Tuesday, September 30, 2014

This Flower Was Gone In A Couple Of Hours. Lesson: BE THERE!

Sisterhood for Change Tailoring Students

Sisterhood for Change Hairdressing Students

Blog 2 Kisumu, Kenya

Blog 2
Kisumu, Kenya
September 28, 2014

Hi All!

Everything is fine with me here in Kisumu.  I am starting this blog on Sunday, September 28th, but probably won’t finish it for a few more days.  I think there will be a big storm soon.  It has been raining most evenings – sometimes in torrents, and sometimes just rain.

I am just about to prepare breaded tilapia fillets, rice, and vegetables for dinner for a friend and myself.  Hope it will be good.

There is a lot to talk about and a few nice photos.  I also took a short video of some of the KMET staff singing at one of the twice weekly morning meetings.  I will post it to this blog and hope that you will be able to open it and listen for a few seconds, but even so, it does not do justice to the beautiful acapella singing.

Where to start?  With the bad, the funny, the good?  Let’s see what you think!

I don’t know whether to call it highway robbery or highway bribery.  Actually, it is both.  If you take a trip out of town on the way somewhere, there are a lot of police checkpoints and stops.  There are a lot of “matatu’s” that take people from one town to another.  A matatu, or mat is a van that is always overloaded.  Nearly every matatu – actually every matatu slows down and drops some money on the ground, or gives it directly to the police.  Highway robbery?  Highway bribery?  Both – what’s the difference?  The police aren’t paid much, but I think there is a culture of bribery here at many different levels.  Perhaps that’s the way it  is, but to me it is still disheartening.  I really love Kenya, but I have to admit there are some things like this that I don’t like!

So now it is Tuesday, September 30th.

Hinda sent me an interesting article a couple of weeks ago from NPR about hypertension here in Kenya.  Maybe Kenya is a Third World Country, but it now has some First World problems such as hypertension – a silent killer.  Plus of course all of it’s own problems.

Peter is proud!! Why?  I have been accepted as a board member of KMET.  I am also honored.  Thanks KMET!  I promise to work hard to improve and help this fine organization.  And for me, there is no conflict of interest because I am a volunteer and don’t get paid anyway.

Some of you know about and even have the CD that Hinda and I helped to make in 2009 featuring the beautiful singing of the Sisterhood for Change girls who attend training here.  We called it from Despair to Hope and it a very uplifting thing for the girls, Hinda and I, KMET and so many people who have it, heard it, and love it as we do.

Now, I am going to make another one, but this one will include the girls, the staff, both men and women, and other volunteers here.  Tom Milongo our friend who produced the first one in his Kisumu studio has agreed to help us record and produce this new one.  A committee has already been formed and is writing the words and the music of 8 new songs.  Stay tuned!

A couple of years ago on one of my visits here, one of the KMET staff – John Asuke who is a Tae Kwando expert started to teach this martial art to the Sisterhood for Change girls.  Some became pretty good at it, won some contests, and even used it once or twice to defend themselves.

Now some of same young women are teaching it to other women and girls in the local community.  Sometimes you plant a seed and it grows!

A funny thing happened to me a couple of weeks ago.  I was walking with the architect who designed our building and something got into my eye.  I asked him to see if there was something in my eye.  He looked and said there was and it needed to be blown out.  I said ok.  He took a deep breath and blew into my eye and POP – it was gone.  Now I know what blown out really means.

 A lot of the primary children go to school driven by a motorbike.  It is not uncommon to see at least 4 little ones and the driver on one of the motorbikes here.  They are pretty small, and sometimes only I can ride with one of my thin friends.  Imagine!

Well, I see that I have already rambled too much.  Those of you who know me well, know that I like to talk too much.  But before I go, I have told you before about the twice weekly staff meetings which I helped to start a couple of years ago – an import I brought from KCCC in Kampala.  Those meetings start with very beautiful singing – hymns, but never the less very very nice.  I recorded a short segment with my camera and hope that I can put it on this blog.

By the way, construction is to start here at KMET next Monday!  WOW!

Love and hugs,

Omosh (Peter)

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 – www.kmet.co.ke 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 peter@peterschnurman.com

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,