Kutelemuka: To Flow
October 17, 2010 § 1 Comment
Play a game with me. You have your own version, but play mine. Coffee steams from your mug, the morning mist starts to burn off, and the rays of sun slant through the window. The water is not running because an elephant has broken the water line (at least allegedly), both vehicles are stuck in two feet of mud, sixty five school kids need to get to school in a half hour, two children need to get to Nairobi for emergency dental care, the Chief alerts me of a woman whose husband has been murdered in a land dispute and she and her two boys have walked an uncanny distance only to find the relative they came to find refuge through no longer lives in Njabini, they are now starving, and in the immediate lens two children have drawings to present you before they go to school, three children need pencils sharpened, and we are out of both peanut butter and now coffee. How well do you flow? This is the question presented by each day.
It is the greatest challenge I’ve ever been a part of; a dynamic test of creativity and problem solving. To find joy in this daily dance and share it with so many other inspiring people is likewise the greatest gift it yields. The trick now is finding time to write it all down. So with that said, I apologize for the delay in my weekly writing. I am getting more fluid and efficient in my ‘dance,’ so I promise with word and bond that Sunday morning will be the day something hits the line. Thankfully, along with a blur comes plenty of stories to tell.
Michael is the newest member of our family and is far more adorable than these pictures convey. He arrived shy and gentle in his demeanor but has already taken to peaking his head out at this new and colorful world. When tickled he has a high pitch and infectious giggle, he loves to taunt a wrestling match, and has already taken to wheeling out his first words in English. He is eight years old and his birthday is October 23rd.
And this is Julianna.
Julianna is the Volunteer Coordinator for Flying Kites. Before nestling in and changing my life, she worked stateside for a year and a half, finding the many amazing volunteers who contribute their heart to our efforts and are vital to my small semblance of a social life. Welcome to the ground team Juli! Nakupenda Mighty Woman!
The water line is repaired, the cars are back on dry land, teeth are fixed, pencils are sharpened, the children didn’t miss a minute of school, the peanut butter jar is full, and the coffee is brewing. As for the family flagged by the chief, the capabilities and cohesion of local administration and Flying Kites faced a test. Mom and her two young boys (who will remain nameless) sat closely on a small bench at the far wall of Chief’s office. They were all shoeless, their feet cracked and cut, their clothes tattered, and they were covered from head to toe in dust and dirt, as if they’d come from through a desert. Mom sat politely and upright, and her boys excitedly smiled and reached for my hand when I arrived. Neither boy could have been more adorable.
The chief explained the situation, said that a pastor had sent them to him, as they were begging for food outside of a local church. Some well-wishers had given them a place to stay, but now needed rent to justify their staying. They slept on the dirt floor on potato sacks and when the rain came had to move to avoid damp spots in the soil. On top of this, mom is eight months pregnant. They were on the brink of homelessness and very much in need. What unfolded was a true testament to the our capabilities in this small mountain place.
The chief and I went and had a cup of tea and discussed our options. The first step was to meet with the District Officer, who holds the key to public food reserves, after appealing the case we left with five months worth of food. While this meeting was taking place, I handed mom paper and a pen and asked for shoe sizes, so I could buy them gumboots ($5 / pair). Upon walking out of the D.O.’s office I received three pieces of paper, each with a foot traced, toes and all. After buying gumboots, we proceeded to the stall they were renting and for $13 dollars secured them six more months of rent. So shelter, food, and shoes were now checked off ($28).
I called Kendra, a wonderful friend and volunteer at Flying Kites, to see if she would help pack a bag of clothes for mom, boys, and the coming baby, along with school supplies and toys for the kids. In hearing the story, Kendra insisted on pushing further. She bought two mattresses ($30), an extra thick one for mom, a beautiful wood bunk bed for the family to sleep in ($100), and boxes for them to store their new clothes ($18). Another dear friend and volunteer, Amanda, then contributed to the purchase of the bed and also bought thick blankets to keep the family warm ($15). So in less than 48 hours, a family wrecked by misfortune, now had six months of housing, five months of food, new clothes, warm hats and coats, a beautiful bed, mattresses, toys, school supplies, and hope again; all for near $200. The battle is by no means over, (getting the kids in school, getting the $130 dollars of tuition, is next on the table) but to be a part of such an amazing ‘about-face’ for a family who has been slammed by hardship is yet another gift of the adventure here.
Thank you Kendra, Amanda, Madaam D.O., Chief, and all who empower Flying Kites to provide for these situations; life stories that otherwise might end before they started. It takes many hands.
I have to pass on my condolences to Teacher Francis Keriuke, whose father passed away last week. We cancelled school and all staff, Flying Kites children, and teachers attended his burial. I have to likewise pass on my congratulations to Ms. Jane Mbogua, the Magnet Effect Program manager, who graduated from a local college on Saturday with a degree in theology. We are all very proud of you and were honored to shake-what-our-mamas-gave-us at your graduation party!
Francis & Jane: King & Queen
Blessings Abound! Thank you for your love and support. Go and be grateful!
Ruth & I on Mohawk Monday