doesn't mean you have the ability to make a living.
Most of these camps are just women and children. They have no idea what happened to their men...killed? ran off? Seems like he would have found them by now if he was alive and looking for them? Some of them have many, many children. They have formed co-ops and are raising chickens, renting land and growing small crops...But it isn't enough. One of the HS age girls was around today. We asked her why she wasn't at school. She had been sent home because she was behind on her school fees.

Some people wonder why they don't go back to the places where they had been living. You know, seems like life is settled down, back to normal...But who could go back to a place where you have learned that your neighbor is capable of killing you if stressed, not personally threatened by you, but persuaded that your "group" is to blame for something?

And as we learned today....considering the reality that all is not as it seems is part of surviving here. This is Africa.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

is it time yet....?

Sometimes it feels like it is time to go home....

Like when you get up early for a meeting, assuming that the focus will be on the fact that people are quitting at the hospital...including one of the main people in your department...with no notice! And it is never mentioned because it seems that direct communication, or using meetings for pertinent issues is not the way it is done here.

Or when you have to get ready for the day without any water...and you have to return to carry water so that you can flush your toilet and wash the dishes from last nights dinner...and when will there be water? "Soon, very soon...don't you have water yet?"
And in your mind you think..."prepare for 4 days!" It has been that long before...with the same "soon" business going on.

Or when your favorite people are leaving and going back to the Cameroon.

Or when you can tell that your kids are feeling lonely and counting the days, but are also anxious about returning home...

Or when you just miss your house and your bed and your COUCH and your FRIENDS! And predictability and efficiency and even cold weather and snow! And even your jobs! Warren said today..."i can't wait to get back to my job and my people..."
(how lucky are we that we can feel this way?!)

On the other hand...We still have a lot to look forward to. You are probably never more helpful than when you stick around as people are leaving! The hospital saw more than 500 people yesterday!? There is plenty to do.

Erika has coached the JV team to a successful season and they have had a great time.

John is soon to be headed off on a school trip where he will get certified in scuba Africa!

Our friend Libby has been here with us and is getting hooked up with organizations where she can use her soccer to empower girls...Her best hook ups came from getting a ball and starting to play...word spread. "That mzungu can play!"

Our Seattle church, UPC, is sending a group this month. We are going to get to see them and travel with them, learning about clinics in various parts of Kenya and hoping to get ideas to implement in projects elsewhere.

And we just heard that 7 college students from Seattle will be working in the Nairobi area this summer...some in the slums of Nairobi with our Kenyan friends, and some in an orphanage that is also quite close.

And BEST of all....It is only 24 more days until Alison will be here with us!, along with Myles...and only 27 more days until we leave for our climb up Mt Kilimanjaro.
So I am counting the days as well....and these are full of excitement!

In the meantime, it is time to go fetch some more water...