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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Dallin Frampton's Kenyan Experience

Dallin with his sisters and Anthony Yama at the school he built in Dzivani, Kenya
Dallin Frampton returned in August from a 5 month stay in the Koins village area of Kenya.  Dallin had a desire to do something good in a part of the world that really needed help.  After a meeting with Bret Van Leeuwen, the founder of Koins for Kenya, in September 2009, he began raising funds to build a school in the village of Dzivani.  He did concerts, made t-shirts, solicited funds from friends, neighbors and family, and departed in March of 2010 with a small group of Koins expeditioners.  The work on the school in Dzivani and the mud hut in the village of Dzivani which would become his new home in Kenya was begun during that March trip, and he continued that work once the rest of the expedition departed.

Dallin responded to a questionnaire I sent him, giving a little more detail about his stay in Kenya.

Name:  Dallin Frampton   

Age:  20 years old

Hometown:  Holladay, UT

Work Experience:  I did construction all through high school, it definitely helped me when I got to Kenya so I at least had a bit of a base to work off of when we really got to work on the school in Dzivani

Duration of Stay:  5 months

How did you learn about Koins for Kenya?
  I learned about Koins through this girl that went to East High named Tara Tolbert, she is awesome and she is really the reason why I got hooked up with Bret and Koins in the first place

What were your primary responsibilities as a volunteer?  I built a school in the village of Dzivani primarily, and then went from there to building a kitchen and repairing the water cistern at the Koins Community Center, as well as building two more primary schools at Mwache and Miguneni,

What did you learn about Koins for Kenya while in Kenya?  Koins has given countless numbers of Kenyans, ranging from all ages, hope and opportunities in their lives to excel where as before, they would have fallen victim to the blockade of poverty and lack of resources which would in the end, halt them from succeeding in life whatsoever.  Koins has also given jobs to about ten individuals, all of which are some of my best friends in the world, and Koins has helped to establish a few micro-businesses that charge cell phones and car batteries for people to run radios or other simple electronics off of. 

What surprised you the most about volunteering for Koins?  I was mostly surprised about the unreal amounts of joy I felt while living over in Kenya.  I had nothing, I lived as a native in Dzivani and I had the time of my life.  Volunteering with Koins for the 5 months I was there helped me to gain some of the best friendships I have ever had in my life and it instilled an undying love in my soul for the people in Duruma land.  Just to see the joy on children's faces after completing a project in the Koins area basically brought me to tears every time and I had never felt like that before I left to go live there.

What surprised you most about living in Kenya?  I was expecting to live as a native, but it is definitely a night and day difference between just saying it, and actually living it.  It blew me away how easy we have it in the USA and how we take every little thing for granted, it really is mind blowing.  I lived in a mud hut and it was the best time of my life, having no plumbing of any kind, dirt floors and a gas stove to cook all my food.  The joy that living in Kenya brought me is unmeasurable, being able to live as a Kenyan, with Kenyans and having them accept me as an actual Duruma, not an American was amazing.  I didn't hear my name 'Dallin' for 5 months, everybody called me 'Ruwa', the name they gave me when I first got to Kenya and it was so much fun being able to be accepted into the village as one of them and being able to work alongside these people day after day

What do you plan to do upon your return to the USA?  I am at school right now up at the U of U, just trying to get my generals out of the way and I am planning on going to medical school to hopefully become a surgeon or something along those lines.  I am also working part time doing construction and landscaping with my neighbor.

Any piece of advice for future volunteers?  I would say to anybody planning on going to just dive in and work harder than you ever have, it will be rewarding in so many ways and make as many friends as you can, Kenyans are amazing people and they will teach you much more about hard work and happiness more than you could ever teach them.  Also, don't go swimming in rivers.  My legs are covered in parasites and crap cause I kind of have a problem listening to rules, but I am proof that you will be miserable if you do. 

What has been your favorite part of volunteering in Kenya?  My favorite part of the trip was of course being able to construct so many different projects from the ground breaking all the way up until we are putting the roof on and making final touches, but I also kind of fell into a weird situation where I got stuck with a pet monkey which ended up to be one of the funner parts of my stay in Kenya.  He was pretty much my side kick and we got a lot of work done together, him mostly just hanging on my head all day while I was plastering walls or something.  I miss that little man bad, but he is good hands with our girl Kendy who is teaching school down there right now. 


THE FUN STUFF
:

Favorite movie:  The Town

Favorite book:  Born to Run

What was your favorite musical group when you were in junior high?  Less Than Jake

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?  Kenya!  best place in the world, I want to live there so bad

Who is the person you respect the most and why?  Probably Jimi Hendrix, I love music and it took him a long time to reach the top and he owned it once he got there

What do you think is the secret to a good life?  service and selflessness is definitely what I think is how we can be happy.  Plus in my opinion, the less we have the happier we are, so as long as we don't get caught up in what this crazy world tells us we need, we will love our lives

Dallin's Kenyan home, a mud hut he helped build

Monday, October 11, 2010

News Article about the Albino School Project in Kenya

 

Albino School in Kenya - click here to go to the link, or read article below:


A Global Village Saves Albino Kids From Slaughter

An African principal, a Dutch fundraiser and a Mormon housewife are building a sanctuary for some of Kenya's most vulnerable citizens.
It was during her first volun-tourism trip with the group Koins for Kenya that Jami Quesenberry, 47, from Salem, Utah, met the African woman Mwanahamisi and her daughter (right) at a dispensary in Lutsangani, Kenya, a small village about 50 miles outside of the port city Mombasa in 2009.
Mwanahamisi's husband had divorced her for giving birth to albino children, and upon looking closer at the small girl, Jami noticed the child's skin was indeed white and covered in boils and scars from sun exposure.
The despair in Mwanahamisi's eyes said it all — and it haunted Jami all year.
Little did Jami know, the sun wasn't the child's only danger.  Although Mwanahamisi's husband had divorced her for having two albino children, in September of this year he learned that albinos could be sold for their skin. One trip across the border to Dar es salaam, Tanzania, and he could get himself 18 million Kenyan shilling. He came hunting for the children with a machete.
We wrote about the horrors inflicted on African albinos here back in June. We also told you about the start of Mwanahamisi's story. We promise that things only get better from here.
albinoa2.jpg
Jami Q. with Hussein Lumbambo and the headmistress of the Kinandaongo School in Kenya
 Shortly after Jami's first visit, a local Kenyan man name Hussein Lumbambo had a dream to open a school not far from Lutsangani in the town of Kinandaongo, where the approximately 100 children with albinism in the area can live and be educated free from fear and danger.
But without a car or modern forms of communication, Mwanahamisi never knew this luxury even existed. On her second visit in 2010, Jami met Hussein in a chance encounter.
When Mwanahamisi learned her ex-husband was searching for her children she hid in the Koins for Kenya community center in a village close to her town. Jami was contacted by the Koins executive director Anthony Yama. She in turn reached out to Hussein.
He responded to her email post-haste and rushed to find Mwanahamisi and her children. Talk about the benefits of six degrees of separation.
"I was out my senses when I received your email and I had no business staying in the office when my albino children were in danger I had to use all my powers and all means available ... the two children are now safe, sound and comfortably seated in class with the others in class. I had to respond to your call remembering all what you are doing to make the albino children have a bright future," Hussein wrote to Jami shortly after rescuing Mwanahamisi and her children.
albino3.jpg
An albino boy at Kinandaongo School with new hat
 Hussein's school has truly been a global project. A Dutch woman named Marjon Bogaard, visited the school in April and forever changed it.
"Through Hussein we met the albino children and we started to collect money for them. In April we started to built new toilets and water tank for the whole community of Kibandaongo and built a dormitory for the albino children and a small water tank," Bogaard told Tonic over email from Holland.
The dormitories are necessary for the albino children who must be protected from human predators with high walls, provided the funding to build them.
See, we promised a happy ending. So what is next? At this time, there are no funds to purchase beds and bedding for the 48 students who will attend. The students also need protective uniforms, hats, shoes and sunscreen.
There is also the issue of food and water. In schools in rural Kenya, students bring corn from home and a stick of wood for the fire that will cook their corn. This is lunch. Students also need to bring water from home, collected by their mothers daily from filthy rivers and dams near their villages.
Because these students will be too far from home for their families to help them with food and water, the school will need a cistern to collect rainwater from the school's roof. This water will be used for drinking and cooking. The students will need monetary assistance to help buy corn and wood for their meals.
An albino student at the Kinandaongo School
This past weekend Jami, her husband and their eight children cleaned out their closets and hosted a garage sale to raise money for beds. All of her money is being sent through Koins for Kenya to ensure that it reaches Hussein and is used to construct beds and provide food.
"As I walked through Hussein's school in July, I immediately thought of Mwanahamisi and the despair I had seen in her eyes.  It had haunted me all year.  Now I saw there was hope for her children.  I knew that I needed to do everything possible to complete the school and make this opportunity available to her family and to others like her," Jami told Tonic.
"We are not short on stuff. We are a country of stuff. Everyone has stuff. That's how I came up with the idea for a garage sale. It gives everyone a way to help, whether big or small. I started sending out e-mails and Facebook posts and have had such an overwhelming response. I hope that Mwanahamisi can know that she is not alone, that she is not friendless. My dream is to go back to her village some day and see that look of despair gone and replaced with a smile."
Want to join this global village? To do that, please go to www.koinsforkenya.org. Click on the "Donate Now" block. There will be a pull-down menu on the donation form under the title "Donation Destination". Submit your donation under the "Albino School Project".  Koins has zero overhead costs. All money goes 100% towards these projects. And your donations are tax deductible.

The new school year starts in January. Let's give these children a future filled with knowledge instead of fear.


Photos by Ingrid Van Leeuwen

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Update on Kendy in Kenya

Our niece, Kendy, is living in Kenya, teaching English at Mnyenzeni Secondary School, and doing her best to help the students prepare for their national exam in November.  She joined our group to Kenya in August, and has stayed on alone, living, interacting and teaching in Mnyenzeni.

She has kept a blog (as an internet connection has allowed) and it is interesting to follow her experiences.  I am including an recent excerpt from her blog, as I feel it really shows the effort involved to teach and work in Kenya. 

Where did September go?

OK, I know I came here to teach English. I’m doing that, or trying to anyway. Teachers keep scheduling random lessons and lab days during my scheduled class time without any notice, and less and less students have been showing up each day, although it’s steadied out this past week as the same six to eight students per class consistently show up. (And really, with two weeks until the big exam, I’m not trying to spend my energy trying to find and discipline the absent ones when there are some seriously eager, willing and bright students sitting in, fully prepared, and on-time to class each day.) Apparently, that “just happens” as the exam date approaches. Instead, they prefer to sit in the library and study on their own…and the school seems more or less OK with this… Even though it’s their grade, their future, their decision, not mine, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t bummed out about this – in a big way. And with all the amazing organizational skills and communication happening, my extra test prep sessions keep getting postponed. Once, so the kids could practice…singing? Priorities? Too harsh?

Apologies, (not really) but it’s a product of passion. Reality is seriously getting in the way of my idealism – which I’m not giving up on! I’m stickin’ to my guns, but I think I came here with bigger expectations than were actually possible. My family here keeps reminding me that one (I) can be just as good of a help as an observer to issues that easily get overlooked in the bigger scheme of things, but who wants to be a hall monitor? Honestly, if it weren’t for those super inspiring, hard-working and intelligent 12-16 kids, and some equally passionate faculty members, (AND all the other angels in this village!) I’d be way down right about now.

BUT the SSAWA program, my Duruma family, and the friends I’m making are really my sources of fulfillment here. Held the first-ever, official SSAWA meeting (again I say, finally!) last Sunday. We played ice breaker games and focused on “team building” exercises to loosen these girls up and set the tone for a positive and free-feeling next couple of months together. A day in Kenya so far has never felt more right. We played the “name game” in which we’re all in a circle and someone says their name while accompanying it with some kind of body movement. And you go around the circle trying to remember everyone’s moves/names. In my previous, American experience with this game, it can mean a clap of the hands, maybe a wave, some over-the-top silly dance move.. The young, female, African version would have nothing to do with anything of that sort. It was allllll ABOUT the booty, hip and shoulder shakin’ moves. YES!!!!!!!!!! And did I mention how much Kenyans like to laugh? Kinda discouraging to get used to at first when I’m trying to practice my Swahili and they crack up laughing even if what I’m saying is totally correct. But we basically transformed the otherwise ugly, bare classroom into a festive, colorful dance party, music provided by their loud and sweet laughter. Most fun I’ve ever had during an ice breaker activity for sure..

And I really feel like the days have just been getting better ever since. Today was another good one. Grace, who is a kindergarten teacher here in the village, comes by frequently to visit with Mama Em and the ladies here. Grace is from Mazeras (a town, not Mombasa, but not the bush) and told me today that she came to Mnyenzeni in February to start the kindergarten academy that operates out of the church building. She’s really sweet, way cool and is a fellow young female thing without babies!! She’s always telling me to come by her home, but my American-ness is apparent and ugly here in the way it holds me back from dropping in on people unannounced and without any sort of official concrete invitation. Silly me trying to get all official here.. Yesterday I said I would come tomorrow (being American again, needlessly setting a date for something like tea and a chat) so today she finally led me to her place. Like most teachers, she rents out a room that is a part of a bunch of rooms that all share a common, rectangular “courtyard” in the center of all the rooms. Village-style dorms? She lives in one concrete room, but she’s a baller, and it’s single occupancy. She also keeps it super clean and while extremely simple, something about it threw off really cozy and comfortable vibes despite the actual material makeup of the structure.

She provided the tea and cookies, and I a few reasons why it’s taken me so long to come over. I was trying to explain that in my “home culture,” it’s not really OK to just drop by someone’s place unannounced, and especially not expect them to prepare you something to eat and drink right away, if at all. We play this little dance: (By the way, “play” and “dance” is the same word in Swahili..love that!)

“Would you like something to drink?”

“Oh, no, I’m OK, thank you”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah, really, I’m cool.”

“Please……”

And then either they give up or you give in, but in any case, getting fed is not something that’s expected. Nor is it the “happiness of our culture” (as Mama put it) to drop whatever it is we’re doing at the moment to cook something for an unexpected stranger coming into our homes, generally speaking. I guess that’s part of the difference - they’re not “so busy” running around and doing a bunch of things. Village life is a lot more communal in every way, meaning visits are therefore seen as less intrusive and more common. Personal space is a foreign concept along with selfish behavior, and, really, there’s not MUCH else to do around here besides talking to people and eating. Grace put it beautifully:

“Visitors are like angels. They can come at any time! Today, you are my angel.”

I mean….REALLY?! American friends: Don’t be surprised if I just show up at your place out of nowehere one day expecting tea and cookies because I think I could get used to this.. But know that you could expect exactly the same from me!

I wrote the above a few days ago, and what I said about the days getting increasingly better still holds true. Yesterday evening two of my school teacher friends and I went for a sunset walk along the main road. It fell dark before we reached home, and without the light of the moon, it was the darkest night I’ve ever moved around in. Although, the lack of any light whatsoever only made for the most beautiful skyscape of stars I’ve ever seen. Dancing around under the light of the Milky Way? Hand drumming in the distance with different animal sounds coming from everywhere? And a mama that calls just to make sure I get home safely? I’m CHILLIN’ here, you guys… And today on my sola, afternoon walk through the village, I was forced to consume fresh young coconut from this old man that insisted on climbing up the tree and chopping it down for me just to say “Karibu” (Welcome).

Honestly, I hope that visitors to countries/places like this that are still developing don’t JUST go home appreciative for what they have and how great their lives are back home. With such an extreme cultural exchange taking place I would hope that the reflection and life lessons run a little deeper than that. After all, shouldn’t appreciation on all levels be standard universally? In addition, I hope they recognize how open, warm, kind and generous these people “with nothing” are, and strive to be even half as good an example of a human being in their blessed existence.

Salama sana, brothers, dadas, papas and mamas!

___________

I think Kendy is amazing.  And what she is doing is amazing.  If she can make a difference in the lives of even a few students, it will be worth every minute she is in Kenya.  If you want to follow more of Kendy's blog, you can go here.