Good News and A Little March Madness, Kenya Style
Upon my return to Kenya I found it Sahara hot and dry. A dehydrating wind sucking the life out of everything. Everyday hotter then the last as we await the rains.
We were luckier then most with our water supply up at Eco-Village. Thanks to Couer d'Alene Sunrise Rotary club and Rotary District 5080 who helped fund the solar water project we completed last year. We kept harvesting cabbage, potatoes, spinach, and maize. Although, due to bad seed, we lost half of the crop....most people in Gilgil lost their WHOLE crop!
Our lush bountiful crops surrounded by dead vegetation in the nearby forests, did bring out the hungry wildlife. Mr. Porcupine made nightly visits to the potato patch and we lost the cabbage to the dik-dik (the smallest antelope in the world!). A small price to pay to help the wildlife get by until the rains come. As I'm writing the rains have finally arrived with much gratitude. The fields are ready to plant. The maize already in, next will be cabbage, carrots and potatoes. I've been passing out heads of cabbage and bags of potatoes today and yesterday to those in our project close to us.
Jan/Feb/March are always the most expensive months as school starts-new uniforms and school fees being the largest part of our budget. Government schools were declared free by the President but alas the schools came up with fees anyway. Admission fees, desk fees, tuition fees, toilet fees...the list endless. Now, the schools are becoming computerized and all kids need a passport photo, but first they need their birth certificates (not issued at birth or as they leave the hospital). Many children in our project don't have them – and don’t have a surviving parent to request the documentation. So, we've been sorting those out at 1200 shillings (~$12) a pop. We have 88 children now - you do the math! Coming up with a yearly budget is such a challenge here in Kenya!
Medical issues always abound. Our HIV+ Moms had their anti-virals changed and none of them responded very well. All got sick. A cold virus went through the ranks and, of course, the usual cases of typhoid and recurring malaria. Many trips to the clinic and pharmacy followed. Thank goodness everyone is in good form right now (knock on wood).
Then we have our trusty old workhorse of truck. It gets it's share of abuse on these tough roads. Shocks get a real beating, brake pads and linings wear thin and this is our month that a hefty insurance bill is due. I can't complain as the truck has changed our life. It is a real blessing.
We have 10 new kids in the project this Term! Secondary school fees keep going up and our single Moms just can't keep up, especially if they are HIV+ and frail. One 15 year old easily won my heart. His mom is the village drunk and pombemaker across the highway from us (Pombe-the local homebrew-is a very high alcohol moonshine-like drink). He kept bugging one of the secondary schools to take him. They finally relented but he had no funds. He then went to Child Protection all on his own. Child protection then called us, as did his social worker. I requested he come and meet us right away. Before we knew it he was at the gate wearing the biggest grin I've ever seen, hopping around excited as all get out!!! His excitement was so infectious that I didn't want him to leave but he had to get home before the rains. Giving hope to a child like this is what keeps us going when the going gets tough.
Unfortunately, the “tough going” is never too far away. Like this next bit of news...."cattle rustlers" have hit hard up by Eco-Village. Coming in the night and making off with everyone's cows-even if it was their only source of milk. Luckily, we don't have any cows but are making sure our sheep are double locked in as an extra security measure. Then, to our great dismay the "chicken rustlers" hit our compound in town!!! They took our 8 beautiful laying hens. They had to make it over two walls and get past the dogs. I guess they figured out a good plan as many neighbors fell victim. Before our hens started laying we had been buying our organic eggs from a neighbor who lost 40 hens to the rustlers. Now we are both out of luck and our beautiful hens will be on someone’s dinner table.
Now for our exciting news for the month! One of our HIV+ Moms has been chosen out of hundreds of women to attend a seminar to train others in proper nutrition, coping skills, and where to get help when needed. The stigma attached to HIV is still so hard to overcome and we had to gently push her to on anti-virals for the sake of her children. She is now one of our strongest moms and has been helping many women both in and outside of our project. The President of Kenya will present her with a certificate this week. We can’t tell you how proud we are of how far she has come. She literally wanted to die and now she is saving lives!
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