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Monday, January 30, 2012

Malaria Season - Chirongo at the Dispensary

Bret is still in Kenya, this post exemplifies the problem with malaria in Africa.  So many people die from it, and it is as common as getting a head cold is to American's.  
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A common habit for me is to check in at the dispensary on my way to the shamba (farm).  I've been able to help with so many things that I really enjoy it when I can pitch in and help.  Today I went there to see if one of the nurses could change the dressing on my head wounds, which they did.  But when I entered the room to be treated I saw a 3 year old boy named Chirongo lying on the table.  Joy said that his blood tests were being done to determine if he had malaria so they could begin his treatments.  We've had such a breakout here of this lethal disease that it's quite scary, but with all the rains they received last month and all the small pools of water lying stagnant, there's no wonder.


Chirongo in the dispensary

Chirongo was unconscious with a high fever of 103.  He was dropped off by his mother, and while he lay there motionless, she had to return back to her hut to take care of other children.  Her husband died last year, and this is her baby, but there are two others who also needed caring for, and she had no option.  Naomi told her to come back in four hours.





I ran the palm of my hand up his small back, feeling his burning skin.  His head appeared even hotter.  I dampened a rag and gently moistened his skin.  We positioned him under a window where a gentle breeze could help cool him.  I could not help but try and see my own grandsons of similar age in that same position.  No matter how hard I tried to paint this mental picture, I could not fathom them being alone in a dispensary, suffering from a deadly and painful sickness, wondering if the effective treatment would be available today.  

The nurses were busy with the dozens of other patients that lined up outside the small doors of this place, and I simply could not leave this beautiful young boy.  I continued cooling him with water and making him as comfortable as I could.  Except for the faint movements of taking a breath, he was lifeless.  The test came back positive, so treatment for malaria began immediately.  The dose they needed to give Chirongo was so big that they actually gave him two injections, one in each hip.  As Joy inserted the long needle into his flesh, the boy didn't stir at all.  His flesh had cooled significantly and his temperature had come down below 100.  The second injection was prepared, and I turned him to give Joy access to the other hip.  Again, no movement of any kind.  I asked Joy if she thought he would be okay.  She has seen hundreds and hundreds of these cases, so I trusted her assessment.  She basically said that we would know in an hour.

They changed my dressings and it felt great to allow some air to get to my scalp.  I haven't seen what the wounds look like except in a photo, but they told me that they are looking good, so I'll take them at their word.  I wanted to get back to Chirongo.  Within the hour, almost exactly as Joy had predicted, Chirongo began stirring.  He was sick, but he was coming out of his stupor.  After some time he finally looked up at the person stroking his back and head.  He didn't have the energy to truly cry, but he was confused and a white man was not what he expected to see, so he began to whimper.  Joy was close by, so she came and said something to him in his mother tongue.  I remained close by, continuing to keep his body cool.  Although he was scared at the thought of a strange, white man nearby, hopefully it was the small amount of comfort I was providing that kept him from reacting further.

As Chirongo's strength returned, so did his loving mother.  They were both glad to see each other, and as quickly as she entered into the room, the two of them were gone, walking the dusty path towards a neighboring village. Chirongo watched me from his mothers shoulder as they walked away.  I waved.  He closed his eyes and buried his head in the neck of his mother.  She needed to get back home and fetch water before dusk.


BVL

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Bret's January 2012 Journal, Part 3 -

A Mnyenzeni primary school student

As I sat on the porch early this morning, the cool breeze was welcome. A small group of seven local chickens casually hopped onto the porch with me and each one, within a few feet of coming aboard, ceremoniously christened the clean cement with a nice plop of chicken poop. These birds are always running around our place, and we won't even allow our own flock to meander the area. Two small boys were passing, so I paid them a handsome bounty to catch me a couple of the birds. The chase was on. Within two minutes each boy strolled back to me with a squawking bird held by their legs upside down. I took the birds and placed them with our flock, asking the boys to notify the owner where they were, and why I had captured them. He'll need to repay me the bounty I paid the boys, or he'll be out a couple of chickens. He has been warned on numerous occasions, so my actions will not be a surprise to him. Just like the goats in our garden plots - if they come onto my land, we'll talk. If you ignore the issue, I'll eat your chicken or goat.

A couple of our board members showed up wearing winter coats since they had been riding their motorbikes in 85 degree temperatures, producing wind chills of around 83 degrees. It's hilarious to see their intense reaction to anything cold. They can pick up a pan of boiling water with their bare hands, but place an ice cube in their palm and watch them writhe with discomfort and pain.

I had an appointment with the scholarship students and parents up at the Secondary School. Our new guidelines were put into place, and some of the children lost their free schooling due to performance issues. As difficult as that was, the parents were fully supportive of our position, recognizing that those students who were given a scholarship out of Primary School were to maintain a high level of performance. For those who did not, we were forced to remove them to make room for other students who have proven themselves.

Once finished with the students I headed towards the Koins Rotational Gardens. I am always intrigued by the crowd at the dispensary, so I detour just a bit to run in and say hello to Naomi and her staff. Vyani was trying to weigh a baby, while Joyce was chatting with a young lady in Swahili about something. I went into the main treatment area and found Naomi completing some hand-written documents for her medical files. Two boys from the Secondary School from where I had just departed rushed into the door carrying one of their fellow students. He was panting like an overheated dog, semi-unconscious, and beginning to convulse. They laid him on the bed and Naomi began calling his name to get him to respond. In hasty Swahili Naomi raised her head and shouted some orders into the air so the other assistants working in the adjoining rooms could quickly respond. This public address system is as basic as it gets, but it works just fine. The medical staff witnesses so many situations in the course of the day that in the middle of their calmness it actually unnerved me. This poor kid was in serious trauma, and the orderly way in which they attended to him never came close to entering the realm of panic. Like a conductor having her choir stand in unison, Naomi's over-worked, under-appreciated, under-staffed, under-equipped medical staff, responded to her call. Blood pressure was taken as another nurse serenely pricked the boy's finger, placing a few drops of blood on a microscope slide. She vanished as quickly as she appeared since she had a slide to prepare with a special dye, then she had to read it properly, and finally, see if she could help decide what created this situation. Vyani, the male assistant rounded the corner and meaningfully sauntered into the room with a small cup filled with two tablets and glass of water. Supposedly this would calm the boy and reduce his fiery fever. Three of them grabbed the boy's arms and torso and sat him up. Naomi continued calling loudly to the limp-bodied boy "Kalimbo, Kalimbo," trying to get him to respond. The pills were placed in his mouth, head tilted, and water poured in. Kalimbo choked, but the tablets went down.

Within 5 minutes a note came from the other room detailing the results of the malaria test. Kalimbo tested positive with the disease that kills more than 2 million Africans each year - Malaria. An I.V. was set up and a drip line attached to Kalimbo's hand. Anti-malaria drugs were administered while Kalimbo's body writhed in pain and fever. Cold cloths were applied, and the boy's schoolmates watched from an outside window with great apprehension on their faces. This parasitic malady is derived from the bite of a tiny mosquito, and once it attacks, the suffering is severe. All of the children here have had someone in their family, a close friend, or neighbor die, from this malicious disease, and they were praying for Kalimbo. In a couple of hours we'll know the reaction to the medicine. If everything goes well, Kalimbo will be in school tomorrow. If they go badly, we will bury him tomorrow.

As I make my rounds to our various projects, there is a sense that everything is very much under control. The sound of saws cutting our lumber into desks resonates from our workshop, chatter from our workers goes back and forth across the yard, the tractor has just pulled away with a load of freshly made block, and life is good here in the village.
Old Dzendereni classroom with students

View of old Dzendereni classroom and new Crossfit classroom

Dzendereni teacher's lounge

Dallin and Thomas have returned from Mombasa with CrossFit. They are now here for the next 6 weeks finishing the Dzendereni School and water cistern. Thomas is looking at the nutritional side of things there and how to get a garden started for the school, so we'll see what he finds out.

Dinner for me consists of fresh pineapple and mango, so I enjoy each bite as I read the latest download of USA Today. WOW, the Giants against the Patriots in the Super Bowl!! I was disheartened to see the outcome of the Baltimore game, as I would have liked some of my friends on the Ravens get to the big game, and possibly a Super Bowl ring.

It was dark when I strolled to the dispensary to check up on Kalimbo. Sheets were being changed on the bed and a bucket sloshed as Vyani mopped up the room. As I entered he kindly greeted me with a tooth-lacking smile. I inquired about Kalimbo, and Vyani shook his head. I was momentarily shocked until he walked to the doorway, pointed down the road and told me he was taken home. The drugs had worked! I went to Kalimbo's place, a small mud hut with dirt floors and a paraffin candle flickering inside. I called out "hodi," to which several boys responded, "karibu" (welcome). As I entered their musty rented structure, Kalimbo was lying on a grass mat on the ground. He was conscious, but very weary, unable to stand and greet me as he wished. His roommates agreed that this boy was lucky to have had the facility so close, or otherwise he would have never seen another day.
Still no moon. Where has that heavenly body disappeared to?

Roosters! Incessant, noisy, roosters. Since bringing some new blood into the pen I believe these strutting rock stars think the first one to crow has some kind of sovereignty from being placed into one of our pots. Silly fools don't realize that they are our valued progenitors and have full immunity from their previous ancestors. However, If I could find out which one is doing it so early, he just might be the first to lose his exemption.

Emily prepared banana bread, so I filled my glass with chai and retreated to the front porch. The pink and blue uniforms headed to Primary School is like a constant river in the morning. I feel like the greeter at the world's busiest Wal-Mart, shouting back at the children who call out to me. Just down past the gathering tree I see three boys from the Secondary School walking to class. They're a little late, but walking deliberately slow. As they neared I could see it was Kalimbo and his mates. I walked to the road and greeted them, giving each a piece of Mama Emily's world famous banana bread. They were most grateful, as this would now be their breakfast. Kalimbo will go to the dispensary during lunch for another drip bottle, the third and final. I'll meet him there and make sure he has some food. He is weak and achy, but he recognizes the importance of keeping up in school, so he disregards the headache and nausea, meandering slowly to class.

Top student prize giving ceremony at Miguneni

Off to Miguneni for the Awards Assembly where Koins recognizes the top students, teachers, and schools of our service area. It was pure pleasure to hand out prizes to our top kids since they receive very little recognition for their efforts. We now have students scoring higher than anyone else in the Kinango District right here in our area, and Kenya Government scholarships have been given to several of our students, allowing them to attend the National High Schools (equivalent to the best Prep Schools in the U.S.). What used to be the Koins benchmark for a scholarship is now below the median score for two of our schools. That is progress.

On my way back to the Koins Center I passed by our Special Needs school. As I rode up the children shrieked and those who are mobile ran to greet me. I have grown to love these special kids and spending time with them brings them such joy that I can't stay away. I plopped Beja onto the seat of the bike and we went to the playground of the Miyani School, chasing the children all over the place. They love the excitement, and Beja feels like a king perched on his motorized throne. Several of the others played some games with me at the SMS porch before I had to leave. They know I'll be back, and they know that I'll bring mayhem with me.

I dropped the bike at the Center and sauntered to the dispensary where I found Kalimbo just ending his third and final I.V. drip. His energy had increased, and his spirits lifted. He smiled widely as I handed him another piece of Mama Emily's banana bread. Kalimbo was going to be just fine, one day after a very real, life-threatening situation.

I visited with some of the mothers waiting to be treated. There seems to be an outbreak of flu right now.  I've not seen so many older children lying on the cold concrete, waiting to be seen. Vyani was weighing a baby girl who was really kicking, so I helped place her in the swing which is then hooked to a scale similar to one of those that we use in grocery stores for weighing vegetables.  She was 9.1 kilograms, or about 20 lbs.   She was a thin baby, but then I discovered that she was three years old.   I can't even think of what this means, or the problems that might exist.  It grinds at me so deeply that it's better that I leave and get busy doing something else.

I returned to the Center only to be greeted by a large man with one eye and a large, gaping smile. He came to me as I walked up, telling his wife to come quickly and that I was Baba Bret. She shyly shook my hand and returned to her place behind her husband. I recognize the man as I've seen him working in the fields just passed the Mwache Bridge. He was happy that I knew where he lived and began telling me (through Eliud) that he wanted to provide me with a gift of appreciation for everything Koins does in this area. He admitted that he had never done anything before because he had nothing to give. But someone had paid a debt to him, so he brought it to give to me. Koins is now the proud new owner of a brown and white sheep. We'll add this to our flock until he is brought to optimal health and figure out what to do with it next. Mutton anyone?

Finally I could see a sliver of a moon low in the horizon. It is barely visible, but at least I've confirmed that the lunar object is not missing.
Gathering of students at Dzendereni

Dallin and I rose early and made our way to Dzendereni. We had an appointment to look at possible dam sites in a nearby creek, not too different from what we just dammed in our central village. We suffered a tire puncture on the way, so we hid the bike in the bushes, piled a bunch of rocks on the road to indicate where we had hidden it, and proceeded on one bike to the village. We walked for over a mile alongside a riverbed which was mostly dry with potholes of water. Millions of years of water and erosion have made the banks steep and perfect for a dam. Capturing the commodity of water before it washes downstream to end up in the Indian Ocean is severely necessary. Once we construct a dam we can proceed with year-round rotational gardens and feeding the kids at Dzendereni. Monumental endeavor!

We visited with this woman while looking at dam sites.  She delighted in the horror her grandson felt at our presence.
We were advised that the bike had been repaired and left where we had stowed it. However, when we arrived the bike was nowhere to be seen. A telephone call confirmed that the bike was exactly where we had left it, so it appears as though someone had found it. We questioned some kids who were passing if they had seen our bike, to which they said "no." Within moments a man appeared and told us that he and his son had taken the bike for safe-keeping at their home, leading us to his place. He somehow knew it was mine, and wanted to protect it. I gave him a few shillings for having done so, and we were on our way.

At the Guro Junction I went right towards Miguneni while Dallin continued straight towards Bofu and Gona. We had tried both directions and wanted to see which way was quicker, so we separated. We were to maintain normal speeds to truly indicate the road we should take in the future. I enjoy going to back roads anyway, and heading into Miguneni through the back way allows me to shout at my many friends along the way. Once in Miguneni I turned left, heading towards Mnyenzeni. I remember passing the sign board of the Sean Michel's School, then everything from there went blank. According to the witnesses who were watching me, I was just traveling normally down the road when I hit a hidden hole. I went flying over the top of the bike, landing on my shoulder and head. The bike followed, landing on my back and leg. I was not conscious and bleeding profusely from my head. You can only imagine the panic the onlookers experienced watching their white friend face- planting into the rocky road. They rushed to my aid, calling Antony Yama's cell to notify him. When he heard the news, the story was that Baba Bret was dying on the road. When Yama arrived he found me seated with the bike still on my legs, my video camera on my had (I guess I wanted to film something), and not wanting anyone to help me. I was okay!! With Yama there I settled down and they coaxed me into the car. We immediately headed for Mombasa with Dallin and Eddison coming to our aid, too. An hour or so passed before I regained full consciousness and my memory is somewhat clear.

Bret's head after stitches.  That's gonna leave a scar!

Upon arrival at the hospital I had been bleeding pretty badly and the mess was pretty big. They cleaned me up, took me into their surgery room and began stitching the holes and gashes in my noggin. We had a few laughs at my expense as Dallin took photos of the mess. The doctors were a little bewildered over the antics of the situation, but soon they too were joining us with humor. A CAT scan revealed no further damage to my head, and a chest x-ray exposed a coronary contusion and probable cracked ribs. I can't remember most of it, but the repairs they could do to my head were completed and a request to have me admitted for observation was denied. I kindly thanked them, but declined their suggestion, as I would have plenty of observers once I returned to the village. I was given pain meds and antibiotics from the pharmacy, and they let me go. Total cost - $300

My ribs and shoulder were sore, but not until we turned from the tarmac road did I fully realize how painful it was going to be. The condition of the road is not dissimilar to the trails we use to access our favorite deer hunting areas. Being tossed inside the car back and forth was almost unbearable. We had to stop so I could get a breath, so the going was slow until we hit the Center. Lying down was impossible, so everyone fixed me a sitting up bed from a mattress placed on one of our porch chairs. It worked well into the night until the hardness of the surface made it too uncomfortable to continue. I tried lying down again in my own bed, which I was able to do. Every hour based on doctor's orders, I had someone coming into the room to check my eyes, make sure I was conscious, and observe that I was doing okay. All I wanted was sleep, but they had promised the doctors. At 5:50 the roosters started crowing.

BVL

Monday, January 23, 2012

Burt Matthew's Video - Kenya 2011

Burt and Morgan Matthews were part of the Koins July 2011 expedition to Kenya.  Burt spent a good amount of time putting together this video that is a compilation of stills and short videos from that trip.  It really is a good video in that it shows little pieces of what an expedition is all about.  There is the travel part of it, traveling through Europe to get to Kenya.  There is the travel within Kenya, and experiencing a country so different than our own.  There is the time spent within the Koins service area, which is a cluster of small rural villages in the southeast coastal area of Kenya, a little over an hour away from Mombasa.  There is time spent with fellow expeditioners, and time spent with Kenyan villagers, both adults and children.  And there is the option of a brief safari, which offers an opportunity to see wild Kenya, and animals we would otherwise only see in a zoo.  If you are considering going on an expedition, this video is worth your time to watch.

Burt Matthews - Kenya 2011 from Ingrid Van Leeuwen on Vimeo.


Asante,

IVL

Friday, January 20, 2012

Bret's January 2012 Kenya Journal, Part 3

The third installment of adventures from Bret's current trip to Kenya.  On a personal note, today is Bret's birthday, and just after midnight a new grandson entered the world who will share his birthday.  While Bret wasn't here to welcome Maxwell Alexander into the world, they will have many years of birthday celebrations to share.
 
Cattle on the road near Mnyenzeni, Kenya (photo from a previous trip)

I cannot tell how many times I have negotiated one of our dirt roads around a herd of cattle or goats.  The scene is so common around here that you don’t even realize you’re doing it until everyone in the vehicle from the states wants to take a photo.  When the Massai are moving their cattle from up-country to market down here, you could see a dozen large herds between here and the main road, just 10 miles away.  It sure messes with your timing to get somewhere, but it’s the order of the day when animals are moving.  The Massai will buy cattle for $80-$100 each in Sudan and slowly push them on foot 800 miles down here to the South Coast where they can sell them for $150-$200.  They spend a couple of months walking down, using roads, pathways, and sometimes city streets.  Some of the weaker cattle will die along the way, and the Massai leave them where they lay as an acceptable price that is paid to make the journey.
Bret and a new baby Gala Goat

Today I took a small herd of our Gala Goats to graze just for the experience.  These animals go every day, so they are extremely adept at reading the body language and motions of the shepherd.  The most difficult task is to keep our billy goat from wandering to nearby herds where he could not be challenged by the typical East African Goat at more than twice their size.  Worse yet, if he wanders and a male goat from another herd gets loose with one of our mama goats, we’ve spoiled an entire breeding season until the cross-breed is born.  My brief experience had no incidents to report, but it did give me an appreciation for what these people do when walking for hours each day in the dry season in search of grasses for their animals.

Village women being instructed on rotational gardens

Village women preparing rotational gardens for planting

Our rotational garden groups are fully established and working diligently to prepare their family plots according to what they have been instructed.  As I addressed each group over the last few days the level of excitement and anticipation was truly palpable.  When I tell them that I have never suffered hunger, and my children have never known going to bed with an empty stomach, their faces collectively contort to expressions of incredulity.  When telling them that they will be the pioneers in this area with our agricultural programs, and their children will also not know hunger if they follow our guidelines, these excited mothers become giddy at the mere thought of this being reality.

A matatu, a common form of transportation for many Kenyans

Our group from the U.S. begins arriving today, so some final preparations have to be made in Mombasa.  Yama and I went down there and quickly took care of business.  Our trusted driver, Johnson, met up with us, and I decided to head back to the village instead of paying for a hotel and staying in town.  Accidents are not uncommon on the crazy, nutty, psychotic roads in Mombasa.  For the amount of cars, narrow streets, disrepair, and overall chaos, I’m actually surprised there are not more.  Matatu’s are the main method of transportation in the South Coast.  Hundreds of 13-passenger vans are packed with 15-20 people and move from one area to the next.  They jet around without regard to anyone, or anything else on the road.  They cause most accidents, yet they are such a vital means of transportation, everyone just accepts them.  There are always two people staffing a matatu (ma-tah-too), the driver, and a conductor who calls out their destination, collects money, and helps the driver negotiate traffic, changing lanes, etc.  You commonly see the conductor dangling from the side of the vehicle calling to people like a circus act promoter.  They are quick to hop off the vehicle, open the door while collecting money, and jump back aboard while the vehicle is pulling away.  During my two-hour drive back to the village I was behind several matatu’s when one of the drivers sped away quickly from a stop while hitting a pothole at the same time.  His trusty conductor was actually thrown from the side of the vehicle, and the following matatu didn’t see him in time and ran over him at the knee level……..with both front and rear tire.  This happened 15 feet in front of me, and I actually had to swerve to avoid hitting the guy again.  When telling my story the Kenyans were almost unmoved, kind of like hearing that a hyena had been eaten by a zebra.

It appears as though I’ve picked up a little gift that is affecting my stomach.  Hopefully it’s just a bad piece of papaya and not something more “moving.”  We have another night without the moon, and another bucket shower for me under the black sky that is heavily dusted with the shiny crystals of the Kenyan night.

BVL

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Bret's January 2012 Journal, Part 2

Another update from Bret, with no photos because the power outages he has experienced have made sending photos impossible.  I feel lucky to have received this update in an email.  He has discovered how to use his iPhone as a wifi hotspot, and use it to send emails from his computer.   During past trips he has had to make a trip into Mombasa to the Blue Room to send emails to me. 
____

The young lady walking in front of me as I strolled to the dispensary
to chat with Naomi about a location for our Gala Goats, was bent over in
pain, almost tumbling into the dirt.  I rushed to steady her, and as
she stood I discovered a woman heavy with child.  She groaned deeply
and reached for her back and began tilting once again.  I picked her
up and rushed to the closed, blue door of the dispensary.  I called
for Naomi, the nurse, and she beckoned me to come inside, not knowing
I had someone clutching to me.

This girl of her mid-20’s had been on her way to the weekly clinic
where pre-natal drugs were being distributed, along with immunizations
and tests of all kinds for the toddlers in the village.  Along Mwaka’s
(M-walk-ah)  2 mile path to the dispensary her labor pains came
quickly, with her water breaking onto the sandy path below her feet.
This was her second child, and she did not experience the same pains
during her previous pregnancy, so this was new territory.  In between
contractions she would walk as quick as she could until she finally
reached the boundary of the dispensary property……and me.  Mwaka’s
greatest discomfort was in her lower back.  As I gently laid her on the
green, vinyl-cushioned gurney that has surely been used hundreds of
times by ladies using its soft padding as a place of comfort, Mwaka
seized with pain, so I remained there and massaged her back.  It was
obvious that this relieved great pressure and pain.

Naomi had seen Mwaka on several occasions over the past months, so she 
knew it was time to prepare for the birth.  As I stood at Mwaka’s side, 
providing the longest back rub of my life, the nurses scurried about as they 
had not planned on a baby this busy morning.
The contractions were less than two minutes apart, with almost a
minute of duration, so even I knew this wouldn’t be too long.  Men are
NEVER allowed in the birthing rooms during delivery, so I was breaking
new ground.  Even the husbands are nowhere to be seen while their
wives suffer to deliver the children.  So to have a man, a white man,
a man that is not your husband in the room was, to say the least, over
the border taboo, and I knew it.

Mwaka’s pain grew more intense, and the beads of sweat on her face and
forehead dripped onto the bed.  As she tightly grasped one of my
hands, I continued to rub the growing knots from her lower back, much
to her relief.  Her teeth were stained from the water they are forced
to drink in some of the outlying villages, her hair speckled with dirt
particles from the life of living in a mud hut in an arid area.  Naomi
brought in her medical card which had Mwaka’s thumb prints at the
bottom, a common way for the illiterate to sign their name.  Naomi
quickly reviewed the history and saw nothing alarming, so full
preparations for a normal delivery were made.

At one point Mwaka grabbed the sinew at the back of my leg during a
particularly excruciating contraction, thinking it was the rail of the
bed which she had been squeezing.  For the entire duration of the
spasm I received the most painful horse bite I have ever experienced.
I didn’t have the heart to pull her hand off of me for fear of really
embarrassing her, but even after 9 hours I still have marks from the
ligament crushing she provided me.

Naomi had to check Mwaka to see how dilated she had become.  I offered
to leave, but Mwaka begged me to stay with her.  This was really odd,
but somewhere I had been before many years ago with the birth of my
own children.  Naomi was thrilled that I was there helping her and
taking some of the heat off as I provided what coaching I could in my
Tarzan-like Swahili.  The moment of truth came about two hours after I
first plopped Mwaka on the bed, and again I asked about me being
there.  Both Mwaka and Naomi demanded that I stay, so everyone took a
final deep breath and the pushing began.  As I whispered pumua
(poo-moo-ah) pumua into Mwaka’s ear, reminding her to breath
correctly, Naomi was shouting twende, twende (Twen-day) which is
Swahili for go, go or push, push.  I lifted Mwaka’s head towards her
knees, something Naomi had not seen before because there are never any
father’s around.  On the second big push the baby’s head went from
crowning to fully exited.  Within 5 more seconds the rest of the
pale-colored baby boy was out, and layed on his mother’s tummy.  Mwaka
blew out one final deep breath as I placed her flat on the bed.  It
was over.  Naomi placed rubber gloves on me and now had me cutting the
umbilical cord and handling the newborn.  I wrapped him in one of the
many colorful blankets that we have brought here to encourage mothers
to come to the clinic for birthing, and held him for a few moments.
One of the other nurses came into the room and began to assist, so I
went back up to Mwaka and told her how well she had done.  She looked
at me through her tired, bloodshot, eyes and said “nashikuru.”  She
didn’t have to say it, as I knew she was grateful, but my Africa
experience had just been enriched in multiples, and I was the one who
was truly appreciative to have taken part in this tiny miracle.  I
don’t know how many this makes now, but I have another namesake who
will run the hills and valleys of this difficult place, hopefully
knowing me well as he grows.

My activities were postponed by the delay in the delivery room, but I
picked them back up as soon as I could.  The sun was strong overhead,
and within an hour of walking around attending to my commitments, I
could feel the sting of the rays beating down upon me.  I had
forgotten my hat as I left the dispensary, so I cut a palm leaf and
fashioned an umbrella over my head.  I was quite unfashionable, even
by African standards, but my head was covered, so I continued on.  By
nightfall I could feel the tingle of my crispy dome.

Two years ago an awards assembly was initiated with the top performing
students from each of our schools, along with the teachers who had the
highest overall grades in their respective classes.  A committee
oversee the program and we go into Mombasa to purchase the prizes for
the award winners.  Do they want iPods, Xboxes, or remote helicopters?
What these children desire most is to have their own books, a study
guide, or pens and paper.  We are giving the top teacher a solar panel
to recharge their cell phone or radio.  The committee was almost giddy
at the thought of their counterpart receiving this wonderful gift.

A new tailor has been hired at the workshop for our sewing projects.
I met with her as a formality and chatted about our uniform situation
with each of our schools.  The kids are forced to wear uniforms, and
many of them are tattered, especially those who wear hand-me-downs
from older siblings.  We are designing a handsome shirt absent of the
traditional buttons and pocket, replacing that look with something
more comfortable, but durable.  We’ll see how this works out, but we
have the overwhelming support of all the headteachers.

Porch meetings in the dark were the order of the evening.  Power
outages are more common than ever, stopping work several times during
the day.  In fact, I am on battery right now.  The moon has decided to
stay hidden, so the sky was as black as Anthony’s eyes.  The stars
were as glorious as I have ever seen, and the voice of my bride on the
other end of the phone as sweet as ever.  I grumble at the thought of
being here while my grandson is born, but the newborn baby that I
delivered today is named in his honor (Max), so that softens the blow.
As I hear of the weather turning bitterly cold back home, a drop of
sweat drizzles down my back, and I’m conflicted as to whether I would
prefer being cold, or extremely hot.

Sleeping in feels soooooo good!!  Too bad I have no capacity to
actually do that here.  I had requested an early arrival from our next
group of rotational garden families, so by 7:00 a.m. they were gathering at
the KCC.  We asked them to bring something to eat for our goats,
directing them to pass by our fields near Kevin’s Creek and tote corn
stalks up to our pens.   After a brief kickoff meeting
with this second group, they almost jogged to the fields where they’ll
be planting their crops because they were made aware that I was
heading to Mombasa to pick up seeds for them to plant and the ground
must be fully prepared before I would give them any seeds.  Placing a
border of slate rocks around each garden is required, then a mixture
of manure, grasses, and topsoil is to be churned to make the perfect
bed for our new seeds.  It is fantastic to see the excitement in the
eyes of these families at the prospect of providing themselves with
nutritious meals.

Going into Mombasa is always problematic and frustrating.  We need to
buy hundreds of packets of seeds for our rotational gardens, some
supplies for our center, a few veterinarian supplies, and the all the
items listed for our awards ceremony this Saturday.

Dr. Kimeni, the District Education Officer hooked up with us at the
Blue Room, a local dive where they have food, drink, and WiFi.  It’s
very popular with the tourists and locals who can spend $5 on a meal.
There are so many issues to discuss that our meeting extended over 2
hours.  I truly enjoy being with this guy, especially after his
predecessor was such a dud in getting anything done.  I am becoming
more convinced that the generation of politicians and leaders coming
up through the ranks will make colossal changes to this country.  It
has so much potential, such a desire from the people to change, that I
am convinced they will not be denied.

When I walked into the store where we usually buy our school supplies,
Jenny, the sister of the store’s owner, greeted me so kindly, and
stated, “I knew you were in Kenya.”  I was surprised at how this was
possible unless she knew someone from the village.  Then she explained
that she follows the Koins blog and website and saw that I had returned.  So,
if you’re reading this, Jenny, thanks for taking such wonderful care
of us while at your store!!  Hopefully we’ll host you this weekend as
we had discussed…..so bring your husband and brother, too.

Upon return to the KCC, large boxes containing steel crates were
sitting on the front porch and just inside the doors in our meeting
area.  It looked like John Paras furniture had delivered us a bunch of
chest freezers.  But, could it be????????  Yes, our Pitster Pro
motorcycles had finally arrived!!  The motorbikes that we have used
for the last 5-6 years have been held together by chicken wire and
some bad welding jobs, all evidence of the roads and the beating they
take going back and forth to our work sites.  But since the engines
are now beginning to fail, we really needed a solution.  In September
we made arrangements to have some good bikes sent here, along with an
ATV for those on our board who do not ride motorcycles.  They were to
arrive during my last trip in November, but T.I.A. (This Is Africa)
took over and they never came.  After a lot of kicking and making
noise, we finally located them at the port, and with great excitement
for everyone, they are here for our immediate use… Some assembly
required 

It is another dark night with a phenomenal starlit bucket shower since the lights
appear to be out for the duration.

Asante,

BVL

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Kenya Bugs


Yes, that is a bug, a very large, although harmless, bug.  They grow them big in Kenya.  I guess you would call this a walking stick, although maybe walking branch would be more appropriate.

I have been waiting for a journal update from Bret, but a power outage left his computer unusable, and although he brought a GoalZero solar charger with him, he does not have an adapter that will allow him to use his computer plugged in to it.  The 10 hour time difference does put a cramp into the communication process, but hopefully tomorrow I will get an email with updates.

Applications for the July expedition, and the Youth Leadership expedition in July have been coming in steadily.  Pretty soon those expeditions will be full.  If you plan on going with us this summer, it would be good to get your applications and deposits in as soon as possible.

Asante sana!

IVL

Monday, January 16, 2012

Bret's January 2012 Journal, Part 1

Bret is currently in Kenya.  With many projects planned for 2012, he wanted to be there to get things off to a good start.  Here is a summary of his first few days in Kenya:


Bret with Elder Tuttle and President Broadbent of the Nairobi Mission
Having never really spent any amount of discernible time in Nairobi, other than to and from the city center to the airport, the two days spent there left a much improved flavor in my mouth for Kenya’s largest city, and home of the world’s largest slum – Kibera, where 1.5 million people reside.
I met with Church dignitaries and national politicians, updating them on our activities in the Koins area.  Most of the time they are astonished at what we accomplish from visit to visit, but this time renewed interest in working together is more than just sparked.  President Broadbent of the Nairobi mission is truly a motivating man.  His methodic approaches, mixed with can do/will do attitude clarifies why he is serving in this part of the world.  His humanitarian missionaries, Elder and Sister Tuttle, are two very strong individuals who compliment each other’s strengths in peculiar way.  She’s all about BYU, he is Crimson Red.  He can’t wait to kick some programs off while she takes a very reserved approach.  He can’t wait to go on a hunting safari with family members at the end of their mission, and she just rolls her eyes with understanding love.  I’m just sorry we’ve not met prior to now since they only have 6 months left to serve, and we have a lot of work to do.
I was excited to go to the airport and begin heading for Mombasa.  My bags were not even close to the weight provisions of domestic travel, so I reached deep into the hypnotic charm library and ended up paying 1,200 shillings ($14) for being 45 lbs overweight and having one bag over JetLink’s limit.
Mombasa has a small airport, so when you’re the only arriving plane, luggage handling goes quickly.  Upon exiting the baggage claim, Anthony Yama was standing almost in front of me.  I was wearing a hat, pulled down tightly, and sporting my salt-and-pepper (more salt than I’d like to admit) goatee that I began growing a couple of weeks ago.  Since white people almost always look the same to these people, Anthony had to take several looks before he was convinced it was even me.  The slightest change in appearance throws these guys off, and they don’t care for change.  Since I was wearing a t-shirt that contained a brilliant blue “Anthony Yama for County Supervisor” slogan brightly emblazoned on the front, he knew it was me.
As he always does, Yama handed me the keys to the car.  I hopped into the right side, pulled out of the lot and we were on our way down the left side of the road.  It feels so natural that I don’t have to even think about it, kind of like speaking another language.  The traffic was light since it is Sunday, and we darted to Tusky’s, the nearest shopping mart.  Since I’m the only one in the village for the next several days, most of the goods were for me, so our buzzing around the aisles went quickly.  I recognize some of the employees, and they make it a point to greet me back, so I feel even more comfortable.  Yama wanted a double chicken cheese burger from the food kiosk inside the store.  I had a diet coke and let him enjoy his feast.
Corn and wheat flour prices have doubled in the last year.  Rice has also shot up nearly 50%, and the oil with which everyone cooks has risen so sharply that our people are feeling an even greater pinch when trying to feed their families.  It is more apparent to me now how important it is for us to intensify our agricultural activities.  At some point the world will quit feeding Kenya as they worry about themselves, and if Koins doesn’t step up and place our people squarely on their feet, our issues with food and diets will become astronomical and we’re going to lose a lot of folks.
On the main road finally heading towards the village area we ran into an uncharacteristic, Sunday afternoon traffic jam.  We took the only alternative route and lucked out……for once.  At the last junction before departing the city, large trucks, a sea of matatu’s (13 passenger vans filled to the brim with paying customers) scrambling private vehicles, and motorcycles culminate at a place that resembles more of a lumber mill road than the main artery between Mombasa and Nairobi.  The tarmac the Chinese put down just 3 years ago has all but chipped away.  With chuck holes and large stones everywhere, everyone trudges through the area, cussing the government, the traffic, and the abysmal condition of the road……including me.  It’s not my first rodeo through here, so I keep my eyes on high alert and move forward.
As we pull up to the Koins Community Center (KCC), I have the sensation of being home.  I enter my bedroom and find all of my belongings in order, everything washed and ready for me.  Several visitors pass by to shout a cheerful hello, and I settle in.
One of the guys that has worked for us on some of our construction projects came by to see Anthony.  His condition has worsened since the last time I saw him.  I find it difficult not to stare, but his condition is terrifically mesmerizing, and you cannot help but gaze at the obvious situation.  This poor 30-something man suffers from a fairly common disease in the south coast area that is caused by the bite of a mosquito – elephantitis.  The specifics of the body parts affected by this disfiguring disease can be anywhere, but usually in the lower extremities.  Our construction worker has an apple bag the size of a 5 gallon water jug dangling between his legs, and now you might understand why it’s difficult not to stare.  As he and Anthony finished chatting, this guy walked slowly away, swaying to and fro, ever so slowly, ever so casually.  It was then that I noticed the trail this suffering man left behind that resembled a large snake slithering through the dirt as waddled back and forth.  Unbelievable!  Yama was shocked to hear that I have never known anyone in the U.S. to suffer from a similar disease.  Come to find out that the only reason our construction worker doesn’t go to the hospital for a procedure to remove this prodigious body part is because the man is still fathering children.  Now tell me you wouldn’t stare.  Liar!
After a dinner of fresh fruit and a rice dish I grabbed my bucket of hot water and headed to the shower area.  I was alone, under the dark, African night sky, scrubbing the layer of dust from my skin.  I look up as I dowsed myself and saw Orion, the astrological constellation shining vibrantly overhead.  I realized that it was only a few days ago while lighting fireworks in celebration of New Year’s that this same sky warrior gazed down upon me in Alpine.  Now, standing in a completely different hemisphere than my home, similar stars light up my sky, although in a slight differing configuration.  My thoughts create a parallel between my snowy, mountainside home and the tropical summer heat I am experiencing here.  The creature comforts vs. the difficulties of Koins Village, and the skin tones of the two respective “villages.”  Orion gets to see both from high overhead at the same time.  I’m sure he loves them both the same as I do.
Emily in front of her oven at the KCC, with her delicious banana bread
Due to being summer here south of the equator, the sun rises quickly, so with the growing number of fowl in our chicken operation it only exacerbates the morning clamor.  The only redeeming quality about this fussy flock is that they taste good.  Mama Emily brought me my chai and a huge surprise, three loaves of her now infamous banana bread.  Unfortunately it truly is so good that I keep it a secret from everyone else so I can hog it for myself.  Yama and Buffalo will kill a loaf themselves, as will Eliud, our trusty scholarship coordinator and Chakaya, Yama’s Boy-Friday.  (If you don’t know what that means, I’m just too old)

Kevin's Creek
At first light I strolled down to the damn on Kevin’s Creek to assess the site.  Even with all the rains, flash floods, and constant pounding in October and November, our dam stands defiantly strong in the middle of the stream, taking all the water that dares to challenge it into deep captivity.  There is more water sitting between Mnyenzeni and Vikolani than in the history of this place, and the dream of farming year round is going to be realized this year.
A quick inspection of the goat facility also proved impressive.  We have baby goats now being born, and our herd is increasing every week with knobby-kneed kids bawling for their mothers when separated.
Joyce, one of the nurses from our dispensary joined me at the goat pen and we had a wonderful discussion about our milk objectives for the HIV mothers.  We have some high hurdles to surmount with local nattering and scandalous stigmas, but at the end of the day, we will be saving babies lives and the loving mothers will not be denied because of the nonsensical chatter of their busy-body neighbors.  We have arranged a meeting with women’s group from near Mazeras where HIV positive ladies who have successfully waged battle against traditional stigmas will help us address methods to assist our women and avoid these problems.  Imagining that the daily struggles of being infected aren’t enough, especially when they are RARELY the root of the situation.
My appointment in Mariakani with the Area Education Officer was fabulous.  Rarely do I leave a political meeting with true feelings of hope, but Mr. Mangale has either fooled me like no other, or action will be taken.  As Yama regularly states, “the proof is in the pudding.”
I dropped Yama off in Mazeras, greeting Mama Lucy, Eddie, and little Bret Cougar, Anthony’s youngest.  We stopped at the small shanties along the main road to Mombasa to pick up some food items so I could offer Lucy a small token.  Eddie is so shy, but his English is fantastic.  Little Bret is a pistol, and the wrestling match lasted until I was sweating.  Their daughter, Milly, has returned to boarding school where she has garnered the #1 position in her class…….not a significant feat when you are at a national school, Kenya’s crème della crème. 
Instead of dragging Yama back to the village, I drove back along the dusty, bumpy, miserable roads.  Buffalo and Emily waited for me to return, and we ate a bowl of noodles, fresh pineapple, and yes, another chunk of banana bread.  I did share with Buffalo this time, but he was rationed.
As I write this I’ve lost a pint of blood to the hostile mosquitoes infesting the KCC.  I have a 36 inch fan blowing full blast on me from two feet away, and these little virus-infected, blood-suckers actually fly into the forceful wind to viciously gnaw on my legs.  There’s not a salmon in Alaska that can match the “upstream” determination of these annoying pests.  I have one word for them……..R*A*I*D!!!!!
BVL

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Frampton's in Kenya - Dzendereni Crossfit School Project



Dallin Frampton and his father, Jason, spent a week in Kenya in December 2011.  Dallin had previously lived in Kenya for several months while building a school in the village of Dzivani.  This time, the school was built in the village of Dzendereni, and built with funds donated by Crossfit.  This is a journal of Dallin's experiences in December.

Jason and Dallin in front of Crossfit School in Dzendereni, Kenya


After a long flight and 32 hours after leaving Utah, my dad and I finally got into Mombasa late Thursday night, December 1st.  Only he and I went on this trip, which lasted just over a week, in order to finish up the Dzendereni Crossfit school project and hand it over to the village.

The new, unpainted Crossfit School in Dzendereni

Dallin mixing paint for classroom walls

Jason painting the interior of the school

We spent all day Friday, December 2nd in the town of Mombasa purchasing everything from food, paint for the school project and supplies we were going to need for building the 20 desks we were making for the school.  After Mombasa wiped us out and we got into the village later that night, the excitement and suspense of getting out to the school that next morning began to set in.  The plan was to head out to Dzendereni early and start painting everything we could with the soft white base color we had, and then kind of play it by ear from there.  They welcomed us that Saturday morning just like any other Koins village would, with all the board members and school children waiting for us to arrive and the opportunity to get down and dirty with us on their newest building.  I don’t think my dad knew what he was getting himself into as all the board members rushed to his side to meet him, and it was pretty funny watching him shake his head uncomprehendingly as they would smile and greet him in Duruma.  All day was spent in that beautiful village with the work crew getting as much painting done as we could. Unfortunately, we ran out with only a few more gables to finish up.  Anthony was heading into town the following morning, so he picked us up a couple more gallons and we were going to finish up the base coat of white and start the brown skirting the following Monday. 


Water available to villagers, a result of Kevin's Creek Dam project

Kevin's Creek Dam
Women waiting at clinic, recipients of new baby blaknets

Jason giving a new dress to a Kenyan girl

    Sunday was more of a mellow day for us as we started out by taking a walk down to the newly constructed dam to take some pictures and check it out.  We also had a lot of baby blankets and dresses we had been given to give out, so we found new owners for those over the course of our stay in Mnyenzeni.  After a cool little church service we had in the KCC, we headed out to my second home in the village of Dzivani where I was lucky enough to live for 5 months during the months of March-August 2010.  I was blown away by the way in which these teachers took my advice to heart when I left them over a year ago to head back to the states.  I told them that when I returned to the village, I wanted to see as many trees as they could plant on the school property, and they weren’t messing when they took that project on.  The school grounds of Dzivani use to be dry and desolate, and now it looks like there could be monkeys swinging from the trees in the year-old forest that is now on the grounds.

New trees in front of Austin Frampton School in Dzivani

Villagers with Jason and Dallin in front of Dzivani school


Dallin addressing villagers in Dzivani classroom

Giving pencils to school children at Dzivani

Dallin in front of the hut he lived in while building the Austin Frampton school

Dallin with the Dzivani soccer team

It was amazing, and almost surreal as I walked into the Austin Frampton school after a year and a half away from there, thinking about all the long days I was able to work with the crew on that building.  We walked around for a little while and checked out old and new sites, then the soccer team played a game for us out in the Dzivani field which was really fun to watch since we had brand new team uniforms donated to them during the summer expedition of 2010.  We didn’t get back to Koins until late that night because it was so hard to leave the village that I had grown to love so much.

Dallin in the Koins workshop, cutting wood for desks


Dallin assembling desk parts
Finished desks ready to take to Dzendereni

Jason painting the Crossfit school at Dzendereni

Dallin and crew painting the exterior of the Crossfit school

Final touches on the Crossfit school

    Monday was when we really had to get after it.  The guys from Crossfit HQ were coming out to Dzendereni for the handing over ceremony on Wednesday, so we had to make sure all the painting of the school was for sure finished, but we also had desks to build to fill up the classrooms.  We headed out early Monday morning to paint the dominant Crossfit brown color on the school for the skirting inside the classroom and more of an outline color on the outside.  All the school board members and even the head teacher all helped us paint, so we were covering a lot of ground fairly quickly.  We only finished the two classroom skirts that morning, and still had to do all the outside painting and the Head Teacher’s office the next day.  We then headed back to Koins around lunch time so we could start knocking out some desks.  The wood that comes in from Mombasa is in bad shape, so we first have to spend a while planing it just so we can get it down so it is smooth enough to measure into all the different sections we need for the desks.  So we had a total of four guys working on these things including me, my dad, Mwanzara and John.  Luckily they already had a bunch made, so it wasn’t quite as stressful as the thought of trying to finish up 20 desks in one afternoon.  My little brother’s school also did a little fundraiser before we left for this trip and were able to provide an additional 3 desks to the mix and so we were able to paint “Rosecrest” on the front of a few of them.  We finished all the desks just before sunset and we were able to crash after another tasty meal provided by my second mother, Mama Emily.

Dallin paints Rosecrest on desks for Dzendereni

Finished desks ready to go to Dzendereni
A fine Kenyan meal of ugali and chicken


    Tuesday called for some serious African improv, which I tend to be pretty good at after living among the great people of Kenya for 5 months.  We were running seriously short on our brown paint, and we still had a bunch of painting to do on the outside.  We did, however, have plenty of turpentine and that mixes very nicely with oil based paint.  So we ‘watered’ it down to perfection and it still looked awesome and we ended up on having plenty of paint to finish up the Crossfit School.  Then we talked a little bit with the school board and chairman about how the handing over ceremony would happen in the morning.  After we left Dzendereni, Anthony, my dad and I all cruised into Mombasa to meet up with the Crossfit guys and give them a bit of a run down on how things would go the next day.  They were staying at the White Sands hotel, so they were very comfortable compared to us out in the village.  When we met up with these guys, it was just Sevan who is the media guy/film maker for Crossfit, and then Greg was there as well, who is the founder and CEO of Crossfit.  We had a lengthy conversation about what Koins was all about, our service area and everything Koins has accomplished in the last ten years or so.  They were still waiting for one of their team to arrive the next morning, so they would meet us in the village the following day and then we would cruise out to Dzendereni together.

Crossfit group touring Koins/SRA garden

Crossfit group in Mnyenzeni

Greg planting a tree outside Crossfit Dzendereni school

Finished Crossfit school

Opening celebration for Crossfit Dzendereni school


When they arrived at Mnyenzeni, we continued to take them around to all of our sites, the workshop, the new garden and of course the KCC.  I was fortunate enough to ride out in Greg’s car to the village, so we were talking about everything from Crossfitting, to why the people in Kenya do the different things that they do.  The handing over ceremony was one of the best and one of the shortest I have ever been to.  When we arrived, the school board took Greg and the crew down to the old school so they could see everything that they had been working with, and then they were escorted up to the new school building and the difference between these two structures is night and day.  The children actually have a concrete floor and a tin roof over their head rather than dirt floors and mud walls.  Greg and his team were all given Duruma names along with other gifts like canes, kikois and kanga cloths.  After only a few people talked and Greg said a few words, the school was officially opened and then we took a walk into the actual village of Dzendereni.  Greg was able to shepherd a few goats and Lisa was able to mill a little bit of maize in the way in which the ladies of Kenya do everyday.  We were leaving for back home the following morning, so we got back to the KCC that evening, began packing, and looked back on a trip that was definitely worth every minute. 

Dallin Frampton



Dzendereni Classroom Before


   
Dzendereni Crossfit Classroom after

Asante Sana, Crossfit, for your generous contribution to the village of Dzendereni.  You have built classrooms that will benefit generations of village children for the good. 

IVL