A Quiet Day

We had a quiet morning at home, catching up with the blog. The girls did some laundry.

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Chickens for Imelda!

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Bridget loves Hibiscus

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After lunch we went to visit Ngomongo Villages. After several attempts to find the place (no signs) we discovered it was closed because of poor tourist numbers (which explains the lack of signs). So we went to the nearby Shanzu Transitional Workshops for young disabled women, where they make goods (mainly bags) out of kikoi. They have a little sensory garden.

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Bridget, as ever, found a furry friend.

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From there we drove just down the road to the Serena Beach Hotel, and sat in their beachside garden watching things go by (and drinking passion juice).

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Looking from the hotel towards the beach.

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After returning to Kikambala we went to supper as guests of Yolanda who owns the Boko Boko Seychelles restaurant nearby, with wonderful food and a warm welcome.

Map of the Day

 

Arabuko Sokoke Forest

 

A long but quick drive to Watamu took us to Arabuko Sokoke Forest, where our guide first took us on a guided walk. This is a local fruit.

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A black kite.

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A pink Lucy

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A praying mantis

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The larva of a bug (anti lion?)

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The larva sits in its hole and waits for prey to pass, then pulls them in with its jaws.

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Maggy adding scale to a mahogany tree.

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A baby baobab tree.

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An ex butterfly, still pretty.

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Land snail shell

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A fungus

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Flamboyant tree

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A live butterfly – they were impossible to photograph.

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Swinging on a tarzan creeper, our guide Johnston showed us how and we all had a go

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Completing the walk.

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Gecko

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We all climbed the tree house.

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An eagle over the swamp

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B under a famous arched tree

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Lucy at the view point taking a panorama on her new phone.

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All of us

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On the way back, we saw a mongoose ahead on the track. Not very close, but better than we’d achieve with the duiker and red-rumped elephant shrew we’d seen earlier.

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The viewpoint was a long way (28km of bumpy track each way) so we were glad to be back on the highway and head back to Kikambala

Map of the Day

 

New Year’s Day – Kikambala and Shanzu

 

As we walked to the beach, we found a chameleon on the roadside.

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The tide was not as high as we’d hoped, which meant there were many birds around still.

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It was a little breezy as we walked along the beach.

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Still We were able to wallow in the warm water.

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As soon as we were in the water, Maggy wanted Lucy to take her photo

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On the way back we found some Colobus monkeys.

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Bouganvillea

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Kikambala Village (restaurant, accommodation, beverages) was till being built when we were last here. Looks good.

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We headed to Shanzu, where we called on Samuel’s family. Gloria and Shanique were playful, and liked b’s water bottle.

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Map of the day

 

Mivumoni to Kikambala

Another day, another cute puppy for B!

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Lucy meanwhile is hard at work making breakfast.

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Baby Mike and his teddy.

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We visited the Franciscan sisters, and after tea and bread Sr Grace took us around to see their new fishpond.

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The pawpaws are abundant.

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Teamwork to pick a pawpaw – and yes, I caught it.

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On tour

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Pineapple

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Baby pineapple

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Freak pineapple with 5 heads!

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Bridget found a passion fruit.

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The two Mikes: grandfather and grandson

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Mwanamkuu also liked a teddy.

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Saying farewell to the family.

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At Kikambala we attended the New Year Mass, after which the youth burn a figure representing the old year, symbolising a new start in 2015.

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After Mass, before we headed into the house to toast the new year in Tusker (and sodas).

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Happy New Year!

Map of the Day

 

Mivumoni Exploration

 

After a good sleep, we were up surprisingly early, and Bridget loved all the animals around the place (the cattle get taken out after breakfast).

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One of several cats.

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The two puppies.

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Mike took us on a tour of the shamba.

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Blixa – used as a dye and for make up.

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The famous mivuma trees that give the village its name.

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I picked my first coconut (I was the only one tall enough to reach it)

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Bananas!

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Testing the pump at the new well near Lucy’s shamba; sadly it needs to be deepened as the water has dried up already.

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Bridget spotted someone’s bathroom as we walked to the spring where they still fetch water from.

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Butterfly.

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Ndunge and her son Mike and one of granny’s teddies.

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Bridget tastes her first madafu.

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Bridget is dressed properly by her sister Lucy.

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John gave the puppies a bath.

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Lucy took us on  walk round the village.

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The catholic church

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Bridget was loving the flowers as well as the animals.

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The secondary school where most of our young friends were educated.

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inside one of the classrooms – we hoped order would be restored before term starts next week.

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The staff room, with its inspirational mottos.

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More passion flowers.

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At Maggy’s Bridget found more friends.

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Leaving Maggy’s we met Mike and went for a Tusker, letting Lucy go home to help with the cooking. Another feast awaited us.

Map of the day

 

Off on another trip – with Bridget

Here we go again! Bridget and I slipped away from the Christmas celebrations at home and headed to Heathrow. Having found our meet-and-greet driver and handed over Meld’s car we entered the newly-refurbished Terminal 2, checked in, did some shopping, and headed to the gate. The flight to Addis was uneventful except for me turning white and unresponsive, to Bridget’s alarm, but I was OK soon afterwards.

Addis was OK – we were in the modern terminal – but our onwards flight was an hour late. Approaching Mombasa from over Shimba Hills it was very bumpy, but we landed safely, got through the ebola scans, queued for ever to get a visa, then found our driver.

Map of the flights

The car was waiting, and we drove into town, picked Maggy by the Cathedral, and joined the queue for the ferry. Two hours later we were on South Coast and had an easy (fast) drive to Mivumoni, with a short stop for shopping at Ukunda. Soon after dark we dropped Maggy at her home then got the car a bit stuck trying to turn round! (We hadn’t found the traction control button a this stage).

Minutes later we rolled into Lucy’s homestead to a warm welcome, and a feast.

Map of the drive

We didn’t really do justice to the feast, we were so tired after a night with little sleep, and were happy to slip into our beds, Bridget sharing a room with her Kenyan sister Lucy.

 

Can you spare some cash to sponsor a child through school?

As elsewhere in the world, an education is crucial to a Kenyan’s prospects in life. There’s lots of competition for limited poorly-paid work, and education opens up new opportunities as well as making a more-rounded individual. Most Kenyan youngsters are keen to learn, but education is not free – although Primary Education in state schools is ostensibly free, it’s only the tuition that is free and students need to pay for uniform, exam fees, books and miscellaneous fees. Even then, the government schools have huge class sizes and thus limited opportunity to do well (the teachers do their best, but we’ve heard of classes up to 100 children).

So many families, scraping by at (or below) subsistence level, cannot afford to send their children to school, certainly not to the school of their choice. This obviously includes families infected/affected by HIV/AIDS, for whom life is a real struggle, but there are many other families who work hard but cannot pay fees for school or college.

There are several organisations around who organise sponsorship of children and young people, but I can tell you about a few that we’ve had direct contact with during our trip.

As a general rule, these organisations prefer sponsors to commit to see a child through their education, so sponsoring a child just starting school could be a long-term undertaking, but shorter term arrangements or one-off donations are also possible. If you sponsor a young child you’ll get feedback from the organisation on their progress; sponsor an older child to high school or college and you will probably get direct feedback from the individual (Kenyans love Facebook!).

How much it costs depends very much on the “package”: paying uniform / books / exams for a child at a government primary school will likely be less than paying the same plus fees at a private school. School fees vary depending on the school, as do college fees, and transport may be required as well (or accommodation at/near school).

Imelda is here giving her time and energy directly educating Class 4 pupils at Barnabas; for the rest of us who can’t do that, sponsorship is a real way to help a child.

So here are my options for you to consider:

  • Barnabas Children’s Center is the school in which Imelda is currently working. 90% of the children cannot pay fees and are educated for free. The school is run on a shoestring with money from donors around the world, and they also provide a home for 29 orphans and street kids. They need every penny we can give them, either to develop the school or to sponsor individual needy children.

 

  • Community Light Programme, run by Edu and others here in Shanzu with support from overseas, aims to help families affected by HIV/AIDS and have an established process for placing children in schools and supporting them. I’ve seen this in practice with school reports being collected, scanned and e-mailed to the sponsors. Some of the children are at Barnabas and Fumathoka, the schools Imelda has volunteered at, others at schools around Mtwapa which I visited with Edu.

 

  • Okoa Jahazi, run by Eunice and her committee, are similar to CLP but the Community Based Organisation is composed of people infected/affected by HIV/AIDS helping others in the same situation; they are based in Kiembeni, a few miles away. They too arrange sponsorship for children. Read Eunice’s Story to see what drives her and why she needs your help. She really is an amazing lady.

 

  • As I mentioned, I’ve had a number of requests for direct sponsorship of individuals hoping to go to High School or College. These don’t fall under the HIV/AIDS umbrella of Community Light Programme or Okoa Jahazi, and are too old for Barnabas, but their needs are no less real. I’m hoping to get these youngsters to write about themselves, their aspirations and their needs so that they can seek sponsorship.

So there it is – there are hundreds or thousands of children here who need your help. You can’t help them all, but maybe you can support one and make a real difference to their life prospects. Do ask if you have any questions.

The Last Farewell

Our final hours in Kenya were spent… packing, doing the previous day’s blog, and relaxing. Joe arrived, having delivered Mary to school in Kaloleni. After a light lunch, it was time for farewells and to travel to the airport.

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Bye, Flash

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Bye, Shanique (and Tina)

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Edu came with us to the airport and organised the bags.

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We enjoyed a final drink with Joe and Edu, then we were on our own – into the terminal, balancing weight between bags (though we’d got it pretty close), check in, upstairs to departures, a few minutes to get the computer out… then we were called through security!

The flight to Addis left almost 30 minutes early (which was a pain, because at Mombasa we had internet and at Addis we had naff all!). 6.5 hours in Bole International Airport is a long wait, though there were beds to lie on and we had books to read.

The flight to London left on time, and arrived 30 minutes early. Luckily Mark, who was meeting us, was there when we emerged, and we were home soon after 08:30.

Last Full Day

Our last full day in Kenya was quite low-key, thanks to Kenya Poor. The blackout started early and, having completed yesterday’s blog entry and processed some photos for Barnabas, my battery was flat, so any plan to do some last-minute website updates went out the window..

Catherine, her mum, and Eunice came bearing gift to wish us farewell, not long before Joe came to collect us for lunch. We prayed together before parting.

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Joe took us to Kikambala for lunch, a White Cap, and a postprandial snooze. Then we went to Blue Sky to sit in the garden, sip sodas, and then take a final walk on the beach and paddle.

Meld’s first selfie?

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Then back to Shanzu for a farewell supper with the extended family. We gathered outside the house in the falling light.

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The food is ready.

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Maggy complained about the cold.

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Some of our hosts

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Tucking in

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Grace rests after cooking and serving

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Last Day of School

Today was Imelda’s last day at Barnabas (we felt we needed a clear day to get ourselves organised before travelling home), so I was also invited to join them for lunch and the afternoon farewell ceremony.

First, we took a look at the new temporary classroom

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It still needs a concrete floor.

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The house mothers were busy cooking lunch… chapati…

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…and pilau…

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The kids line up to wash their hands, the big ones helping the little ones.

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With Edu, the Danish volunteers and some visitors from Action Aid, we were treated as VIPs, seated with the men teachers. (Imelda in particular would have liked her female colleagues to eat with us, but that’s not the Kenyan way).

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Silas shares some pictures with the kids.

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Lunchtime

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After lunch, and showing Harrison the new version of their website I’d built (I’m getting to love WordPress!!) the kids were lined up outside to say farewell

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The reaction to “Hands up if you love teacher Imelda” (her class 4 are the back row)

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Singing and dancing

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An action song (like Father Abraham if you’re a pilgrim!) – here it’s “tongues out” and Teacher Rose and her daughter Eva were caught!

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Headteacher Harrison on “turn around”

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Class 4 group hug Teacher Imelda

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Au revoir Harrison

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We were escorted, by Class 4 and others, to the road, where they waved us off as we left in the matatu.

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Barnabas, kids and staff, we will never forget you.

Last Sunday at Kikambala

Our last Sunday in Kenya was spent at Kikambala. For once we made an early start and were at the 7am Mass (which starts at 07:30). There were thanks to us for raising the money to roof the house (and more), and exhortations to the parish to dig deep to finish it off.

The main items remaining are floors, decoration and louvres. The ceilings are now complete throughout.

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The wiring is complete, but switches and sockets need to be fitted.

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The youth were prettifying the grounds.

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And the choir were meeting

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Team Youth

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The ladies were preparing a feast for lunch

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And washing the vestments

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Meanwhile we walked to the beach and sat under a tree, letting the world pass by.

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Hello Mr Crab

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We walked along to Sun’n’Sand Hotel for a drink

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Back at the church, lunch was served and we sat with the youth

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Then Jacob drove us to the beach as the tide was returning.

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Posing girls

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While we drank our post-swim drinks we saw a lot of birds in a nearby tree, Suddenly they all flew out…

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Party Time

Today was the day of our big farewell party, to which we’d invited pretty much everyone we know in the area – all of Joe’s extended family, staff and volunteers from Barnabas, members of Okoa Jahazi, friends from Mivumoni…

I started the day by making mandazi ( a kind of dough nut, made with baking powder rather than yeast, and shallow fried). They weren’t bad (and they were all eaten, many by the cooks preparing our feast).

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The first cooks, Cecilia and Selina, arrived and built a couple of fires. There’s a specific technique with 3 rocks to support the sufuria (cooking pot) and the wood inserted between so that the fire can be kept even by pushing the pieces of wood into the centre.

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Meld landed the job of peeling 15 large garlic bulbs.

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The ladies worked on the back porch, behind the kitchen.

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Selina crushes garlic.

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Sarah works and holds Angelina

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Early guests

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Edu brought a friend, Rahma (you’ll also see her in the back porch shot above).

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Cecilia stirs her pot.

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Baby Tina has grown, but maybe not as much as we’d expected.

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Tina and Ngala

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Meld and Gracie share a joke.

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Chatting whilst waiting for the food to be ready.

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The ladies of Okoa Jahazi enjoy a Smirnoff Black Ice.

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The two Danish volunteers at Barnabas chat to our local friends.

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Robert looks happy.

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The kids are served their food.

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Eunice is happy to be fed.

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Tuck in there’s lots for everyone!

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Maggy and Meld

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Silas

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Mary and Gloria

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Before lunch some of the men had erected two garlands, and chairs were placed by them. We started taking photos…

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But we were told we were improperly dressed, so we were taken inside, dressed, and returned as Giriamas.

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It then became something like a wedding, trying to get pictures of us with everyone! With Samuel and Joe.

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With Joe’s siblings

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With Joe’s sisters-in-law

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With some of the next generation

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With the Barnabas team.

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With Okoa Jahazi

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Me with Jacob

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The Danish visitors were dressed up too.

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Kids having fun

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And gradually everyone departed. Quite a day…

 

Pre-Party Cookery

Meld wanted to make some lemon drizzle cakes for tomorrow, and Eunice came to learn how to make them. Robert and Faith helped too.

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Robert checking consistency

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Faith had a rest

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Teddy, who lives with Eunice, dropped by for a while.

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With the cakes in the oven, and maharagwe na wali (bean stew and rice) cooked, I prepared mchicha (one of many Kenyan greens, similar to leaf spinach).

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A boda boda turned up with food from Samuel for the party, then returned with more food plus Samuel himself. Jacob spread the contents to stop them sweating overnight.

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Busy days in Shanzu

As the end of our trip approaches we’ve both been quite busy: Meld being Class 4 teacher at Barnabas, and me trying to complete updates to websites and various admin tasks around and about.

On Tuesday I went to Barnabas to see Harrison’s laptop, and managed to get a photo of Imelda’s shy colleague.

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Back home, the reduced dog family welcomed us.

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On Wednesday Imelda finished early and we went by boda boda (motorbike taxi, also know as piki piki) to the Transitional Workshop for Disabled Young Women at Shanzu. We didn’t realise that Selina worked here, although she was not there at the time. They make a wide range of products from kikoy fabric…

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…and sell them in their shop.

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We then went on to Kikambala for a lovely supper with Coralis.

Thursday’s main adventure was a shopping trip in Joe’s truck to Nakumatt to buy sodas for our party on Saturday.

Friday found Shanique hitching a ride in a hand cart

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And Imelda teaching drawing

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Martin and the boys have been clearing the grounds for the party tomorrow. Martin and Shariff disappeared, and came back with a crab!

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Sadly the crab was only to look at, as they’d also brought its owner!

Unusually for January, the nights are a bit cool here – you certainly need a sheet over you in bed – maybe it’s preparation for going home!

 

The Farewells Begin

It’s not supposed to be a long farewell, but the past couple of days have started to feel a bit like it!

Sunday, after Mass, we went to Boko Boko, treating Fr Joe and Deacon Joseph in return for the many meals we’ve shared with them at Kikambala. Yolande, the owner, came and talked to us after the meal. I’m sure we’ll sneak back there once more before we go home!

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These two musicians serenaded us with an eclectic range of songs.

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Then on Monday we went to Joe’s rural home. Our last opportunity to visit this trip.

Two of the puppies, Rodney (a girl) and Lou (a boy) are moving there, and Martin made them a box to travel in.

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First, and most important, task was to greet Joe’s mum. She’s ailing, and often doesn’t remember people, but at Christmas asked why we were not there!

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The tent, used for the memorial service and at Christmas, was dismantled.

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Joe’s truck had a puncture a couple of weeks ago, and the rather worn spare was still on with the repaired wheel in the back of the truck. I suggested that we should swap them back, and somehow landed the task for myself (assisted by Martin and encouraged by a typical African crowd).

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Replacing the spare – I love how all the kids bent down to see this happen!

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Truck fixed, i inspected the sukuma wiki preparations

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Joe’s aunt and one of the children.

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It’s the mzungu baby thief again

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Lunch – Patrick’s never late!

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More of the family and kids

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Meld and Joe start a school

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It’s quite green up here – not as dry and dusty as Mombasa

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Eliza opens coconuts – don’t argue with her when she has a panga, she’s got a killer stroke.

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Back to normal tomorrow…. school, laundry and websites!

Old Town and more

We took a matatu to town and walked to Fort Jesus, looking across the creek to Nyali.

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The coast has suffered erosion.

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Me and the fort.

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The fort without me! (Well, part of it)

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Roundabout outside Fort Jesus with tea or coffee pot and cups – supposedly indicates that Old Town is an alcohol free area.

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We took lunch at Jahazi Coffee House, where the friendly cats sleep.

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Along the road through Old Town

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We visited several curio shops and bought a few souvenirs, after bargaining.

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Then a rapid tuk-tuk ride to the ferry to meet Lucy, on her last day in pwani before heading to Eldoret at 5am Sunday.

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Posers.

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The ferry in the late afternoon sun

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Hordes of people make their way onto the ferry, passing the Italian aircraft carrier Cavour, here on anti-piracy patrol we presumee.

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From the ferry we took a very bumpy matatu to Bamburi to meet Harrison, headteacher at Barnabas, and join his family for supper. We had a lovely time, and discussed school and their website.

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Cat pillow

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New Classroom for Barnabas

I went up to Barnabas School on Friday afternoon to meet Meld and also to see progress with the new interim Standard 4 classroom (current Classes 2, 3 and 4 are in one room, with a thin board partition separating Class 4).

The frame is mostly up, and most of the roof sheets are on (they need a bit more money to buy the rest of the sheets).

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Putting in the last upright.

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The classroom will have plywood half walls and a concrete floor.

Meanwhile this is the Class 4 room, with mwalimu at the back.

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Meld and most of her 12 students (and a couple of others hanging on!)

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With 2 of her lady colleagues.

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Staying cool despite Kenya Power

Having procured the new power supply yesterday, I had the computer up and running again (using the PV solar system). The new power supply works like the old one – it is small and runs pretty hot (it did in UK). Here, in ambient temperatures of 30°C it gets untouchably hot. This almost definitely contributed to the demise of the original, and I don’t want a repeat. The question was, how to keep it cool when there was no power to run a fan?

My immediate thought was to construct a heatsink. Phase 1 one to strap the transformer tightly to the metal colander – I know from experience of draining pasta that it conducts heat far too well! And the holes should aid cooling.

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With this set-up, the colander got hot quite quickly so I thought we needed something else, if only to raise the colander into the airflow more. So I placed the transformer and colander on an inverted sufuria (cooking pot),

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Despite the sufuria not having a flat bottom (they are really designed for use on wood fires or charcoal jikos) it soon got quite warm, and the colander also was warm enough to know it was working as a heat sink.

I’m glad to report (a) that the power supply is still working well and (b) now that the laptop battery is fully charged and the power supply is just ticking over, heat is less of a problem.

So now, back to my various web projects….

 

Oh, Kenya Power and Darkness, how we hate you.

Electricity in Kenya is supplied (intermittently) by Kenya Power and Light Company – fondly (?!) known “Kenya Power and Darkness” or “Kenya Poor”. On Tuesday afternoon the power was off and on, and I mistakenly left my laptop plugged in to a wall socket (without surge protection) and at some stage the internals of the power supply melted and fused the plug. Careless mistake on my part, left with 2 hours battery to last over 2 weeks unless I could find a replacement.

So I contacted Edu, who said he knew a place in town that might have what we needed, if I could join him on a visit first, so late Wednesday morning I met Edu and Noelia and we went to pick up a boy called Juma (front) and his mum to take them to Barnabas School.

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On of Juma’s brothers.

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Ready to go to school.

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So by foot and matatu we all headed to Barnabas. While Juma was interviewed by Harrison, I disturbed the Class 4 teacher.

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During the lunchbreak we inspected the new classroom being built to give room for the Class 4.

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Saying farewell to Barnabas, we took 2 matatus via Bamburi to Mombasa town, where Edu visited a friend (running a graphic design and print service) who took my laptop and the dead power supply and came back a little later saying the place next door had one for 2,500 KES (under £20). We had quite a wait while the item was retrieved from store, then a hunt for the socket-to-transformer cable (the new adapter, genuine Samsung of the correct rating, had a 2-pin input rather than 3-pin).

By now we were tired, thirsty and hungry, so we headed to the Old Town.

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Eventually (mainly because Noelia and I kept stopping to take photos!) we reached Edu’s favourite haunt, Jahazi Coffee House.

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It’s a cat-friendly place.

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Snacks and drinks

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Edu made himself at home.

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And I found a purring puss

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From Jahazi we headed to the waterside by Fort Jesus (about 100 metre walk) and took the view.

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Then, leaving Noelia to meet a friend, Edu and I headed back to Shanzu.

Now you can see the evidence that the power adapter is functioning… and the electrician is here fixing the house electrics (I’m connected to the solar).

Farewell Marius, Hello Noelia

Marius, the Norwegian intern who has been here over Christmas, was leaving this evening, so a party was planed in his honour. Marius has been a great hit here, working hard with the special school and Barnabas orphans.

I visited during the day when preparations were under way. Gloria was in the bath…

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And Shanique hopped in with her, fully dressed!

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We got spruced up and joined the party in the evening. Lydia is not yet used to Jacob’s extended family!

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Shanique loves an audience

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Marius was given a cake – naming him “MJ Charo”, i.e. one of the Charo family.

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The tradition is that he has to feed everyone cake, then be fed by everyone,with much chanting!

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With his new wazazi (parents)

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With the whole family, and new intern Noelia

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The Charo Brothers

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Fed by mama

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And then, everyone departed to see Marius to the stage on the way for a night flight to Nairobi (first of 4 flights over 48 hours to reach the Arctic circle in northern Norway – that WILL be a shock to hs system!)