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!!

Jambo friends and family,

We were treated to a safari in the Masa Mara National Presever for the last couple of days. This morning we had breakfast together in preparation of going to the orphanage during breakfast Burt Matthews asked for memories or moments of our time here that have stood out. Not one person mentioned anything to do with the safari (although amazing). Every person that shared spoke of moments in the various villages and schools we have visited so far. Burt Matthews shared a memory of our time in Kambini pre-school, of the children painting or how organized they all were when the teacher told them to line up for the bathroom (a square of ground surrounded with Palm leaf walls without even a whole in the ground). He also talked about the joy all of the children radiated during the finger painting activity. Spencer Matthews spoke about the beachball rugby/keep away match and Matt Jensens Hershal Walker like moves at the school in Boheka. There was a memory shared of the children at the Steven Michaels school and their sheer joy while playing the follow me game. My memory is of our time at the Kizurini Special school and while there is still some changes needing to be made in integrating the children with disadvantages into the standard classes. Seeing the children with disadvantages smile with joy and happiness regardless of their circumstances combined with the strength and determination of the mothers as well as grandmother’s to ensure their children were given an education will forever live in my heart. After our breakfast we traveled to Nairobi the were met by Steven Kylao the director of Unitied in the Hope of Africa then traveled by bus to his school/orphanage.

Steven has an amazing story. To be brief his journey to where he is now began when his brother came to him informing him he could no longer raise his own children asking Steven to please take them from him and raise them ( Steven’s brother had just lost his wife and was consumed by grief) What began as a dire request from a brother quickly became a passion to do all he and his wifeFlorence could do for the abandoned and forgotten children of Kenya. United in the Hope of Africa is located in the second largest ghetto in all of Kenya, Soweto. (Please take a moment when you can to Google Soweto and United in the Hope of Africa)

Arriving here for the second time I was amazed at the improvements Steven and his staff had been able to complete in two short years. This area used to be a small courtyard, there are now separate bathrooms for the boys and for the girls. As well as more beds for both boys and girls in separate floors of the school.

We were entertained by singing and dancing by the children. All of the children were happy to see us as the teachers had declared it a holiday so there would be no school today. After the amazing entertainment it was time for our presentation. Jen Matthews and Spencer Matthews had really planned quite the surprise, they were going to make rice crispy treats for all of the children. (For those of you outside of Utah rice crispy treats is a staple desert of nearly every home). This was quite the under taking to first make them over a propane tank with a single burner attached as well as even finding the ingredients, thankfully we had Florence, Steven’s wife help us with that part. After we served the children the sugary treat it was then even a bigger exercise in getting the children to get organized so they could receive the school supplies we had brought pens, pencils, school bags, tooth brushes, as well as other supplies. Someone (no names mentioned) (Spencer)included Kazoos so imagine 100 children all playing Kazoos at the same time after getting hyped on sugar. Spencer and Jen Matthews have a very special place in their hearts for United in Hope for Africa so the surprises weren’t over yet; they had also brought a small movie projector as well as educational and children’s movies for Steven and the children. Once the supplies and gifts were handed out we gathered to watch Levi attempt to fly the photography drone, this was hilarious to the children since two birds immediately started trying to defend their turff and began dive bombing the drone; this resulted in uproarious laughter from the children.

We then gathered to look at carvings made by Steven and members of his tribe the Kamba tribe. As many of you are aware this is the same tribe that Grant Victor Cares arranges to get the Christmas carvings they send out to partners. Everyone on the Grant Victor travel teams is always sure to bring some personal spending money in order to buy some carvings to support United in Hope for Africa. Once this was complete is was time to say goodbye and meet Buffalo and Juma at the Nairobi airport to collect our checked baggage, repack to accommodate the recent purchases then head into the airport for our trip home.

Now that we are all on the flight home, it seems surreal to have been gone for such a short period of time filled with so many memories that will live within us forever. The smiles, the joy, the appreciation and the love that has been shared with us carries with it the strength and resilience of the Kenyan people. Thank you for everything you’ve done to help our efforts we humbly thank you and love all of you!

See you soon…

Asante Sana!!

Maasai Mara National Reserve, Narok, Rift Valley, Kenya

Jambo and Veronee friends and family,

Today began more solemnly than previous mornings as we are all aware this is our last day in Rabai. We all gathered for breakfast and began gathering our supplies for the day. Then piled into our respective vans. We headed out to a day that reflected our emotion, intermittently overcast with a gentle breeze. We have all bonded deeply through these shared experiences as well as these shared emotions.

No matter what I have written , or write it feels as though I have only scratched the surface reality of these trips and interactions. My hope is that some of these words have touched you hearts and will live on in your souls.

Our first stop was in Chilodi CrossFit Health Centre where we greeted by the staff as well as the committee of elders that manage the Health Centre. We also met with Mr. Chiloti the man who donated the land the health centre was built on. We also met Geoffrey the facilities director, who explained, though the facility has incubators which are not common this far out in the rural area of Rabai, but they have no power. to use them. The success of the Koins for Kenya and Grant Victor partnership has been entirely based on your generous support please continue to do so.

We then went to Kambini pre-school where we were entertained with a short presentation by the children. Then we had all of the children sit down in small circles so we could pass out paper and finger paint.

This is also where we said goodbye to Madam Leah from Koins for Kenya, we won’t be seeing her again for the remainder of this trip. After our activities we handed out supplies then we piled into the vans to travel to the Steven Michaels school. This but school is the epitomy of what other schools should strive for when it comes to educating children with disadvantages as well as those without. At the Steven Michaels school the children with special needs are housed at the school but rather than being kept seperated during class time they are fully integrated into the regular classes. This shows how in touch with the students needs the staff at Steven Michaels school really is. After some brief activities with the children we let the teachers know what supplies we had brought and said goodbye.

As we drove away the sun was setting on our day but we still had one more stop. We were going to Buffalo’s home!
How do I describe Buffalo????

To be brief firstly, he is the man behind the construction of every Koins for Kenya School; the construction manager for Koins for Kenya. There is only one Buffalo in the whole world his commanding presence is aknowledged and felt by everyone, everywhere we go. He can silence a crowd with a look. We arrived and were introduced to his wife Miriam a warm and inviting woman that greeted nearly 20 people into her home that she had never met just like we were family. For me seeing him with his wifes brought to light an entirely different side of Buffalo than I had seen previously. They radiated young love for each other, truly tender to see. We sat and chatted a while then it was time to head to Mama Kamoti’s home for our last night in Rabai.

Currently most of our team is outside dancing with the village children; while I begin what will be my last entry for this trip. As I listen to the laughter mixed with the music from Burt Matthews Bluetooth speaker it’s hard to pin down exactly how I’m feeling. Humble appreciation mixed with a little personal dissatisfaction combined with a radiant glow of love. My humble appreciation comes from simply being part of this trip with all of the terrific team members Burt, Spencer, Jen, and Jacqueline Matthews, Becca and Jacob Banks, Rhet and Brynlee Nedham, Jory and Abby Burton, Matt Jensen, Ben Waddups, Levi Whitney, and Steve Littlfield… The personal dissatisfaction comes from seeing that I can be kinder, more welcoming, less judgmental as well as more generous; but that often I’m too often internally focused. The radiant love comes from all of the love shared with us filling us up and pouring over. The end of this visit has come far too soon yet at the same time it will be nice to be back home and back to work. My hope is that we can all look forward to the next trip with anticipation combined with preparation so that we can continue to bring generational change through education for all children of Kenya.

Asante Sana from all of us to every one of you form the bottom of our hearts!!

Jambo friends and Family,

One thing I should mention is we have been without power at Mama Kamoti’s home for the last couple of days… This has made the evenings even a little quieter than the other already quit nights.
Today we have much planned our first stop will be at Ribe health clinic to provide medical supplies, provided again by your contributions. Arriving at the Ribe Health clinic we were greeted by staff and several of the village elders as well new mothers. We dropped of Ibuprofen, thermometers, bandages, a blood pressure monitor as well as baby blankets. The baby blankets are always highly appreciated by the new mothers, this is why most of them were there to greet us. We spoke with the staff as they explained the circumstances of the facility as well as what their typical day looks like. Nancy the nurse on duty explained she is currently the only ly nurse on duty. Her typical work week consists ofseeing nearly 125 patients while working 50+ hours a week.

Our second stop would be the Kizurini Special school. This school is just outside of Rabai, the Kizurini school is a combination of primary, secondary and the Kizurini Special school. As we toured the school I noticed children not matter the disability or condition were smiling and seemed to be happy. The Kizurini Special school is for every kind disability, birth defect or other condition considered outside the norm such as ADHD. This school is needless to say in dire need of assistance. We were asked go to a small building where we were greeted by the teachers and students of the Kizurini Special School. They welcomed us and introduced themselves. Then discussed some of the students circumstances. Then showed us some of the crafts they have taught the children to make to assist in fundraising. The schools intern chairman Silas Zuma sat down and was kind enough to discuss some of the operational procedures of the school. Such as besides the few teachers the entire workload for the school falls on the shoulders of the mothers and grandmother’s of the children. The volunteers work for a week at the school then rotate out out for another group of mothers to come in and assist. The sad reality is that for children born with these conditions it is most common that the father will abandon the family and divorce his wife leaving them to face the stuggles alone. Earlier I mentioned grandmother’s we were fortunate to meet two incredibly strong grandmother’s that were at the school volunteering. (my apologies for forgetting thier names) the first grandmother was there because after the father left the mother decided to as well. This grandmother was in poor health herself but smiled a smile that captures your heart. The second grandmother was there because both of the parents had died from AIDS. The Kizurini Special school was started with a budget of only 5,750 shillings to break that down that’s just around $57. This school again is another school that is not receiving any funding from the education ministry. We spoke further concerning other costs and Silas explained to me that to feed a child for a month it costs 300 shillings ($3.00), this is due to the fact the volunteers grow a vegetable garden to help offset the cost. After handing out supplies we asked if we could entertain the children so we began a game of Simon Says this was while Burt and Spencer were trying to quietly pump up a beach ball with a small battery powered compressor. As you can imagine this was quite fun for all involved. Especially considering this was not a game that either the teachers or students were familiar with. The surprising thing to me is the children did better than the teachers. Once the beach ball was filled we all sat in a circle and hit the ball around to each other this was extremely enjoyable to the children causing them to erupt in smiles and laughter. This was a very emotionally charged visit for me, just thinking about all the hardships and struggles that have been left to be faced solely by the mothers/grandmother’s and children. Yet they face them with smiles and courage left me unable to contain my tears completely. I wish you could all have been with us today and felt the strength, determination mixed with the urgent call for help.

Silas and his team have tried numerous times to connect with Grant Victor Cares and Koins for Kenya because he has seen the schools and impact that this partnership has created in the villages we have focused our efforts in. Just think about that for a moment, Silas is here trying so hard to provide for the students of his school and sees the success of the Grant Victor Cares/Koins for Kenya partnership he has tried for two years to get our travel team to come visit his school in hopes that we can help in the future. Every dollar donated makes such an impact here.

Once our visit was concluded we traveled as quickly as we could back to Mama Kamoti’s home to grab some supplies for Makobeni Primary School. This school is a previous Koins for Kenya school. We arrived and immediately it became apparent that some of the children had either figured out or been told that we would be coming. As a result the children met us on the road as we drove in yelling Jambo Muzungoo (hello white visitor). When we stopped and unloaded the van the children grab our hands and walk us the rest of the way into the school. We again handed out supplies and seperated into different teams to go and teach our chosen lessons. This was great fun these children are smart as a whip and twice as clever there is absolutely no fooling these children; that is unless you have the Marvelous and Magnificent Spencer Matthews and his amazing vanishing trick. (Full disclosure the first time I saw it had no idea where the cloth had gone either) This was a staple during our trip that Spencer and Burt Matthews took turns preforming and also in full disclosure there were at least a few times that a child or two spotted the trick and were not fooled in the slightest. After the lessons were concluded we had some time to hang out a play with the children so I took that as a perfect opportunity to present the head teach with footballs for the boys and one one for the girls.

Our visit to the Makobeni Primary School was over far too soon. It was time to head back to Mama Kamoti’s home, but we made a quick detour to the nearest bazaar Mazeras at this point of the visit it is such a welcome stop as many of us survive normal life on caffeine of some type. So we pulled into the same Kenyan convience store we stopped at during my previous visit with Koins for Kenya. After we bought some snacks as well as the MUCH loved black currant Fanta. (There really should be a national campaign to bring this to the states but, I’m off track)
We walked through the bazaar lit mainly by fire light with the small shops lit with electricity. Some of the party purchased some various gifts for friends and famies back home. Thankful for the time to stretch our legs we all climbed back in the vans to travel back to Mama Kamoti’s home. Most of us were pretty spent at this point but the children of the village were so happy to see us we decided to break out the LED football Spencer brought along with some large glow sticks that we could put around our necks to help us see all the players. We also took some solar lights to help identify the goals and sidelines. We divided into teams completely at random and got to it. If you can take a moment close your eyes and imagine seeing a bunch of us and the children nearly invisible other than the large glow sticks around our necks. The pitch we were playing on was not what we would be familiar with as there were many places where rain run off caused small or large areas of uneven ground. I will omitt the final score but say that Jory’s and Jacob’s team won. Once we gathered up the lights and ball it was time to gather for role call so we could make sure all of the children and all of us were accounted for. While we were gathered Rhet took his shirt off and Martin slapped his belly and said “here this means MANY MONIES”. We all got a great laugh about that and began the hike back to our refuge Mama Kamoti’s home. Tomorrow will be our last day at Mama Kamoti’s home it is with great appreciation and sadness that I close with acknowledging this fact.
Asante Sana for all you assistance and support!!

Jambo as well as Veronee friends and family,

Today our plan is to go to Boheka, to break up into groups and teach various classes. Then to begin painting the mural that we weren’t able to start yesterday due to the rain. Side note, in this region of Kenya just a short distance can make the weather and climate vastly different. This morning we awoke to a gentle mist like rain, so with great hope we will be successful in painting the mural. As we drove to Boheka we passed small groups of Kenyan people, the amazing thing is nearly everyone smiles and waves. Seeing this again made me think of how much we are lacking for the most part this type of interaction in the states. At this point of the trip I have to admit I’m quite emotional and have found myself choking back tears from time to time. This is something I’m sure others that have made this trip can relate to, seeing so many stranger’s genuine smiling faces waving back at you is touching then combine that with all of the joy and love shared with all of us can be over loading; but a welcome overload.

We arrived in Boheka around 10:30 AM Kenyan time some of us started laying out the mural, others began to go to the classrooms to had out supplies. Once the supplies were handed out we then gathered to discuss the next plan. Before we could begin the next step we were told some of the mothers of students had gathered near the Mango tree and that our presence was requested. They had decided to give each of us our Kenyan names (this is a tradition of Kenya for appreciated foreign guests.) Mine was determined to be Mraphai translated it means I am from Rabai and now considered part of the tribe/family.

After this it was decided that due to the mural needing a smaller group in order to keep things organized; the rest of us would divide up and take different tours of the surrounding village. (This is while the children at the school had lunch) Brynlee Nedham, Rhet Nedham, Matt Jensen, Levi Whitney, Buffalo, and myself (Christopher Rawson) in our tour group. Brynlee has continued to be an absolute rock star to the women of every village we have visited, Boheka turned out to be no different. She was asked to help out with the daily chores that would be required if she was a member of the family. Brynlee deserves some real cudos because she jumped right in, following instructions implicitly. The first chore was removing the kennel from the corn cob and begin to sift it. Then the corn put into what can be described as a 18-24″ pestal then mashed down with a large piece of wood with nearly a 5″ diameter and 3-4′ high. After this the corn is sifted again and the chaff is used to feed the livestock the remainder is used to make a Kenyan staple called Ungali. At this point of the tour the men were asked to go with the elder men of the village to see some of the other daily endeavours such as climbing a coconut tree to pull the ripe coconuts. Another daily chore is to collect the coconuts that have ripened. During this we learned that the men also make a coconut wine. There is very little to zero waste of the natural resources available to the members of the village. Once the school lunch was over we headed back to the school to finish painting the mural and to teach the various lesson we have chosen to teach.

Spencer, Jen and Jacqueline Matthews, had decided to teach as lesson on music and dance. In typical Spencer humor he joked around with the boys in the class he was teaching and said that his daughter Jacq’s is looking for a boyfriend”. This turned out to be even funnier because their lesson ended with a request for a volunteer to slow dance with Jacq’s. Spencer’s dance partner was the head teacher Ester ( a very stern woman with a beautiful smile), when Spenser dipped her at the finale of the dance the class erupted with laughter. Hearing over 100 children erupt in spontaneous laughter creates so much joy and happiness to everyone hearing it. Once the lessons were concluded we handed out solar lights that are a direct result of your charitable contributions. These lights are something that helps each child’s family as they have the ability to have light in the dark. After the solar light were handed out it was time for recess, it began with a beachball rugby game with the oldest children versus us and the younger children. I hope to send you some photos or video it was so much fun. At the same time some of us were still working on the mural which was really coming together at this point. (I’m sure it might seem like today was just a big party but truthfully it has been work) once the mural was completed we climbed into the vans to depart back to Mama Kamoti’s home. As we were driving home you could feel the approaching storm. When we arrived home it began to rain again, another important thing to mention is that is if we had not left when we did we would not have been able to get out of the village due to the muddy roads. Arriving at Mama Kamoti’s home is always a much appreciated destination, today many of us are sunburnt and spent, but our spirits are high and we all are changed, our hearts run over with the love and appreciation we have been shown as well as the love we feel. My challenge for those of you, wherever you are is to smile at strangers, to stop and talk to those you see whenever possible, and finally to be kind to others and yourselves.We thank you and love you!