What a day! After our day of travel this was our day of extreme excercise and sun. After breakfast we started our journey to visit Kathungu and Kwamalelu schools. We decided to walk to burn off our energy stored from an all day car ride the day before. Kwamalelu was our first destination. It was "not so far" away. Right. Every destination is uphill or better said, up-mountain. The country-side is beautiful and the walk is well worth it. We all are feeling energized and great.
The project at Kwamalelu was completed by Centennial Middle school and the project was led by teachers Mark and Katy Domschot. Mark is traveling with us and it was quite a sight to see the school greet Mark and thank him for all of the work done by Centennial students. There was a wonderful sign painted on the water tank thanking "Contennial School." Oh well, we don't spell their school correctly most of the time. Mark made a great speech recognizing the work that Centennial Middle School students contributed and emphasized the rewards that they received by helping Kwamalelu school.
Even though it was a Saturday and students are on break, nearly two hundred students and parents showed up to thank Mark and the H2O team. Students sang and danced and leaders gave Mark a gourd that is meant to hold water as a symbol of the water now held in the tank. He cut the ribbon symolizing the opening of the tank and also a ribbon in front of the new VIP (ventilated, improved, pit) latrines.
The same type of event was held at the next school-Kathungu Primary. This school was sponsored by Irondale High School in New Brighton, Minnesota. Val's sons and niece attend Irondale and she is an Irondale grad so it was a real honor for her to cut the ribbon dedicating the tank to the great work that Irondale did to raise the funds to complete this project.
Centennial Middle School sent several packets of pen-pal letters to be shared with both schools. As students were handed a letter starting with "Dear Friend," you should have seen their eyes light up. We know they will treasure the letters and will hopefully deliver return letters for us to bring back to the schools.
Congratulations to both Irondale High and Centennial Middle School!
We should also point out that every school we go to in Uganda and Kenya, the kids know the name of our president. The kids shout "Obama-Obama!" I wonder how many of our students know the name of the Uganda or Kenya president. Now you have some homework!
Our next destination was "not so far" away.
We walked back to the home of Christopher Mutuku-Muteti. He is the one that suggested our first project- the sand-dam at the Kwa Kasolo river. Many of the community members joined us at his home for a wonderful lunch. They served pumpkin, ugali and sukumawiki (greens) potatoes, rice, a chicken gravy-soup and a variety of fruit. Great food enjoyed by all. After a short rest, we began our "walk around" of the community. Our first stop was to re-visit the Sand dam project as most of our H2O team had not seen it. Again, we did a ceremonial ribbon cutting, and were given testimonials by several community members about the effectiveness of the dam. They told us that they did not know where they would be getting their water during this drought without the sand dam. We are thrilled that the project has made a huge difference for the community. Our next stop was to visit the home of a water project member, Francis. He had an interesting mix of rain water tanks, a fish pond holding Talapia, and is experimenting with the apple mango in hopes of developing a cash crop for the area. He is a very intelligent man and we dubbed him "the scientist". Patty was able to meet his mother who is 93. HIs mother remembered her from the last visit to the village and was overjoyed to meet once again. She makes beautiful baskets which we are bringing home with us.
We then continued our walk to the home of the local wood carver- Maurice. Maurice had many beautiful spoons, walking sticks and other objects for sale. We all chose a variety of wood projects to take home. A walking stick made by Maurice is on display at Highview Middle School in New Brighton, MN as a thank-you from the community.
By this time, we had probably walked 7-8 miles up and down hills over sand that was beginning to make our feet feel like we had been treated to a sand paper pedicure. My friends in White Bear Lake know how much I like a pedicure! (not so much) We were happy when we reached Christopher's home!
Many of the community members stayed for dinner. The women spend all day cooking over wood stoves and a charcoal Jiko to make the many dishes that are served. The kitchen however, is my favorite place to hang out. The women were singing, and we entertained them with songs like "Old McDonald", and "Coming around the mountain"- all with actions of course. Steve also taught the children how to play "Simon Says". They are so eager to interact with all of us, and we have had a wonderful time! After dinner, we brought out a box of light up necklaces that were a big hit with not only the children, but the adults as well. In the dark, dark, yard, the lights are spectacular.
Speaking of the dark- the African sky is a sight to behold. We think we have found the "Southern Cross" and the star patterns are very different from the stars we see in the US.
After a late dinner, we were all ready to head to our beds. We pulled down the mosquito nets, and crawled in for a well deserved rest.
The adventure continues......
Val and Patty