Sunday, April 25, 2010

Birthday weekend pics 2

More April Birthday weekend pics...

Left to right: Lene, John, Faith, Claire, Fenny, Kevin, and Clinton

Nimrod very focused while dancing!

Kids dancing (Pricilla, Nick, Michael, Mark, Umbertus, Mungai, and James)

Mark showing off his moves.
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Birthday weekend

This weekend was the April birthday weekend. On Saturday, a mass was held and a visiting priest from Poland, who was actually on our flight from London to Nairobi, blessed each child who's birthday is in April. Many of the kids do not know their exact birthday date, so the orphanage made one day a month to be the kids birthday date.

After mass a cake that was donated by a Kenyan insurance company was cut (see pic below). Not only did this insurance company donate a cake, but they also donated food and clothes to the kids as well as a music DJ for the afternoon. Thus, after they cut the cake we had a dance party with all the kids. And let me tell you, these kids can dance. Just see the pics below.

The rest of the weekend was low key. On both Saturday and Sunday we went to mass in the morning and then watched an English Premier soccer game at the local bar, The Rusty Nail. I am now working on my last weeks lesson plans. Tomorrow afternoon, Grant and I will be accompanying the older kids to Splash, the waterslides. At the end of every Holiday Program, all the kids are taken to the waterslides. The other volunteers will be taking the younger kids on Tuesday and Wed afternoon. And then on Friday there will be "Nyumbani Has Talent!" Us volunteers having come up with anything creative yet. We are thinking of some kind of dance routine... we will keep you informed!

Have a blessed week.
Love Grant and Claire

Sister Mary, the CEO of Nyumbani, and the April birthday kids (Nimrod, Justin, Owen, Junior, Michael, and Mungi) cutting their cake.

Nimrod cuttin' a rug!

Grant dancing with Innocent (jumping in the air) and Unice.

Fidelis and Daisy dancing.
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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Hell's Gate

Last weekend Grant, myself and the three other volunteers went on a weekend trip: to Lake Nivasha and Crater Lake on Sat (see previous blog) and Hell's Gate on Sunday. Hell's Gate is the only park in all of Kenya where you can go on an unguided biking safari tour. It is also the park that inspired the scenes from the movie Lion King!!

We woke up especially early on Sun, and rented mountain bikes from the camp we were staying at. 2 km into our bike ride in the park, Grant's tire broke...literally. The pin that holds the back tire to the bike broke. At this point, one of the volunteers had ridden ahead no where to be seen, and of course was the only one who had a cellphone with her. I gallantly volunteered myself to go ride ahead and find Heather to tell her about Grant's broken bike and to use the phone to call the camp for another bike.

5 min after leaving Grant and the two other volunteers I came across a lonesome African Waterbuffalo next to the path I was biking on. If I had not learned the day before that the Waterbuffalo was the 2nd most deadly animals to humans I wouldn't have thought much of seeing it. And I later found out that a buffalo on its own is more dangerous b/c they are more scared. My heart was racing and I realized how stupid I was to be biking alone in this large park with wild animals. Now that I was scared, my imagination began to go wild. After a minute or two and still not finding Heather and seeing big dark creatures up ahead, I decided it was in my best interest to turn around and get help from the group. However, this meant I had to ride by the buffalo again! This time as I got close to it, it began to walk towards me (about 20 feet from me now). I don't think I have ever biked as fast as I did at that moment. I do believe there were angels surrounding me--thank you God! I had been so scared that by the time I made it back to the group I was in tears.

But, in the end everything turned out well. I walked back with Grant to the entrance of the park to collect a new wheel for his bike and the other two volunteers biked hesitently ahead to find the other volunteer (which they did about an hour later). There were no more sitings of buffalo that day. We did see Baboons scaling the rocky cliffs, zebras, giraffes, elands, gazelles, warthogs, and impalas.

At the far end of the park there was a huge gorge that was used as the inspiration for the movie Lion King. We saw the place where the wildabeast stampeed killed Mufasa (single tear)-- Emma you would have loved it! We made it safely back to the campsite, but not without Grant's bike breaking down for the 2nd time, about 5 km from the campsite--this time the front wheel pin fell out! Grant only payed 1/2 price for his bike (after a heated discussion with the bike renter!!!)

We are now back safely at our home in Nyumbani. We only have 1.5 weeks left of teaching. I can't believe how quickly it has gone by. Today I went on a nature walk with my 2nd graders, picking leaves to then color, and Grant was teaching the 6th graders about the history and geography of Africa. It is hard work being a teacher!!

Thank you for everyones' comments on the blog. It is so nice to hear from you all. We love you and miss you.

Claire and Grant

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Crater Lake Pics

Grant and I and the three other volunteers, Louise, Lene, and Heather went away this last weekend to Lake Navasha, about a 2 hr drive north of where we are staying in the Rift Valley Region. All 5 of us stayed one night at a campground in a banda, a one room hut that slept 5 people and had mosquito nets, a FLUSHING toilet and shower! You might say it was a 5 star banda!!

Saturday afternoon we hired a guide to take us to Crater Lake Game Sanctuary. This lake is next to a volcanic crater and surrounded by lush green grasslands that provide a home to Grevy's zebras, giraffe, African buffalo (I have a story about them later on in this blog), Grant and Thomas gazelles and Impalas. Our guide took us on a walking safari to see the animals (see pics below) and the small lake (which was green and not very impressive!)

The next day we woke up very early to go on a biking safari in Hell's Gate, the site where the scetches from the movie Lion King was inspired. See next blog with pics and adventorous stories...

Maasai Giraffe

Grevy's zebra--the smaller of the two types of zebras. They stand in groups to confuse predetors ofmany there are of them.

The African Buffalo-- the 2nd most deadly animal to humans. Even a lown Maasai warrior on a bike in the park came and walked with us so he was in a group.

Grant and I and our guide, Marcus, standing above Crater Lake-- nothing lives in the lake b/c it is so salty!
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Wednesday, April 14, 2010


The Day at the Waterslides

Today all 75 of the kids plus all the moms and uncles and volunteers were taken out to the waterslides. Ann Power, a saint of a person plus a sponser for some of the kids, payed for everyone to go to the slides. She is a judge at the international court level (living in France) and has been involved with Nyumbani for a number of years. She visits Nyumbani at least every year and usually takes all the kids somewhere. We were lucky to be around!!

I, Claire, was the nurse for all 75 of the kids today. I was given a first-aid kit and had the responsibility to place ear plugs into 25 kid's ears. Grant had the responsibilty of sliding, swimming, and splashing in the water. He was the fastest down the water slides!!

One thing that I have learned while working at Nyumbani is that many of the kids have ear infections, as a result from HIV, and has led to many kids having perferated ear drums, thus needing hearing aids. Swimming easily causes ear infections, so a way to prevent them is to wear ear plugs. For the little kids it became a "cool" thing and everyone seemed to be asking for them. However, the older kids did not think they were necessary!!

The whole day turned out well; no injuries and no fights. It beat all our expectations!!

Tata for now. We'll be back to teaching for the rest of the week and then we are going to take an excursion north to Hell's Gate where we are going to bike around animals!!

Love Claire and Grant

Older Nyumbani kids playing in the water.

Regan sliding down the waterslide. He is in standard 3.

Rosemary and Claire-- we weren't allowed to wear a bikini, so I had to wear a shirt.

Latia, standard 2, sliding down the waterslide.
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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Community Service

Hello everyone

Grant and I had a great weekend exploring. On Saturday, we spent several hours walking around the city of Nairobi and bargaining in the Maasi Market. After spending an hour bus ride back to Nyumbani, along which we saw a giraffe, we quickly turned around and went to the 15-aside Kenyan semifinal rugby match with another volunteer, Lene (she is from Norway). We were lucky enough to have sat next to an ex-rugby player so he could fill us in on all the rules! Next weeks final match will be KBC vs. Quinns!! We finished our night off by watching a movie with the high school girls (lucky Grant)-- this has become a rital: watching a movie on Fri-Sun with one of the cottages. Unfortunately the older girls like to watch scary movies, and I hate scary movies!

After mass on Sunday, Grant, myself, Lene, and Louise (the swedish-american volunteer) joined the standard 7 and high school boys to the Kenyan Horse Races. What an experience! It was beautiful: it was a grass track with a golf course in the middle; it was set in the Ngong hills, and there were monkeys swinging in the trees! Louise was the only one to bet on the horse races and she came away with 700 shilings (about $10). The betting was done by machines, but the odds were done manually under a tent with crowds of people watching. Most of the crowd were Africans, but there were a few with the large and elaborate hats, dressed to the nines, and smoking their long cirgarettes. One of the sponsers of Nyumbani owns a few horses that race in these races, one of which won today. Thus, they were able to take us into the elite "members only" club and teach us horse betting strategies. They also bought all the kids (15 of them) ice cream and payed for their entrance fees. There are many giving Kenyans here! Of course, we finished tonight off with watching Bolt, a Disney cartoon movie, with one of the young cottages.

Below are some pictures of our "community service" that we do from 2-3pm every day during the week. It is a way for the kids to give back to Nyumbani.

Volunteers (left to right): Louise, Heather, Lene, and Grant. The Shamba man (gardener) is Anthony. Kids include Brian and Ann.

Brain holding the broom that we sweep everything with: from grass, to twigs, to the floors of our room.

One of the children, Bridget, found this baby Black Momba snake (very poisonous) amongst the leaves she was sweeping. Don't worry, Anthony, the shamba man, came to the rescue and clobbered it with a branch.

Grant posing with the "twiggy broom." This broom is made from a hedge with thorns on it and is used as a rake. It is cheap, economical, and can easily be repaired when the twigs fall out. Grant made one when he was working with the Shamba man at the beginning of our stay here at Nyumbani.

I hope everyone had a great weekend. We have another busy week filled with teaching.

Thank you to everyone who has commented on our blog.

Until next time,
Claire and Grant
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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Easter pics 2

A couple more Easter pics below. As I mentioned before, we had an exciting and fun-filled Easter holiday. As tradition, 15 British Airways crew members volunteered their day at Nyumbani to put on an Easter egg hunt, dress a member in a 6 foot Easter bunny costume, and hand out gifts like masks (see pics below), squirt guns, and windmills. They also donated clothes, shoes, and toys for the kids. This tradition has been happening for 15 years. It was started by one BA crew member who visited Nyumbani and wanted to do more. Thus this person set up a trust fund in the UK for donations and organized a crew to volunteer 2x/year: Halloween and Easter. There were several crew members this Easter holiday who had been coming for up to 12 years! What an inspiration they are to the kids.

The April Holiday program started yesturday. The kids are on holiday from school for a month, so during this time us 5 volunteers are helping teach a morning revision class for 1.5 hrs (I am teaching standard 2 and Grant is teaching standard 6), then after tea we are teaching a "club class" for standards 1-6, which consists of art/writing, math, library, sports/dancing, and computers. Grant and I are CO-TEACHING mathematics! We are focusing on multiplication and division, and trying to do as many hands-on games to make math FUN!! We had standard 6 yesterday and I think they had fun. We are lucky that we have 4 high school helpers, so if the kids start speaking in Swahili then they can translate for us. The classes are taught in English.

After lunch us volunteers then do community service with a different cottage each day for an hour. Yesterday we moved a compost pile using one shovel, one wheelbarrow, several plastic grocery bags, a shower curtain (which wripped), and about 8 kids grades 1-6. It was quite a site!! After community service our day is finished. I have been trying to go for a run in the afternoon or we walk to the grocery store (20 min walk) to get a breathe away from the kids--which is necessary.

People have been asking us what type of food we have been eating. Every week it is the same menu. As a staple we have either white rice or Ugali--a traditional African food made from flour and water (it looks and tastes like mooshy rice). The accompany this starch we have a variety of beans, maize, sometimes potatoes and a small amount of goat meat if we are lucky, liver (haven't eaten that yet!), and lastly the favorite is fries on Saturday! Not too exciting!!

That's it for now. We are off to do some community service: sweeping the grounds with twiggy brooms!

Much love,
Claire and Grant

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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Easter Service

Grant and Inoccent at Easter Service at Nyumbani. More often than not, Inoccent has been proven guilty!

Kids dancing for Easter service.

A British Airlines crew member dressed up as the Easter bunny and passed out candy and...

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Friday, April 2, 2010

Respite Care Pics


Like Grant wrote previously, I have been working in the respite care as well as with the nurse for the whole of the orphanage. The respite care is a program that was started about 5 months ago for children with HIV and severe malnutrition. The children are refered from the sister program Lea Toto, clinics in 8 surrounding slums. The children recieve needed nutrition to stabilize them as well as other medication. The expectation is that a parent comes to the respite care cottage once a week to receive proper education on nutrition (however, this doesn't happen all the time as there are many social problems: alcoholism, single parents with jobs that can't get away, etc.) The goal is that the kids stay up to two weeks, but once again, the social problems usually keep them here longer. Also, we have been getting many sick kids with other infections, not just sever malnutrition. Currently, there are 4 of our babies in the hospital at this time getting treated for pneumonia, possible TB, diarrhea and vommitting, etc. Because of this we only have 3 babies currently in the respite care cottage right now!

Below are some pics of the babies!!

This is baby Ester working on her morning exercises. I help with "baby exercises" in the morning--stretching out legs, arms, and other developmentally appropriate exercises.

LILLIAN SLEEPING: she is 3 years and 4 months old. Her mother and brother died of HIV complications. Her dad is her caregiver, but makes minimal money as a conditional laborer. I accompanied her to the hospital as she was have high fevers, breathing 100x a minute, heart rate= 215. She had PCP pneumonia and has a history of having TB twice. She has yet to speak any words at the respite care.

CARLOS BEING FED: Carlos is about 2 years old. He is currently in the hospital with pneumonia. We think he might have aspirated when he was vommiting at the respite care.

ERIC: This boy is a "ham." He is about 2.5 years old and came to the respite care over 2 weeks ago with sever malnutrition. Now look at his chubby cheaks! He is one of the only kids who is quickly improving b/c he doesn't have any other underlying infections. Eric is just relearning how to walk with assistance and blabbering. When he came he couldn't stand!
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Nyumbani Village pics 3

Wood-working building

Woodworking class

Building Form 2 classroom for the secondary school

Indigenous Melia trees planted for sustainable lumber
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