Thursday, June 6, 2019

Catching Up

Our final day at the Jamii School was Tuesday. Similar work for all of us from what we did on Monday. Final count of total patients seen for the trip = 1529. Good work team!

A few photos from the school...

Assistant teacher Suzanne is carrying the teacher's baby on her back while she helps the students with the day's craft project. The baby was with always with us in the classroom either crawling around, or being held by the mother or her helper, or sometimes being fed by the mother.

Every day the kids and teachers have a chai break. Two students here are returning their plastic cups which will be washed by the kitchen staff.

 One craft this year was making a lei of interlocking strips with the names of friends and family.

Playing with balloons outside for a break was a huge hit with the "babies" (i.e., the preschoolers)

Basilus, one of the school's directors, was organizing the kids so that all of them could be in one picture. Not an easy task when you have over 700 students enrolled!

Then it was safari time! We went to a new safari lodge this year which was beautiful and wonderful in so many ways. And we were all happy to have some delicious new food choices since our menus have been pretty redundant.

Directly behind the Thompson's gazelle is an observation point; the highest land in the park. The slopes of Kilimanjaro are rising slowly behind that. In my six years of coming here, I've yet to see the whole mountain since it's routinely covered with clouds.

We got to see a lot of elephants who seemed super contented to be munching on lush green grass in swampy areas. Quite different from when we come in August and things are so dry.

Incredible closeup view of a hippo; best I've ever witnessed. They look cute and pudgy but can be quite dangerous.

Another unusual siting was a family of a lion, lioness and three juveniles - SO GREAT! My pictures are lousy so not posting them here but the encounter will keep playing in my brain. We also witnessed (from afar) an elephant chasing off a giraffe.

Baboons with a baby.

Most of our group around the fire pit at the lodge.  It's been a terrific time of working together as a team. In our last meeting together this evening, we all shared how much we appreciate the connections we've made on this journey. We're grateful for each other and what we did together.

Tomorrow we do some shopping and small excursions before we fly out. It may be that as I get some photos from others that would be fun to share, I'll post them here later. Thanks for journeying with us!

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Final Days

Quick post.

We had a final day at Jamii on Tuesday, then traveled to our safari lodge on Wednesday for safari tours and an overnight stay. Have had a wonderfully relaxing time plus have seen a bunch of animals.

Time and internet haven't allowed any blogging time but will try tonight for an update.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Jamii School

It's always a huge highlight to come back to this school. Lots of cute kids of course, but more importantly, a warm and caring couple who runs the school, along with some long-time teachers we love reconnecting with.

As usual, every child, teacher and staff member are on hand to welcome us - over 700 people! One of our new team members was sharing at our evening team meeting how much it meant to him and said, "I mean, how often do you get a a welcome like that?" Quipped another team member, "Once a year!" The perks of our annual visit ;-)

While the medical team jumped into action with patients again...

 (The pharmacy lineup)

 ...the rest of us headed to classrooms for a modified Vacation Bible School which mostly involved crafts this year.

Berkeley was totally in her element... was Maddie.

Paul and Vic connected with the kids too.

In the photo above, Vic was the center of attention as he drew a possible design for a new metal water tower for the school. Miriam got a call last night from Basilus, the co-director, that that the water tower had collapsed so he was able to hire a crew of seven people to rig up a temporary new structure in time for school today – amazing! You can see the dented corner of the office that the old water tank landed on.

 One of the first things I noticed when we arrived is how good the kids' uniforms look. In the past, there have been many bedraggled, ripped and torn items of clothing but due to some generous donations, most are looking very sharp these days. Another improvement – small but super helpful – is installing hooks in the classrooms so that coats and backpacks don't have to be thrown in a corner.

Late in the morning, the famous Eldoret rain started. It makes quite a racket on the metal roofs...

In the afternoon, our educator team members led sessions on basic first aid training for the teachers here well as a few ideas on how to deal with trauma they encounter in their students. I learned some helpful things as well as one thing I probably won't try. One of the Kenyan teachers told us that for cuts, they put salt on the wound. OUCH! Our med staff says it's got some helpful qualities but...oh my!!

Our walk to the waiting van - squishy to say the least.

 And once more I'll close with a "cute kid" – one of the reasons we're here...

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Rescue Center

For the last few years, we've spent a day at the rescue center here. And they do what the name says – rescue kids. Some have run away from home, some have been kicked out, some have been abandoned as babies. But we were all highly encouraged by the fact that the kids are pretty healthy, more have been returned to homes and there is a smaller number of them than last year.

Of course the medical team kicked into high gear...

Our pharmacy team knows exactly where every pill, syrup and ointment is!

Our baby expert, Kathi, is working with a young boy who was abandoned but has mightily improved.

The rest of us engaged the kids in a variety of activities. There's usually a lot of chaos involved but every team member knows the goal is fun. This young man, with help from a staff member, was doing a great job of actually playing Jenga, which we just learned is a Swahili word meaning "build" – perfect! Many of the younger kids just enjoyed playing with blocks

We brought lots of games for active games. Again, there wasn't always a lot of structure but a lot of fun was had by all. Here Paul tosses two balls to eager catchers.

 Some skilled jump-ropers...

Oh and did I mention that the activity field included three cows, one of whom decided to "moove" out of the field to check out the triage tent? It was easily shooed back. Of course cows mean cowpies, so you can well imagine this is not exactly an ideal playing surface...

 Frisbee was a hit.

When we raise funds to come on this trip, part of it always goes to providing special treats for the communities we visit. At the rescue center, we provided the game supplies and a meal. It might not be what we would have chosen for them nutritionally (sausage, french fries and a soda) but it's a treat for them. 

Just a few more pics - I could deluge you with them but have just grabbed a few more...

Leaving you with one of my favs. He's chasing and catching bubbles with total exuberance and joy...

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Road Trip to Eldoret

So a brief catchup of yesterday – and yes, we closed the window and the fan kept us cool!

We left Kangundo with our usual large amount of luggage.

 Some shots from along the road. A mix of storefronts along with roadside stands of fresh fruits and veggies and lumber and iron gates and charcoal and carwashes and turkeys and chickens and just about anything else you could want.

Miriam is greeted at our Nairobi hotel by her hotel contact. Greetings are effusive here and several of us were commenting today on how much we enjoy that. Miriam taught us a phrase of greeting to use while in Kangundo and I loved using it. So many times the people I said it to would totally light up and shake my hand vigorously. And just today, when I spoke a Swahili greeting to a woman on the road we were walking on, she grabbed my hand and pulled me in for a big hug. I confessed that it is about the only Swahili I know but she didn't care; she thought it was wonderful I attempted that much :-)

We arrived sometime around 10 a.m. and optimistically hoped we might get into our rooms right away. Tabitha, pictured above, was on it as was Michael, the front desk agent I'd worked with before when we all first checked in. But we did have to wait and wait and, as is typical, the "15 minutes" was more like 30 and then the "5 more minutes" was another 20 or so... We got about half our rooms and waited some more. Michael told me confidentially that they were doing something special with flowers in our room so when we finally got to them, this is what we found...

Lunch that day was with the graduating seniors of New Dawn High School, the school where we've done healing arts camps and have sponsored some students. It serves poor and impoverished students who live in slums nearby.

A former New Dawn student, Steve, is currently in baking school and created this cake for us, which was carefully cut so we all could have a piece. 

We all walked to a viewpoint of the Nairobi skyline which most of these students have never seen, though most have lived in the city their whole lives. (And this is the prettiest I've ever seen that view! It's usually pretty smoggy.)

Now for a bit of randomness. Those who have traveled with me know that I'm always looking for cats to pet. This is the closest I've gotten so far...

 One of our van drivers was super prepared for communication.

 And I'm sure the mall we visited is exactly where Obama got his passport photo taken ;-)

The driver's ed car is sure to get everyone's attention. You can also see the maze of wires on the electrical pole.

 Keeping up with family at home...

A travel tip: The electric wires are for heating the water as it arrives at the shower head. Touching them while the water is running is not advised. (No, I'm not speaking from personal experience.)

In our 8-hour road trip in vans today from Nairobi to Eldoret, we crossed the Equator. I'm posing with Steve (the cake baker) by the new sign. 

We had chai at Lance & Lindsay Chamberlain's house – they have been here as missionaries for almost two years – and then went out to see all the animals. Who can resist a puppy?

 Actually, Steve did resist at first but this little fella won his heart.

More pill packing - whee!

Tomorrow we'll be at the rescue center.