I can’t believe we’ve already been back from Kenya for over a month! For those of you who haven’t seen any of the photos yet, here’s a selection of favorites memories and photos which I call “The Happy Collection”. =]
Our team’s first stop was Paris! We had an eight hour layover en route to Nairobi, so we tried to make the best of it with the French. All I know is that if I ever end up living in France, I’m going to set up an instant photo booth at this corner near the Eiffel Tower that nobody else seems to have discovered.
We spent some quiet moments in the Notre Dame cathedral, in anticipation of the busy schedule our friend Ken had planned out for us once we arrive in Kenya.
We’re in Garissa, learning about how they dig wells for local villages so the women don’t have to walk several miles daily to get water from the river. To make the well deeper, they actually lower someone down in the bucket (as shown in the photo) so he can send up bucketfuls of mud from the bottom of the well.
We went to check out the K-8 school that Ken manages. Here, Steph wins the favor of the preschool kids at the school and they vote to spare her from the lion’s den.
I was deeply impressed by the “graffiti” scrawled on the dorm lockers. I think these students are accustomed to much more hardship than I was at their age, and their faith in God is also stronger because of it.
This man was sooo happy to receive a pair of new shoes that had been donated by someone at our church. The next day we totally saw him running around the school with them. Personally, it was really encouraging to see the direct effect our giving had on someone.
At the school assembly, we were asked to talk about our various careers and why the students must study hard. =] Even though I suspect some (if not many) of the students here have never even touched a computer before, I really felt in my element as I shared about my passion for computers and teaching others about technology.
Here we are about to all cram into the back of the Land Rover for a very bumpy ride over the unpaved desert sand into the Kenyan Bush, where we would get to see a very different side of Kenya. The man in the photo would serve as our medical staff during the trip.
Ironically, our first meal at the pastor’s house in the Bush were these self-heating APack Ready Meals similar to those used by the US Army. They certainly get plenty hot when you mix the powdered iron, magnesium, salt, and water together!
No sooner was lunch finished that Steph was put to work. Though she had not planned to provide any optometric services on this trip, we were informed that there was already a line forming outside to see the eye doctor! We know of at least one older man who walked 10 miles from his own village in the desert heat in order to be seen, so how could Steph refuse?
The rest of us did our best to be useful or at least keep the villagers entertained. Hideyo set up an impromptu origami workshop for the kids. One thing I definitely learned on this trip is that it’s good to always be prepared to have something cool to share with others, wherever you may be.
I got to share about my Chinese-American life through photos. Ironically, I had a number of photos in there which only solidified the Kenyan stereotype that all Asians know kung fu!
Here’s one of the makeshift medical camps that we set up in the Bush to distribute medicine and mosquito nets to the villagers. Our medical nurse was working nonstop to diagnose problems and write prescriptions, and it was our team’s job to quickly fill the orders! The medicines included everything from anti-malarials to painkillers to multivitamins.
As the sun set, the medical camp was wrapped up and the projection system was set up to show The Jesus Film, which covers all the basics about the life of Jesus in 2.5 hours to people who have possibly never heard about him before. I was struck by how much more similar my surroundings were to those of Jesus’ time. And I got a kick out of seeing a film projector running off of an electric generator in the middle of the desert!
Here is the site of another medical camp that we set up in another village in the Bush. While they were waiting, the men sat down and had a lively discussion with Ken and Mike about Barack Obama. (Tip: Regardless of your political outlook, you had best speak well of Obama when in Kenya!)
Kids LOVE seeing themselves in digital cameras… (I obviously didn’t take this photo. You can tell because: 1: My body is in the background. 2: My body has been beheaded. 3: My camera’s in the picture.)
These were the cutest little sisters at the last medical camp that we set up. They were also super quiet and well-behaved for the 3 or so hours that we were there. We later realized they were possibly terrified of our presence. In the photo, their daddy is trying to convince them that they don’t have to be afraid of the scary man named Hideyo who is offering them paper cranes and trail mix. =]
One of the last things we got to do in Kenya was to plant 18 trees at Ken’s school. To our surprise, the heavy-duty work was already done for us by the gardeners — all we had to do was put the little tree in the pre-dug hole, cover it with soil, and water it with the pre-filled water jugs! Next time we return to Garissa, we look forward to seeing how big the Baylight forest has grown!
That’s all for this long-overdue update! Stay tuned for the next Kenya post: “The Gritty Collection”!