Letter from Kenya

FebMarch 2014 012I am beginning this newsletter in a temperature of about 34 degrees. The sun is shining, though it looks as if the rains will begin soon, as we have had a heavy shower this morning. Fortunately for us it was only for five minutes, and everywhere was dry within a few minutes. Paul has taken 7 people into Mombasa to visit the Lions Eye Clinic for eye tests and spectacles. I am catching up on some writing.

The differences between the U.K. and here are wide. Here, it is so hot that at times it has been unbearable even for our Kenyan friends. Kenyans are desperate for rain. In the U.K, we are desperate for a break in the rain. In Kenya the poor are so thin from lack of food, whilst at home many people are overweight from over-eating. In Kenya the children crave a little food to fill their tummies, while at home; our children crave for the latest designer wear or electronic gadget. Here in Kenya a piece of second hand clothing from the U.K. is treasured.

Against that background, I write the following.

Our first day here, which we intended to spend resting, became a very busy day when Rodgers, one of our ’boys’, fell off a roof he was repairing. He fell backwards, and put his arms behind him to protect his back, but actually broke both his arms. As it was a Sunday, there were no state hospitals able to help, so in the end he was x-rayed and operated on at a private hospital. So much for a rest!

FebMarch 2014 041FebMarch 2014 020FebMarch 2014 068At Little Angels, the dormitory is finished, the beds made, a house mother appointed and a security guard found. We have brought sheets, curtains, toaster, electric kettle, brooms, dustpans, mosquito nets, candles and a small stove, and a whole lot of cleaning materials. We just now need pillows. Twelve children will move in shortly. We have had the main rooms painted in a washable paint, sky blue for the boys and a lovely pink for the girls. We have purchased tiles for the bathrooms, and I am hopeful they will be put up in a couple of days. All the knitted blankets on the beds, look absolutely wonderful – a real splash of colour. I am thinking of all the ladies who have provided them. I just wish they could come over and see them. Maybe the photos will help!

When we arrived we found the builders were digging the foundations of the two final classrooms – sadly in the wrong place! Some interesting conversations were held and they are now where we want them.

There are 216 children at the school now.

FebMarch 2014 087Paul has held clinics and seen more than 80 patients. I have helped as best I can and am probably the oldest trainee nurse in history! At least I can deal with cuts and bruises! I also diagnosed an old man with Parkinsons! One young mother came, who looked to be not far from death. Paul diagnosed cardiomyopathy. She was having great difficulty breathing and Paul thought she probably had about 15 litres of excess fluid in her body. Following the right medicines she has lost that fluid, and is much better. At the other end of the spectrum, a 32 year old mother has died, following the birth of a stillborn baby. This was her 12th pregnancy. Four of the children attend the Little Angels School. We heard last night that the husband and the wife’s family are arguing over the mother’s body, as her family say her husband never paid her dowry! Meanwhile children cry for their mother.

We also saw a little boy (on his 1st birthday!) who needs open heart surgery. The paediatrician they had seen could get it done in India for about £9,000 (plus travel, food, accommodation etc.). As they didn’t even have 9,000 Kenyan shillings (£100) they came to us. The best we can do is to talk with MEAK (who send teams from the U.K. to Kenya) to see if they can help. Little John also has Downs Syndrome. They asked if having the operation would cure the Down’s. There is not a lot of medical knowledge here I am afraid.

The farm is doing well, and 204 chicks arrived this week. Our boys are also applying to have a tomato tunnel. We have bought extra piping so that water can irrigate all the land, and they now have a guard dog! He sleeps on when we arrive, so either he has got used to us, is deaf, or not much of a guard dog, but the boys assure us he barks at night if anyone goes by! The boys are also beginning to erect another house – of mud construction – so that they can stay overnight as they will need to protect their produce and chickens.

FebMarch 2014 002The displaced families from Soweto are now living in an old quarry. It is now called Mwendo wa Panya, which translates to ‘The Walking Rat’. It is bleak! Reminds me a bit of the Valley of the Kings! There are two wells, one full of rubbish, the other full of fish! So, we have arranged for one to be cleaned, deepened, and a top and pillars built, so that water can be drawn a little easier. A group has been formed to take care of it. Much to our amusement, many people recognised us from the work we had done in Soweto, so knew they would need to agree to keep it clean!

We also had a meeting at St Florence School to see if we could jointly have some of the family land to build a senior school. We had prepared a working paper, so we are waiting for them to get back to us. They are a big family, and the land rights are complicated. Meanwhile our boys are looking to see if there are any other plots available.

FebMarch 2014 029Our plans for the visit of students from Bedminster Down School are well in hand. The tourist police have been informed of the visit, and we visited Madame Zeglinda’s (where they will be staying) several times. Bruno is sorting out someone to do some washing for the children, and two cooks. They will also no doubt be pleased to know that we will have 3 televisions between us, especially as the World Cup will have started. I must remember to remind the school to have identity cards for the children as entrance to parks and nature reserves will be cheaper.

There have been ups and downs this visit, and we have been so grateful for the support we have received back home. It has made such a difference knowing friends and family are thinking of us.
We have taken a number of folk from the hotel where we stayed, to see the School. These included English families, two Finnish ladies and a Swiss family. This is important as sometimes they give us money or items for the school. So far, they have all been impressed with what they have seen.

I do hope this will give you some of the flavour of our visit. If you have any queries or questions, do contact me (pearl@kanamaitrust.org.uk) and I will do my best to help.

Meanwhile thank you for your help and encouragement. Our next visit will be July 2014, so I will write again after that visit.

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