Sue & Richard Update 21st October
Greetings from Kenya once again. We enjoyed our time in Nairobi, spending time with friends and generally acclimatising once again.
After our journey as described on the last blog, this is the story so far….
Thursday 11th: Slept in at our comfy lodgings in Nairobi. Mildred from the Care Centre came over later with our Kenya phones and Kennedy delivered the car from where our friend Peter looks after it when no one from Pamoja is around. Communication and transport sorted!
Friday 12th: Slept in again. Slow day…shopping…phoning people to arrange meeting them….
Saturday 13th: Meeting friends to catch up on news…more shopping…amazing traffic jam from the shopping centre back to our lodgings. A 10-minute journey took an hour, with the usual creative driving making 5 lanes where there should be 2, buses on the dirt and people driving on the wrong side of the road.
Sunday 14th: Pamoja’s Kware Centre in Ongata Rongai, Nairobi. The drive into the area is so scruffy and poor that it’s always a pleasure to go through the gates of the Care Centre and be welcomed by Mildred, her team and the children. Walked with them through the litter and rubbish burning in the street, past small tin churches (some next door to each other) with incredibly loud music blaring out to the church where our kids go. A long service by UK standards at 2 hours, but friendly people and the children are well taught in the Sunday School which they obviously enjoy. Had Lunch at the Care Centre, played games, prayed together, then headed back to meet James, one of the lads we sponsor in Kenya. He brought “the gang” – various extended family members to join us for a pizza. They live in a poor area of Nairobi and no one has any cash to spare, so it’s good to be able to give them a treat every now and again.
Monday 15th: Met Robert, who is partly supported by Pamoja in the work he does with children at Tala, an hour east of Nairobi. He is one of those wonderfully enthusiastic characters who has done so much for the people in the area where he lives.
Tuesday 16th: Travelling day. Emmanuel, another of the lads who has been sponsored by Pamoja for many years, joined us for the journey. That very morning, he finally had the official results for the civil engineering course he completed in July 2017. Due to lecturers strikes, administrative incompetence and general apathy and disorganisation, he has had to wait all this time until he can progress with his further studies. He has an offer of a place at Portsmouth University, but of course he has now missed this year’s entry so will have to wait until 2019. However, this is a blessing for us, as he is a fine young man who is always willing to help cheerfully with anything we ask him to do.
The journey was relatively uneventful by Kenyan standards, and we received our usual warm welcome from Eric, Millicent and the rest of the family and friends here at Magina. We have taken a day or two to settle in and sort the little tin house out again, but now we feel quite at home again!
You may remember that last time we were here, there were severe floods in the area. This time, before we arrived, there had been no rain for many months and everywhere was very dry. In fact, although we have a tap in our house, there is no water in it because it is fed from rainwater tanks. We, and the people in the area, have water thanks to a local borehole (though the water is salty). As we arrived, there were a few spots of rain: “You have brought a blessing”, said our friends.
Wednesday 17th: Settling in to our little tin house. Good news: there is still a tap over the kitchen sink. Bad news: no water – lack of rain so the water tank is empty. Good news: we have been provided with barrels of washing and flushing water from the local well. Went into school later to meet the children and teachers again. The new school administrator is Betty, who is a very enthusiastic and committed lady with plenty of ideas.
Thursday 18th: Care Centre for decorating (fun) and admin (not-so-fun). After that Plan A was to go into Ahero to buy more paints, brushes, etc. This is Kenya. More “blessing” as it absolutely tipped it down with rain in the afternoon, turning the bone-dry soil into sticky mud in a matter of minutes. Living here is a challenge: it’s either hot, dry and dusty (but sticky-humid) or hot, wet and muddy.
Friday 19th: Plan A…go into school to organise sponsored children to write their thank-you letters in the morning. This is Kenya. Plans changed as soon as we arrived at school and found one of the kids from the Care Centre outside, unwell. Plan B…take Walter to Ahero (the local town) hospital. We were joined there by Francis, another Care Centre child, also unwell. Hospital may not be quite UK, but staff were kind and competent. Free consultations, but people pay for medicines. All sorted by 2.30pm. Exhausted, so couldn’t face another trip to Ahero to buy supplies for tomorrow. Visited Care Centre in the evening, sharing and singing with them. They seemed pleased to see us again!
Saturday 20th: Plan A: Maintenance work on the bridges Pamoja built a few months ago. Early trip to Ahero to buy the supplies we would have got yesterday if Plan A had worked. Joy of joys – the road is worse than ever and there is major work going on creating an underpass at the junction, which always seemed to work OK as it was. In the meantime, the roadworks area is muddy, bumpy and chaotic, and the dangerous narrow road to the Care Centre and School remains as bad as ever. Meanwhile in Ahero, businesses that had been working informally along the main road have been bulldozed ready for a road-widening scheme. Uneasy atmosphere in town at times – busy and noisy. No other white faces! Visited one of the two hardware shops – the usual chaos with people dragging heavy metal straps and piles of tin sheets through the shop to put horizontally on motorbikes; meanwhile we are served by the friendly owner when he is not being interrupted by phone calls or other customers who just push in. Having purchased what we needed, we drove then walked to the first bridge. Applied creosote. By now it was the middle of the day…exhausted again Home for lunch…siesta…Anthony, who was teacher-training at Kericho and is now teaching at the School joined us as we chatted. It’s always good to spend time in his company. He’s a good teacher, but it’s hard coming to an area where everyone is from a different tribe, speaks a different language, and lives in a different culture. It’s even more of a difference that a Geordie coming to Suffolk, say (even though their languages are not the same…) Please pray for Anthony in these early days at Magina.
Sunday 21st: Sunday School at 9. We weren’t expecting to run it, but Millicent was not very well with a cold and cough, so we took over! Experience took over, and we managed to keep them reasonably engaged with a mix of singing, Bible teaching and games. Kids here in Kenya are much more used to sitting and listening than the average British child! After Sunday School came Church. We were excused (for good behaviour?) after 2½ hours. We understood what was going on some of the time, and contributed some songs and Bible teaching. Hot and sticky here in the early afternoon…another little rest…and finally writing this blog. We will shortly now be heading over to the Care Centre to have more fun with the kids. Film night tonight, all being well: I wonder what they’ll make of Wallace and Gromit!
Life here in ‘the rural’ goes on much as it ever has. Going round parts of Nairobi, it’s easy to get the impression that Kenya is doing well. It is in parts, for some. But, as Jesus remarked, ‘the poor you will always have with you’, and life is a challenge for many. We are well off in our tin house, compared to many, but it’s a good reminder for us to live without running water and with intermittent power for a few weeks. Just one example is our neighbour Kevin (Eric and Millicent’s son). His employment came to an end (he is a trained dietician) so he has returned home to Magina. We are always happy to have him around, but are not so happy for his situation. But he is not just sitting around: he is being an entrepreneur: he has got a damaged motorbike fixed for KSH 11 000 (about £90) and now has hired a driver for this piki piki who then pays the owner 300KSH per day. About £2:50. He has also had a small iron sheet area built onto the end of Millicent’s little shop and wants to start a hairdressing business.
As I finish this, Millicent has just come by with a lady (a stranger) with 3 small children. She was sent here because she has a problem: her employer has been unkind to her, not paying her, and the children are hungry. Life is tough for the poor. So once again, Millicent and Eric come to the rescue with some emergency aid, a plan to find her somewhere to stay and a strategy to help over the next few days. People around here know where to come for help. We’re reminded that as we read the New Testament, it was the poor, needy and undesirables who constantly were attracted to Jesus. Those who work with Pamoja seeks to serve these same groups people today, not just with material needs in the here and now, but also to tell them of the Good News in the Bible: that there is a hope beyond this life for those who put their faith in Jesus – a life that is far richer than anything we know.
Sorry for the length of this blog…well done if you’ve got here! Thank you all for your interest, support and prayers.