A Travellerspoint blog

Nairobi

Everyone,

We have had a bump in our carefully scheduled plans but we have successfully arrived in Nairobi. We had an amazing experience during a 2 hour walking safari at Lake Naivasha. It is a rare that we are ever afforded an opportunity to walk amongst giraffe, wildebeast, zebra and others in their environment. It was moving and peaceful.

We left Naivasha for Nairobi and got moved to a different hotel and it was a bit of a mess. But we are all settled in now and it is fine. The major complication is that there is no wireless internet here and we have to pay to use the business center so that is why you have not heard from your students. I apologize for that but again, everyone is well.

We went to this amazing celebration at St. Alyosius Gonzaga on Sunday! Much to our surprise Father Charlton presented us with a plaque for Brebeuf, thanking us for our continued support. It was a festive and grand day.

Today we visited a bead factory and a flip flop factory in the morning and headed to St. Alys for the afternoon. The students spent time in classes and with their host student. They seemed to really enjoy this. We also walked into Kibera so that the group could see the old school and to experience the massive slum. We have not had reflection yet tonight but I imagine there will be a lot of thoughts on the experience.

Tomorrow we will go back to St. Alys for the afternoon and then say goodbye to our friends there. It is hard to believe the journey is coming to an end.

I'll still work on getting students to be able to blog but it is a hurdle right now. We will see you all very soon.

Brenda

Posted by badams 08:13 Comments (0)

Day 7- David

Kenya. 
My time in Kenya has given me a slew of emotions to ponder. Sympathy, sadness, disappointment, and frustration. Most of all though, I've  felt confusion. We spent our first days in Maasai Mara. These days were some of the best days I've ever spent with very good friends as well as my father.  It was joyous and pure happiness but after my visit to the slums to inquire about OVCs (Orphans and Vulnerable Children) I began to ponder If my trip to Maasai Mara was joyous or pure indulgence. I felt a very deep and dark sadness realizing that I spent my time taking pictures of animals, meanwhile the people of this country were scrounging for food.  It's ironic that one of the most beautiful countries in the world has some of the worst tragedies.  Africa is a world effected by colonization and HIV AIDS.  These tragedies are horrific and terrible and remind us of how lucky we are as Americans.   I will go home and will never allow myself to be unappreciative of anything.  As I watched the people of this country in the slums struggle I felt a pit in my stomach imagining myself in that position. The lack of faith I would feel. The lack of hope. The lack of courage. This experience discouraged me greatly, but at the same time I grew and developed. I gained a new perspective. Kenyans, especially the current generations and the ones to follow are a very determined people. My tour guide, Erastus, went to 8 years of primary education , 4 years of secondary school, 2 years of years of junior college, and 4 more years of University obtaining a degree in tourism to become part of the ever growing Kenyan middle class.  This is evidence that Kenyans are striving for a better life for themselves as well as their next generation of Kenyans. I have met other remarkable Kenyans who share the same goals.  Joshua at Neema House is a prime example of a Kenyan who strives to help others. He houses 39 Orphans at his house 29of them are HIV positive. The numbers for HIV positive people in Kenya are a staggering 2 million people.  Many people would see this as a small drop taken out of the HIV crisis and write it off. But the way I see it, This is 39 happy kids that are protected because every life is precious.  Kenya is not a tragedy. This country has shaped countless heroes and I will never forget that. Heroes are people who do what they can. Kenya is full of these people from Dr. Mamlin, to Joshua, to Erastus. They are all doing what they can to benefit the next generation of Kenyans. 

Posted by badams 11:50 Comments (0)

End of Eldoret

Our stay in Eldoret is coming to a close as tomorrow we begin our journey back to Nairobi. It was a wonderful experience to be here and spend time amongst some people doing great things for Kenya. I believe these people are helping to open the eyes and hearts of our students as they learn who they are and what they are capable of. It is a joy to watch even amid tears, sorrows and difficult moments. They are growing.

We will do a wonderful walking safari tomorrow on Crescent Island as we have a day to relax and gather ourselves before Nairobi. It will be much needed but we are all anxious to spend time at St. Alys and make new friends there.

Everyone is doing well. Josh had a bit of stomach ailment but got over it quickly. Otherwise, all is well. Please keep us in your thoughts as you are in ours.

Brenda

Posted by badams 07:06 Comments (0)

A tough day

What Grace and I (Ellen) are going to talk about tonight, is something no blog, picture, or verbal explanation can describe.  It is something so unreal that you think it only exists in the movies.  The experiences the group encountered today will forever be memories in our minds.  I think I can speak for the rest of the group when I say we grew into something no Kairos or retreat could ever accomplish.  

So what did we do today? Today, we went to a slum in rural Eldoret and split up into small groups of two to three.  We then followed a social worker from the Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) association to a few houses where we asked each head of the household different questions and took notes on the reasoning behind the help they receive from OVC so we can write a report later.  Stories like HIV infected mothers raising their own children, plus orphans they took in because a relative died and therefore have eleven people living in a two bedroom house made out of mud... Or, stories where a mother stabs her step-daughter with a needle to infect her with HIV just because of pure hatred.  These, however, are just stories. Unfortunately there is so much more to these stories because of the sights, living conditions and surroundings incorporated with each, very true reality.

Before I arrived in Kenya, I thought I would come back to Indiana depressed because I would see the home I live in, and compare it to the small one or two bedroom homes the Kenyan people live in.  However there is so much more to this phenomenon that never even crossed my mind.  Things as simple as weekly trash pick ups, paved roads, sewage systems, toilets, even farms for heavens sake.  The list goes on and on.  Every time I inhale, I smell the waste that pigs, goats, cows, dogs and even humans produce and lay on the roads.  There are no toilets, no trash cans, and no separated areas for animals.  We literally walked around in straight poop all day.  And if that is not bad enough, the houses were made out of the same material we were walking on.  A house made for maybe half a person that held five.  To think people live in these conditions... To think they fall asleep to screams and barking every night... To think that I go to sleep in a bed twice as big as theirs with painted, hard, walls next to a $1200 laptop and a room bigger than most of their houses... I have met Luck before, and he is disappointing.  I gave a woman an energy bar today and that ended up being her, and her son's lunch.  That same woman raises her HIV infected three-year-old who skipped around the room with a huge smile on his face clueless of the life he could be living.  So tell me Luck, why do you do this? Giving one family the opportunity to own multiple houses and another family a one bedroom home made out of human waste with two meals a day consisting of grains and maize.  Yeah, that's fair.  Today was the day that we grew into the selfless adults you were hoping we would be after going on this trip. 

-Ellen Shapiro

I felt hesitant to get out of our packed van with my very thin and shiny sandals. I was not expecting to be walking in what seemed like just mud. Though, nothing here has been the way I expected. Especially my emotions today. As we went through the three homes assigned, I didn't really feel anything but as soon as I got back into the van, feet covered in mud, I felt something I never have before. As my fellow travel mates could tell you, I was not being vocal or hinting any sign of what was going through my head. I took time alone to search for this unusual feeling and expressed it in a journal entry that went like this: Right now I feel grief over the things I saw. I feel selfish and most of all, spoiled. The slums are muddy and are mixed with human waste. I was wearing sandals that barely covered my feet but was thankful after seeing kids roaming about barefoot. An infant had a stick that was covered in mud inside of his mouth. No one was there to stop him. The first home hit me hard. My parents king size bed is bigger than the space they call home. I instantly saw weariness in the eyes of the mother that mans the house. Her husband left her two years ago. She is infected with HIV and so is her 3 year old son. The mother cried silent tears while we sat carefully asking questions regarding her life. It was hard for me to see the 3 year old boy and wonder how long his oblivion will last. We asked the mother (Stella) if she is happy. She said that it is hard for her to be happy with all of the stresses in her life. What does she have to hold onto when her sadness overcomes her? That's when I realized how much inner strength these people have. They don't have the luxury of sneaking away  to their room and listening to their iPod to drown their sadness. They can't get in a hot bath or shower to hide their tears or relax themselves. They can't text a friend or disrespect their parents to take out their anger. When will we realize how good we have it? I feel an overwhelming amount of guilt. 

I'll stop at that point in my journal entry and share what I feel now. We have all seen things here that almost make it impossible to not have a desire to make a change. It is true that giving a family 1000 shillings will only get them through a certain amount of time and then they're right back to where they started. Then I think about holding Lydia, an infant at the Neema house, and wonder if it's the same idea with the shillings. That the comfort and love we give them that day will only last for a certain amount of time. Even if that is true, Lydia gave me something that will last forever, the realization that love comes in the smallest of forms and a flame to make a difference.

There's always a high after vacations, retreats, life changing moments, etc. But this is different. We just need to find a way to take what we feel now and find a way to make it fit into our lives in the busy, greedy U.S. I'll have to get back to you when we find the answer...but for now I'd like to say thank you to my parents for providing this amazing experience that I will always carry with me. As for the rest of you parents, you all have children with huge hearts that you helped mold and now a desire to change the lives of people like Stella and Lydia. Asante and lala salama.

-Grace

Posted by badams 12:12 Comments (0)

Day 6

Day 6

We just returned from an amazing dinner and a ton of fun and laughter at the local Indian restaurant.   I can't tell you how amazing this group is to be wi. They are fun and loving and just continue to amaze me.  Our day consisted of a visit to a rural clinic and some wonderful time with Joe Mamlin, a trip to Imani Workshop and a long morning spent with the new program for street kids at Tumaini Centre. It was a busy day and ended on such a high note.  We just finished reflection where I have attempted to outline such an important day that they are going to have tomorrow. Each student pair is going to be teamed up with a social worker and go into the fields to be a part of the Orphans and Vulnerable Children Program.  It is going to be a long and rewarding day for all of them.

It's only 9:30 and as much as I hope that they are all settling down and getting a much needed night of rest, I doubt it. Please know that everyone is healthy and doing fine.  I like to think that they are learning  a lot and taking in the experience; thus far they are a group of few words though but I imagine there will be a point where that will change.

Thank you for the comments and encouraging words. We all enjoy getting them and they bring many smiles.  You are missed but Kenya is treating us all very well.

Thank you for the opportunity to share this with your students. They are great.

Brenda

Posted by badams 00:21 Comments (0)

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