We Finally Meet Michelle

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September 16th 2009
Published: September 18th 2009EDIT THIS ENTRY

Another Day In Kisumu Shopping

Today was another tough day. We have been making miles of progress each day, and our projects are so ambitious that it is everything we can do each day to accomplish them. Nevertheless, we seem to continue to make massive strides every day and today is no exception. We are up for breakfast at 6:00 am today, and at the school by 8:00 am. Heather sets up her first art project with the Nursery class. It is a roaring success and we are all moved by the incredible work and art done by the little kids. They are bursting with creativity and we see how much this needs to be nurtured at the school.

Shortly after the project we had a chance to meet Michelle. She really looked healthy and the bandages looked pretty good. We had a chance to take a few images and talk to her for awhile. She indicated that she was not feeling any pain and I think that she has really healed enormously since the last images that I saw.

The project is done by 10:00 am and we set out for another day in Kisumu. The ride seems much faster than it was on Monday. On the way, we see a group of Massai walking down the side of the road in their brightly coloured red robes. It is both an awe-inspiring and chilling sight at the same time. There is areal noble aura about them, yet a true “wildness” at the same time. These nomadic warriors seem to have the best of both worlds in that they step freely in and out of mainstream society, yet retain their inner freedom and ability to blend back into nature completely at a moment’s notice.

I asked Charles about the Massai, whether it is respect or fear that they command in Kenyan society. It turns out to be both, in fact. They are often hired as security BECAUSE they are so feared. Charles indicates that there are usually two advantages to hiring a Massai for a security position. “They often work together in small groups, so if you hire one then you usually get 3 or 4 turn up for work.” I can see this as a definite advantage, to be sure. “Also, the Massai are very good at taking instructions and when you tell them not to let anyone invade your property, they fulfill their task completely! The Massai do not ‘hesitate’ when defending a turf and you take your life in your hands if you wish to challenge a Massai. They are completely fearless.”

In Kisumu, we met Pius at the Nakumatt. Heather was kind enough to purchase shoes for all the children at the school (250 pairs). It was a very gracious move on her part and brought enormous smiles to the children. She is an amazing person and demonstrates the depth of commitment she has to helping the kids.

I continued on and bought other supplies for the school as well including light bulbs, more art supplies, toilet paper for our future visitors, a printer, file cabinets, scanner and more. While some of these items may seem “extravagant” at first, items like a small printer and scanner and literally save us thousands of shillings in a month. Currently, Charles is forced to travel several times a week to Kisumu to scan documents and photos, print important papers, make copies, and more. The travel costs alone are crippling at times, not to mention the additional fees for services. Now, it is all centralised at the school and we can operate there now for literally pennies. This is all part of cutting our overhead costs and making the most use of our donor’s dollars.

After we left the Nakumatt, we had to bring Pius along so that Charles and he could do some banking. We now had 6 people in the 5-seater car and Jennifer had to ride n the back hatchback. At the bank, we managed to set up Internet access to their bank account which will make all of our work more efficient again, so that we do not need to go to Kisumu any more to check the bank balances.

After the bank, we dropped Heather and Jennifer off at the material store again, and Pius to the bus station. Charles and I went to the Mega Plaza to make a few last purchases. It took us some time, and we started to be a little concerned about the fact that the girls were not quickly returning from a 5 minute supply run.

Eventually, after an hour, Henry (our driver) showed up without the girls. Apparently, he was blocking traffic while parking outside and the local traffic policewoman stopped him and confiscated his Taxi driver’s license. Rather than picking up the girls, he abandoned them and had been driving up and down the street looking for the policewoman, to recover his license (you have to pay a “fee” right there on the street to get it back). Once he found us, we jumped in the car and joined him in his search for the cop. We suggested that we go to pick up the girls first (!). So Henry turned around and drove a couple of streets up to where the material store was. As we pulled up, we saw the girls sitting on the street, sullen faced. They had been sitting the street for an hour and a half, experiencing a wide range of encounters with a diversity of colourful characters. From a condom-condemning proselytizer to a jewellery hawker selling items made by widows and orphans, they had heard it all during their foray. No worries thought, they were parked beside the store security guard who was watching patiently over them. We headed back to mainstreet to continue our search for the policewoman. Eventually we found her and a few gentle words, and some financial padding, and we were back on the road to Bumala.

Back at the school we inspected the mattresses that had been delivered to the school earlier in the day from the Nakumatt. Charles and I also had another quick meeting today and decided that Veronica would become the Volunteer Centre Manager.

Everything is becoming much easier as each change occurs and I can see the palpable reduction of stress on Charles’ face. He really is a tremendous manager, and I can see his advanced skills in management, but there was really too much work for ne person to carry and the new positions are helping him greatly. He is starting to appear much more rested and less stressed.

The girls are keeping up and having a great time. I am inspired by their perseverance, and they are inspired by the perseverance of the children.


19th September 2009

Thanks Todd!
Todd, these are great descriptions of your days there. Thanks a lot for being our "eyes and ears" and giving such a vibrant picture of Bumala, the school, and your VERY hectic days. I know from similar days I've had out there that when you are working with Charles, making things happen, and basically being treated like a celebrity by all the kids - its exhausting! But hang in there, and keep those posts coming!
20th September 2009

Heather's gift of art
I'm glad Heather is able to share her creative gifts with children. There is such honesty in how children express their joy in their art. Hope your journey finds such joy every day.

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