Linda’s Journal- 2014 Ellen and Linda’s Kenya trip November 11 to December 16
Wednesday December 10, 2014 11:30 PM
I last wrote on Sunday afternoon. We spent the rest of Sunday around the house doing odds and ends.
Monday was a good day. We left about 9:00 AM to travel to the village of Seme – about an hour away. We had built a well there in 2007 and it was doing very nicely until sometime in 2012. When I went there in December 2012 to see the well the caretaker said as we walked to the well “there is a little problem with the well” The well had sand into the sandy ground due to excessive rain! They requested another well. They have had two other failed wells in the same general area so we were hesitant to spend more money. However now FIOH-USA requires a geological survey be carried out to determine if there is a good site for a well with good water. The survey did find a good site so we funded a new well. Monday we went to see the new well.
When I first walked up to the well I was upset because it was covered with wood planks and I did not see a pump. I said to myself “oh no not another stolen pump” But no- there never was a pump on the new well. They have electricity and were able to install an electric pump that takes the water from the well to a large tank (Kenton tank). The same tank also collects rainwater so it serves a double purpose. The water from the well is clear and many people come to purchase it mainly in the AM. The charge 2 and ½ ksh per 20 liters. There are 16 members in the group that runs the well and their families’ get their water for free. The well makes a profit of about $10/month to help pay for maintenance and a small stipend for the caretaker. I left Seme feeling happy that FIOH-USA had invested in this well.
On the way home we passed a huge rock formation with inside caves called Kit Makai. I also visited there in 2012 so some of you many remember me writing about it. There are many legends around these rocks and they are still place of worship. Inside there are several altars. Ellen, Paul, Elly and I went into the rocks up some steep hills. We had an excellent guide and he told us exactly where to place our feet and gave us a hand whenever needed. I was very happy to be able to climb. The whole experience is very powerful. The energy of the place is palpable. Ellen was especially moved. While we were near the second altar we came to – we stopped and held hands and prayed the Our Father. Ellen and I were both crying. I’m not sure why I was moved to tears but it was a very wonderful, peaceful moment filled with energy of the universe.
After leaving Kit Makai we were still trying to get in touch with Maria Juma to go and see the Kujulu well but she never picked up her phone. Paul decided that Ellen could not come to Kenya without visiting the equator. It was only about 30 minutes away so off we went. When we got there we took some photos. After that Paul dropped us off at Connie’s house near the Kibuye market for a meeting with Rosemary and Connie regarding the progress of the 8 women’s groups. Paul left to get his hair cut and said he would pick us up later.
We had a wonderful meeting with Connie and Rosemary regarding the status of the 8 women’s groups connected with FIOHK. We found out all the loans given out to the first four groups in 2013 have been repaid at 5% interest making funds available to give loans to the other 4 groups. Three of the remaining groups have received $500 loans that are due to be repaid in March 2015. One group apparently did not want their loan right then so the Sunshine group that sells fish, mandazi (fry cakes) small groceries and tea received a second loan that is also due in March 2015. Almost every group has more in their Kitty than they did when I visited in 2012.
FIOH-USA provides funding for a 3-day business training for 3 members from each group about 6 months ago. Both Connie and Rosemary stated the business have improved since instituting some of the suggestions from the training. Connie has opened a kiosk outside her house selling chips (French fries) sodas and mandazi. She says business is good. The training included instruction in: bookkeeping; recordkeeping; marketing; diversification. Several of the groups have expanded their product line and some are going to different towns to sell their goods. They would like to have a one- day training for some of the members who did not attend the initial training. They are sharing the information but they feel there is some material they cannot share effectively enough.
When we finished our meeting we called Paul and he was back at Usoma working on the funeral. We took a tuk tuk home without any problems. By now it was after 6 PM. Ellen and I made chili accompanied with brown rice and ate by ourselves at the house. Around 10 PM and we headed to bed. We knew it would be noisy outside because Monday night was the first night of the all- night harambee for Michael Odhiambo who died suddenly in a motorcycle accident. I’ve already written about this terrible tragedy. His funeral will be Saturday and there will be loud music every night until then. We leave for Safari on Friday at 8 AM so we will not be here for the funeral.
Tuesday December 9 we planned to meet with Felix Obondo, one of the FIOH-K Board members in the morning. He was going to help us contact some of the sponsored students that we have not been able to meet with yet. I sponsored Felix for secondary and college and he has his certificate as an accountant. He had a contract job for 2014 and will be starting another job at a bank early in 2015. He was to come to the house on the bicycle that I paid to get repaired yesterday. However he called and said the manager at the bank where he will be working wanted to see him about his upcoming job and he could not come until much later.
Elly helped us out and called some of the students. Ellen and I wrote a report following our meeting with Connie and Rosemary from the women’s group and worked on financial reports. The day passed rather quickly. Paul had gone to the mortuary at the hospital to clear everything regarding the autopsy report with the police so Michael’s body could be released on Friday. He thought he would be home by 11:00 AM to help with contacting the students. He never got home until about 3 PM. He said he was back and forth between the police station and the hospital trying to get the autopsy report. He was so frustrated. There was a big delay because that morning at the mortuary a family came to get the body of their 14-year-old daughter only to find out the body presented was not their daughter. Turns out that last Friday the aunt and uncle of another young girl that had died came to get the body and did not know the girl very well and took the incorrect body. They buried her on Saturday in Siany about 2 hours away. The mortuary had to arrange to have the body exhumed and brought back and the correct girl taken to Siany for proper burial. I find this so hard to believe. Paul said about 15 family members were just sitting waiting for the girls body to be returned.
Around 3:30PM we left to go out to dinner at Kiboko bay- a very nice resort about 30 minutes away right on the Lake- and for those of you who know about my boat ride in 2012- we did NOT go out for a ride again. We were going to but since Paul was delayed it was getting late. Also the price was very expensive for the 5 of us.
Ellen and I took Milka and Pamela to thank them for all the cooking they did for us during our stay. We took Paul for his birthday that we never celebrated due to Michael’s death the day before. We had a very nice dinner and the weather was perfect.
We got home around 8 PM and again did odds and ends until bed time.
Today, Wednesday, we took showers in the AM so we would be fresh to meet with students. Paul went to settle things at the mortuary and planned to be home by around 11 AM
We did not have as many student as we hoped but it was wonderful to talk to those who came. The only one I will specifically talk about is Nelson Otieno, a 17-year-old blind student going into his senior year of high school at Thica School for the blind. We stated sponsoring Nelson around 2002. Michele Sprada discovered him during her first trip to Kisumu in 2000. He was only 3 years old and crawling around the house. She asked what would happen to him and was told he would probably just be left without any education or training and maybe be a beggar.
Her heart went out to him and when she came home was able to find a sponsor to take him to nursery school. He has had three different throughout his primary and now secondary school. I talked to him today and he is a very bright young man and an excellent student. He plans to be a constitutional lawyer and also specialize in computer technology to assist the blind. He will be an asset to his country and I am proud to know him.
Paul finally came home about 4:00PM He was exhausted and frustrated. He had been told that the autopsy on Michael had been done last Wednesday and he was just waiting for the report from the doctor. It had to be given to the police before the body could be released. Today when he finally reached the doctor, the doctor said he never even performed the autopsy!! He did it today and Paul and the police had to observe it. Imagine on observing an autopsy on your best friend. He was so upset. He said he could not get it out of his mind. Ellen and I felt so sorry for him. The autopsy was finally done and he gave the report to the police. Tomorrow he has to go and “clear the bill” at the mortuary. He says that will be quick. We’ll see.
Ellen and I prepared spaghetti and sauce for the 8 members of Paul’s family that live in this compound tonight. They all came to the house for dinner except his grandmother, Mary, who was not feeling well. I don’t think they really liked the sauce but they all ate some. Paul, Stephen and Elly came back for seconds but the women just picked at the food and mainly ate the spaghetti. We had mushrooms and chickpeas in the sauce and I thought it was really good. We gave the uneaten remains of the women’s plates to the two dogs – Usoni- the female and Harambee- the male. Harambee ate most of it except the mushrooms but Usoni just walked away from it. I guess female of all species here do not like spaghetti and sauce ☺
We cleaned up after dinner and we’ve been organizing our clothes for packing. Today Jane did our wash for the last time. It’s good to have clean clothes. We are very lucky. Ellen went to bed a couple of hours ago and I’m on my way there now. Tomorrow is our last full day in Kisumu. I wonder what it will bring?
End of journal 9