Trip Summary | June 2010
Hearts for Kenya’s annual trip to Oyugis, Kenya began on June 12. Our group, Peter Bell, Brandon Brones, Chip Lynch, Kay Nowlin, Elizabeth Singer, and John Willingham encountered hours of flight delays because of bad weather in Chicago. We were very fortunate to make good connections in Chicago and arrived in Nairobi on time. None of our luggage made it however. The luggage arrived early the next morning so it caused no problems. We arrived at Amani on Monday evening the 14th.
Over the next few days we visited several of our farmers and schools. It continues to amaze me to see the work these people are doing with so little to work with.
The farmers and schools will be harvesting their crops in late July and early August. They have had good rains this season so the harvest will be good. For our 120 farmers this means they will have ample harvest to bring a portion into the co-op and to have money remaining to pay for their family needs. These needs include medicines, school fees and clothing for their families.
The schools are giving the older students plots of land to be planted. The students are responsible for soil preparation, planting, cultivation, and harvesting. They then receive a grade for the work that they have done. The harvested crops are then used to feed the students lunch each day. There is an average of about 400 students in each of our 20 schools, amounting to about 8,000 students. About 30% of these students are orphans. For many of the students this is the only meal they can count on for the day.
Both the farmers and schools are extremely proud of their crops and feel a real hope that they are breaking the cycle of poverty they are in. We are trying to increase the number of farmers in the co-op to 140 and the number of schools to 23 within the next year. We will be sending money for the next planting within the next month.
We are continuing in our efforts to improve Amani. While we were there we began fencing the Amani area. This will help greatly in increasing the security of Amani. We also painted one of the buildings used for classrooms for the 210 orphans that attend preschool at Amani. A new roof was put on the building in April. Dickens, the head teacher, is doing an excellent job with the orphans. He has three volunteers to help him in the teaching of the orphans. He provides the orphans with one meal a day. The meal is a porridge mixture of several grains that is very high in protein. Milk is added to the porridge when it is available to add fat to their diet. This porridge helps increase the orphans’ nutrition and allows them to concentrate better on their school work and also helps them to increase their ability to fight diseases. We have helped Dickens by giving him a cow, 40 chickens, and by sending him some money each month to provide this meal.
Chip Lynch, our resident computer expert, spent several days working on the computer problems with Daniel, the director of our AIDS project, Daniel with the orphans in Rongo, and with Tom who manages Amani. With Chip’s help Tom can now email directly from Amani. This is a great help for Hearts for Kenya because we are now able to communicate with Tom directly. Before Tom would have to go to town and rely on the old equipment in the computer shop.
On Saturday the group went to Rongo to visit St. Matthews Episcopal’s orphans. The orphans looked great and were very happy to see us. They sang for us and many on our team played soccer and volleyball with them. While we were there we added 3 swings to the playground that was built last year. There were just too many orphans and not enough swings.
The foundation for a new kitchen and dinning hall was also being dug. The kitchen will be completed first. At this time all of the orphan’s meals are being cooked over an open fire. The dinning hall will be completed as funds are available. Hearts for Kenya continues to thank St. Matthews Episcopal for the great work that they are doing with the orphans in Rongo.
The trip ended with a restful two-day safari in the Masai Mara. The Mara is a beautiful place and teaming with native wildlife. The team needed a time of rest and relaxation before the long flight home.
It was a great trip as we have come to expect. The team did an excellent job in meeting people and building relationships. They also accomplished a great deal of needed work.
Thanks to all of your help and support Hearts for Kenya is making a difference in the lives of the people of Oyugis, Kenya.