Tuesday, July 17, 2007

KENYA 2007

As most of you know, I have recently returned from my third trip to Kenya. The group I went with was called Reach the Children but is now World of Difference. We have been working on the same school every summer and I must say that it is really coming along. I have included 2 pictures from the first two years so you can see the difference.

Summer of 2005-The first year I went to Kenya we arrived to find a mostly empty lot (we had to take down a little structure) where we were to build a school called Vessel of Hope. We spent our time working on the foundation and then the walls for the first floor.

Summer of 2006-The second year we worked on building the second floor.

Summer of 2007-This year we worked on cleaning up the two floors. We put a roof over the second floor, plastered 3 rooms, built shelves for the library, cleaned up the outside of the school, cleaned up the upstairs classrooms so they could be used, and fixed the road in front of the school.

Why Kenya?

Some people me ask why I keep going back to Kenya. It is hard to put into words but these pictures help explain. My first year we met a girl we all called "Green Dress" only because no one knew her name. She wasn't in school so she didn't know any English. We found out later her name was Sarah and her parents were dead. She was being taken care of by neighbors. I didn't see her smile much that first year.

My second year she was in school and was a totally different kid. She was always smiling and had learned some English. This year she was all smiles and has learned so much. It has been awesome seeing her growth.

The Project

This year we plastered 3 rooms. We thought we would be able to help but it turns out that plastering Kenya style is not easy.

I have to be prefectly honest, I sucked. So, it was obvious that Kenyans should plaster and we would be support.

Plastering has many different steps. There are like 6 different layers of stuff and then they smooth it out.

As support we had to sift the sand because it had been sitting out too long. Kids had started to play on it so it was clumpy. Sometimes in Kenya you do something just to do it again later. Here is Joe and me working hard sifting sand with our hands.

After seeing the kids playing in the nastiest water I have ever seen, we decided to fix the road with the dirt that was everywhere upstairs. Jeff and Chevy helped make a slide so that it was easier to move the dirt from upstairs to the road.
The slide really helped. Notice the nasty green water and yes, the kids were playing in it.

We tried to make a canal system so the water wouldn't go everywhere. We were really proud of our road and the lack of stagnet water.

We didn't make any desks this year but we fixed them. I decided to use child labor and I put the kids to work. They were always eager to help and they are really fast.

Another task we worked on was chiseling the outside bricks so that they can fill it in again but make it look nicer. It is a little random but that is how they do things. Here is Joe and me working on the front of the school.

Here is Bo and Chevy working on the side. They worked on that wall for most of the day.

This is the finished product.

We only had enough money to cover 4 of the 6 rooms with a cement slab (the ceiling for the second floor) so we had to make a roof to cover the last 2 rooms. Here is Amy aka Danger and me sawing the wood beams that we used to build the tin roof..

After the walls were plastered in the new library room Brian and friends built shelves for the books we have brought over the last 3 years.
The last day at the site several of the girls on the team organized the books. It looked totally amazing afterwards.

Electriciy is now close enough that the school will have it soon. An electrian came in and hooked up the bottom floor so they can have light!

Here is one of the second floor rooms with a concrete roof. They hold up the slab with wood planks. We cleaned up the 4 rooms so that they could have class as soon as the slab is dry.

This is a claasroom on the second floor where we built the wood/tin roof. We cleaned up the two rooms so that they could have class in them the next day. Here is Bo and Michelle aka "Jessica" after we finished setting the room up.
The second floor rooms are bigger and have natural light so they were excited to use them. We fit as many desks as we could find so that all the kids would fit. They put at least 3 kids in each desk, sometimes 4.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Some Favorite Kenyan Moments

Here are some of my favorite pictures. There are a lot of pictures of kids. They love to see themselves on the digital camera. They always say "take me a picture" or "and me and me".
We are a huge distraction for the kids so usually they don't have class while we are there. Here is a sample assignment that the grade 1 students were working on.
This is Kamani. He is one of my favorite kid ever. You can see him in many of my pictures.

Can you find the Mzungu?

The front of the school with the wood/tin roof.

Naga, Kamani, and me
If you have a camera on you, the kids want a picture. We are in a classroom on the 1st floor.
Cicila Marta working hard sanding a desk.
Kids line up to have Joe draw on them. The gel pens really show up well on their skin. It was common to see kids walking around with stars on their foreheads.
Another shot of kids in front of the school.
"Give me bubbles!"
Bubbles are also very popular. Brian brought a bubble gun this year which made it easier and less messy. One kid loved it so much that he didn't even bother pulling his pants up.
My school donated a bunch of PE shirts and I took this picture for them.

So I love squeezing the cheeks of my nephews so I did it to one of the kids and took a picture. Well I heard "and me and me" so the kids got in a queue and for the next 10 minutes we took pictures. I can't help but smile everytime I look at those faces.

This is what the school looked like the day we left. Notice the power line that is now in this part of the slum.
We played a game in Kenya called Pee. It was pretty simple. When you saw someone peeing you just say pee. You'd be surprised how many times it happens. Every once in awhile someone who offer points for other random things. Chevy offered 20 points if Joe would get out of the van and just bust it. So he did. It was really funny because the Kenyans would stop what they were doing and start laughing at the Mzungu (white person) dancing.

Danger "Amy" with Veronica
This is Marcy and Kevin on the outside (brother and sister) and Kamani on my lap.

The Hairy Ape Song

Naga was a pretty shy kid but he would come alive during the Hairy Ape song.

Every year we sing songs with the kids. This year Judy and Joe introduced the Hairy Ape song to the kids. They loved it. We used the balcony on the second level as a stage. The kids would get really into it.

I recorded the Hairy Ape Song on my camera when we were at Issac's school. It was the first time these kids ever heard the song so they weren't dancing with us. If you listen carefully you can hear the cutest little giggle ever.

Who is the Liar?

So one of our favorite songs this year that the kids sang for us was "Who is the Liar?" We don't understand all the words except "Who is the liar? The Devil is a liar . . . (words we don't understand) and throwh him in the fire".