I can’t believe it has been over three weeks since my last blog post! I apologize for the hiatus, but time flies when you’re having fun and working hard. And we have been working hard! Our fish are thriving after a bit of experimenting with water ammonium levels. Our garden is growing and giving us fresh vegetables on a daily basis. Even the flowers are flourishing (of course, this may be related to my carrying of cow patties by bucket down the hill to the flowers everyday to fertilize them).
Just two weeks ago, two of our cows gave birth. One mother cow was able to give birth on her own. The other, however, needed a lot of help. I, along with four other stronger men, were up to our elbows in the mama cow’s “you-know-what” pulling the calf out. After what seemed like two hours of intense labor but was probably only twenty minutes, out plopped a healthy calf. After being washed off, it turned into a cute healthy calf. Both of our new calves are growing stronger by the day, as are our puppies, baby rabbits, and chicks. The mama cows get milked at 4:00am and 4:00pm daily and provide enough milk to supply everyone here. Becoming more and more sustainable isn’t easy but it sure is rewarding.
As I talked about in my last blog, we have continued to have street children show up at our home unexpectedly, but now at a slower rate. I am sure that the homeless children in surrounding cities, towns, and villages have heard that even if they come, it would be tough for them to start a new life here. We can only hope for more support and the ability to expand to give each of those children the opportunity they deserve.
Last week we had the honor of inviting Mirna Hamzy into the Arrive family as our newest volunteer. She was immediately given her Ekegusii (the language of the Kisii tribe) name: Kwamboka, meaning “crossing over” or “new beginnings.” Mirna is Lebanese but was born and raised in the United States. Her passion to improve the world and spiritual awareness are undeniable and she has brought a new energy to our home. From teaching in school (grades 4-6, English and science), to milking our cows, to helping cook dinner, Mirna has been nothing short of an angel to our kids and our souls. She even brought with her tie-dye materials and showed the kids how to make their very own (and first ever) tie-dye shirts!
Mirna is one of the most spiritually aware people I have ever met. She has been keeping a blog about her stay with Arrive, which I recommend you read. You can find her blog by clicking here.
Shortly into Mirna’s stay, we decided to visit Kampala, Uganda. It was her first time and my second. In one of my previous blog posts I told about my trip to Kampala and my stay with refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Their life stories would make you cry –from their families being slaughtered, to children being raped, to fleeing in order to prevent being murdered, and so on. Yet the group of refugees I stayed with, members of a non-profit organization called CIYOTA, have not lost hope. In fact, they might be the most hopeful guys and gals around. They are the only non-profit organization composed of entirely Congolese citizens whose goal is to rebuild the DRC as a peaceful, democratic country for future generations. Staying, talking, and interacting with them showed me a side of humanity that I believe only exists after overcoming some of life’s greatest and most horrific challenges. While they insist that I am an inspiration to them because I have left my life in America and come to Kenya to help those in need, they will never know just how much they have inspired me.
Benson is the founder of CIYOTA and gave me a compliment that I will treasure for the rest of my life. My respect and admiration for Benson, if tangible, would reach the moon and then keep going to another galaxy. Sitting with a group of about 20 people, he started by saying that he fled the Congo when he was a child as he was being recruited as a child soldier for a rebel group. Benson was forced to hold ammunition and use a rifle to fight off Army soldiers when he was only a young child. He fled for his life and ended up in a refugee camp, bouncing from orphanage to orphanage. While the orphanages were USA-sponsored, receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars, Benson didn’t eat, slept on the ground, and was forced to find his own means to survive. None of the money sent for the orphanage to buy food and beds actually reached the orphanage; it landed in peoples’ pockets along the way. Because of his experiences, Benson is the most critical person of outsiders coming to Africa; foreigners wearing a mask of helping the people while in reality feeding their own greed. Benson knows about Arrive and has been a supporter ever since we met. In Kampala last week, Benson stood up in front of a small crowd, came to me, shook my hand, looked me dead in the eyes, and said “Brian, Thank you. We, Africa, need more people like you. With more people like you, our problems could be solved overnight. The work you are doing is righteous, honest, and everyone who knows you or has visited you can clearly see that. For this, and for your continued, unwavered dedication to help our most needy children, I cannot express my gratitude.” Knowing Benson’s story, his history of dodging bullets and barely escaping with his life on multiple occasions, his nature of saying things that he only truly meant from the bottom of his heart, his unfortunate times when he was deprived of a bed and food because of corrupt organizations, his comments brought me to tears.
Lastly, my final update on Douglas. In this blog post first and this blog post more recently, I told you of Douglas’ story. I am ecstatic to say that Douglas arrived at our home last week, walking from the entrance gate into his new bed. While he is still on the mend, the surgery went fantastic and his spirits are high. With his help, we located his mother, identified the root cause of the intra-family problems, and successfully reunited the two of them. Now, once a homeless street child run over by a car and deemed never to walk again, Douglas is out of the hospital, walking, and with his family – a true Arrive success story.
Our goal is to continue to tell you about all of our Arrive success stories. As we continue to grow and expand, I hope you take interest in our impact and see just how successful and beneficial we have been to the community. As for me? I feel like the luckiest man on the face of the earth. I love my life, love the opportunities I have been given to help so many people, am grateful for the support of my parents and family (the best family in the world, if you ask me), and eternally appreciative of the support that you continue to provide Arrive. (If the New York Mets could just make the post-season, all order in the universe would be restored. But even I know that’s wishing for a little too much). From all corners of the world; from the United States of America to Lebanon to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and beyond, let us continue to Arrive Together, Rescue Kids, and Restore Hope.
Want to know more about the Arrive team? Check out our new About Us page!