Archive for July, 2009

I’m coming home!!!

Yup, the time has come for me to leave Kenya and come back to sunny Blighty!  (whats that?  Its not sunny you say? Never!)

In fact I have already left KKV, and i’m writing to you from Alex & Amy’s house which is very near the airport.  I’m staying here tonight to make the trip in the morning a lot easier!

I said a very emotional goodbye to everyone at KKV this afternoon.  Boy that was hard!  I didn’t think i’d find it so difficult to say goodbye to everyone there, after all i’m a bloke – we don’t do emotions!  But they have all become such a big part of my lives over the last 6 weeks, from the kids to the adults, and even the dogs!  I shall miss them all terribly and I must admit to having a heavy heart as I write this.  Sigh!

BUT, i’ve had a truly amazing time here in Kenya…  I’ve met some amazing people,  been to some areas that defy belief whilst at the same time seeing how peoples belief in God gets them through, i’ve been privilledged to enter into peoples lives and learn their stories.  I’ve seen amazing beauty in the Massai Mara & Mombasa.  I’ve been to FIVE different Churchs, from Anglican to one that was taken almost entirely in Swaheli & lasted 3.5 hrs!  And much, much more…. and i’ve loved it all!

I must give a special mention to Jon & Molly Stern & their family.  Its pretty scary touching down in a distant country, thousands of miles from home, on your own, not knowing anyone, and knowing that you’re there for the next 6 weeks no matter what!!  But the Sterns are just an amazing family who continuously went out of their way to make me feel part of the family and help me out at every turn.  The happiness of the children at KKV is testament to them.  They were wonderful to me.

To sum Kenya, from my own perspective (and that really isn’t the most informed perspective!), it is a beautiful land (the Massai Mara & coastal regions for e.g.) but its brought to its knees by and endemic culture of corruption that is reviled by all who I speak to (they all bring it up themselves) yet seems to be an accepted norm in the society.  For example the national Hospital has a permenant sign at the front saying ‘Kenyatta Hospital is a corruption free zone’, so if the state hospital feels the need to put that up as an official sign, i think it says enough of how rife corruption is.  Oh and by the way, my Kenyan hosts scoffed at the signs claim!

You only have to look at how Obahma deliberately snubbed  Kenya despite his family heritage and chose to visit Ghana instead recently.

Yet despite the corruption that leaves the majority of its citizens in relative poverty, Kenya is a country of great faith & character.  The people are warm & friendly and so generous in their welcomes.  And the way they dance & sing so freely cannot fail to win your heart!

I’m pretty tired right now so i’ll sign off for the last time from Kenya, BUT this isn’t the last you’ll hear from me about KKV and the rest…  i’ve taken many pictures, recorded videos of songs and interviewed some of the people at KKV and i’m intending on having an evening in September where you can come down and see all these things, maybe learn some songs (and dances!), eat some Kenyan food, hear some of the many amazing stories i haven’t had the chance to share on here and have a chance to give towards KKV and find out other ways of getting involved!

So watch this space!

That just leaves me to say a huge thank you for taking the time to indulge me in reading my endless witterings, especially thanks to those of you who sent so many encouraging messages over the last month and a bit, its been very special to hear from home all the way out here.

A an even huger (if thats a word) to all those who donated money to enable me to actually come out here, its very humbling to have your trust and support.  Special thanks of course to Georgina for originating the idea and pathing the way for me to go.

I cannot waaaaait to get home, i’ve missed everyone soooo much!!!

See you all soonish!

Love

Ian

 

A happy ending to a story I told you a while back…

Hey,

You may remember me telling you a couple of weeks back about a desperate situation where a widowed single mother (Roselyn) was being prevented from bringing her 9yr old daughter (Cynthia) back home from hospital because she could not pay the hospital bill that was being added to each day.

Well, on Tuesday they were finally re-united after 5 months apart when the mother was allowed to take her home!  This was a small miracle as the situation had looked hopeless just 2 weeks ago, especially with the level of corruption in Kenya meaning that local money which should be used to support women in her situation very rarely finds its way to the people who need it, leaving her with no-one to turn to for financial help.

But not long after I met her a relative of another girl in the same ward heard about the case and was moved to act.  This lady happened to be connected with people higher up in the hospital and put Roselyn in touch with a Doctor at her Church.  This Doctor and the lady then aided Roselyn in making an application for funding to the Hospital which they ensured was properly dealt with.  The result being the Hospital Insurance fund and social workers paying the insumantable bill and sanctioning Cynthia’s release.

It may sound simple but to someone in Roselyns position the doors are usually kept firmly shut, despite how wrong we can obviously see this as being.  I also discovered that Cynthia had actually had to share a bed with another girl all that time also.

When I had met Roselyn 2 weeks ago and heard her story it was just a desperate time, and she looked a woman in total despair, to look into her eyes was to see complete desolation.  So as you can imagine the difference on Tuesday was amazing, just wonderful!  I have a picture of them but can’t upload at the moment, but I will add it when I return home.

Of course Roselyn & Cynthia are just one of many cases that are yet to see a happy ending, so please keep them all in your thoughts and prayers, thank you.

Love

Ian

 

hello from Essy & Judy again!

sasa?(that means hi,)  thanks for writing back to us that was sweet. you can keep in touch with us but through face book, search(Essy Wairimu). Essylindo@gmail.com.  it’s true we have enjoyed having Ian with us, he is the most fun person!  we can’t wait for you guys to come too  and then we can come to visit you if God rains money on us. that way we can know each other better. you have to come with Ian or we wouldn’t open the gates for you.ha ha ha,joking. don’t worry we will welcome you even if he is not with you.

tunawapenda( we love you). Essy and Judy

 

A special blog from 2 friends of mine!

Hey, two of the older girls at KKV wanted to write a blog for you!  Just a couple of things they wanted to say:

“Hi, my name is Judy and I am seventeen years old. I am the only girl in my family. I have four brothers and am the third born. I want share with you a little about my life. I lost my mom in 2005. I was left with my little brother Sifa(which means praise) to take of him. At that time I was fourteen years and it was difficult for me to be a mother at that age. I had a lot challenges. I went through a lot before I came to Kings Kids Village, but God is good because I know that He has a purpose for everyone of us and a future. I hope you inspired by this story. Thank you and may God bless.”

“Hello, this is Essy and am glad to write to you. Hope you guys are enjoying there as we are here in Kenya. It is much fun and Ian has experienced it. Advice, the next time he comes, grab him and come too! We will be happy to meet you. Bless you lots.”

I’ll write again before I go home hopefully!

Love

IanEssy & Judy

 

Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you…

Whilst i’ve been over here, news has come through that I have officially passed my youthwork & ministry degree course with a 2:1! As you might guess i am just a little bit chuffed with this!!!  3 years of doing what definately doesn’t come naturally to me…studying…and i’ve achieved something i’m pretty proud about. Thank you to everyone who has supported me in so many different ways over these last 3 years, its really been a journey!  You’ve seen how stressed i’ve got about it at times and always helped me come back down to Earth and get the job done! Especially thanks to Mum, Dad & Paul, i DEFINATELY wouldn’t have made it without you!!! (I’ll be back soon and i’ll want to celebrate by the way!)

The graduation is on October 3rd and I believe that as there were only 15 of us on the 3rd year there will be lots of space for guests so everyone who wants to come can come!

I don’t know yet where it will be or what time, but it will most likely be in London and done as a celebration service & comissioning rather than a traditional style graduation. I should still get to wear all the silly robes and funny hats though!

Bye for now!

love

Ian

 

Safari…so good! (sorry, couldn’t help it!)

Wow, I only have ONE WEEK left!! Blimey!

Anyway, i’m back at KKV after returning from safari in the Masai Mara yesterday, all very exciting! So i’ll tell you a little bit about my 4 day adventure…

I got up at the-crack- of-stupid-o’clock on Monday to get down to the safari pick up place in town, this early morning carry-on was something i’d have to get used to (yes, as you can guess, I was thrilled). So anyway there were 5 of us and we soon joined up with a group of 11 who were on a longer safari taking in other areas before the Masai Mara. Our group was a kind of League of Nations (for those of you old enough to remember that, or young enough to remember your history lessons), we had….

4 Americans

4 Germans

2 Danes

1 Canadian

1 Norwegian

1 Frenchman

1 Uruguayan

1 Kenyan

…and me, the only Brit, hoorah!

And everyone played wonderfully to the national stereotype (including me I guess, I was terribly polite you know). So the Yanks were loud, the Germans very organised and a bit serious, the Canadian was offended I thought she was American, the Frenchman was always shrugging his shoulders and making big hand gestures and the Danish girl looked like the singer from Aqua (think Barbie Girl & Dr. Jones (may mean nothing to you, but they were Danish!)).

Anyway, we travelled down in a 26 seater wagon – a kind of coach on top of a lorry. I’ll show you a picture when I get back! Anyway, this meant we had good elevation to see the animals, with big windows that wind all the way down. The trip from Nairobi to Masai Mara took EIGHT hours (including a lunch stop), and the closer we got, the bumpier it got! This was good preparation for the next 3 days, comfort is not an option. We stayed in a campsite, where we were based for the 3 nights.

So, over the next 2 days we spent probably about 16 hours out in the Mara on ‘game drives’, spotting just about every animal bar a Rhino! Masai Mara is around 900 sq miles and is simply awe inspiring, with plains that seem to go on forever, broken only by occasional trees & streams set against a backdrop of rolling hills & mountains.

The first animals we saw were Zebras. Bless the Zebras, most of the other animals are shaded in yellows & browns to camouflage themselves, or at least a solid dark colour. Not our friend the Zebra, he’s stuck looking like a walking bar-code with about as much chance of hiding as a man in an illuminous suit at a disco. And then they get ignored by all the safari vehicles because there’s so many of them, they’d rather find a Lion. Anyway, to cut all this short, we got up close to see some brilliant stuff, like Elephants, Giraffes, Cheetahs best of all some big roaring Lions, oh yes!

It is quite an odd spectacle however when animals are spotted, suddenly a sleeping Lion will be surrounded by half a dozen vehicles full of umpteen gawping tourists pointing cameras at it! Not sure i’d want to wake up to that! And there’s no chance of sneaking up on them either, not with our armoured vehicle chundering along!

But all things said, it was an amazing experience, and I feel now that having spent time in Mombasa at the coast & in the Masai Mara I have a real feel for Kenya when combined with my experiences in Nairobi. Its an exceptionally beautiful country that seems to be let down by its governance. More on that another time though.

So, just 1 week left, which means i’ve lots of loose ends to tie up before I go, so must be off to do that now!

Bye for now!

Love

Ian

 

All about Tuesday… (theres 2 blogs below this one by the way!)

In this particular blog i’d like to share with you some of my experiences from Tuesday…

I got up very early, 7am people, 7AM!!!

Anyway, my reason for this was that i was going with one of the guys i’d met through KKV to visit some projects in the slums that he is involved with.  We only had half the day as i needed to be back at KKV in the afternoon.

We started off by heading to his home.  Kenyans would not class this as a slum, which is a statement that says more than enough.  He lives in a high rise block of apartments, up several flights of dark dank concrete stairs (no lifts of course).  His home is a tiny box room, with room for a bed and very little else.  No sink, toilet, cupboards or anything else we would take as standard.  A small single hob camping stove was the only technology.  The toilets were communal, and needless to say you don’t need to worry about leaving the seat down, its simply a hole in the gound behind a cubical door.

Next door you hear babies crying as they are washed in a bowl in the coridoor.  There is a window but it only faces a wall 2 feet away.  Its open, and the smells that come in are not pleasant.

However, as i said this is not a slum, and this is a working man who turns his attention to helping others, not once did he bemoan his own situation.  Instead we met with one of his colleagues and his friend Faith, who is Alex Obahatsu’s sister.  Faith took us into one of the slums to meet some ladies who she is working to help.  More about that in a moment.

However, it is worth stating that when i visited the House of Mercy orphanage a small time back i described the area it was in as a slum, i was wrong.  To you and me it was a slum, but in Kenya there is another level below that.  And this was it, in all its shocking glory (although i was told that this is one of the better slums.  Its 5 acres big i think, with 80,000 residents.  Its a shanti town, made up of corregated iron shacks, open sewers and rubbish everywhere.

So it was here that we met with two ladies called Jessica & Jenifer.  They are Aids widows & single mothers, meaning they have lost their husbands to Aids and also carry the disease themselves.  Faith & another lady are helping them though.  Along with two other ladies they make jewellry & embroidery (sp?) which they sell to make money to put their children into education in the hope they can escape poverty.  Thank you to Georgina (from Emmanuel Church) who was here in the spring for pointing me in their direction, when i return home i hope to  be able to bring some of their products with me, they really are very good.

After leaving the slum we went to see a lady who my friend from KKV is working with as part of his project to help widows and orphans of Aids.  This lady is a widow and single mother of three.  Her middle child, a daughter aged three, was taken to the local hospital with sickness in January and transferred to the national hospital in Nairobi for treatment.  Treatment however is not free in Kenya, but was administered anyway, out of the control of the mother.

The rule in the health service is that a patient cannot leave hospital until the bill is paid.  This lady could not afford the bill.  As a result her daughter has not been allowed to leave the hospital.  In addition, every day a patient is kept in, an additional 600 Kenyan Shillings is charged.  This lady can only work part-time as she looks after her family, and she earns on average 2000ks a week (i have a feeling she might have even said a month actually).  Currently the bill is around 100,000ks (approx 1000 pounds sterling), and grows daily.

How insane is tha?  She doesn’t even earn enough to effectively keep up with the ineterst.  Meanwile she can only visit her daughter from time to time.  In addition the family only live in another glorified shoebox.  And they’re not the only ones to suffer, a story in the paper that day told of how one man had been kept inside for 5 yrs!  And its normal practise for mothers who give birth to be seperated from their babies  if they can’t afford to pay – the babies are realesed but the mothers must stay.  And they really don’t have a choice, they are watched by guards, and if you try to escape you can be put into prison.

The hospital persist with this policy as it usually gets the money from somewhere in the end.  Of course it is not meant to work quite like this, there is meant to be aid available, but there is such curruption in Kenya that this aid never makes it to the people in most need.

Quite frankly some of the things i have witnessed have been at best wrong, at worst abhorrent.  And it is very surreal visiting these situations, as you feel as if a camara crew will appear at any moment, or that you are watching this on TV.  We are so used to seeing these situations, but only from a detached perspective.

I want to finish though on a brighter note.  When i got back to KKV one of the kids, aged 12, was telling me (in great detail!) about the chronic trouble she has been having with her back for the last 3 years and how various doctors have not been able to help.  She then asked me if i could pray for her back, so in the house with the rest of her ‘family’ we prayed.  At the end of praying for her she was a little dazed, but she just looked at me and said with a look of bemusement and joy, “it doesn’t hurt anymore.”  Awesome.

Love

Ian

 

Greetings from Mombasa! (first post of three!)

Wow, two things to say…

1. Internet access is getting more & more difficult to come by!  Hence i’ve not been emailing people back, very sorry!

2.  I now have soooooooo much to talk about as a result!

Ok, so today i am in Mombasa, well about 10km south of Mombasa, but in that general area.  And let me tell you, its a very hot & humid general area!  Its techically winter over here, but that doesn’t bare much significance in this part of Kenya, as its always baking.  But this is a good thing, as i’m just sitting and reading, and listening to music, ahhhhhhh.

Don’t get too angry with me though, i’m only here 2 nights, arrived yesterday, leave tomorrow.  Slightly amusing however is that i appear to have ended up in a rather well-to-do persons resort.  You see as its the off season this place had a deal on, which was very reasonable and included a hassle busting flight and transfers instead of the 14 hr bus ride from Nairobi!  Its also half board.

So i’m in a rather nice resort with its own private beach, lovely.  I hit a problem last night however when i turned up at the resteraunt for my evening meal.  I had read in the info pack on arrival that there was a dress code, no shorts or t-shirts or ripped/faded jeans…guess what i had pack for 2 nights at the beach!!!

I put my best clothes on (some 3/4 lenght black trousers & a casual black shirt), but sadly this would not do!  I must admit to finding it privately amusing that it took three members of staff & alot of furrowed brows to decide that my trousers were just that bit too short for me to be allowed in.  As i thought back to my experiences the other day in the slums of Nairobi i couldn’t help but wonder what a frankly wierd World we live in, i mean does it really  matter how long my trousers are?!?

Anyway, in the end i was shunted down to their pizzeria (sp?) and my food brought down to me like an outcast!  Being this is off season, the pizzeria was empty bar the 2 staff behind the counter who were chatting away in Swaheli.  I couldn’t help wondering if they were discussing ‘that silly Englishman, his trousers are too short!’

In the end it was a lovely place to eat as it over looked the moonlit Indian Ocean, so maybe i’ll dine there again tonight!

Must go and write about Tuesday now!  Please read on in the next blog!

Love

Ian

 

Some more pics as promised!

Tray, Christen, Anna & Catherine

Tray, Christen, Anna & Catherine

I just popped in there to say hello!

I just popped in there to say hello!

Harvest time at KKV!

Harvest time at KKV!

Younis & Maturi

Younis & Maturi

 

Some pictures at last! (more to follow hopefully!)

This is Faith House, where all the kids live

This is Faith House, where all the kids live

My house!

My house!

Me with Wangechi (aged 3)

Me with Cefa (age 3)

Me with Cefa (age 3)