Sunday, August 23, 2009

Welcome to Kenya!

New author today. This is Val Johnson with my first crack at contributing to our blog. This trip is overwhelming so I don't know where to start but I am going to give it my best.

We arrived in Kenya by taking a 5:00 am flight which meant that we left for the airport at 2:30 a.m. We never arrived to our hotel until after 9:00 so it was a very short night. Quick flight to Kenya and we met up with our friends, Chris and Lisa Ripken. Chris is a teacher at Centennial High School in Lino Lakes, MN. We also met a friend of Patty's who has been her driver and friend on many of her trips to Africa. Welcome Christopher, Chris and Lisa and get ready for a the ride.

After a long ride through the Rift Valley we arrived at Tenwick Hospital. Many of the projects managed by Waterlines originate out of Tenwick. It is our fortune that Tenwick is celebrating their 50th Anniversary today. There are thousandss of people listening to speeches and dancing and singing and experiencing joy in everything that Tenwick has done for the community. The area has a very special feeling and we are so happy to be a part of the celebration!

But wait....don't celebrate too long at Tenwick. We need to get into our van and get off to a school in which the parents are waiting for us. This school project was not funded by H2O for Life but rather by Waterlines. We have the honor to represent our friends from Waterlines and dedicate the new water tank at the school. We were greeted by a group of parents singing wonderful music.

In many cases we are meeting kids who have never seen white people. They are curious about our skin and our hair. The kids touch my skin and giggle. We were told at the school that we are the first white people to ever be at their school. I am touched by the way that they are honored to have a white person in their community. What a great day to make history at this school. I remind them that the funds coming from our schools is raised by American students of all colors and religions that are out to make their mark on the world. And believe me, when we see the changes that our schools are making in these schools, I am proud to be an American. I am proud to tell the people the stories about our great students! The Kenyan people send their very best to everyone in America---especially President Obama!

We ended the evening with a traditional Kenyan meal with Joel and his family. Joel is a project manager working for Waterlines. It was great to be invited into their home for dinner. Their two boys performed for us. Joel and Lucy have a beautiful home but so different than an American home. We were there after dark and ate by lanterns, the food was cooked in their kitchen over a fire and the bathrooms are a latrine outside. Lucy has worked for 25 years at Tenwick Hospital and was honored at the anniversary party with a new cow as a gift. Very different than home!

I hope to get on line later tonight to fill you in on today's activities. Until then, I need to send a special shout-out to the Johnson family. They are celebrating a family reunion today and I am sorry to miss that celebration but I will have plenty of stories to share with all!

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