What you say? What happened to the past 10 days? Ok I didn’t come back to the US in one piece, actually it was 3 pieces but that is a different story entirely. I wanted to wrap up the trip for you all.
That Saturday after we had finished visiting all the schools we returned to KMET for a team meeting.. Everyone showed up at 11A on a Saturday to develop the plan for 2012. We covered so many topics. We reviewed the difference between ACK, Nangina and Nina.
We realized that. 1. We had to develop criteria to see trends of when a school is failing before it gets to the level of ACK.
2. We noted that when I was the man behind the curtain the community immediately looked to each other instead of the muzungu
3. We realized that starting fresh meant there were no rumors of untold wealth and goodies and that we would struggle with that in Nambale
4. We all agreed that Nina is our new shining star and it holds so many hopes. For me it will hold my heart and I will be so glad to get back there
Then we set up a budget. First what needed to be done and a realistic number for what it would cost.
We needed to cost share the feeding programs in the 3 schools. We knew that it costs $1.80 per term for each child. Now OVAAT will get a list of the children and will base the donation on a realistic number. Further, after the first term, if ACK is not at 50% their feeding program will be dropped. And further to instill in the other schools that this is their program, the second term we will drop down from 50%-40% subsidy.
Our girls need sanitary towels to stay in school. For $400 per term ( 3 terms to the year) we can keep hundreds of girls in school by supplying them. Pretty cool huh?
We need to keep the community involved. We need the PICD team to visit each school each month to help the community develop a plan of action and a budget so that in 2 years they can take over the feeding program. The team not only teaches community development, but we have a nutritionist and a nurse as part of that team. The cost per term $1200.
Just before I sat down to write this wrap up I saw an add for “Save the Children” which shows you a tragic child in horrific conditions. Trust me these kids and these villages exist. But they’re not getting the community involved. They’re not teaching the community how to feed their children, how to work together and own the problem and thus, it seems to me they will be there forever. My goal for One Village at a Time has always been to go out of business. If we do our job right the community takes over, they are empowered, and everyone wins.
So for less than $5000 per term or $1500 per year we can change the attitudes of the people, make them self-sufficient and they can feed their kids. I call this a spectacular trip.
I remember when my pastor preached that sermon. It was such an astounding thought, that though it has been several years, I frequently quote that. And Friday was the dawn of a promise.
It is always hard to give everything up and know that if it’s supposed to be it will be, and if not, it really is no use fighting. You will lose anyway. Thursday night we prepared for the new school in Siaya. I had suggested a different approach where I would sit in the back and play the role of observer not the great white hope. We all thought that was a good idea, since when folks see the white girl they see dollars from heaven. We changed a few things around including this amazing skit that Beatrice and Rosemary get the people to do.
It’s a simple skit, they ask for 4 volunteers, 3 men and 1 woman. And the skit goes like this, there is a farmer plowing by a river. 3 people come upon the farmer and see that the river is flooded and they ask the farmer to help them. The farmer tells them that he is busy, but the 2 men prevail and the farmer carries him across the river. The woman says she wants to see how the farmer crosses the river so she can do it herself later. The End.
Then they get the audience participation and ask people who they want to be the men or the women. Well everyone wants to be the woman who learns. And then they get down to business and ask what is the river a symbol for? Challenges they face…Who is the farmer? The donor who gets tired and may not be there to help the men back across the river. It’s extremely effective and really gets people thinking and talking and seeing how important it is that they become the woman who learns how to cross the river.
Ready and prepared, we left the lovely Blue York for Siaya. Siaya has not changed one iota in 10 years. The “roads” are rutted and muddy and the car sways back and forth and we pray we don’t end up in the river. The poverty is so crushing that I begin to cough feeling it in my chest.
We arrive at Nina actually on time. The tour of the school is gripping in the filth and mud that the children walk in and learn in. The headmaster though is very forward thinking and is excited that we have come. He tells me they also have a deaf school that is on their grounds. Ok, perhaps most if not all of you don’t know that in an earlier version of myself back in the 70’s and 80’s I worked with the deaf. I am quite fluent in sign language and my heart leapt for joy as I thought of seeing those kids here.
We went over to where they were playing, since they don’t mix with the hearing school. I walked right up to the first girl I saw and started signing my name and sign and where I came from. Her eyes opened wide, no one could believe the muzungu could do that. Very quickly I was surrounded by these amazing kids, whose sign was a lot better than the American kids I used to work with. I immediately invited them to join us for the meeting and for the girls to learn about the sanitary towels.
Shyly they came to the other side. They sat way in the back where I knew they couldn’t see me interpret for them. So I told them in sign that they belonged here and that they had to sit up front so they could understand what was going on. With encouragement they came up front and all the others saw that they were part of the activities and that the muzungu would interpret. (turns out I didn’t need to there were a couple of teachers who did a fine job) And what’s better for the first time I
Understood everything because I could read the sign language. And I knew that God said yes.
The parents were incredible in their enthusiasm, the team was it’s extraordinary self, it was as if new life was breathed into every one of us. The girls learned about the pads altogether, hearing and deaf. And they asked Vera good questions. The parents were anxious to get started and next week the team will be back to work on their budget and action plan. Wow, we were really rocking! It was that moment I pray for every trip, and it’s always when I’m not sure it’s really going to happen.
It is difficult to watch the starvation in Somalia and now stumbling into Kenya. It’s not that it’s new. But it’s so much worse. People can think there is nothing I can do and so they turn their heads away. I understand, it is daunting.
Monday I went to meet with a donor though who understood our purpose and wanted to help. Like the Drummer Boy he gave what he could. He gave me 2 awesome tickets to the last pre-season game for the Patriots. These are not just any tickets, but 50 yard line tickets. They’re not up in the boonies they’re right on the field. And we are raffling them off.
Each raffle ticket is $20 and only 100 will be sold so people really get a chance to win. But what’s really cool is that if you don’t win you get a tax deduction. And we get to keep feeding the children. Maybe today is your lucky day. Please take a chance, buy a ticket to see the Pats V the Giants on 9/1 at Gillette Stadium, and if not, you’ve fed 10 children.
Pretty cool eh?