Friday, February 11, 2011

Springs and Such – Tuesday, February 8th

My sponsor child Moses
Tuesday morning I got to go by the disability clinic described in more detail in Kathy’s blog. It was quite exciting because the child that I sponsor through Chalice named Moses was at the clinic, so I got to meet him and his grandmother, Grace. He’s 4 years old and was abandoned by his parents when they realized he had learning disabilities and his grandmother took over his care. He’s a very sweet boy and I got to hold him. He smiled and giggled when someone translated the word ‘handsome’ and he was at the clinic to receive braces to help him walk. Before the clinic, it was believed that he would need a wheelchair and would never walk, so the news that all he would need is braces was very exciting. Eventually he will be able to remove the braces as well once his legs become stronger. It was really neat to be able to meet him and see firsthand where the money I send to Chalice is going, and see the additional benefits such as braces that goes along with the program.
There were the sweetest kids at the clinic. One little boy was sitting on the ground holding a giant umbrella. He was four or five years old, and every time one of us wazungos (white people) smiled at him, he lowered the umbrella so he couldn’t see us. I decided to play with him and kept ducking to look under the umbrella, and he just kept lowering it until it touched the ground. He was sooo cute! There was one little boy that Ted noticed whose eyes were popped so far out his head, he couldn’t believe they were still attached.
Then Cheri, Shawna and I went and had tea with Fr Bernard and checked out the hotel that everyone would be moving into. We used to call it the Francis Inn (the owner’s name was Francis), but the name that’s now painted on the wall is the Limo Guest House. It’s where we stayed last year, so Cheri, Shawna, and I made sure that all the rooms had a bed, mosquito net, working lights, a toilet seat if there was a toilet, working hot water if there was a heater, and looked reasonably clean. Out of the 16 rooms, 7 have longdrops, as in a ceramic hole in the floor. Those same rooms don’t have hot water heaters either; the way they give you hot water here for showers is a heater in the shower head, so the water is either ice cold or scaldingly hot, and sometimes it’s hard to tell which one as they’re both such a shock to the body! It’s an odd problem to have so you end up doing this dance in and out of the stream turning the water heater on and off at intervals to achieve a semi-consistent warm. Anyway after taking stock of the rooms, we realized we would have to add 7 bed and help decide with Ted which unlucky people would be in the rooms with the longdrops. All the people that are returning are guaranteed a longdrop, and a select few of the new group.
Kenyan Water Meeting

That afternoon we went back to ‘No Name’ hotel (where we had been staying and eating meals) for lunch. There was a group heading off to look at water projects that afternoon. The group consisted of Jack, Ted, Paul, Anthony, the local head of the water committee named Jefferson, and Francis. We went to two different sites. The first site is a water project that MCOH funded to draw water from a spring and provide it to 30 families. The families formed a board and paid a fee to join and monthly fee. The project is working great and being maintained by the community! During the dry months when the spring can’t sustain the whole community, they ration the water so half the families use it one day, and half the next. We arrived by two houses that were well off that had round houses and thatched roofs, and many cattle. We then took a hike up the mountain to the spring, and followed the pipes to a 1000L tank. We then followed it down to the river where there was a big effort to dig so the pipe from the stream could go under the water. (Why was there a spring fed water source when there’s a river right there, I asked that too. It’s because the river water is contaminated and spring water is clean). During the walk I was informed that there are pythons in the area, but saw some dead baby mice along the path, so that can’t be true. The snake would have eaten those. I also saw some water being sprayed onto crops in this really cool sprinkler that was 6 feet off the ground and could spray a great distance. I inquired as to which crops were so vital that they were using drinking water, and found out it was mira, a drug with similar effects to marijuana that the men chew. It’s such a great cash crop (and not illegal) that it is very carefully maintained.

Not your typical toy

On the way back to the combi we passed a group of adorable children all under 5. One of the little boys who might have been 3 was holding a machete as large as he was, just like it was a toy truck! We then visited a farm that is benefitting from the water project. He had a great amount of crops, including some white sweet potatoes, papaya (called paw paw here), seedlings that he gives for other farmers to use, and many other crops. His house even has a solar panel for lighting! We all shared a raw sweet potato on the spot. Yum!

The-ka! (Smile!)
The second site we went to is a prospective site to tap a spring to provide water to 30 people. We had a group of kids follow us during the hour hiking through the heat. When we were running down the mountain (as I may have left the working group to goof around with them), you would swear they were wearing shoes for the sound their feet made in the dirt. I had fun talking to them and learning words in kimeru, the local language. I took a picture of them, then told them all ‘Theka’ which means ‘smile’, and they were so surprised I used a kimeru word that they laughed and laughed! During the hike, I was struck at how formally the Kenyas were dressed. We Canadians were finally dressed appropriately, in shorts and a light shirt, as it was really really hot and sunny! The Kenyans didn’t look out of place at all in nice trousers with button up shirts, and they didn’t even get dirty! It was really neat. The Kenyan pace is a bit slower than the Canadians are used to walking, and much slower than Ted is used to walking! Hiking was interesting because their pace never quickened. Everything here is hakuna matata!

Summary: A successful water project tour and I learned how to tell children to smile! (Chekah in Swahili)

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