Last Day in Meru

Today, while half the group was working on auditing some money, the rest of us worked on writing thank you cards to all the teachers of the school.

We met up later and made our way to the school to deliver the cards, as well as curriculum books and small mattresses for the play group. We also had some desks and chairs for the teachers commissioned, as well as a locking cabinet.

After that, we went to see a young girl who was born with AIDS.  She was doing well until college, where a stroke left her confined to a bed for over a year.  Today, she was walking without any assistance and was making a recovery.  Her aunt takes care of her, as both of her parents are gone.  She was in good spirits and seemed happy to see us.  The gave us some delicious passion fruit and the aunt asked me to stay with them forever.

We came home for our goodbye dinner.  We took turns making small speeches, saying prayers for our journey home, and eating way too many french fries.

Short blog post today, as I stayed up late making a slideshow to show people when we get back home.

Not enough internet to put up any pictures right now, unfortunately.

Until next time,

Neil

Health Camp

Today was the longest day of the trip so far.  We ate breakfast around 8, and shortly after left for a Health Camp taking place at the Gitugu Junior Academy.

When we arrived there were already about 60 people waiting.

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Once there, we were assigned tasks to help out.  I, along with Diane, were to help the PAs put pills into little baggies to give to those in need.  Most of the medication were antinematodes, or other problems that could be cured with one course of treatment.  For other issues, such as high blood pressure, patients were given a month’s supply and a slip with follow-up information.  Others were tasked with taking pictures, checking blood pressure, and speaking with the principle about the upcoming events.

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There were also doctors performing free cervical cancer screening.

People kept coming, and while we still don’t have the event totals, there were easily two hundred people helped.

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Next to the health camp, we distributed the school supplies we had purchased and packed for the school two days prior.  The kids cheered loudly when they saw the soccer balls and jump ropes.

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We left around 3pm, and people were still lining up to be seen by the PAs.

We went to a bookstore to buy curriculum sets for the Gitugu Junior Acadamy.  The process took two hours to complete, and by the time we were finished we were running late for our dinner appointment with the bishop.

To Kenyans, tradition is very important, as well as recognizing and letting speak everyone in attendance.  As such, we spent an hour and a half in (one of which lasted twenty minutes!)  We were all so worn out, it was difficult to stay awake with our eyes closed for the prayers.

By the end of the meal, we were nearly dead from the long day.

 

Take Me to Church

I awoke today to the sounds of a crackling loudspeaker blasting hymns.  One I recovered from the shock and woke up fully, I was not upset to hear the music playing, as it sounded quite nice.  We had a slow morning, but we eventually made our way over to the MCK Runogone church.

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The beautiful service lasted a bit over three hours.

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The thing that stuck out the most in my mind was the choir’s performances.  The group had beautiful harmonies, and you could tell they loved what they were doing.

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After the service, we lined up, along with the pastors and bishop, and shook hands with each and every person that attended the service, which totaled around 200.  It was a nice touch, as I felt a lot more connected with the people than if we had simply been ushered to the other building to eat lunch.

We spent the evening packing boxes for our school trip and health clinic tomorrow at Gitugu Junior Academy.

The Great Eating Contest

Today we had a big assembly at our hotel.  Children sponsored by the church came from the surrounding areas for to receive letters and school supplies from their sponsors back in the States.  There were also games, singing, and a picnic.

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The turnout for the event, as well as the event itself, was wonderful.  I heard some beautiful hymns in Swahili, and it made me wish I could understand the language.  I have put in some effort to learn the language, but ten days isn’t enough to get past the basics.

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Two high school students preformed a rap in Swahili.  You could tell they were a bit nervous, but they absolutely knocked it out of the park!  I was too intent on the performance, and didn’t manage to get a picture.

The highlight of my day was competing in an eating contest, which consisted of each person attempting to eat half a standard size loaf of bread and finish an orange Fanta in the shortest amount of time possible.  I tried to smush down the bread into one big wad and take big bites strategy.  I finished dead last.  I even tried to cheat by taking the next to last guy’s Fanta and running it across the field.  He got back and finished before me.  The man looked me dead in the eye as he took the last sip before setting the bottle down at my feet.  The crowd was laughing at all of us, and I would have been too were I not trying to hold everything in my stomach.

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Also, the internet is spotty here, but it works!

Gitugu Junior Academy

On Wednesday, 9/7, we headed to the Gitugu Junior Academy in the outskirts of Meru.  The church sponsors this school in many ways, and our visit was a chance for us to see the school, meet the staff and children, and do a needs-assessment for moving forward with the new partnership.

We toured the classrooms, as well as met some of the teachers and students.  Each classroom introduction was the same, we interrupt class, the one of the higher-ups tells the students to clap for us and say that we are welcome in the school, we smile and nod, the teacher tells us a bit about the class and how grateful they are that we are here.  It was a bit strange, but it was interesting to see the classes.

Again, photo credit to Cindy.  I need to start taking my own photos.  She does have a knack for photography, though.

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After the tour and a few meetings, we, along with parents, are treated to a show.  Students from the school participate in reading poetry, singing songs, and doing dances.

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The adults eventually take the stage and convince us to dance along with us.  We are all presented gifts from the community.  The women receive “kanga”, and I was gifted three giraffes.

It was a very fun and eventful day.  Apart from the events described here, I got to eat arrowroot, was offered a baby, and we went shopping for school supplies.

The people here have been so genuine and appreciative.  I feel a little guilty as the other four on this trip have been preparing for months, and developing relationships for years.  I jumped on last minute, and I still get treated with the same respect.  Doesn’t seem fair.  If any of you four are reading this, you are rock stars!