My day often begins at 4 AM. My only chance for a peaceful cup of coffee before the day begins. That is followed by computer, organizing the day, the dogs and out the door by 8:30-9.
The elections have still thrown the whole country for a loop. No one knows what to think but lots of opinions!! Sound familiar?!
Today started out as a "typical" Wana Duma day. Three Cu-cu's (Grandmothers) to visit, the car packed with food and other necessities of life.
Our first stop Cu-Cu Patrick, who has been in our project for 12 years(?). With school out many of her Grandkids are around, even two we've never seen before – how can this be? They are brothers to Patrick and Sammy who have been in our project for years!!!!
Little Eunice (6) came bouncing up to me, eyes huge with excitement to show me her final marks, #1 in school, all A's Her joy exuding from every pore. Sammy is doing ok after a couple severe bouts with his asthma and a midnight trip to the hospital. Knowing this we had brought an inhaler to replace the one that had run out. Can't forget the dogs and their bones, tails wagging! Shy Ann, who never smiles, hangs behind everyone and my heart always goes out to her.
We are getting plenty of rain and our shamba (garden) is abundant with maize, cabbage and tomatoes, but cu-cu's is still drought ridden and only a few miles away from our acreage! They were hungry and so grateful for what we brought.
Our next stop is CuCu Peter's compound. Sadly, she passed away in July hours after having a nice chat and visit with Susan. Her grandson, Joseph, is living there now with his son Dan, who had been staying with cucu and caring for her while attending the local school. Joseph moved down from another town, as per cucu's wishes, but has been struggling to start over in a new town. After tasting his delicious samosa and boiled eggs we decided to assist with a micro-loan to help his business grow and better provide for his family. This small amount will secure his business license and "official" coat. He was chuffed as had been shut down without a license he hadn't previously known he needed. Dan is doing well, as is younger brother Soloman (age 7), but their Mother's health is not so good so we sent her off to clinic.
The little rag-a-muffins from across the road come racing as soon as they see our truck. Thanks to Katy, our lovely volunteer, we handed out milk, bread, bananas and a big bag of food. There seems to be 6-8 kids here at any given time, the parents are subsistence farmers, who spend more time with the bottle then the hoe. The children have on the same clothes I put on them months ago, filthy rags now but WOW are the smiles sweet. Their grubby little hands stuffing bananas as fast as they can into their equally grubby, smiling mouths, meanwhile clinging to bags of bread and cartons of milk.
We wrap up our visits with Cucu Willie in her new little house. She is usually working her shamba (at 92) but the drought in this area has slowed her down, too. She was thrilled with the fresh veggies from our shamba and also has a story or 2 to tell as I feed her kitten omena -small dried fish.
We are heading home to do our bookwork when we get an emergency call from Baba Moses. He's the major caretaker in their family (all HIV+). He is very sick with malaria and in desperate need of food. His wife is stricken with a mental illness (a reaction to early anti-virals and other meds? or an undiagnosed mental health disorder?? we'll never know). The boys both struggle with serious learning disabilities and are beyond sweet. Neighbors get jealous (and sometimes abusive) if they see a white person bringing aid to this family so I have learned to stay away, meet them in town or at our place. As we make plans to have emergency rations delivered to them by motorcycle, Susan suddenly doubles over in pain. A quick trip to the clinic is in order for what turns out to be ulcer related.
It is now closing in on 2pm, we are all tired and hungry and heading home when yet another emergency call comes in. This time Karioki (our 13 yr old abandoned by his mother) is in the hospital with a broken leg and needs funds NOW so he can be treated. Thank goodness his older sister (age 15) is there to handle things- x-rays, meds, etc. So, after checking on him and leaving money we are finally homeward bound in time to get the dogs in and the laundry off the line before that massive black thunderhead hanging over us lets loose!!
After eating and catching up with a few things it's time to get the dogs up the hill for their evening walk. Kevin (our young man on dialysis for Kidney disease) lives at the top with his family of 13. They are often there to greet us and only ask for help when they are truly in need. Today they are hungry and three wee ones (ages 2, 4 and 7) crawl under the fence to follow us home. They haven't eaten all day. We load them up with food from our abundant shamba and ugali (the local ground maize staple food) and Paul helps them home.
The sun is stunning this evening as it sets between the dark clouds and another day winds down, Momma Dog and Jackie boy wait by their gate for their evening biscuit and slip back through the hole in the hedge....Bahati and Quinnie are waiting for me inside and their evening treats.... lala salama to one and all!!