Veroni Family and Friends –

Today was our last full day here. We head home tomorrow afternoon. It is crazy how fast our time here has gone. We will be sad to say goodbye to so many of our friends here. At the same time, we have packed so much into the past 2 weeks. By the time we leave tomorrow, we will have gone to 6 different schools and 4 dispensaries–The most places ever visited in the past 7 years of Grant Victor Cares trips. Our team is incredibly grateful for all of the opportunities we have had and hope that the supplies delivered and time spent will be meaningful to the people in those places. To say we are both happy and exhausted would be an understatement.

Today we first went to Mawemabomu to check in on the progress of the groundbreaking earlier this week. We were AMAZED! The crew was working so hard and so fast we were blown away. They use no machinery and we watched them work all by hand. Some men mixed cement with water and gravel, drew water, transported water, and others poured cement into the ground to make the foundation. They are hardworking people. For a few minutes, several members from our team helped them with the work and we were so impressed with how the crew could do that all day. In another “impromptu act,” Steve announced that we would be buying the workers’ lunch. The construction is coming along great and we are hoping that it will be done in the coming months!

After that, we went to the handing over of Kamoti Secondary School in Buni. It was a big deal as the area Minister of Parliament – Mr. Kamoti –  the school’s namesake (and the son and brother of our host family) was there. Last week, we had the opportunity to paint a mural on the side of the school, a project which was headed up by Kyle and Tori. We arrived at the school and were greeted by the students. This is only high school we visited this trip, and it was cool to see the similarities and differences between the ceremonies there and at the primary school. We sat down and waited for the MP to arrive, at which point we got meet him. He was very kind to us all and is committed to this school. They did a program, which included some traditional dances as well as a more modern number of boys singing to a track. After the program, we had speeches.

Mr. Kamoti gave a speech commending Koins for Kenya for how well known and well-loved they are as well as acknowledging how critical the Grant Victor Cares support has been. Steve and Burt gave speeches encouraging kids to focus on education and expressing their faith in them and their ability anything they want to be. Ben gave a speech in which he told the students about the significance of Judah Rawson’s contributions last year.  As you may remember, one of the classrooms of this secondary school was named after Judah.  Ben also announced the addition of a classroom and a latrine that will be funded by Grant Victor Cares. Tori gave a beautiful speech in which she presented the mural and explained what the meaning behind the mural, our love for the area, and the people who live there. They also gifted us with a live goat. We then turned over the colorful mural, new classrooms, and a latrine. Brooklyn, Kate, and Jeff helped to cut the ribbons. It was a great celebration. Everyone was so thrilled about the new school, which currently has 35 students, but is expected to quickly grow and flourish.

It has been an amazing 10 days!! Our team has grown really grow close and one of the best parts has been that we have had this experience together. Riding in vans, having inside jokes, and serving others together has really unified us. We are going to miss all the amazing people here and each other. Having this opportunity to help so many clinics and schools has been so incredible and this has been an unforgettable trip. Thanks for your love and support!

Kate and Kenya 2021 Team

Addition by Brooklyn:

Today’s special shout out is: Kate! Kate is today’s special shoutout because she helped us made our mahandos, which is a skirt made from a kanga. Kate watched the girls and learned how to make them and then made them for the rest of the girls in the group. She also comforted all of us when we were scared to get the covid test. She also rode the camel like a champ! We all love Kate.

Veroni Family and Friends –

Today was a busy day per the usual! We started off by going to visit the Boyani Primary School. Boyani is the farthest school we are visiting from where we are staying, a two hour drive each way. Boyani Primary school is also the most impoverished school we go visit. After being met with songs and dances, we sat down to watch performances done by the children and their parents. Some of the noteworthy parts were poems written by and presented by students and alumni, many of which expressed immense gratitude to Burt, and all that Grant Victor Cares has done for them over the last few years. They then expressed how dire their needs are. At many schools we have been to, they have asked for more supplies or more classrooms. This school differed as they said their biggest needs were food and water for the students. They went on to explain how academic performance has dropped recently. Lack of rainfall has led to nonexistent crop yields. This drought has gone on for roughly a year. This trip we have not seen any stocks of corn, while in past years there has been fields full of it.  This has led to parents seeking work in other areas, and most people in the village being hungry. One meal a day has become standard. Hearing this saddened our hearts, but in addition to expressing these needs they were obviously overcome with gratitude for our presence and all that the company had done for them in the past.

After the program, we divided up into our small groups for teaching. Everyone got to give their lessons again and it was amazing to see how creative and engaging everyone got with their classes. It was a lot of fun! After the lessons we did some dancing, played beachball, and passed out sweets. As we were wrapping up, we found out that Burt, Steve, and Jeff had ordered two trucks to come with big tanks of water to fill the water cistern. In addition to this, they purchased roughly 300 pounds of corn and beans for the school to feed the 500 students this coming week. It was heartwarming to see how the three of them jumped to address this schools needs in what Steve called “impromptu acts” and what I’d call incredible generosity. It was such a special moment, and as we left, we knew that soon the kids would see the trucks arrive and be surprised. It was amazing!

We also went to the Chilodi Dispensary build by Koins for Kenya and named after the man who donated the land. He recently passed away. They had a lot of supplies, including incubators for babies. The problem is that they are lacking stable power to supply them. We are hopeful that the county will provide this as they promised they would, and Koins is planning on reaching out to them on this matter. Once again, we gave them masks, gloves, medicine, as well as a bunch of Days For Girls hygiene kits.

On our way home, we passed a soccer field where earlier in the day we had given them a soccer ball. In the field there were a group of women who play together regularly for exercise. We got to talking to them and they mentioned that they have a team name, Black Lions, but don’t have uniforms. Burt challenged them to a game and promised that if they won, we would buy them uniforms. They accepted. We named ourselves the White Simbas, we got to playing and it was quickly tied so we went in to a shootout.  After some strategic bad kicks on our part and some purposeful times we missed blocking a goal, they won. They were thrilled and we began preparations for ordering them uniforms. It was another fantastic day to be in Kenya!

Sending our love,

Kate and the Kenya 2021 Team

Today’s Special Shoutout: Brooklyn and Lexi! Brooklyn (age 11) and Lexie (age 18) are two of the three youth on this year’s trip and have done an absolutely amazing job interacting with the people we meet. Every time we see them, they are surrounded by kids. They are always singing and dancing with them as well as holding them on their laps and holding hands. The kids love them! They are so kind and patient even when large crowds overwhelm them, or their personal space is filled with excited children. They are a great example to us all and have done an amazing job showing love and service to everyone we meet. Thank you!

Jambo Friends and Family –

Today was a great day! After a few days in the Masai Mara, this was our first full day back in Rabai. The whole team was thrilled to be back and ready to get to work! We started out by going to deliver more medical supplies. We went to the Ribe Dispensary where we gave the staff masks, gloves, a blood pressure monitor, a thermometer, a stethoscope, and many bottles of pain killer. We thank you again for all your donations and are reminded of your love and support as we see the impact these supplies will have on the thousands of people who are dependent on these dispensaries.  They gave us a presentation on how their facility is functioning, and a tour of their buildings. This clinic was so organized and had a big focus and maternity and natal care so these donations will be put to good use. We also got to hand out baby blankets to mothers with young children and expectant mothers. 

After that, we headed over to Mawemobomu Primary School. Grant Victor Cares is adding on two more classrooms and a set of latrines, so we got to attend a groundbreaking later in the morning. As we got out of the vans, we were met with schoolchildren who rushed meet us and walk us down the road to the village. Their songs and dances warmed our hearts. After a brief bout of dancing, we took our seats so we could watch a program they had prepared for us. Both the parents and children showed us songs and dances. They called us up and presented us with kangas for the woman and kikois for the men. We then sang them the song we prepared. After more practice in the past couple days, we had greatly improved. They even asked for an encore! After more dancing, they gave us shovels/picks and Jeff started us off with breaking the ground. After that we each had a chance turning over dirt in the site where the classrooms are going to be built. Then, the woman took over and quickly dug the first part of the ditch. It was awesome to be a part of. Expansions like these are so crucial because for a school to get help from the county, they need to be registered. Only schools of a certain size can qualify for registration. The work Grant Victor has done in the past few years has given this school the needed infrastructure and enabled the Mawemobomu Primary School to register and begin to receive this government aid which comes with county employed teachers and more buildings. This will begin with the addition of more classrooms, announced by a representative of the local MP, Mr. Kamoti. 

Then we went to Kangakamo Primary School. Once again, they met us at the top of the road to escort us down to the school. They were waving leaves, singing welcome songs, and eagerly taking our hands. Having them greet us with songs, dances, and an abundance of love and excitement is by far one of the best parts of our day. We paraded down the road and they informed us that they had planned a program to surprise us. We took our seats and watched traditional songs and dances, a recitation of the national anthem, a poem delivered in unison, and an acrobatic show. We then heard some speeches. Upon our arrival, we found out that the school’s chairman, Nathanial, had passed away. Our team was so sad to hear this. As someone of you may remember, Nathanial was an amazing chairman, a kind man, and a recipient of a pair of glasses on the GV Kenya Trip 2016. In Burt’s speech he announced that in Nathanial’s honor we will construct another latrine in the coming weeks, which this school desperately needed so that their faculty doesn’t overwhelm the existing ones. They then presented us with kangas and kikois, and we sang our song again. We then had the opportunity to teach in the school. Our team was divided into small groups and taught different grade levels. Everyone picked their own topic and we taught about topics ranging from shapes and animals to magnetism (to name a few). It was fantastic to get a chance to work with these smart, committed, and good-natured kids. Everyone had a great time. Naturally, we had to follow class  with a dance party and a game of giant beachball! We ran in and back out while holding hands in a circle, taught and were taught different dance moves, played some soccer, spent time talking, and took a lot of pictures. Everyone had fun talking and laughing with the kids they had quickly befriended but won’t soon forget.

It was an incredible day. Sending our love and gratitude, 

Kate & The Kenya 2021 Team

Today’s special shout out: Matt! Matt is so good at fully embracing every experience on this trip and is great at getting the kids to laugh. His part in our welcome song is a big crowd pleaser and every time we see Matt, he his running around with the kids, teasing them, chasing them, and being one of the most fun people to be around. He is always interacting with the crowd by getting them to clap and chant. He has been a great example of putting yourself out there. And it 100% paid off. Thanks, Matt, for all you are doing! 

Veroni, Friends and Family –

Today was a busy day for our team! We started by visiting two different dispensaries, the Bwangamoyo Dispensary, and the Kanyunbuni Dispensary. We were able to hear reports of their progress and tour their facilities. These dispensaries serve as clinics, pharmacies, and maternity/natal care providers for the villages they reside in. These dispensaries are set up by the country but are very understaffed and understocked. They are meant to cater to the residents of that village – often a distance of several kilometers – but many times people from neighboring villages will come seeking aid. The Bwangamoyo Dispensary serves over 6,000 patients. When we visited today, we were able to provide these dispensaries with masks, medical gloves, baby blankets, blood pressure monitors, stethoscopes, and many bottles of pain killer thanks to all your donations!

As we drove from the clinics, we stopped on the side of the road outside of a school yard where a big group of kids were playing soccer. Kyle got out and approached the kids with a new soccer ball from our supplies. He dropped kicked it into the air toward them and we all watched as they screamed in excitement and chased after the ball. They ran after it, having him kick for them again. They were delighted, and we loved watching their joy form the vans. In return, they gave Kyle their soccer ball, made from rolled up plastic bags and twine. It was so touching and definitely one of our highlights today.

This afternoon, we went to the Kanyunbuni Primary School, where we spent the majority of our day. Grant Victor Cares has had an addition to the school being built this past month, and yesterday the two new classrooms and additional latrine were completed. So today we had the opportunity to attend the handing over ceremony.

As we pulled up the driveway, hundreds of uniform clad children ran up the road to meet us. We stepped out of the vans and watched as the children and their parents began to dance and sing to welcome us, “Welcome to Kanyunbuni, we are happy to receive you, welcome, welcome.” It was amazing to see the love and acceptance with which they greeted us. We were thrilled as they then took our hands and we danced with us down the road to the schoolhouse.

They sat us down in chairs so we could watch a program they had prepared for the ceremony. We sat down, and they gifted us with crowns woven from leaves.  They gave us coconuts to drink from and for the next few hours we watched their show. It consisted of opening speeches, a prayer, and many rehearsed songs and dances done by different ages of kids. In one song, they called us up each by name to join them upfront and presented us with paper leis to honor us as their guests.

We watched more dances, as well as a very impressive acrobatic show where they made themselves into a human pyramid, did flips and jumps, and carefully arranged themselves in human towers. We also watched a very elaborate skit complete with costumes, props and a live guinea pig.

After which, they called us again and presented us with wraps and kangas. Maren and Rachel had written a song for us to sing to them in return for the generous welcome (even though we could never even try to compete with all they did to welcome us). So, we took our turn and sang a song introducing ourselves and expressing our gratitude to be with them.

They also gifted us a live goat, a great gift and honor. Burt, Jeff, and Leah gave some inspirational speeches, and then we proceeded to the ribbon cutting. Jeff cut the ribbon for the classrooms, and Tori cut the ribbon for the bathrooms. After that we had a chance to dance and play with kids. We played some soccer with a giant beach ball and painted fingernails.

It was an amazing day and the whole team was overwhelmed with the love and excitement and welcoming attitudes with which we were shown today. We are so happy to be here and be meeting such amazing people. Thanks for all your love and support!

-Kenya 2021 Team

Today’s special shoutout: Jeff.  Jeff was dubbed the “Chief Guest” today and gave several speeches at the ceremony that were filled with inspiration and love. He cut the ribbons on the classroom and accepted the goat. And, at Leah’s insistence picked it up and cuddled it! Jeff was a great “Chief Guest” today and we were so grateful for all he did.  

Jambo GV Associates, Family, and Friends –

Today, we finally landed in Mombasa! It was amazing to finally reach our destination after the last two days of nonstop travel. As we boarded the vans to drive to Rabai, it was so cool to see how close this year’s team has already gotten to each other, especially since some of them met for the first time at the airport. For roughly half of our team, this is our first trip to Kenya and it was great to watch everyone have so many new experiences in just the first day.

After settling in, we then had the opportunity to visit a kindergarten school that feeds into a secondary school that Koins built several years ago. We got such an amazing welcome as the women and children who lived in the village began to dance and sing to greet us. One by one we got out of the vans and joined them in dancing. They were so gracious in welcoming us to the village and there was so much joy on everyone’s faces. After seeing their classrooms, they had the children preform a program for us that consisted of singing and dancing, as well as reciting a poem and their school motto. It was so touching to see the hard work they put into their performances. After more dancing, we were able to distribute some supplies and it was great to see the team begin to hand out pencils with Dum Dum suckers that many of you made and donated.

We then went to paint a mural on the side of the Buni high school. From tracing the stencils with chalk, to mixing paint, to balancing on a ladder to paint the highest parts, everyone helped make this beautiful picture come to life. It was inspiring to see everyone work together to create this mural. While we painted, we turned on music and hung out with the kids. They beat us at volleyball, showed us their school, and had the most epic dance party in one of their classrooms. They taught us some dance moves, and in turn we showed them how to do the Macarena. Everyone took turns playing some of their favorite songs, holding hands and dancing around. It was so much fun to see everyone dancing and laughing together.

It was an awesome first day, and we are excited for all we hope to accomplish in the coming days. Thank you for all your support!

-Kate & the Kenya 2021 Team

Today’s special shout out: Kyle!! Kyle is the ladder champion! He scaled a stick-and-twine ladder to fearlessly paint the upper sections of the mural. He also started several soccer games, and on one such occasion, drop-kicked a ball that hit Burt square in the neck, resulting in Burt falling to the ground, much to alarm and entertainment of the team. He worked hard on the mural and was great interacting with all the kids. But mostly is good with ladders.

Jambo friends and family,

Hey All,

The travel team is scrambling to get ready today, but will meet at the airport at 11:30 tomorrow morning to begin the 30+ hour journey. Traveling under Covid for this length of trip should be a real adventure. We will arrive in Nairobi late on Wednesday night and then will make our way to Mombasa the next morning. From there, we will travel to the small village of Rabai where we will setup our camp for the next 2 weeks. 

As you probably remember, this year we will be visiting all of the villages that have been part of previous projects. Some will get a new classroom, others a new latrine, and others will get supplies.  Our most significant construction project will be in Buni, the place that Burt, Steve, and Levi visited last year. Pictures are attached of the work that is already well underway, thanks to Leah and the KOINS team. We will be fortunate enough to arrive as it is finished, and be able to participate in a hand-off & dedication ceremony. I’m sure many of you have little sense for how much our contributions will be appreciated over there. These projects change the lives of today’s school children and many generations to come. The days ahead will no doubt change our lives as well.

From the first time I traveled to Kenya, I came back committed to be a little bit kinder, a little bit more grateful, and a bit more aware of the needs around me. As I turn on the faucet at home, I count my blessings for running water. As I jump in a hot shower each morning, I try to remember what it’s like not having hot water. It’s easy to forget that what we experience in Kenya is really more of the norm than the exception as we open our eyes to how others live. I hope that we can all remember that. 

We will send a quick email each day with a few of the highlights. Please know that we appreciate those that are traveling for the sacrifices that they make, but we also are very grateful to each of you for your contribution including covering phones and keeping the business going while we are gone. Our thoughts and prayers will be with you, and we hope that you will be thinking and praying for our health and safety as well.

Asante Sana!!