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Friday, August 27, 2010

Ingrid's Kenyan Journal, Part 1 July 22-26

Ingrid Van Leeuwen, Koins for Kenya Board Member

3rd visit to Kenya

Mombasa produce market
Bret with some of the many bananas at the market
July 24, 2010

We had our first full day in Kenya. We arrived late last night in Mombasa, after enduring multiple ticketing issues, including having our flight from Salt Lake completely cancelled. We took a variety of flights to get ourselves to Amsterdam, but we all ended up on the same flight from Amsterdam, except for the Kimballs who arrive tonight, having departed a day later than us. The only casualty was the Tingey's luggage, it will arrive on the Kimballs flight tonight.

I awoke to a sunny Mombasa morning. I closed my eyes about 2:00 a.m., and woke up at about 9:15, thanks to Bret's alarm. Without it I am sure I would have stayed asleep for quite some time. We had breakfast then several of us headed out to the Nakumatt for supplies and food for our stay in the village. I am sure that we will be making 1-2 more trips to Mombasa for food and other supplies over the next 10 days.

Lucy haggling at the vegetable market
Naptime in the market

 Then Jami, Bret and I joined Anthony and Lucy to go shopping for fruits and veggies at a huge outdoor market. It was crazy and hectic, dirty and smelly. It was a market literally several blocks big, with piles of fruits, vegetables, beans, herbs, and teeming with people. It would have been very intimidating without Lucy doing the shopping. We had 2 boys who tagged along with us to help us carry bags out. Without them carrying everything we purchased, the trip would have been very difficult! When we loaded up the car, we had a police officer approach us as we were preparing to drive away, who insisted that we needed to go to the station with him because we had parked illegally and needed to see someone about that. As he was on his cell phone trying to look official, we just drove away!

Shop we always purchase our kanga cloths and kikoys

We then proceeded to the Blue Room where the rest of the group was having lunch. We sat for a bit, had a cold drink, then headed to Biashara Street to purchase kanga cloths and kikoys. Jami and I went with Lucy to a store where we purchased plates, cups, silverware, buckets, other plastics for the kitchen and elsewhere in the village. Midway through our shopping trip we realized that none of us had enough money for what we were purchasing, and Anthony's list had a lot to be desired as far as to explanations of some items, so Lucy went looking for Anthony back at the kanga store, and he returned to help us with our shopping. I am learning that nothing in Kenya is easy. Even shopping is difficult, as convenience is not something they specialize in.
Crazy streets of Mombasa

After spending 13,000 Ksh, we headed back to the Blue Room and the rest of our group, then back to the hotel. Jami and I just went to have dinner only to find that the dining room doesn't open until 7:30. I am trying to keep my eyes open long enough to wait until that time, but nothing sounds quite as good as a nap right now.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

This morning we woke up early to the sound of rain outside. It cleared up before we headed to breakfast, to a beautiful morning. We packed, brought all our luggage down and enjoyed our last breakfast the the Continental Hotel. I won't miss the cold showers and lack of elevator, but they did have good food.
Continental Hotel, Mombasa

We drove to the Changamwe branch for Sacrament meeting. We met Melinda Wills, a young lady from Provo who was working for Yehu bank and living in Kenya.   She had been there for about 4 months, living alone in an apartment in the Nyali Beach area.  Brave girl!   She spoke in Sacrament, and I think maybe the addition of our 24 or so group members intimidated her a bit!  Too bad she is headed home in the next few weeks.  She could have been a good friend for Kendy as she stays on to teach in Mnyenzeni until December.
Curt and Catelin Tingey in front of the church in Mombasa

We walked through the crazy streets of Mombasa the short distance from the church building to the Akamba carvers, where everyone observed the carvers at work, and made their purchases. Bret and I found a good sized carved elephant that will make a nice addition to our Kenyan decor. After enduring the painstakingly slow checkout and paying for our purchases, we boarded the vans and headed to Mnyenzeni.

Carved elephant from Akamba Carvers
There are some decent roads to Mnyenzeni, but often the smooth tarmac deteriorates into rutted, rough and rocky dirt roads that nearly require a 4-wheel drive to navigate. We experienced some of that, but made a stop at the Mwache bridge to check out the river and walk over to the falls, which I had never seen before. The rains this year have left the landscape lush and green, and the river full of water. By contrast, last year at this time the corn and animals were dying, the fields were brown and people were worried about the dramatic lack of water everywhere.
Mwache River Falls

We continued on to the village, where we were welcomed with smiling, waving children yelling "Jambo" and running after our van along the road.  As we approached Mnyenzeni, we could see the welcoming committee waiting for us, large groups of children and adults alike, singing and dancing. For anyone new to the experience, it is pretty overwhelming and emotional.  Even for us who have been here, it is touching.  And those kids can sing!
Dancing at the KCC

We were ushered to the porch of the KCC where we were then entertained by several school groups of children, as well as the parents of the Windridge school kids.  They also brought bags of vegetables and gave them to Mike and Cindy, who have sponsored the Windridge school from the beginning, as thanks for the school for their kids.  Seemingly small tokens, but huge in this land of survival.  There was the typical singing, dancing and then pulling all of us into the celebration dance.  The Kenyan experience.

Anthony then ushered everyone away, and we began our unloading and unpacking process. We settled into our rooms, unpacked our personal items, then started sorting the huge amount of extras we brought with us. Baby blankets, pencils and other school supplies, sewing machines, hygiene kits, medical supplies for the dispensaries, as well as personal gifts for sponsored students sent by their American sponsors.

There are a lot of people staying here. More than any other expedition to date. We had to purchase additional beds, dinnerware, cookware and other basics just to provide for the group.  I imagine there will be other large groups down the road. We can make it work, it is just a lot more logistics to work out.

Paul filming the local children

People started spreading out, playing with kids, Paul started filming, I took a tour of the Ben Taylor Workshop, which I hadn't seen since it broke ground my last visit.  It was impressive to see the work that is being done, desks, chairs, doors, cabinets, windows.  They are also doing metal work and making chairs and desks out of metal.   Mike and Curt have big plans to organize and get machines sharpened, fine tuned and ready to work better.   I also went into the sewing shop.  I met the fundi that is now over the sewing projects.  He is quite effective, has trained more women to sew, and they are now making school uniforms for all the schools in the area.   I am impressed by that.   He has also fashioned some cargo shorts out of colorful conga cloths.  We have placed orders for koins purses, cargo shorts and pajama pants.

Women in the sewing center cutting out Koins purses from kanga cloths

Sewing center busy making Koins purses and pajama pants for our group

We had dinner about 7:00, with ugali, vegetables and fruit.  The fruit was the best part of it.  Afterwards we had a peaches and pits of sorts, with a few brief comments about being here and impressions so far.  This is a great group of people.  I am loving working with Jami, she is amazingly organized and perfect for the position of expedition planner.


I had a shower under the stars.  It was very enjoyable, with a full moon and 4 temporary shower stalls full of people chatting while we had our bucket baths.   Only in Africa :)


Monday, July 26, 2010

I woke up bright and early this morning. My steel cut oats cooked in the crock pot worked beautifully, so along with scones, hard boiled eggs, chai tea and fruit, we had a delicious breakfast.

While Swahili lessons started, Cindy, Jami, Marcie and I made lunch for today's trip to Dzivani. While everyone lollygagged, Bret and I hopped on the motorcycle and headed out. There were some crazy roads.   It was not a comfortable ride!  I was worried about my skirt flying up, about my calf getting burned on the exhaust pipe, about the bad roads and the bike slipping on the slickness of the newly rained on road (that was scary enough for me to pawn the return trip home off to Leigh). We arrived in Dzivani a full 30 minutes before the vans. We toured Dallin's (Ruwa - his Druma name) home, of which the building began during the March trip. It was quite touching how much the Dzivani community loves him, as was apparent by the signs they had painted on the school. I think he might have a difficult transition back to American life.

Dallin's house in Dzivani

It was very touching to see the greeting the school children had for the group as they arrived in the vans. Especially for the Frampton girls and James, Dallin's friend.



We then broke up into teaching and work groups. Dallin and his sisters, James, Steve and Brayden painted while the rest of the group divided into groups and taught various classes. I wandered around among all of them and shot photos. It was quite enjoyable to be on the back side of the camera, where I prefer to be.

Teaching at Dzivani
Bret teaching about magnets to a class at Dzivani

Framptons painting Dzivani classroom
Kenyan women, wearing beautiful, bright colors and rarely smiling for photos

We finished up the work and teaching, had some sandwiches in the finished room of the school, rounded up the troops, which seems to be one of the most difficult things about this group, then headed to Lutsangani, where we were to deliver baby blankets and hygiene kits. While we were there, a motorcycle drove up with a woman sandwiched between the driver and a back passenger. She appeared to be unconscious, and apparently she was an epileptic. It was quite frightening to see her carried in. I was worried that she was dying, but it seems her condition was nothing out of the ordinary for her, and while the waiting women showed concern for her, no one seemed overly worried.
Woman and baby at Lutsangani dispensary receiving a baby blanket

I made a presentation to a woman in the dispensary regarding the purpose of the hygiene kits, she seemed happy about them, and she was to share the information with the other women, and we left the hygiene kits with the man at the dispensary to distribute. Let's hope they do get distributed.

Back in the van, back to Mnyenzeni. Let's just say we had enough driving today. We were all relieved to be back home. We had bathroom trips, water fill ups, then Jami, Kris and I washed clothes with Jami's plungers and buckets. It was a bit time consuming, but it will be worthwhile to have some clean clothes. We had accumulated quite a bit. Wearing something twice is not an option here.

We took a walk to the Mnyenzeni secondary school, then through the village of Mnyenzeni. We were, of course surrounded by children. It seems so intrusive to have a group of white folks walking through the village, peering into homes and walking through what seems to be front porch type evening relaxing. Overall they don't seem to mind, and seemed amused at their children following us, being photographed by us, and playing with us.

Man from Mnyenzeni with his children and cattle




As we headed back to the KCC, Cindy and Curt took turns being the pied piper with the kids. Cindy led the kids in a "do as I'm doing" activity, and a few minutes later Curt had a large group of kids running behind him on the road mimicking his actions.


We had a delicious dinner of pilau with beef, one of the bowls of pilau had beef from my food storage beef chunks, and was really good. We were all hungry and it was a good meal.

I quickly showered, which was delightful under a full moon with a hot bucket of water and a breeze. We shortly thereafter had a Peaches and Pits, on the road under the moon, and most everyone had something good to say about the day.  I liked Dallin's opening line "Today was like a peach tree..." There were comments about the kids singing as the vans approached Dallin's school, about teaching at the school, actually, most of the comments had to do with the Dzivani experience. It was a rewarding P&P.

Back to the KCC, time for toothbrushing. I was back at the sink and dropped my toothbrush in the dirt. Kendy saved the day as she had a new toothbrush she gave me. Thank goodness. Where I dropped it was a toothpaste spitting and monkey peeing place. Speaking of the monkey, Dallin's pet doesn't like me much. I pulled it's tail as I was walking underneath the tree it was in today, and it screeched, ran through the tree pulling off leaves and whipping branches, then knocked my sunglasses off my head. No, I am not the monkey's friend. Curt has made friends with him, and was holding him tonight on the porch of the KCC.

Curt and his new friend, Matua, Dallin's pet monkey
Another good day in Mnyenzeni. Robyn topped it off by bringing out a bag of m&m's, which totally hit the spot.  Chocolate is a rare treat here.

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