Archive for June, 2009

The Brittish are coming! …and i ate a goat!

Hello once more intrepid reader!

So, what to tell you…

Well firstly, after 2 weeks of nothing but Kenyan & American company, we’ve finally got some Brittish volunteers here!  Its great to be able to chat with Brits again, trust me!  Tell you what though, you don’t half notice their accent, it sounds so bizarre after all the American & Kenyan voices i’ve been hearing, and whats worse is that they actually sound like the rubbish English impressions the Americans have been doing, its like something out of Mary Poppins!

Anyway, now the bit about the goat.  At the weekend i hooked up with Alex Obahatsu & his wife Amy, spent saturday evening with them, went to their Church in the morning & then ate goat for lunch!  Goat is very easy to come by in Kenya and is much loved by the locals, especially Alex & Amy who couldn’t wait to have some.  We picked it up from a stall at the side of the road (i know i know!), but this is normal.  Alex got out (i was instructed to stay in the car out of site as my presense would raise the price significantly (tourists are fair game)) and asked for a quantity of meat that was then BBQ’d for us at the stall.  I was slightly concerned as it was brought back to the car in a bin-liner and Alex said, ‘sorry it took so long, he had to wipe the blood off’.  But actually it was very nice, if a little chewy!

Alex & Amy’s Church was similar to the Sterns Church i went to last sunday, 2 big services, over 1000 & a good couple of hours long.  Lots of dancing, which i’m getting the hang of (don’t laugh).  This Church, like many i am learning, is in a big semi-permenant marque tent because it has grown so quickly!  Basically these Churches can’t get the buildings in time to meet growth so plonk a tent down in the nearest space of land!

Anyway i had a great time with Alex & Amy and will hopefully see them again before i leave.  Alex (as well as his parents)  has been asking after lots of you that knew them in Woodley and send their love.

I hear you’re having a heat wave in the UK!!  Here its kinda always hot, even though we’re in the middle of the Kenyan ‘winter’.  Its constantly a very nice twenty-something, but not too hot.  Nice.

I’d like to say more, but i’ll put it in another post so as not to bore you!

Love

Ian

 

I’ve got a new mob number out here!

Alex has very kindly got me a local sim card, so most of the time i’m on a local number, but it is accessible from the UK i think, and i still check my normal sim each day.

DON’T DELETE MY OLD NUMBER, THIS NUMBERS JUST FOR OUT HERE!!

But anyway my new number out here is… +254731133378

Also, ive had 2 voicemails this week but couldnt access them!  if that was you please email me!  thanks!

Ian

 

House of Mercy

hey,

So today was a watershead day, i went to an orphanage in one of the slum areas of Nairobi.  Pretty distressing to be honest, but read on if you’d like to hear about it.

To get to the orphange, called House of Mercy, you drive into a mish-mash of half built houses, flats and shacks travelling along dirt tracks which it would be polite to call uneven, with the smell of sewage and garbage combining with the early morning heat to create a unique atmosphere.  The only thing i could really compare it to is the walk from the entrance gate at Reading Festival through the campsite, with just as many people.

But there isn’t an atmosphere of desolation, instead the streets are thriving with people flocking to the umpteen make-shift shops, hairdressers, and food sellers who give it a real community feel.  I think its important not to patronise, this is their community and a community is made of people not property.

Anyway, we turned the corner to a small patch of grass out of the way of the hustle & bustle, opposite which was the House of Mercy.  To enter you walk over a plank which forms a make-shift bridge over a small stream.  It didn’t take long to realise that this stream was their sewage outlet.

The building itself is mainly a small courtyard (say 5m by 15m,however i am a terrible judge of distance, but it wasn’t big anyway), with rooms around the edges, all on one level.  On one side were two classrooms, each very small.  There was a small kitchen, an office & a storage room and four bedrooms.  Don’t ask about the toilets, you really wouldn’t want to know.

The orphange schools its children to the age of 5.  There were 40 of them.  They soon came out for their morning break and played, messed around and had fun with us (myself, 5 volunteers and John from KKV) for absolutely ages!  I am quite seriously getting a bad back for lifting, spinning and dangling upside down so many children!!!  But it was amazing, the enjoyment they get from it all is pure joy to see.  Problem is as soon as you lift up one kid, they all gather round shouting “and me? and me?”  Its hard to say no!!!  I even got to hold a kid called Ian!  Yay!!

As the kids returned to class the founder and manager of the orphanage showed me around.  Her name is Rose and she is the sole worker, she is helped by volunteers and supported by local Churches, but she is the only adult to live at the orphanage and be there overnight.  She started the orphanage 8 years ago after starting to take in street children.  Many of the children are sleeping on the streets after being abandoned or orphaned (usually by Aids), the Police pick them up and refer them to her, she takes in any age, from babies through to teens.  There are many orphanages that do this i understand.

So here are the facts:  There are 40 children under 5yrs old living and being  schooled there.  In addition there are a further 39 children aged 5-15 who live there and go to the local public school during the day.  There are four bedrooms.  The bedrooms are smaller than my own bedroom at home.  They sleep in bunk beds, at least 4 to a bed, even  for teenagers.  The youngest children sleep around 30 to a room and the stench of urine is overpowering. The walls are filthy.  There are lightbulbs but i didn’t ask if they had electricity (in addition they’ve been with out running water for the last few weeks).    And they can only stretch to 2 meals a day usually. They have volunteers but they need more help says Rose.

But the children are full of joy and exuberance, and Rose’s faith is unshakable.  They have a nearby plot that they started to build a proper building on, but money has dried up and the last work was done in Jan 2007. They need 40,000 pounds to build the roof on the first floor and use the new building.  In addition they do not own their current property and there is a possibility it will soon be sold.  Despite all this Rose is confident that God will provide, its amazing faith.

John assures me that this is as bad as it gets for orphanages, i really hope so.  But as slums go it is not the worst area.  Whichever way you look at it, this is shocking and appalling.  I don’t have any photos as it didn’t seem right to treat the place as some freak show to show everyone back home, ‘look how bad this place was’.  But i do hope that by telling you about it you will be able to include them in your prayers.

In the afternoon we went to a wonderful baby home called New Life Baby Home, it was beautiful and had every facility from incubation units to an abundance of loving volunteers.  It was an amazing contrast but did show the potential here to care and provide for the estimated 2.3million Kenyan orphans.

must go now,

love

Ian

 

Me again!

Hello again faithful readers!

Thank you for all your kind words of support,  its very comforting to know you’re thinking of me!

Soooo, whats been happening since last we spoke?!  Well, i’ve now been here 1 week and i’m really starting to feel at home here now.  I’ll admit at first it was a bit daunting coming on my own and all and knowing i was here for 6 weeks no matter what!  But there’s a real sense of community here with the other volunteers who come in, mainly from America on volunteer programmes.

And of course there are the Sterns who are my adoptive family, they’re really relaxed but also go out of there way to help me feel at home and get the best out of my time here, especially today when they took me down to the travel agents to book my safari trip.  I’m very excited that i will now be going to the Massai Mara for 4 days near the end of my time here and then to Mombassa and the beach for 2 days also!  Whoop Whoop!

I’m also getting to know one of the guys who works part time here called Tray, he’s very close to the Sterns.  He’s my age and we have the same sense of humour, which of course we use to wind up the the Stern’s two teenage daughters!  Well, its just too easy!

On Sunday i went to the Stern’s Church which is called Nairobi Lighthouse Church, its in a big warehouse in inner-city Nairobi and its a little different to St James & Emmanuel!  For a start there are 1100 people at the 8am service, which is then repeated at 11am with another 1100!  And of course its a case of ‘spot the white guy!’ (those of you who ever went to RG1′s will know what i mean!)  It is here that you realise that white guys have no rhythm, all the Kenyans are feeling the beat whilst i shuffle  side to side with my hands in my pocket, but i am trying!!  They even have dancers who jump around enthusiastically like spiritual cheerleaders, and get this, 4 out of 5 are guys!

The service itself is not that different to say Soul Survivor in that they sing mainly western Christian songs with a rock band.  The talk is delivered enthusiatically, and received so too, i must get the courage to join in and shout ‘woo, yeah, preach it! Amen!’, but its just not very Brittish is it?  Its awesome though, no doubt.  Next week i’m off to Alex’s Church..

By the way, Linda, there’s some brilliant kids songs they do here, i’ll try and bring them back!

Like I said i’m having a great time here, but i do miss you all and would love to hear your news so keep in touch!

love

Ian

 

My first blog..hooray!

Hello!

(sorry, i actually wrote this yesterday but have only just been able to upload it!)

I’ve made it to Nairobi!  This is my first attempt at blogging, so i hope its interesting
and fun to read!  Big thanks to Andy Galpin for setting this up!  The updates won’t be too
regular i’m afraid as Kenya doesn’t have broadband yet so its not that easy to do stuff
online, plus we have regular, random power cuts!

So… i arrived into Nairobi aiport about 6.30am their time after and was met by John Stern
who runs the orphanage with his wife Molly.  John & Molly are an American couple who have been
living in Kenya for 25 years and set up the orphanage – Kings Kids Village – around 4 yrs ago.
The orphanage is on the outskirts of Nairobi, set in around 5 acres of land with purpose built
houses for the children.  The children live in ‘family’ groups with one couple being parents
in each house, with the help of others as ‘aunts & uncles’.  One of the house parents are
the Obahatsu’s (Alex’s parents Joshua & Janet if you remember them from there times at St James
Church) There are 39 children in all from babies through to 17/18 yr olds.

I’m staying with the Sterns and have lots of space which is great, although bizarely i do at times
feel like i’m in America when i’m with them!

The kids are schooled here at the orphanage with teachers who are employed to come in.  They get exercise books
donated but have to reuse them several times over, so one of the less exciting jobs i do is to rub out all the
answers in the books so they can be used again!  I do this with various other volunteers who
are here on differebt year out programs.

I’m still orientating myself and starting to get to know the kids, but it won’t surprise you
to here that they are all amazing & beautiful, there’s a big ‘ahhhh’ factor!  I’ve been hearing
some of their stories and it does break your heart, but then you see how loved & provided for
they are and you can see how they are now being blessed.  9 of the children are HIV positive.

I met up with Alex Obahatsu and his lovely wife Amy last night (i knew Alex from his time at
St James whilst studying in England) and it was great to catch up, i’ll see him again soon and
go to his Church – he says its livley!!

hopefully i’ll get some pictures up here too soon!

Anyway, i must go now, the kids are out of school so its time to go play!!

Ian

 

Hello

Hey all,

This is going to be where i post my updates on my trip, please check back regually to keep informed :)

Ian