These past few weeks have been a few of the most memorable weeks I have had yet in Kenya. After all the support I could ask for, my family made their first trip from Connecticut to Kenya. Their eleven days in Kenya went by like a whirlwind, but what we accomplished during that time was staggering. The adventure started on the first day when my brother Kevin, riding on the back of a piki piki (African motorbike) up the childrens’ home’s driveway, was flocked and chased by excited children. As they ran after him up the hill, one kid knocked into the piki piki and both the driver and Kevin fell off as the piki piki came crashing to the ground. Luckily, nobody was hurt. Only a few minutes later, my dad tried to wave goodbye to some of the kids. Instead of making the “good-bye” motion where you hand moves laterally in a wave, he made the motion where your hand is straight up and down and it looks like you are trying to clap with one hand. Suddenly, and to the complete surprise to my dad, every child sprinted directly to him. My dad didn’t know that this motion in Kenya means “come here” instead of “good-bye.”
After a few more cultural blunders, everyone settled in with no real problems. My family and I went on a true safari in Maasai Mara complete with lions, leopards, cheetahs, African buffaloes, elephants, giraffes, gazelle, and more stunning animals (see the above photo). We visited a Maasai village, where the locals cut the vein of a cow so Kevin and I could drink the warm blood (a true delicacy for Maasai). We touched elephants, fed giraffes, and played with monkeys. We traveled to Lake Victoria (the second biggest lake in the world) to eat fresh tilapia, came dangerously close to hippos in the Serengeti of Tanzania, and visited street children in Nairobi and Kisii. But of course, the most meaningful part of the trip happened at home in Keumbu. Whether is was my mom making bracelets and playing board games with the girls, my brother hiking, swimming in the river, and building bonfires with the boys, or my dad teaching everyone how to play American football, the moments my family shared at the Keumbu Rehema Childrens Home will not be forgotten.
I have promised in my previous blog posts to explain our water project, and I am proud to give you all a proper update. A few months ago, Arrive applied for a grant with General Electric (GE) which was generously accepted. The grant’s mission was to build a running water system and fishpond at the KRCH (the fishpond will be built later this summer). As shown in my blog post Maji Safi Ya Kunywa, we had already done much work to find underground natural water springs, build holding tanks, and supply the village of Nyaturubo with clean drinking water. But that was just the beginning.
To provide running water to our home, we had to transport the water (via pipes and a submersible
water pump) from the tanks at the river up to the very top of land. From there, the water would be further treated, stored in two giant water takes, then taken anywhere on our land by the force of gravity and underground piping. After weeks of work digging, making cement, and laying bricks, the entire system was ready to go!
We gave the “ribbon cutting” honor to my parents, who were delighted to be the first ones to open the taps. My mom opened the tap at the two holding tanks on the top of our land, and my dad opened the faucet at the boys’ house to allow the flow of clean drinking water to arrive next to the kitchen.
This accomplishment is enormous. Both the running water and fishpond will have significant impacts to support our long-term sustainability plan. Having water readily available throughout the home will free an hour and half in each child’s day: a total of 45 hours per month for each child. This significant time saved in each child’s schedule will enable him or her to receive a full night’s sleep and dedicate more time to his or her studies. The children will no longer be forced to walk to the river for bathing and collecting water for drinking, cooking, chores and livestock. The ease of access to water in the home will also increase sanitation. The children will be able to wash their belongings and bed sheets every few days, rather than every month. This is critical as a few of the children still urinate while sleeping.
Lastly, I’d like to give you all a quick update on the five girls Arrive sent to boarding school in January (talked about in my blog post The Bulldozers with Four Legs) . National boarding schools are the best secondary schools a Kenyan student can go to, and there are only 148 in the country. Moi Nyabohanse Girls High School is one of those national schools and the school which all five girls attend. Located only few minutes from the Kenyan / Tanzanian border (you can literally see Tanzania from the school field), it was a bit of a trip but I was ecstatic to visit the school for my first time.
Meir, Delphine, Diana M, Diana N, and Sylvia have received the nickname “The Five Stars” because of
their exceptional academic performance and close friendship with each other. I was greeted excitedly by all Five Stars and was shown the classrooms, the dining hall, and dormitories. We spoke with their teachers and relaxed with the girls. It was visiting day at the school, so there were many other parents there as well. However, we were the only ones to bring ten meals of friend chicken and french fries! Five of us went to visit: Pastor, Madam, Daphine, Daisy, and myself, and we all sat together with The Five Stars in their classroom and enjoyed the special meal before we left to travel back home. I am proud to say they are all loving school and thriving; growing both as students and as people.
The Five Stars are only the start to even more Arrive children who will be candidates to go to secondary school in the coming years. I believe that one teacher, one student, one book, and one pencil can change the world. Promoting girls’ education, in a part of the world which doesn’t exactly take that as a primary concern, is something everyone at Arrive is proud of. If you would like to sponsor a child to attend boarding school and continue her or his path to happiness and prosperity, please contact me. Thank you to the generous sponsors who have graciously turned Meir, Delphine, Diana M, Diana N, and Sylvia into The Five Stars!