Sunday, August 30, 2009


I will never complain about a Minnesota pothole again.

Friday was a travel day for us. We traveled from the Masai Mara to Nairobi and then off to Kathungu. There is a standard answer when you ask how far it is to a town or destination. "Not so far." How are the roads? "Not so bad." Well, let me tell you that eleven hours-most of it over bumpy, dusty, dirt roads is a long way! We all feel a little tossed around. We passed quite a bit of time by playing another of Mark's games. This time it was a version of Jeopardy. Patty was the winner but her prize of a bag of candy purchased from the hotel was filled with ants. Too bad we didn't discover this until after she had taken a few bites. I've never seen Patty toss chocolate away!

Kathungu is where our friend and driver, Christopher lives. We were all invited to be guests at his home in Kathungu. What an honor! This is an opportunity to really get to see and experience how most of the people in Kenya live. We arrived at his modest farm and were welcomed by his wife Joyce and their three children and many neighbors, friends and other relatives. For you experienced H2Oers, you might remember that Kathungu is the site of our first project. Patty has been here on several occasions and the people are thrilled to see her again.

We settled into our rooms--yes, the family gave up their rooms and found places to sleep at nearby relatives. The action really started as the men started to talk in the house and the women went to work in the kitchen. The kitchen is a very active, seperate room from the house. It is not a very big room yet there had to be 10-15 kids and women all sitting in there and actively cooking the meal while chatting and laughing. Everyone knows their task and they go about it with great efficiency. Ugali (corn flour and water) is cooking on the fire and it has to be stirred often with a big spoon and a lot of muscle. Chapati (thick tortilla like bread) is fried on a small flat grill heated by charcoal (a jiko) and potatoes are peeled and boiled over the open flames. Before long we are treated to a dinner of all of these wonderful flavors along with fresh fruits, chicken, soup and rice. And I thought I was going to lose weight in Kenya. No way!

We also took in a short walk down to the river bed where the sand dam was created two years ago. It is really an amazing site. The area looks like a dry river bed filled with the finest beach sand. Through this sand the river flows down stream. While the river flows down stream it is filtered through the sand. Although there is a faucet on the dam itself, it has been removed because of the drought. The water committee found that people were being wasteful of water during this very dry period when it was so easy to get. The leaders of the community removed the faucet so people have to dig into the river bed of sand to get to water. It sounds harsh but when you see the extent of the drought and listen to the knowledge that the people have about this precious natural resource, you know that they are doing the right thing. I was especially pleased to hear one of the men say to me that without the contribution that Highview Middle School made two years ago to add the sand dam, he could not even imagine where or how far they might have to go to get any water. Highview---be proud! Your work is still helping people today-even more than you can imagine!

Since Patty's last visit to Kathungu, Christopher has added solar powered lights and a shower. The shower is cold water from a tank and hose run into the house but it is a wonderful luxury after the dusty ride. The lights are something that we did not expect so that was also another welcome luxury. We still have to go outside to use the choo. (latrine) Patty, Steve and Mark all got up during the night to use the choo. There were a few tales of being attacked by the huge white goose during the middle of the night. Steve and Mark went out together. Chickens!

Saturday is another day of visiting schools. We are all anxious to see the work that has been completed!

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