We are so excited to be back into your inboxes after a few days absence. We were fortunate enough to visit the beautiful Maasai Mara National Park and enjoy what for some will likely be a once in a lifetime safari through the Serengeti. We were lucky enough to see almost every animal we could imagine and in extremely memorable ways (let’s just say we saw some poor creatures become other creatures lunch).
Many of us awoke this morning to the melodic (I’m trying very hard to be positive here) crowing of roosters a little after 4 a.m. and others to the Call to Prayer from the local mosque at sunrise. Oddly enough, these little disruptions in sleep have become happy and comforting signals that we are still in one of the most delightful and peaceful countries on Earth.
Today we were deeply humbled to visit a local medical clinic near the school we are building in Muleji. The statistics from this small facility are staggering. Three nurses and a couple of support staff help to deliver on average 15 babies a month. 80% of these delivers occur at night meaning these that these three nurses are constantly being called back to the office after settling in at home. This clinic serves nearly 14,000 people from daily issues such as hypertension and diabetes to immunizations and prenatal care.
The clinic was very low on supplies and was desperate for simple technology such as devices to check blood pressure. We brought as many supplies as we could in our suitcases which ranged from ibuprofen and anti-bacterial crème to stethoscopes and a new blanket to gift the mothers of a newborn (this helps encourage women to let trained nurses deliver their baby at the clinic). It was incredible to see a long line of women and children waiting patiently to see the nurses which were occupied by kindly giving us a short tour. It seemed like they all gifted us a smile even though they undoubtedly had significant health concerns to worry about and were being forced to wait. I think we all left much more grateful for the quality of medical care we receive in the United States.
For a second time in a week, our jaws dropped as we were given a hero’s welcome in the village of Muleji to dedicate and hand over the school to the local residents. These people never cease to be kind and show immense gratitude for our contributions. One member of our party had a particular memorable experience as the villagers lead us in singing and dancing down a dirt road into the center of the school grounds. A small boy grabbed Greg’s hand (Shaylynn’s husband) as we walked toward the school. When Greg looked down, he was greeted with a huge smile by an elementary school aged child who clearly had cerebral palsy or some other significant physical/mental disability. The boy clearly had to work harder than the rest of the students to walk as he waddled down the road in a modest little pair of dense foam shoes we would know as crocs. Despite his struggles, this boy continued to walk with great spirit and purpose. He did not stop smiling for a second. This boy seemed to embody the incredible spirit of these people in Kenya. In situations where we would feel sorry for these people and surely be tempted to complain if we were walking in their shoes, they seem to quietly and happily continue about their business as if nothing is wrong.
We were fortunate enough to enjoy another amazing round of entertainment from locals here as they celebrated their two new classrooms, teacher’s lounge, water cistern, and restrooms. We saw young women dance in lovely colorful dress and young men who were flipping and stacking each other on top of each other’s arms in an acrobatic routine that would rival some our best young gymnasts back at home. As a part of the ceremony, the McFarlands were honored and given a chicken and corn and Dea’s son Johnny was gifted a fine looking hen as well. Kim and Levi were even privileged enough to win jars of local honey by being the first to correctly answer some trivia questions.
The dancing of these people was lively and there seemed to be electricity in the air. It was an honor and delight to have your hand gently pulled towards the dance floor by a local and join them. Perhaps the only thing that impressed us even more than the local talent in Muleji was seeing just how well Jenn and Becky could keep up with the African women in their steady rhythmic movements! The local chief spoke as well as the head of the school and we all expressed our thanks for being there. Johnny continues to be a local favorite of the youth here in Kenya as he was gifted a green straw hat from the natives.
We excitedly began the ribbon cutting. Becky, Dea, and Shay took their turns cutting down ribbons in front of the classrooms and teachers’ lounge, Cheryl cut down ribbon around the water cistern, and Brandon, Addy, Greg, and Jon were blessed with the honor of cutting down ribbons in front of each of the four new latrines. Beautiful prayers were offered in order to dedicate the classrooms and teachers’ lounge and you could feel the spirit of hope and opportunity spreading through out the people on the grounds.
There is a lovely Balbab tree that sits in front of the school. These trees are said to live all the way to 800 years old, so the fact that this tree towers over the grounds tells us that this tree is likely hundreds of years old. These trees drop their leaves during times of draught as a sacrifice in order to survive. This is another symbol of the resilience of this people and it continued to remind us of their sacrifice through out our visit.
Before we left, many of took time to admire the wonderful mural which we had painted on the side of the school. (Shoutout to Kaylin at GV for designing the beautiful picture!!) Kim spoke about this mural in her speech to the village during the ribbon cutting ceremony. The mural centrally features a river that runs through a valley with fields and farm animals on each side. The river symbolizes the land that surrounds Muleji. This village was named after a river and was again served as a fitting illustration for the goodness of this people. Kim talked about how the river continually works and works to push through the soil. It grows larger and larger and eventually with time pushes it’s way through the earth and becomes part of a much larger ocean. Undoubtedly the village of Muleji will continue pushing their way to better educations and a better life.
Wonderful lessons were taught once again to the children and the day ended with a energizing game of Burto Ball! The whole school was thrilled, the older soccer players hoping to use the field… not so much!
It was so hard to leave, but we bid our friends goodbye and wished them luck on their journey. We hope that Koins for Kenya and Grant-Victor will be able to bless them with resources in the future.
Until tomorrow friends, we bid you farewell from the beautiful land of Kenya!
P.S. A fun fact about the bathrooms here…they actually lock from the outside. We have just decided to lock Burt and Spencer in the showers and add a chicken into the mix…we’ll keep you posted with how it goes 😉