Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Meet, Greet, Work, Play

How to describe what we have seen and experienced in the last couple of days!  There is no way to explain how different everything is.  The sights and sounds have no comparison to Canada whatsoever.  The level of poverty here is unbelievable by Canadian standards, but despite this the people are full of smiles and take such joy in their relationships with each other. 

Omwabini is such an amazing organization and project!! We just can’t get over the scope of their work and how many lives have been affected by their efforts.  As we have said before, the operation is founded by Mary Bunyasi and four of her children work with her, none of them taking any pay except food and basic living expenses.  They seem to be loved and respected by so many in the community.

To further explain, Omwabini works with 8 communities in Kimilili and the general area, up to 100 km away.  With the cooperation of the community leaders, they have a team that walks through every household in the community, doing an in depth assessment.  Only the neediest families are able to be helped, and even then only with the participation of the recipients.  The recipients are also given some means to further provide for themselves – seeds, or a goat, possibly some monies for school fees if they have not been able to send their children to school. 

OK- on to our days.  Yesterday we visited many of the community projects.  We saw the difference between unprotected and protected water sources.  The unprotected sources are really just springs from the ground that flow out into an algae laden pools that animals also access for water. Up to 3000 people will draw water from a single source of water such as these which are contaminated with typhus and cholera.  The springs that Omwabini protects have a filtering system constructed many feet back into the source, and pure clean water flows from the pipe. We will be helping construct one such system before we go.

Yesterday we also met two of the families for whom we will be helping construct a new home.  One was a widow with 5 children living in a tiny airless round hut.  There was a cooking fire on one side, a couple lines strung for clothes, and one small table holding a few possessions.  At night they all sleep on the dirt with a few blankets for cover.  In this part of Kenya the boys are all circumcised around the age of 12 -14, and this is done every two years.  Once a boy is circumcised, he can no longer sleep in the same room as his family.  In a case like this where there is only one room, this widow’s oldest son has a small separate hut that he sleeps in.  Once their new home is built, it will have 2 rooms, so he is able to sleep under the same roof as his family.

The second family actually had both a father and a mother.  Though they are hard working people, trying to make ends meet by making and selling rope, their house is in shambles and the roof has gaping holes.  They have tried to hold it down with large rocks, but recently one fell through during the night and nearly landed on their small child’s head.

For everything we do and or work on, we first have to meet the family or recipient(s) ahead of time- a meet and greet.  This relationship building is a big deal here.  We have met with a local tribal chief, a district manger for the public schools and a school sponsor who sponsors many schools in the district. We have met with the head master for Omwabini and their teaching staff and two other public school principles. We have done a lot of driving all over extremely narrow bumpy dirt roads, and everywhere we go people shout and wave at us mzungu’s.  (white people).  We hear “How are you?” shouted by children everywhere –must be their first English sentence since even the tiniest kids say it!  It’s like being a rock star.  Jason figures this will never grow old – all the admiration we get.

So…today we started on one of the houses (digging the 20 holes for the support posts, finding neighbours willing to let us cut down, for a price, young eucalyptus trees for the strapping and hauling these trees for maybe a kilometre to the site).  We then did some more “meet and greet” of the people for whom we will build a protected water source.  We also played some soccer (football) with the local kids near the building site.

When we returned to Kimilili we walked over to the Omwabini orphanage where they currently have 300 children from age 2 to 20. Within a minute of pulling out the soccer ball we were surrounded by over one hundred kids.  Then we pulled out a ring Frisbee which totally thrilled them, though we’re not sure of we should do that again as they mowed down too much kale retrieving the thing.  Our evening was spent as usual having a late supper (8 PM) with Christeena and resting.

One of the families who will receive a new home

The beginnings of the first home we will build.
  Pretty basic, but a big improvement!

Hanging out at hte orphanage.  Christeena is the other mzungu that you see.
This is only a fraction of what we could write about after only two days…it is completely impossible to capture this place in so few words.  ( OK – I know you’re thinking, what do you mean A FEW – forgive the length.)  We so appreciate everyone’s prayers and support back home!

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