Saturday, February 5, 2011

From Kathungu to the Bush

We have been out of computer contact for several days.  We were visiting Kathungu Village- the starting point for H2O for Life.  Five years ago, Christopher Mutuku asked for help for his community.  Highview Middle School answered by raising funds to construct a sand dam for the community.  Today, this sand dam has been enhanced and continues to provide water to Kathungu village.  Kenya has had several years of low rainfall, and times are hard.  It was wonderful to see that the efforts of students has helped this community tremendously.  The students that continued on to Irondale High
School also funded a rainwater catchment tank for Kathugu School.  A visit to the school confirmed that the tank is working and will provide enough water for the school for the year.  The teachers also told us that because of access to improved water, attendence has increased as illnesses have declined.

As we toured the school, we were greeted by smiling, happy children.  Thank you to all of you that contributed to the "soccer ball fund".  Every school that has received a soccer ball has been delighted!

We also visited the girls latrines. They were awful, and they need work!  We have asked the community and our friends at Kenya Rainwater Association to prepare a proposal outlining what is needed to improve the latrines for the school.  The latrines are almost full, smelly and very unappealing.  They also do not provide privacy.  The teachers pleaded with us to please consider helping Kathungu secure funds needed to rehabilitate the latrines.  Maybe you and your school are interested?  Let us know!

We attended a celebration and commissioning of a shallow well, pump and cattle trough placed near the original sand dam project. This project was proposed by a local women's group in the area. The women and communty provided the sand, the rocks and the digging that needed to be done for the project. The project is named "Hall's Well", and I am honored.  The pump allows the women and girls easier access to water and is more time efficient.  It also provides clean water!

Following the commissioning of the project, we shared an African meal prepared by the local women's group.  Sukuma-wiki, Ugali, and other dishes were enjoyed by all.

We spent our evenings talking with community members and playing UNO with the neighborhood children.  Life is very basic in the village, but also a welcome break from the hustle and bustle that we usually experience. 

We experienced many cultural differences while in the village.  We are used to everything running on time, and that does not happen. We were scheduled to leave Nairboi at 10am, and finally left the hotel around 2. The celebration at the river was to begin at 10 and began around 12:30!  Dinners that were planned for 7, sometimes happened at 9.  We often were waiting for something to happen, but we weren't quite sure what that would be.  It was an exercise in patience for us.  We have learned that there really is "African Time".  As my close friends read this, I know they are laughing as I am the most impatient of people. We have gradually learned to be a little more patient, and to not let the "time" interfere with the experience.

Today we are at Amboseli Reserve.  It is a dry area, however, the springs and marshes that are tucked away are home for large groups of elepants and other animals. We saw elephants enjoying a cool bath and playtime for the young ones at a small pond.  For us, it felt great to have a warm shower after a long day on dusty roads and days of bathing from a bucket!

One more day at Amboseli before heading to Tanzania.

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