And another week in Magina – 3rd November
Here we sit in the dimness of our solar light, for which we are nonetheless grateful, as power is off again! We had thunder this afternoon, which usually results in a power cut; all part of the rhythm of life here. It’s been another week full of variety, the usual mix of some things accomplished, and some frustrations.
Monday was a Care Centre day, organising the children to write their thank you letters. It was good to see how much progress some of the younger ones had made since they wrote last year. They are always keen to write (and decorate) the letters.
On Tuesday, Sue enjoyed a peaceful morning with Millicent at Ahero market. OK, maybe not peaceful. It’s hard to describe just how noisy, smelly, crowded and chaotic Ahero is at any time, and this is even more true on market day. It’s essential to ‘do’ the market with a Kenyan, because prices are at least double if the stallholders only see a white face. White faces are certainly a novelty in Ahero: we haven’t seen any others in the past week. Meanwhile Richard had the easier job of catching up on some admin and planning a few things with Eric. We joined up at lunchtime and took our friends to Kiboko Hotel in Kisumu for a meal out by Lake Victoria. This is always a relaxing occasion; service is remarkably slow, but the food is good, the company is excellent and the surroundings are beautiful, though Lake Victoria is very polluted these days. Eric says when he was young he swam in the lake and drank from it, but you would be very ill if you tried that now. There is a plan to clean it up, but like so much here, there is inertia when it comes to implementation. Just before we left, a hippo made an appearance, which was a bonus.
Wednesday was another day at the centre. The older sponsored children had been released from their prisons (sorry – Form Schools) and most of them came to the Centre with guardians for a general meeting and individual meetings to discuss their progress and future plans. I have written before about our misgivings with the Kenyan education system: it is so based around the learning and regurgitating of facts and the Form Schools (14-18 approx.) seem such discouraging places. But nonetheless, for those of us who sponsor children through education, we have to accept that the system is what it is, and that for some children at least, it gives them an opportunity to do something with their lives. We are seriously looking at moving more young people towards vocational education, though (see in last week’s blog). The way the day was organised was very Kenyan. The guardians and young people were to arrive at 9 am, so they drifted in around 10, and then sat around until lunchtime, mainly in silence, unless they were called in for their individual meeting. Anyway, more thank-you letters were written, and we had a good meeting with the guardians, who brightened up considerably after they’d been fed! Sue also had fun with the younger children from the Centre, playing games in the library.
On Thursday we took a long trip to Siaya, on the other side of Lake Victoria, to the home of the grandmother of two of the children who live at the Centre. When we were here in April, we’d organised a new house to be built for this lady, to replace the leaky hovel she was previously living in. We had left her to organise completion of the second layer of mud, which is the tradition, but this had not happened, so we found the local fundi and made arrangements to have the necessary lorry loads of mud delivered. It was good to be there, though, and to take the opportunity to talk to the people who gathered in the house about the need to think about having a heavenly home. (John 14: 1-6). We were grateful of a safe journey of two and a half hours each way, and to return just before nightfall, thus avoiding the nightmare drive down the busy, narrow road here in the dark.
Friday was one of those days when plan B had to operate. The day started well enough, with a trip to Ahero to purchase materials to reconstruct the Nursery school toilets. That’s the system here: the fundi presents you with a list of what he requires, and you go to the local hardware to buy it, an interesting experience in itself (I’ve written in a blog on a previous visit about Victor Akyii’s shop – not quite B & Q!). While we were waiting, one of the usual local semi-drunks came to chat to Eric & I, and we ended up in a conversation about Jesus. You never know what opportunities will come, or what seeds might be sown.
Plan A for the afternoon was a swimming outing for the kids, which also gives us a rare opportunity to immerse our bodies in water. Everyone was ready to go for 2 o’clock, but the two matatus that had been booked were nowhere to be seen. Eric made repeated phone calls and was told they were on their way, but sadly, this was not the case. One matatu arrived (evidently pulled off the road by Eric’s lookout) and they tried to pack all 26 children in it, but we protested and eventually, realising that no other transport was going to arrive, we were forced to abandon the trip. We found out later that the drivers of the matatus that had been booked received a better offer to take some people to a funeral up-country. Very disappointing to find that people don’t keep their word, but our local friends say that this happens all the time. We’ll try again next week! So Plan B went into operation: Sue organising biscuit-icing, Emmanuel and Anthony playing football and Richard giving an impromptu music lesson with the keyboard. All good fun – but not quite a relaxing as swimming, and we were still smelly!
Today, Saturday, we had a busy morning painting the Pamoja bridges with protective paint, with the help of Anthony, Emmanuel and James. Hot work, but worth it, we trust. We’ve had some sign boards made, with the plan to write a short message about who gave the bridge, a Bible verse, and a picture illustrating the idea that Jesus makes the bridge between us human beings and God. A short opening ceremony for the bridges is planned for Monday morning at 10, so we’ve put the morning aside….
Power is back on, and we’re about to eat, so I’ll call it a day there. Thank you again for your interest, support and prayers, and thank you for the news that various people have sent from home! It’s fine here, and we feel we’re doing what God has asked us to do, but you know what they say: there’s no place like home! We miss you all, family and friends. God bless you all.