Zuri Watoto Wote

Update….and early countdown to Kenya!

Posted in AIDS in Africa, AIDS Orphans, Giving back, Kenya by Lynn Ouellette on 07/21/2013
Aaah, Kenya!

Aaah, Kenya!

It has been oh so, very too long since I have posted, but that doesn’t mean that Kenya hasn’t been on my mind and in my heart. Life here gets so busy and I am often buried in the endless administrative tasks of practicing medicine, which I so dislike, such that I can’t find time to do these things that I so like, such as blogging about Kenya, the Children of Nyumbani, the wonderful Kenyan people who we have come to know and love, and the work of the KEST volunteers. As has been true for a number of years now, this summer was marked by a migration of KEST volunteers to Kenya led by our extraordinarily energetic, big-hearted, extremely friendly and loquacious leader Lloydie Zaiser (really, I think everyone in Kenya knows her and probably most of the staff on British Airways…) Lloydie kept me well supplied with updates of the trip from the volunteers keeping me envious of all those who were there, sad to be missing out, but lucky to live the trip vicariously. And she recently posted photos, taken by all travelers, so I just had to blog about some of the summer trip experience and include their photos. I know that it won’t be until Lloydie and I sit down together that I will hear all the stories, the ones that will move me to tears; she has told me that there are many. Of course, there always are…..

Making projects at Nyumbani Children's Home

Making projects at Nyumbani Children’s Home

More projects

More projects

Smiles at Nyumbani Children's Home

Smiles at Nyumbani Children’s Home

This time the volunteer group included Lloydie’s daughter Meagan, who some of the Nyumbani children were always asking about every time we arrived, and her co-teacher Nancy, as well as Stephanie, Bailey, Sarah, Ashton and Adriana. I wish I could have been there to see the children’s excitement when Meagan arrived! The group spent the first weekend at Nyumbani Children’s Home doing crafts with the younger children and teaching yoga and mindfulness to the older children. Since most of the volunteers were new to the Children’s Home and to Nyumbani, the trip began with a meeting with the Executive Director, Sister Mary, who is quite an amazing person, and who who can always give a very thoughtful overview of the whole organization and the current issues and problems which they are facing in caring for AIDs orphans and HIV+ children. After a busy and, what I am sure was an eye-opening and touching weekend at the Children’s Home, the group was off to Nyumbani Village, quite a change from being outside of Nairobi, but not hot like it is there in January. I was even more envious of the group as I thought of them heading to the Village and knowing that Justus was driving them. He is our most wonderful driver and dear friend, who keeps us safe, has a wonderful broad smile and is aways in a good mood–I don’t know how you can spend all those hours driving in Kenya, in Nairobi traffic, on roads with potholes half the size of your car and always be so happy, I would be scared to death! But he never stops smiling!

Justus and his family--can't wait to have dinner with all of you in January!

Justus and his family–can’t wait to have dinner with all of you in January!

Sho sho gets a new lasso

Sho sho gets a new lasso

 

Village girls and KEST volunteers

Village girls and KEST volunteers

The group was quite busy in the Village–but that goes without saying as all KEST trips have a very packed agenda. They worked hard at many of the usual activities such as sorting the 450 lbs of donations which they brought, working in the sustainability program sorting seeds, mulching,etc., interviewing the grandparents for the memory book, facilitating the Young Ambassadors Club and more. An extra special item on the agenda this time, however, was working on the formation of a sister school program between the Hot Courses Primary School in Kenya and the Woods Academy in Bethesda where Megan and Nancy are teachers. In addition, KEST delivered 435 packages to the adolescent girls that were on the top of the priority list. Girls had been missing school due to lack of feminine supplies and they delivered undergarments and a year’s supply of sanitary napkins to each girl in need.

Hot Courses Primary School

Hot Courses Primary School

Delivering supplies to adolescent girls at Nyumbani Village

Delivering supplies to adolescent girls at Nyumbani Village

In addition to the volunteer activities, they were treated to all of the magic of the Village–the sho sho’s dancing, the children singing and dancing including a special private performance in one of the clusters, Joseph playing his homemade instruments, and the simple beauty of the Kamba culture.

Joseph and his homemade guitar

Joseph and his homemade guitar

People are always sad to leave the village; Stephanie and Bailey wrote about it this way: “Today we woke up to the usual crowing of the roosters outside of our windows, but awoke with a bit more hop in our step. Though sad to leave the people in the village, everyone was eager to return to the comforts of showers, toilet seats, and normal beds that awaited us in Karen. By 9 o’clock Justus pulled into the village, on time as always, and we packed the van to the brim with our bags and newly acquired baskets that we purchased from the village grandmothers.

Always hard to say goodbye...

Always hard to say goodbye…

Lots of baskets!

Lots of baskets!

Lloydie sweet talking john, the Village cook and best mandazi maker

Lloydie saying goodbye to John, the Village cook and best mandazi maker

Never know what you'll see on the Village road..

Never know what you’ll see leaving on the Village road..

Following the week at Nyumbani Village, the group spent the weekend at The Children’s Home and then the subsequent week at the Lea Toto sites, Kibera paper and at PCDA. They learned about the programs offered at Lea Toto providing outreach support to the families with children with HIV who live in the impoverished communities surrounding Nairobi. This also gave them the opportunity to meet the women crafters of the self-help groups involved with Tuko Pamoja while Lloydie worked on going over and eventually picking up all of the orders for the fall events coming up (November 9th for those of you who live in my area.)

Meeting with the Vision Self Help Group

Meeting with the Vision Self Help Group

Lloydie "modeling"

Lloydie “modeling” the ware

Tuko Pamoja--We are together!

Tuko Pamoja–We are together!

They also went to the Maasai Community, PCDA, where they did some enrichment projects with the children and met with that self-help group and met the women of Kibera paper. Between visiting all these sites, the volunteers were able to participate in all the Nyumbani programs as well as PCDA and Kibera Paper, and the preparation for the ongoing work of selling the crafts of the women in the U.S. and sustaining their market was accomplished.

PCDA children

PCDA children

Summer 2013 KEST volunteers

Summer 2013 KEST volunteers

A tough group...

A tough group…

I will have much more to update about Tuko Pamoja as we move forward with a lot of planning. The U.S. Board is meeting in September…and I’m sure we will end up with even bigger plans once we all start brainstorming together. The summer 2013 KEST group ended their travel with a Safari although Lloydie stayed on in Kenya to finish up Tuko Pamoja business. So I will share a few of their safari photos in closing. Lloydie is promising that the Adults Only trip in January this year will have a little leisure time built-in because we were all so exhausted last year with all that we packed in for Tuko Pamoja and so much more. So we have a two-day safari planned and I’m really excited about that. I did tease her and say that she couldn’t take it out of my sleep allotment because I already use that for blogging! So we have lots to do before we leave:

  • Tuko Pamoja U.S. Board meeting/Retreat in September
  • Many Tuko Pamoja Fall events
  • Planning the Women’s Workshop in Kenya
  • Gathering Donations

and exponentially more when we get there….and I can’t wait! We depart in 186 days!

Mother and baby...

Mother and baby…

So cute!

So cute!

She's a beauty!

She’s a beauty!

Because you can't see too many elephants!

……because you can’t ever see too many elephants!

Tall beauties

Mother and youngster–tall beauties

Beautiful Kenya!

Beautiful Kenya!

6 Responses

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  1. Lloydie said, on 07/21/2013 at 8:54 pm

    WOW, how I have missed your blogs! This one was well worth the wait. Are you sure you weren’t on the trip with us?! Love your choice of photos. Thanks for this labor of love, Lynn. Now GO TO BED!!!

    Like

    • Lynn Ouellette said, on 07/22/2013 at 7:02 pm

      Funny how, of all those photos you posted, the first few you mentioned I had already put in the post! I also added one of Lucy after I first posted it– that’s on the site now. We think soo alike sometimes it’s eerie–in a wonderful kind of way. So lovely for you to call. Can’t wait to hear more stories when I see you next month–more stories, more blogging….. Counting the days!

      Like

  2. Sharon Tardiff said, on 07/22/2013 at 6:47 am

    Thanks for sharing such a wonderful blog…..I think Lynn should have gone on this trip too. You have so much to give and love and compassion for the children and adults. And you capture such great pictures of life and nature. Makes me think how greatful there are people in this world who really care about others who really need things that we all (I) take for granted. Hard to put into words. Thanks for letting me post.

    Like

    • Lynn Ouellette said, on 07/22/2013 at 7:04 pm

      Thanks Sharon. There will be more happening until we depart in January so I’ll be blogging more news as we get more plans underway. So stay tuned!

      Like

  3. Justus said, on 09/11/2013 at 8:51 am

    Lynn I cannot believe this,as I normally say to you. You always unike and you always have something unik. This is a great idea and wish you all the best and may the lord give you more energy to attain your goal. Are you still counting the days? Do have good times and do hope to talk and meet you soon.

    Like

    • Lynn Ouellette said, on 09/11/2013 at 4:46 pm

      Hi Justus! 126 days and still counting! Can’t wait to see your wonderful smile and finally meet your family. Ooooh, I haven’t been practicing my Kamba like I had hoped though. Guess I will have some catching up to do on the plane! Though I hear you will be spending some time in Nyumbani Village with us–maybe me can give me a Kamba lesson there?! Always counting the days…

      Like


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