Monday, September 15, 2014

My Cottage - "The Down Under" Be It Ever So Humble - Small But Comfy

Mmmmmm! My Swimming Pool! (For The Compound - Not Just Mine)

And a Small Living Room

My Small Kitchen and Eating Bar

Blog 1 Kisumu

September 15, 2014

Blog 1
Kisumu, Kenya

Dear Family and Friends,

So, here I am one again in Kisumu, Kenya, volunteering with my favorite NGO – KMET.  Hinda and I first came here in 2009 and I helped to build KMET’s first building.  Then in 2010 and 2011, the second one that has the Schnurman Pharmacy.  And now I am going to help add a second floor to the first building.  Exciting?  Very!!

When I arrived here for my first day back at work I was greeted so warmly and enthusiastically by my KMET friends and family.  And most of all my Monica, KMET’s Executive Director, who some of you may know.  When I am away from Hinda she makes sure that I am ok.

They have grown both in numbers of staff and also in their programs.  It is really quite something.  If you have  the time look the up on the Internet – and/or check them out on Facebook:  KMET Kenya.

It did not take me long to slip into my work assignments – I have hit the road running and in the first 2 or 3 days I have been able to free up the building permit logjam which was stuck in the bureaucracy.  Now am starting to negotiate with contractors and suppliers so that we can do more with the little money that KMET has for this project.  But where there’s a will there’s a way and Monica and I and the other team members will succeed.  I will be here until the end of December and hope that by that time the additional floor will be up.

I also hope that Hinda will join me here so that we can travel back together and maybe even take a short vacation on the way back.

Kisumu has grown, but the roads that were terrible have gotten even worse.  It is hard to believe.  You wouldn’t believe it unless you see it for yourself.  Luckily I live near the office – a 10 or 15 minute walk, and when I need to go someplace for work, there is a KMET driver and vehicle to take me.

As a part of the growth here in town, there is a lot of construction, and in the last few days, a very unfortunate event occurred.  There are a lot of outdoor markets with small business people selling fruits, vegetables, etc.  The government wanted them to move to make way for some kind of construction.  Since they are poor and their businesses are small they refused.  Where could they go anyway?  Nowhere!  So on Friday night the police came and burned their market to the ground!  What a shame!  Now what will these people do?  Many have taken small loans to start their businesses and now there businesses are gone!

Every Monday and Friday morning at work there is a staff get together with announcements, and praying but the most beautiful is the singing.  Mostly hymns, but still beautiful and beautiful voices.  I started this practice several years ago, where I learned it when Hinda and I were volunteering in Uganda.  I love it!

Well, now for something more pleasant.  I live in the same compound where Hinda and lived in 2009, just next door in a small but cute 1 bedroom cottage.  Here are some photos that I took for you to see.  I cook a simple breakfast before I walk to work,  I usually have lunch at the office prepared by young women in one of the KMET training programs (Safe Spaces).  The cost about the equivalent of $.60and it is good.  For dinner, I have been eating with friends either here or at their places, and sometimes I cook for them.  Believe it or not I am a good cook and everyone’s loves it.  Last night I made breaded tilapia fillets and have made spaghetti and met sauce several time.  Come and enjoy!

One of the piki piki drivers (motorbike taxis) name is Shadrak, like in Shadrach, Mishak, and Abendigo.  I don’t know anyone anywhere else but here who has that name except of course in the Bible.

Finally, here I am known as “Omosh” a nickname for Omondi which my friend Meggy name me several years ago, so I will say so long for now,


p.s.  My Kenyan phone number is +254 7865 78783 and my email is

Uh oh!  Can’t send this now.  The internet is not working.  Welcome to Africa!

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Herbert Today 19 or 20

Herbert Age 11 or 12

A Good Story

February 9, 2014
Seattle, Washington,  USA

In 2004 we went to Kampala, Uganda to volunteer with an NGO, (Reach Out) that among other things was assisting people who had AIDS or who were HIV Positive. 

They only worked with adults, but somehow there were two young boys who were clients.  One of them is named Herbert, and the other Ivan.  They were both about 11 or 12.

We first got involved with them because we were asked by the Director to get them a soccer ball (foot ball) and some other soccer things.

Both Herbert and Ivan were in school, and each needed help with school fees, uniforms, books, etc., and so we decided to help pay for those things.

Eventually Ivan moved back to the north of Kenya, and we eventually lost track of him, but we are still in touch with Herbert.

 Actually, more than just in touch, but very close to him.  We have visited with him several times, and have followed his progress in school, and as he has matured.  We have also gotten to know his mother who is also positive.  They support each other spiritually and emotionally.

Herbert was always a good student, at the top, or almost at the top of his class for the past 9 years or so, and even now.  By the way, Herbert is in college in Kampala.

We have all become very close. And we are still  helping him and happily so.

Here are a couple of nice stories about Herbert that will help explain how nice a guy he is.  In 2008 when we were in Kampala for the second time volunteering, this time with Kamokwya Christian Caring Community, we took Herbert to a local mall and told him that we wanted to buy him a gift.  We asked him what he wanted.  He wanted school text books and a bible!!

Just a month ago, I, Peter, saw Herbert again.  He is 19 or 20 and is attending the University.  He asked me if I wanted the receipts he has been saving all these years to show what he spent our money on.  Of course, I said, no we don't need them. We then were chatting and he told me that when we first met him and started to help him, that he really didn't understand what the help meant.  For him it was only money.  So he told me that now he understands how our help with his education has helped him grow up and that his passion - his word - was to find two boys who he does not know and who need the kind of help that we gave him, and help them.  WOW!!

Well, we feel good about helping Herbert. This is the kind of payback we love getting.  Helping someone get ahead and help themselves and improve their life is why we do so many of the things that we do.  We are very proud, humbled, and honored.

One more thing, Herbert needs a laptop for his college studies.  If anyone of you who reads this has a laptop in good working condition, we would appreciate your donating it to Herbert.  If anyone can really use one, it is Herbert.  Just let us know and we will get it to him.

Best regards,
Peter and Hinda

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Hinda In Her New Kanga

Peter and His New Maasai Shuka

Peter Dancing

Peter and Nai With Her New Bednet

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Cathy, Our Favorite Waitress

Woman and son on Kilimanjaro

Last Blog from Tanzania
November 26, 2013

Here we are in our final days in Tanzania.  We are writing this quickly since we have had on and off power for the last several days and think it will likely go off again today.  Taking cold showers, shaving in the dark, trying to anticipate when it will go off or on is getting a bit tiresome.  Hinda will be going home in a couple of days and can’t wait to take a shower without worrying if the water will stay warm for the entire shower, even if it is a quick one.
We know it sounds selfish of us since many people live like this all the time but we are used to so much that we take for granted that it is hard to get used to this.  This time of year you should all be “Thankful” for what you have and where you live, if you live where the electricity doesn’t go off all the time, you have water at the turn of the tap and can come and go as you wish, where you wish and when you wish you are lucky and should never take it for granted.
We are winding down our work here and are feeling like the trip has been a success.  We have done many things but consider our work with the women’s groups and students at the computer class two of the best works.  The computer/photography class has grown from 9 to 17 with most of the students paying tuition on a sliding fee scale.  The 7 computers we brought with us are really being used well and now a second class is being started.  We have arranged for 4 of the best students to start helping the beginner students and one of the advanced students has actually started doing some work which she is getting paid for on the computer.  It is so rewarding to see this class grow and learn.  All the students are fun to be with and as they learn you can see them gain more self-assurance.  Thank you again to all of you who donated laptops, you can be sure they are being used well.
Our work with the women’s groups has been great.  Yesterday, Monday, there was a celebration where the mosquito nets were handed out to 64 women.  They were so excited and happy that they keep cheering and singing.  They have come a long way, with new bank accounts, free of large fees, a system for selling food to a hotel and more to come, and now mosquito nets to help with malaria.  Wow!  The press was at the celebration and it will be broadcast this evening and in the papers tomorrow.
At the celebration the women gave Peter and Hinda some small gifts to show their appreciation.  These gifts mean a lot since the women are extremely poor and cannot afford much.  We were delighted to help and hope to continue to make sure the programs we have put in place will continue.
We spent part of our last weekend here at Mt. Kilimanjaro.  It is only a couple of hours from Arusha, where we live and although it is not as dramatic a Mt. Rainier, it is higher and the highest mountain in Africa.  There is snow but not very much and it is like Mt. Rainier as it hides in the fog or clouds and was not out when we were there.  We hiked a bit but starting to hike at 9500 ft. was hard for us and we did not go too far. At least we can say we were there and walked on the mountain.
So one of us will see some of you in  few days and one of us may be able to communicate from Kenya where he will dedicate the Schnurman Pharmacy at KMET in Kisumu.
With love,

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Happy To Be On Safari Again

Mom and Baby at Tent


Rare African Hunting Dogs

Lion Love

Mama Warthog and Piglets

Reading News in Dar

Elephants at Tarangire River

Sun Bathing

Bringing Fish to Market Dar es Salaam

Big Elephant

Looking At Us

Blog 4 Tanzania
November 19, 2013

Mambo !  (How are things)

Well, here we are almost finished with our assignment here in Tanzania.  Only 10 days left before Hinda heads home and Peter heads to Kenya.
We have been doing good work, especially with the two women’s groups we are working with.  These are poor village woman who got together to support each other and give opportunity to others.  They started several years ago by with a donation from an American woman who came to visit.  She gave them some money to initiate a bank account. They meet each week and each woman give 5000 Tsh ($3.12) to the group account.  There are 32 women in each group. They have been keeping their money in a bank that charges them a monthly fee, charges when you withdraw money and charges when you put money in.  Peter thought that was too much and went looking for a bank that would not charge them, he found one, KCB (Kenya Commercial Bank) so the women are closing their current account and moving the money to KCB.  Just yesterday a woman from the bank came to speak to the two groups helping them understand what the account will be like.  They were very excited and since she was there she invited two representatives from each group to a workshop on entrepreneurship being held today.  They will learn a lot and bring the information back to the group.  One of the nicest things for us is that whenever we meet with the women and enter the room they stand and clap and trill their voices with their tongues.  And they come and hug us!!
Since the small businesses of these women include selling eggs, milk, vegetables, fruit, sewing and many others we have put them in touch with the chef at the hotel where we are living.  He is committed to helping them and has begun to purchase supplies from them, he has recently purchases eggs, milk and vegetables.  This is a small hotel but they have a lovely outdoor garden where they have wedding receptions, parties, etc.  This coming Saturday night they are having a wedding with 200 guests so they are ordering from the women fresh goods they will need.  This is a great opportunity for the women and we hope it will continue even after we leave.
Finally, Peter has performed a feat no one thought was possible.  One of the problems the women have is that they cannot afford to buy mosquito nets, and as you know malaria is a big problem in this part of the world.  The company that manufactures the nets is just outside of Arusha.  It is a large Indian run operation that does not make donations.  Peter, and as many of you know, he never gives up, said he was going to go visit them and ask them to donate nets.  Everyone said, it could not be done, they will not give you any nets.  We went one day last week and tried to get in to see someone. Finally, they let us meet with a secretary, who although was very nice, all she could do was ask her boss for a discount.  They said they would sell them to us wholesale.  Peter asked if he could meet with the boss the next day.  A meeting was scheduled for 10am the following day, when Peter arrived they told him the woman he was to meet with was busy and could not meet.  In his usual way he talked, cajoled, asked and generally made it known he would not leave until someone met with him.  After a while he got to meet with the sales manager who turned out to be a nice guy.  He offered nets at a much reduced price.  When Peter got back home he sent an email to the sales manager thanking him and about 10 minutes later we got a reply saying that the big boss has graciously agreed to give 64 nets to the women at no charge. They asked Peter to let them know where and when to deliver them and to get the press there.  Wow, he did it again!  However, we had no idea how to arrange press coverage.  Luckily a friend referred us to a journalist who is going to take care of the newspapers and radio coverage.  They will be presented next Monday.
Now for some exciting safari news.  As you can see from the photos we have been on safari and have seen some pretty amazing things. This past weekend we went to Tarangire National park.  A lovely place with lots of animals and a really nice lodge, where we staying in a luxury tent complete with bathroom and solar heated hot water.  It is located on a hill overlooking the savannah and has an amazing view.  Each day we went on a game drive in the early morning and late afternoon.  We saw many animals especially a great number of elephants.  This park has the largest number of elephants in Tanzania.  They are lovely and makes you wonder how anyone can kill them just to take their tusks which are worth a great deal on the ivory market.  We saw a pack of wild hunting dogs, which are rare in the world today.  The pack was resting in the afternoon heat and there were 19 of them just lazing around in the shade.  The two other highlights were a gorgeous leopard in a tree which was so close we felt like we could reach out and touch him.  And last but not least a mating couple of lions.  We have never seen this before and it was pretty exciting.  We are told they mate for 5 days, staying in the same location, coupling every 15 to 20 minutes day and night.    We going on one final one day safari to Mt. Kilimanjaro.
We went to Dar es Salaam for a weekend two weeks ago.  Big city!  Very very  hot and humid!  Lots of traffic.  Great fish market, and the Indian Ocean is very beautiful.  Only a 55 minute flight from Arusha.  Dar has a very big mix of people:  Indians, Muslims, Chinese, and is a thoroughly Swahili culture.
We saw some men painting stripes on  the new highway with a rag attached to a stick and dipped in a bucket of white paint.  This highway which is several hundred miles long, is being built with a small cement mixer which any American can rent at their local equipment rental store.  It is a loooooong process.
Kwaheri!  (Goodby)

That’s all for now.  See you all soon. P&H