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Monday, February 28, 2011

The Realities of Education in Kenya

Bret, Koins for Kenya founder, in a typical old classroom 

In 2003, a change in the Kenyan government was made, mainly on the platform of free primary education for all.  Before this change, all education was tuition based, meaning many Kenyan poor never had a chance at being educated.

While this change sounded like a wonderful thing to the vast numbers not attending school due to lack of funds, the realities of free education became clear once existing school buildings swelled at the seams, and class sizes rose to 100+ per classroom being the norm, and a lack of funding from the government threatened to make education unavailable again to the masses of poor Kenyans hungry to learn.

Here is an article from the BBC outlining these issues:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7502223.stm

From the very beginning of Koins for Kenya's existence, one of our primary goals has been to build classrooms in rural villages of south coastal Kenya.  We do this as a partnership with the villages.  The village is required to come to Koins with 10% of the cost of the building project raised, and a willingness to provide unskilled labor to dig foundations, haul water, sand and gravel to the building site.  The partnership we create with the village makes them invested in the work.  Once the classrooms are built, the buildings are dedicated and turned over to the community.  Koins facilitates the building, but takes no ownership in the final outcome.  In the past 7 years, Koins has built nearly 20 classrooms, plus cisterns, latrines and libraries in Kenya, all with a goal to help promote education in a poverty-stricken area where education will provide the only way to a better future.

Koins has been able to accomplish a lot with our limited funds, mainly because of our mandate that 100% of all donated funds go directly to the work in Kenya.  There is no overhead paid out of donated funds.  Everyone on our board is a volunteer.  We donate our time, talents, energy and funds towards the work.  We have hosted a number of expeditioners over the years, and they become our biggest cheerleaders, often returning to Kenya see projects they have funded be dedicated, or rallying new donors to the cause.

It really takes a trip to Kenya, or an experience in a third world country, to realize the difference in how we, as Americans, live, vs. them.  Before my first trip to Kenya, I never thought twice about the fact that I had a flushing toilet, clean running water, a full pantry of food, a car, technology, (and on and on).   Not to mention the healthcare nightmare that is rural Kenya.  We know we can't change the world, but classroom by classroom we are changing the landscape of "free education" in Kenya.

Our next adventure will be in agriculture.  Our partnership with SRA will provide new opportunities to family farmers, and I can't wait to get it started.

Our board is so very grateful to those who donate towards our work in Kenya.  We value your trust, and make sure all funds are carefully spent in ways that will provide the greatest benefit to our villages.

We have another great summer expedition coming up July 9-21.  If you are interested in joining us, contact Jami, our expedition coordinator, at jami@koinsforkenya.org.  It is guaranteed to be a life changing experience.

If you are interested in furthering our work with a donation, you can use a credit card to make a secure donation here.  There is a drop down box that allows you go choose the destination of your donation, or you can make a comment on the payment page as to what the funds are for.

Asante sana!

Ingrid

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Koins and SRA

Koins for Kenya -- Self Reliant Agriculture partnership


I am working on a Koins newsletter, and asked for help explaining what SRA is all about.  I received a wonderful explanation from Joel Black, board member of SRA and Director of Curriculum.  His response is too long to fully include in our newsletter, but I wanted to share it.  SRA is truly an inspired organization, and I look forward to seeing the fruits of our partnership in Kenya. 
________

Ingrid:

I am delighted to respond.  I understand you have the SRA brochure, and I can also send the entire business plan, if that will help.  But as a new, and part-time member of the organization, maybe your people will find interesting what attracted me.

For years I watched with interest the efforts of the Benson Institute, (then at BYU) to help the most remote and needy peoples of the world grow sufficient crops to healthily feed their families.  Each new discovery, like how to grow tomatoes at altitude in the cold, or how to build a family business with chickens, tickled me no end.  Each story of children now able to play, be educated, and grow up with hope, brought a tear to my eye.  And then I met a donor to the program, who told me of wells, schools, greenhouses and farm plots, and of whole villages turning out to treat him as royalty for his simple kindnesses in helping them help themselves.  It was the essence of charity, of goodwill, of what I consider to be Christianity.

The Institute for Self-Reliant Agriculture has taken up this banner, and in cooperation with other charities, and (most amazingly to me) hand in hand with National Governments across the third world, is carrying this hope to hundreds (and soon, thousands) more families.  Kenya is next.

It is a story of an endless stream of miracles how the donors, the beneficiaries, the charities, the contacts, the professional personnel, and the key links between all of them have turned up on airplanes, on street corners, in friends’ living rooms, eager to lend a hand.  One of these, a former Benson Institute Director, and the Head of the B.Y.U. Nutrition Department, Dr. Paul Johnston, who also reviews nutritional issues as a board member of SRA, sent me the following:

With my students we are analyzing the presence of malnutrition among the school children serviced by Koins of Kenya.  We are doing so by anthropometric measurements (height, weight and age) of the children as compared to world standards as established by the World Health Organization.  We are also examining the children’s diets for deficiencies of individual nutrients.  Our objective is to suggest a possible nutrition program through crops, gardens and/or animal rearing that will provide foods to correct the nutritive deficiencies.

Paul


It is another of these serendipitous events that brought Koins and SRA to one another’s awareness.  SRA was in Malawi, with some tentative connections to Ghana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and heartfelt desires to find a way to reach all of Africa, when Koins appeared.  Truly our heads are spinning.  Health requires clean water and vaccinations.  Education requires schools and teachers.  Farms require seeds and know-how and water.  Small scale agriculture can provide a key, a foundation, but there is much more that deprived communities need.  From where we stand, Koins descended like Manna.  We first asked, “What is it?” just like the Israelites of old.  And then, like them again, we jumped all over it.

The mission of SRA is simple and unique.  Simply help provide the skills and knowledge to the neediest of parents, so that they are able to, and will, provide for their children—to help families become self-reliant, in nutrition and health, in education and economics, in life.  To that end we partner with university professors in America for the latest research in agronomy, nutrition and animal science, with university personnel in the local countries for ongoing teaching and support to the families, with benefactors from many walks of life, and with like-minded charities, in order to reach as many indigent farmers as possible, as quickly as possible.  SRA freely shares its curriculum, willingly cooperates with partner NGOs, and quickly steps into the background so that others may have the credit.  What makes us unique, however, is not the foregoing; it is that no other charity has the 5-year, supported, Small Scale Agricultural Model that produces a self-perpetuating, independent community, which, itself, then sows another.

What does a partnership with Koins mean to SRA?  Good friends, a shared mission.  That isn’t really the question.  It is what does a Koins/SRA partnership mean to Kenya?  It means dozens (this year) and hundreds (next year) and thousands (eventually) of our fellowmen in Kenya eating well, living longer in the association and love of their families; children gaining the education and skills to break the cycle of poverty, holding responsible positions, lifting entire communities to a place where they can participate in the economy, governance, and care of their nations.  You might say we believe in handing out the privileges and opportunities we have, particularly freedom—in helping others find it, live it, share it.

Joel D. Black, Ph.D
Assistant Director, Director of Curriculum
__________

In June, there will be an SRA group going to Kenya, and the agricultural training will begin.  The Kenyans in our villages grow corn as their main crop.  It is what they eat every day.  It is not the most nutritious option, nor the best use of land and resources, in what it provides in return.  However, it is tradition, it is what they know.  Our desire, as we work with SRA, is to teach them a different, and a better way to plant and grow crops, to utilize their land and resources to provide them a more abundant and nutritious variety of food, so that they go from subsisting on the land, to growing an abundance, more than they need to survive, so they can have food in storage when times are lean, and then move on to selling their excess for a profit.  We are very excited to partner with SRA, and know the future will be brighter for our villagers with their help.  

There are start up costs, in the training and providing of materials to the families SRA will be teaching.  It will cost approximately $300 per Kenyan family to fully train and create a self reliant family farm.  If you would like to contribute, you can do so on our secure website or through our PayPal account.  As with all our programs, 100% of your contribution will go directly to the programs in Kenya.  Note that your donation is for our SRA program when you make your donation.

If you would like to read more about SRA, you can go to their website, http://www.selfreliantagriculture.org/

Our hope is to create an environment of first, productive and then, profitable family farms that will allow Kenyan families to feed, educate and nurture their families and provide hope for their futures.

Asante sana! 

 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Grant Writing Help Needed

As we look at the year ahead, and the new programs and projects we hope to work on, we are faced with the stark reality that funding is difficult. Many of our donors from the past are facing difficult times, and we have no solid corporate funding. I know there is funding available for our agricultural, water and health initiatives through large foundations such as the Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, and I just don't know the process to access funds.

If anyone has the knowledge, or knows someone who could help us with grant writing, we would be very open and grateful for such help.

So many organizations are looking for millions of dollars for their programs.  We can do so much with $10,000, a drop in the bucket for many of these large foundations. 

If you can help, contact me at ingrid@koinsforkenya.org.

Asante Sana!

Ingrid

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Bret's Kenya Journal, March 2010

With an expedition preparing for departure next month, I decided I would post Bret's journal from last March's expedition. Bret does a great job capturing the experience of Kenya. And it is interesting to see what changes a year brings to our work in Kenya.


Saturday, March 26, 2010

At 3:00 A.M. on Saturday morning, a mere 33 hours removed from our departure at SLC International, our dreary soldiers had comfortably retreated to their rooms, enthusiastically eager to collapse into bed. Although the flights and connections all went smoothly and seemingly quick, the thickened salt and pepper stubble on my face evidenced the duration of our voyage.

Our flight’s arrival into Nairobi was slightly delayed, and the usual stamping of visas, picking of bags, and clearing through customs ate a large slice from our available transfer time. Once out of the international terminal, we had to walk across the street and clear our massive collection of baggage through the domestic terminal’s security before checking in for the final flight to Mombasa. We basically had zero spare time, and once we finally concluded the inefficient scene at the ticketing counter, Cami’s seat had been given to a stand-by customer, and the plane was now completely full. After 33 hours of flying, a young lady is at her emotional wit’s end, and tears began to flow at the thought of staying alone in the Nairobi airport until the first flight left in the morning. Kristin was visibly perturbed at the KQ personnel, but there really was nothing we could do at that point, but it was clear that Cami was not the person to stay the night. KQ then allowed Cami to take Kristin’s seat, so reluctantly we waved good-bye to Kristin and walked towards our boarding plane.
The flight was brief, and within an hour we had touched down in Mombasa. As we unloaded the plane, everyone was excited at the thought of finally arriving, but VERY ready to find a comfortable bed. We drove to the Serena Continental Hotel on Nyali Beach and found a wonderful establishment awaiting our arrival. Although it was well past midnight, the wait-staff had prepared us dinner and were awaiting our patronage to the restaurant. Dinner was quite nice, but our thoughts were towards Kristin who was back in Nairobi sleeping on a chair in a busy airport. By the time we were able to settle into our rooms, it was well after 2:00 AM.

Saturday – March 27, 2010
No matter how many times I’ve seen it, sunrise over the Indian Ocean is an event that must be placed on your bucket list. Although sleep deprivation was the predominant feeling, I couldn’t stay in bed any longer and went for a walk along the sandy beach. By 7:45 AM, Kristin would be picked up at the Mombasa Airport, as she was scheduled on the 6:30 flight from Nairobi. I received a call from the driver that there was a big accident on the road and he would be late picking up Kristin, who didn’t have a cell phone or method to communicate with us. She would have to wait with the faith that someone was coming for her. By 8:15 she was in our small van on her way to meet us at the hotel. She arrived with her best simulated smile, and a very weary mind. She was safe, worn out but healthy, and back with the flock. We all felt better.
I took Hal, Rebecca, Cami and Dallin with me to perform our shopping duties. The heat was scalding by 9:00, and the humidity was rising. As we tended to our duties, our depleted batteries from all the travel weighed on us. Everyone was such a trooper that our jobs were much easier. Once the grocery shopping was completed, the entire group went downtown to finish picking up supplies, have lunch at the infamous “Blue Room,” and visit Biashara Street where the ladies would select their Kanga Cloths. It was simply too uncomfortably hot to remain in this seriously congested area, so we made short of the trip, heading back to the Continental. It was late in the afternoon, but we had two hours for napping before our group would join together again for our dinner at 7:00.

While the others napped, I met with Mark and Kyle from Kata-Q Water, a small, U.S.-based start-up company that we’ve assisted with our contacts and knowledge of the area. They’ve been here for about a week performing market surveys, meeting with government officials, and local business owners. It was very productive, and they decided to join our group for dinner. I believe because of their success here in Mombasa, they’ll be joining us in the village to see what Koins is all about from a humanitarian perspective. They will be a good addition to the group.

Dinner was very nice, but the heat greatly reduces your appetite. The restaurant is outdoors, so there is no air conditioning to thwart the temperature. Most of us don’t have swimsuits, so getting into the pool is not an option. When Jason and Scott stayed behind today and visited the pool, there were some topless scenes, so that may not be a good idea for our group anyway. Europeans……

Our plan will be to depart in the morning for church, then head directly to the village to begin the real reason for our voyage.

Sunday, March 28, 2010
The assigned time to meet for checkout was late enough that we could all catch a good night’s sleep, get up, have breakfast at the restaurant and be on our way by 9 o’clock. We drove to the Changamwe Branch, a small church not far from the airport where we greeted other members and joined them for sacrament meeting. Louis Pope, his wife, Criss, and Sam Stapp were nice surprises to see. None of us were appropriately dressed for church, but I’m convinced that doesn’t matter…..especially here. The tiny branch of just over 100 members meets in their own building, a significant change from what the Mombasa Branch has. The neighborhood is questionable, but it’s all about the location around here because of the transportation issues. The meeting was first-rate with discourses filled with great feeling and sincerity. As we sang one of the hymns Rebecca silently wept with tears of joy.

After sacrament our group decided to take advantage of our location…directly across the street from the Akamba Carver Village. The Akamba Tribe is known for their wood-carving skills, and this workshop/village clearly is a live demonstration of that. We walked through the lines of wood huts watching in amazement how these craftsmen utilize rudimentary tools to carve their beautiful works of art. We retreated to the wholesale shop, taking over an hour to for ample shopping and wrapping. It really is a wonderful establishment for purchasing beautiful, unique gifts.

Within a short while we came to the edge of the city in Miritini. The hustle and bustle of Mombasa was now replaced with panoramas of dried corn fields and mud huts. We slowly climbed into the foothills, windows all open wide, trying to catch any breeze possible. Women carrying large loads of wrapped wood on their heads or buckets of water from far away ponds were now the scenery. As we crossed the Mwache Bridge into the Koins Service Area, we parked to observe the variety of life and activity with the water that is now flowing briskly where dried flats of mud were prevalent just a couple of months ago. A young mother dressed in brilliant orange bathed her baby in a slow part of the brown river. Below an outcrop of rocks two nude boys of 10 or 11 scurried to find cover. A young girl and her sisters carried a load of wash to the river’s edge and began scrubbing their clothes on the flat rocks of this lively place. Our group witnessed a couple of ladies taking the large stones of the river bed, whacking them until they break into small pieces, making the gravel for our construction projects. And what river scene would be complete without the herd of goats driven to the water by young boys so they, too, could sip from the River Mwache?

Once back in the vehicles we pressed onward until reaching our village. A large group of students from various local schools were there to greet us. They ultimately sang, danced, and entertained us all on the front porch of the Koins Community Center.

At the conclusion of the children’s performances we all began sorting through our mountain of bags. Women’s hygiene kits, baby blankets, school supplies, and colorful dresses were assembled for delivery over the next few days. With that chore completed, a brief orientation was given about the center, and our first stroll around the village area took place. Since we only had 90 minutes of light remaining in the day, I took that group up to the Secondary School to see the students and see our work. To witness how far we have come is truly remarkable, especially since our initial student numbers were in the low 80’s just 6 years ago, and now they are boasting of over 500. We visited with many of the girls on campus since the boys are not here on the weekends. A birthday party was organized for Jason Kimball, and the time was set to meet everyone at the Lauren Elizabeth Mulkey Dormitory, or better known here at the L.E.M.
After dinner, popcorn was cooked and we headed to the LEM. Music and dancing the with girls filled the evening. Jason was given a kiss on both cheeks by volunteer girls, with many other willing ladies ready to answer the call if given the chance. Jason’s mother, Kristen, had prepared a package that we broke out. Silly string, party hats, and noise-makers were all big hits with the girls. We played music for them from an iPod, while they sang in return for us. Dallin did his first performance in Africa with a couple of his original numbers. The popcorn was completely consumed, the girls were ecstatic over the party, and new friendships were forged tonight. Our group was equally excited at finally being here, tasting the flavor of this people whom they had come to serve.

Monday, March 29, 2010
The big white rooster that struts so proudly around our compound took stage promptly at 6:10 this morning, belting out his morning call for everyone to hear. Since he was standing underneath my window, it actually startled me, making me laugh with the uplifting thought that I am, indeed, in Africa again.

The group stirred early, mustering for breakfast, positioning themselves for the next shower stall, or chatting with a passing child to exchange greetings. Everyone attended the Swahili class, then quickly got busy with their assignment which was handed out last night. Painting at Vikolani, selecting a site for the Kimball Family School, surveys at the dispensary, traveling to Mombasa for construction of supplies, or designing the new kitchen that will replace the one that fell over during the recent rains, were among the duties which needed wrapping up today.
Jason and I took my motorcycle to several villages, looking at the facilities, students, and current needs, in order to assess where the Kimball School would be located. I believe his choice is Mwache, the same village in which Anthony Yama, our Executive Director, was raised…and educated. The average classroom size is currently 81, so we know the assistance will be great.
Hal elected to go for supplies, as most of the needed materials would be for his project at the Special Needs School. Hal is not a fan of Mombasa, and upon his return he stated that he couldn’t wait to return to the peace of our village area, even though it is void of any convenience. He was amazed that he was able to buy a couple of chemicals that would not be available in the U.S. without a special permit, while in Mombasa a young teenager was dipping a measuring cup into large vats, then filling the client’s containers by hand. He stated that one trip to Home Depot, and one short stop at a specialty store would have been completed in less than an hour in the U.S. But in Mombasa there were no less than 8 stores involved, with slow checkouts and all receipts to be hand-written for each item. The toll was 7 hours. We won’t be asking Hal to repeat his efforts today.

Dallin and Scott did the majority of the painting today at Val Stoke’s classrooms in Vikolani. Along the way they made a few friends among the crowd that assembled to watch their handy-work. Kristin and Cami made serious headway in the women’s projects, a year-long process that has been painstakingly outlined and executed. They were able to establish so much trust in the women that they broke down the barriers that keep women from being completely open during medical discussions. Their findings will go a long way towards the final health goals Kristin has established.

Kristin and I had time to squeeze in a 90 minute visit to Miani. This was my first “hand-on” interaction with the special needs kids at the Sean Michels School. I was deeply touched by a small 9-year old boy named Beja. This youngster has cerebral palsy, with little use of one arm and both legs, is severely stunted in growth, and his head is misshapen. However, he is very bright, and delighted at the new opportunity he has to learn. Prior to coming to the SMS this boy had been quarantined in his family’s small hut. He was shunned by the other children in the village, without hope of ever escaping the prison of his own body. He is now surrounded by children who all suffer from physical disabilities, who support each other, and have become a family together. My day’s highlight was taking Beja on his first motorcycle ride, placing his small, weak frame between my legs, squeezing him tightly, and zipping around the compound. Everyone wants to ride with me on my motorcycle, but Beja was the lucky one who rode with me today in front of all the normal children at recess. Beja was the envy of everyone, and by his glorious smile, this otherwise insignificant gesture will not soon be forgotten. I know this will be the first of many rides for that boy.

We went on a walk today after everything was done down through the coconut groves along the banks of the Mnyenzeni River. It is no longer flowing, but contains many pools of water that act as watering holes or bathing ponds. For some reason today there were many adults using the water to clean themselves, so as we walked along we had to turn away on several occasions. We strolled up through the old village of Mnyenzeni, meandering through the narrow passages between the mud huts. The number of children who came to see us and follow us is staggering. Rebecca has no capacity to say no to any of their requests for “sweets”, so our walks are very slow. She often appears like a feeder at a fish hatchery with all the children crowding her with every step. She loves them so much that it makes it comical for the rest of us to watch her.
During dinner tonight Kristin was called outside by William Mwangi (Buffalo). The #2 boy in our Secondary School met her with tears in his eyes, explaining that all of his efforts to raise the required testing fees that would give him a chance to go to University had failed. His four years of hard work would be for naught. He had studied late into the night with a small candle as his light, sacrificed any free time so he could study, putting in all the effort required to be in his position….and it was slipping from him. Buffalo was visibly moved by the boy’s plea, as this passion is new in the village area since the onset of our scholarship programs. This boy from a dusty village had make it to the pinnacle, only to be turned around by an exam fee. Kristin discovered that the fee was equivalent to $35, but more importantly, that this boy’s sponsor for the last couple of years has been Peter and Deanna Pilling, Kristin’s next door neighbors. This brought her to tears as well as she paid his fees and watched him run into the darkness so he could get to the testing place by tomorrow morning.

Peaches and Pits with the group tonight permeated with the emotion of fulfillment. The experiences are rich and moving. Everyone is recognizing that as we serve we are the ones who benefit the most. Under a brilliant African moon we are all moved to tears by the stories shared. We are engaged in special projects that will reach far beyond the expectations of anyone who joined this expedition.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Punctuality is a characteristic that I find extremely appealing in a person, but this rooster had me at 6:10 on the dot again. This guy is good!

Kyle and Mark took off for Mombasa this morning, meeting with their last appointments for their water project. Kyle was then dropped off at the airport for his flight home, while Mark returned to the sanctity of the village for the remainder of our expedition.
Cami and Kristin got involved in an HIV/Aids gathering right off the bat that lasted a couple of solid hours. The preparation of these people have them pleasantly surprised with direct results for their efforts. This is a cooperative arrangement between Koins, The Kenyan Government, and a local group.

Hal kicked off his project this morning about 5 minutes after the rooster alarm. He has effectively instructed our craftsmen new welding techniques with this simple swing set project, and they have almost completed their task. I believe they will transport this 20-foot long playground device to Miyani tomorrow for a test run. Hal believes that if anyone else wants something similar, the Koins craftsmen will be able to reproduce this product without too much help.

Rebecca was bitten once again by the “cannot-get-enough-of-the-children” bug again. Anytime you want Rebecca, just look for a large congregation of youngsters and she’ll be in the middle of them. She decided to paint a mural on the Koins Community Center, and all day long we had interested children on our stoop watching in amazement at how the painting developed. The scene of a woman with a yellow bucket of water propped atop her head is a common site in the village area, so she captured the scene on our wall, definitely improving the aesthetics of the KCC. This celebrated work of art will certainly add distinct personality to our humble building for many years to come.

Dallin, Scott, Jason and I traveled this morning to Dallin’s new home, the village of Dzivani. Since Dallin’s mode of transportation once he is in the vilage will be motorcycle, we gave him the keys and let him ride alongside me for the 18 kilometer journey. We passed Miguneni and Gandini Schools, dodging rocks, ruts, and the occasional crossing goat. This dusty road winds through the sacred forest for the Duruma tribe, really going into the backwoods of our Service Area. As we approached Dzivani I told Dallin to pull next to me. I pointed at the Indian Ocean in the distance, then slightly to the left a small pod of mud huts filled a clay-colored hillside. I told him that was his new home. A beaming smile filled his face, then a moment of surreal astonishment kicked in. He was visibly excited, but noticeably anxious with all the thoughts that must have run through his head.

We entered the compound where the school would be built, filled with children who were curious about the two white men on motorcycles. Up ahead was the skeleton of a mud hut, the new address of Mr. Dallin Frampton. We stayed there for quite some time, lashing mangrove branches together. Dallin was shown how to sharpen a “panga,” the large machetes that are utilized for almost all tasks around the house and garden. He was then instructed on the proper way to straighten the poles through angle cuts and gentle bending of the wood. From there we went to the shade of a large tree where our cement blocks were being made by hand. The boys eagerly joined in, actually doing a fine job of creating a batch or two of the blocks that will be used for the Austin Frampton School.

Lunch was being served at the Dzivani School kitchen, so Dallin and I went over to see what was on the menu. From within the smoke-filled hut these children were receiving a simple plate of corn. This would be the only meal of the day for most, and the children were grateful for the bounty. Dallin entered the kitchen with the cook’s permission and took a look around. He was offered a plate of his own, which he accepted. The cook took a plate off the ground, rinsed it with water that was pulled from a nearby pond, and quickly filled it with corn and a small piece of Ugali. Without hesitation, Dallin began trying the food, recognizing that this was a valuable commodity. Some of the teachers were also having Ugali, but adding a mixed fish dish with it. Dallin, wanting to be gracious, took a ball of Ugali with his hand and dipped it into the sauce. He plopped it into his mouth, chewed a couple of times, then swallowed with only a small bit of effort. Then one of the teachers told him that he didn’t take any of the meat, urging him to try this tasty delicacy. With the best game face he could muster, Dallin dipped another small piece of Ugali into the bowl, taking a chunk of the mystery meat with it, and tossed it into his mouth. He shook his head back and forth, made sounds that would indicate pleasure, then swallowed hard. It was all he could do to keep it down….but he did. There would be no more taste tests today. Dallin was excited to meet his village father, the man who will be responsible for his care for the next several months, use the pit latrine located some 75 yards from his hut, and get introduced to some of the village boys with whom he will surely become friends. We returned to Mnyenzeni contented to have taken part and witnessed the beginning of Casa Frampton.

I had to return back to Mnyenzeni because I needed to begin interviews for prospective additions to the Koins Board over here. We have such wonderful individuals interested in becoming part of Koins that it truly is difficult to settle on the best candidates.

Jason and Scott went to the Ben Taylor Workshop after eating lunch and began making desks for our classrooms. Hal put the finishing touches on some of the iron work, while Rebecca surrounded herself with children. Cami and Kristin were deeply involved in a variety of topics, but everyone was engaged in something worthwhile.

We could see lightening in the far distance making rain look eminent. Buffalo says that the storm is two days away. The moon rose over the hills to the south in a fiery orange color, appearing to be twice its natural size. As we finished dinner and headed out for Peaches and Pits, news came from the dispensary that a baby was being born. As Cami and Kristin rushed down the hill, Rebecca came out in her pink robe. When she heard where the other ladies were, she was on her way, too. The guys, not welcome at such events around these parts, all strolled down there together, hoping to get news about the birth. By the time we arrived, Rebecca was holding the beautiful baby boy in her arms, swaddled in a fluffy blanket. With tears rolling down her cheeks, the miracle of a healthy birth was accented by the fact that this darling child was draped in a blanket that Rebecca’s mother had made over a year ago and sent to the village.
Everyone’s Peach this night would be participating in the celebration of a new village member. A baby boy, healthy and sturdy, with a mother who is alive to take care of him for many years to come.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Everyone but Kristin and me were placed in the van and sent towards the tarmac, then to Tsavo East Game Preserve for a safari. There are so many issues involving Koins, our current projects, future projects, interaction with the community, strategies for our forthcoming position in the village area, etc. We had several meetings and tended to our business throughout the day. We met with the Headmaster up at Mnyenzeni Secondary School and worked out a few kinks in our system. In addition, I took photos of each of our Form One Scholarship Students for the website so our sponsors can see their students. The sun was bright today with little cloud cover, so even the brief walk to the Secondary School was enough to redden the top of my head. All things considered it was a great day of accomplishment.

Our group returned back to the village well after dark. The two African students who accompanied them found it difficult to properly express how wonderful their trip had been. It’s hard to believe that there are Kenyans who have never seen a zebra, gazelle, or impala, but today they saw a lion, cheetah, cape buffalo, and many elephants. The news of us taking these two top students spread like wildfire, and I was asked twice by passers-by if the story was true. This is only a dream to most of them, and Tsavo is less than 80 miles from here.

Thursday, April 1, 2010
The power saws from the Ben Taylor Workshop pierced the still morning air with their whirling squeals. Desks are being made at a furious rate for our schools, and now that the steel work has been completed, we will hear the buzz of cutting wood for at least two more days.
My regal, white rooster was part of last night’s menu. His flesh was tough, but I took personal pleasure from each bite knowing this was the one responsible for some of my sleep deprivation. To my surprise this morning, the cooks had purchased another rooster, and this one began his morning ceremony 10 minutes earlier than the previous. I guess it serves me right.

The groundbreaking ceremonies at Dzivani were to begin at 11:00, so we loaded into the van and were out the door by 10:00. With photo-taking opportunities and a 40 minute drive with me at the wheel, we made it precisely on time. To Dallin’s grand surprise, hundreds of people showed up at this momentous occasion. As we reached the top of the hill overlooking the village, still over a mile away, you could see the swarm of students sprinting towards the road in order to greet us. Each child had a small, green tree branch in their hand, a customary sign of welcome. The village had created an arch from palm leaves over the road, then again as we entered the school compound. This was Dallin’s celebration, and these people could not be more welcoming. The commemoration through native songs and dances was delightful to the group. Dallin was then called out to the front, placed on a traditional mat, and joined by his village father and grandfather. He was asked to remove his shoes, then lean forward as the old village elder poured water on his head. After some Swahili words, the old man sipped from a gourd, opened his own shirt, spitting the water onto himself. Then he announced Dallin’s Duruma name – Rua wa Chengo, “flower of this place.”

The ceremonial groundbreaking with Dallin taking the first soil from where the footings would go was cheered by this massive group. We all visited the site of Dallin’s new home, with most of our group amazed at the reality of the situation. Up until now it has only been passive conversation, but seeing the actual location and feeling the wooden cross beams of this rudimentary hut was sobering. Dalling soaked up the experience with great pride. I really think he’s looking forward to this next chapter of his experience.

In addition to Dallin, Rebecca has been given a Swahili name – Dakika Moja, “Just one minute.” Although the granting of this name was not official, it has caught on with the group. This lovely lady always has a thought run through her head just as we’re about to depart, forcing her to take quick action….for “Just a minute.” Hal, her loving husband, almost on cue will turn to the rest of us and repeat, “she doesn’t know what a minute means.” We have never been late because of Rebecca, but we all know what to expect when getting into the car. Dakika Moja.
We came back to the KCC for lunch. We all went on a hike to Vikolani, greeting children and villagers along our way to the large water hole that is the major source for water in this area. I am happy to see the water is currently plentiful, even though thick with silt and foreign objects. We all took turns helping fill buckets and toting them to the top of the hill. There are few sites like this one where you truly realize the difficulties of life in this village area. We met the lady who gave birth the other night at our dispensary. The boy looks healthy and Mom appears to have improved a lot with the food Kristin and Cami brought to her. I was notified that the child would be named BRET, the sixth such boy that I know of who will bear my name. I can only feel honored. It was nearly dark before we reached the KCC and another warm meal awaited us. These people treat us so well.

Friday, April 2, 2010
Bugs rattle the sides of my bed net as I type, indicating that the intense rains of this afternoon awaken a unlimited throng of sleeping insects into the night. As I showered they flew towards the light, sticking to my body. I found a very plump insect which resembles a wasp, without the stinger, crawling across the bristles of my toothbrush. I flipped him off and proceeded to clean my teeth. This is Africa, and occasionally the air is filled with such things.

Kristin and I had a stakeholder’s meeting here at the KCC. The highest ranking educational and health officers attended, along with several area chiefs, leading headmasters, and members of the community. While we mapped out the direction of our partnerships, others in our group kept busy with their projects or interests. Louis Pope, a friend from Utah who now resides in Kenya, stopped by to pay a visit. I showed him around, then introduced him to the group. I believe he was sufficiently impressed with our assembly of visitors, and by the projects that are clearly visible from the KCC. It was great to have him stop by since we are so far out of the way.
Scott and Jason wanted to go visit the homes of friends they have made while here. Rebecca continued to place her visual mark on the KCC through another wonderful mural depicting a scene she sees every day passing by…..a young girl walking happily to school with a book or two balancing on her head. Hal assisted in the hoisting of the swing set onto the truck that would be providing transport to Miyani, shaking his head at how it was finally accomplished. Jason, Scott and Dallin all went to Miguneni after lunch to dedicate where the Kimball school would be constructed. Kristin and Cami attended to their health initiatives until the last moment, then they would head to the airport for their departure later this evening. The reality of leaving tomorrow isn’t settling well with most. This place right now is hot, humid, and uncomfortable. But it is full of promise, unity, and purpose, with the entire community embracing us as true friends.