Saturday, January 26, 2013

Uniforms and Farewell to our Friends at Omwabini

Friday Carolyn and Mama Mary visited the widow Joyleen who they set up in her fish selling business this past Tuesday. After three selling days she has sold half of the fish but earned enough money to cover all of the initial cost of the fish plus a healthy profit. She is well on her way to being self sufficient. She is very encouraged and thankful to God for her answered prayers. Gladey"s (house #1) house has received its second coat of mudding and is ready for the doors and windows

I made a few final mechanical repairs on the machinery and vehicles and passed on the CTC tool kit to Victor who will oversee much of the routine maintenances.

The tailor was so excited about receiving the bolts of fabric he pulled an all nighter and sewed about a dozen uniforms for the students. The students were so excited to receive the uniforms, likely the first new piece of clothing in years.


Today we said our final farewells to staff, orphans and Mama Mary and her family before flying to Nairobi.  It was difficult to say good bye. We had experienced so much together in the time we were with them.  Without a doubt a part of our hearts will remain there with the orphans and with all who participate in the work of Omwabini Rescue Steps.

Now that our time at Omwabini has come to an end this will be our last blog. Your support  and interest has been very encouraging. To date this blog has registered over 2,200 views. Thank you for your interest, for your prayers and for the financial support you have provided for Omwabini Rescue Steps and we thank God for the many answered prayers.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Off to Kisumu to purchase Material for the School Uniforms

We were up with the birds this morning to travel to Kisumu with Mama Mary, the school teacher/tailor Joshua and a few others to purchase bolts of fabric for student uniforms. It was a nice break from mud house building, especially considering that today the temperature was 30 plus degrees.

 On our way to Kisuma we came across a family of baboons on the side of the road munching away on some sugar cane that fell of a vehicle

I may be wrong but I think that this fellow is suffering from a bad case of diaper rash. Possibly too much sugar cane.

Kisumu is the most modern of the cities we visited in Kenya. The stores were more similar to those in the west with the opportunity to browse items in the isles rather than have a clerk hand you an item through a barred opening.

This afternoon we had a great sight seeing treat  on Lake Victoria. Victor contacted a friend who  operates a small sightseeing  "tour boat" at one of the resorts and he took us out for a short cruise along the shoreline to see some hippos and other wild life

Lake Victoria is the second largest fresh water lake in the world, Lake Superior is the largest.

We were able to get within 6 - 8 meters of this hippo.

Tomorrow is our last full day here at Omwabini. There are still a few minor mechanical jobs that will need attention and I may get out to start house #4 while Carolyn does some follow up visits with a few widows that she and Mama Mary has been supporting to set up sustainable "businesses" such as selling fish.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

House # 3 and on a Roll

We started the our third house construction today for a widow named Evelyn, (they all have English or American names plus an African name that we don't ever hear them use). She is a widow  with 5 children. Now that we have a few houses completed we are almost experienced "mud house builders" and the process goes faster.

Carolyn and some others went back to the second house to check on the progress of the mudding. Sadly only a few women came back to help on day three so the Omwabini crew stayed to continue the mudding process. I`m not sure why but I know many locals will work for a good meal and since they saw Omwabini community support ladies were not there to prepare a meal many of the fair weather volunteers may have disappeared because they knew Carol couldn`t provide a meal.

Thanks to a very generous donation from our friends at Hebron CRC, Carolyn and Mama Mary will travel to Kisumu to purchase bolts of material for school uniforms and other sewing materials. We`ll give you more details

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Mudding at House #2 and a trip to the Springs

Today we went back to Carol's house to complete the roof trusses, runners and install a steel roof. We also got a good start on the wall "mudding". The mudding process is something that is just so foreign to us that we have a hard time imagining that this is actually part of the building process for a house people live in.

This was a picture we took of Carol and her family when we first visited; looking  dejected, feeling overwhelmed and without much hope.

I was working beside her yesterday on the"mud line" and she couldn't hide her excitement. This is the progress we made yesterday. Her old house is on the left.

These two guys hacked and hoed all day making mud in the heat of the sun. The ladies made a number of trips to the nearest water supply to haul water in buckets , carrying  the large buckets on their heads.  The water was needed to make mud .  Don't know how they can do that.

Later, we dropped by the water spring project and were encouraged to see good progress being made. Alun tells us that he is never sure if the locals will actually make it to the construction  sites and participate as they promise but the level of participation at the projects to date have been excellent.

We will return to Carol's house tomorrow to continue mudding since her local support group is considerably smaller than that of Gladys' and we don't want her to be overwhelmed by the task and give up.


Monday, January 21, 2013

House #2 and a New Business Venture for Joyleen

With house #1 brought to the point where Gladys' family and neighbours can continue with the mudding we moved on to Carol's place to begin constructing  house #2. Alun, from Wales checked on Gladys’ house construction progress this morning and he informed us that the initial stage mudding had been completed and the 2nd coat, a thinner layer of mudding was half done. When the home owners complete this stage of construction Alun will release funds for the purchase of a door and 2 windows.
 Carolyn and Mary took 8 kg of tiny dried fish, called amano, to the widow, Joyleen to help her begin a "fish selling business" to provide for her family. Last year Alun, through Omwabini provided her with a house but she is still in dire financial straits. When they got to her house at around 11:30 a.m. they discovered she and her family hadn’t had anything to eat and didn’t know if they’d have anything by the end of the day. Carolyn provided her with her business capital, the fish and enough funds to buy maize, salt and soap for her family needs so she wouldn’t have to eat her capital. It’s a small beginning, but it put hope in her heart as witnessed by the huge smile they saw on her face as they left.
Got back to Omwabini after house building in time to repair a disabled tractor with a clutch linkage problem. Enough for one day.

That dreaded rooster who starts crowing at  4:30 am and stays crowing long after the sun is up.
House #2 with a smaller crew
Now a seasoned mud house builder

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Our last schuled Sunday here at Omwabini

Today is our last scheduled Sunday here at Omwabini. Carolyn and I were hoping to spend Sunday morning with the orphans again and then go for a nice hike out Mt Elgon way with Alun and Magdelina but Mama Mary had other plans for us.

This morning we joined her and went to the Anglican church in a neighbouring village that initially supported Mary's work at Omwabini. That church was once partnered with CRWRC and it was through that affiliation Mary received the support and training she needed to do much of the work she now does in the community.
  Much to my surprise I discovered that I was introduced as the guest preacher and was expected to preach the sermon this morning. Fortunately the many praise songs during the start of the service gave me a chance to gather my thoughts and the relevant scripture passages on which to anchor a message that is relevant to the challenges the people here are facing.  Delivering a message with a translator repeating each phrase or sentence does give one additional time to organize thoughts while he is translating.

  Sunday morning's worshippers at the Anglican church

Sharing lunch on Friday with the locals.  Most dinner tables are about coffee table height because many homes cook over an open fire inside the house. The low profile allows one to stay below the cloud of smoke. Utensils are only a tool used by mzungus.

Tomorrow we hope to either begin construction of the second house or the construction of a protected spring. Alun, from Wales has gathered funding for house and spring construction and is eager to get as much done as possible in the eight weeks he is here.

A typical unprotected spring water shared with animals and run off in the source of many illnesses

A protected spring water source filters the water through a lengthy bed of rocks and then  deposits the water into a small concrete tank. A pipe half way up the tank becomes a constant source of clean running spring water.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

New Clutch for the Toyota Van

Took a short hike just before supper  to view the sunset that we heard people say was a " must see". It was so bright that it would actually reflect  off of us.
Saturday is normally an off day here at Omwabini so I took advantage of the vehicle down time to buy and install a new clutch assembly on the Toyota four wheel drive van with the help of a few older orphans boys. Its ready to go to back to its task of hauling people to places no vehicle should go.  No pics on this one, not much to see except legs sticking out from under the vehicle.

Here are a few more pics of the more eventful house building project we were on Thursday and Friday.

After the "mud stomp" comes rolling up the mud cakes that are dropped into the wall between the inside and outside "horizontal runners".

Carolyn's over sized feet after the mud stomp
Most workers kick off their sandals and work bare feet on the job site


Friday, January 18, 2013

Mud House Building

Carolyn and I got our first "hands on" experience in mud hut construction. We had a small army of workers joining us that included neighbours and relatives of the widow, co-op students and some of Omwabini staff. 

Yesterday we left right on schedule, at 9 am Mzungu timeJ but then had to make a "10 minute" stop to pick up a few supplies and in the process we promptly switched to African time finally making it to the job site just outside of town by about 10: 45. 

                                                      Laying out the "foundation"

               This new  post hole digger provided by the Eerkes that we brought with us  was a real hit. .  Everyone wanted a turn.

We brought handsaws to the job site but  machetes are always the tool of choice by the locals.

                  Saul makes use of the ladder/scaffolding that one of the locals and I built.

                 Two college co-op students taking a social work program joined us in this venture

Day 2 included installing the steel roof,  finish installing the runners and beginning the wall "mudding" task
Carolyn and the locals doing some "mud stomping" to prepare the the mud for the walls

                        Mudding is well underway. Locals will complete the mudding before we come back to install window opening and doors.

                                            Locals showing their tools of the trade

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Let the Building Begin

Today among other things Carolyn and I accompanied Alun and and others to the location of the first home building challenge.   We expect to begin building tomorrow.  The process starts by laying out and the digging post holes and if all goes as planned the basic structure will be up in days.

After the basic structure is up, rafters, tin roof on and the first stage of the mud walls are completed, the home owner with the help of family, friends and neighbours will be expected to complete the mudding of both the inside and outside walls as well as level and mud the the floor.  If this is complete then and only then, will Omwabini will come back with the door and windows that will be installed.

In the background is the burnt out home of this lady who lives here with five children and three grand children.

After we get the house construction to the point where the locals can carry on we hope to move on to start construction to protect a water spring. This community has already gathered much of the stone and dug out a cavity for the concrete tank that makes up part of the structure.


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

First day of school and a trip to Eldoret

Monday was the first day of the primary classes. I was amazed at seeing a Standard 4 class (grade 4) sitting quietly in their seats while the teacher was gone and seemed to take forever getting supplies from the office.  Albert reminded me that it was the first day of school and that things may change.

 This morning Millicent, Mary’s daughter, and I travelled to a neighbouring hospital with  five students, our driver and a guard who are all HIV positive to get assessed and to get their supplies of ARV meds. It was interesting to chat with the social workers who aid patients with lifestyle changes required to stay healthy.
On the way back we came upon a very tragic accident where a high school teacher was killed riding his bike home for lunch. He taught at the high school where some of the boys from the orphanage attend.

by Carolyn

Yesterday we picked up more lubricants for the equipment and vehicles as we travelled through Kitale on route to the Eldoret Airport to pick up Alun a volunteer from Wales.  Alun has been coming to Omwabini for the last 5 years to oversee and fund the building of new houses for the desperately poor and to create more protected water sources from existing springs. We hope to start building houses later this week.
             Eldoret main street is fairly well developed. Parking and pavement to the sidewalks
The drive back from the airport by a different route was very rough and the travel by vehicle after dark is insane.  People are walking and riding their bikes along the pothole riddled road without lights. Add to the traffic mix a few ox powered carts, overloaded motorbikes and oncoming trucks that only use their high beams. Also,our driver doesn't mind passing cars or trucks while motor bikes are coming toward us. He seems to think that the motorbikes will give way to the shoulder; so far he has been right.
      I think this propane tank was built before they started using tap shields on them.  Perhaps he didn't take the Safe Propane handling course yet.

This chicken was tonight's supper. Mama Mary bartered with this roadside vendor on our way home from Eldoret and came away with two chickens for about $5.00

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sunday Worship and a Leisurely Afternoon

This morning Carolyn and I joined the orphans and support staff for a very enjoyable time of worship at the Center.  With most of the orphans back from their break, their singing resonated through out the auditorium. The high energy singing and dance led by the children is always a highlight.  At the Center the message or sermon  is often delivered by an aspiring pastor that could benefit from both time at a seminary and a watch to know when his time is up.  Carolyn and I are usually expected to say something as well.
With so many children here and with each having a different or little upbringing, Mama Mary used this time to challenged each to take hold of the Christian faith and make it their own and then  laid out the behavior expectations Omwabini had for each orphan.
Bringing in wood for the cook stove...

Outside a classroom...


Supper time...

Always something to play with

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The Good -  Orphans at Omwabini come from both near and far. Today a church from about 300 kilometers away rented a school bus and toured through their countryside to gathered up the distant orphans from the homes of relatives or temporary guardians and brought them to Omwabini. For the driver it was a 16 hour day. The orphans who stayed here during the break were sure glad to see their friends again. The orphans are like family to each other and to the Omwabini staff.

Most who left the orphanage over the break were asked to try to come back with a short list of basic  supplies including flip flops that they would wear after school . Before they arrived Magdalene a volunteer who just arrived from England made it her mission to buy all who stayed, flip flops from a local merchant. Carolyn also took a group flip flop shopping and together they were able to equip the forty or so who stayed here during the break and the ones who had to come back early. 

         Unloading the rented bus

The bad -- Another trip to Bungoma to exchange an inner tie rod end that I purchased yesterday. Hopefully, someday the auto parts merchants will use a parts manual. I've yet to see one used. The preferred method here is bring in the old part. The merchant will then root around in their inventory come up with three nearly fits and, if all goes well, an exact fit - about 15 minutes later.

The Ugly - While they were in the village one of the orphans accused another of stealing his cell phone. Just before a growing mob was about to dish out some vigilante justice,  (which around here is often deadly) someone wisely came to his rescue and took him to the police where he was charged and thrown into a cell. (Not surprisingly, the culprit went very willingly). This left James and Mama Mary to negotiate his release into their care. Both then had to endure the wrath of Mary.

Keep in mind, this is an isolated incident here at Omwabini and considering many of the orphans have had a very difficult start in life nearly all the orphans are very polite and hard working and very appreciative of the rescue and love provided by Mama Mary and the folks here at Omwabini.