Friday, August 11, 2017

Young Water Girl

Even Younger Water Girl


Best Way to Eat Fish

Blog 2

Blog 2

Kisumu, Kenya

August 12, 2017

Hi Everyone!

Usually I try to write to you from the office, but now I am writing this from the safety of my house.  Why?  Because I am under house arrest.  Yup, for the last 8 days, most people have been forced to stay indoors because of the Presidential Election tension around the country, but especially here in Kisumu, the heart of the political opposition.

The election was Tuesday, August 8th, and last night, the winner was announced – the current president, but the opposition candidate is refusing to accept the results. Here in Kisumu, stores have been closed for nearly a week, and people are stocking up on food.  Actually, there is only one supermarket open in the entire city and it is nearly impossible to even get into it, and there is not much to buy anywhere.  KMET has been closed since August 4th.  Streets are deserted of people and traffic.  Everyone is frustrated and bored.  On Friday morning, we were told to come back to work, but 2 hours later we were all sent home again because of the fear of violence, but it didn’t happen.  But where I live it is very safe.  We are all hoping that the opposition candidate – Raila Odinga will make a statement asking everyone to be calm, but so far, he has not.  Maye today.  People need to shop, go out onto the streets, go back to work, etc.  There is so much fake news circulating.  Only Trump would like it.  Last night there were helicopters buzzing around and gunshots, but not near here.  Just heard that a very nice supermarket where I often go to shop was destroyed last night.  Why?  Senseless!  Tribalism?  Politics?  It only hurts the people who have the most to lose.

Well, there are other things to tell you about too.

Next door to my house there are 5 large dogs who howl loudly several times a day that it is not even possible to talk on the phone or even to someone in the house.  The owner of the dogs promises to keep them quiet.  I guess you can tell the dogs to keep quiet, but you can’t stop them from barking or howling.

So many of my colleagues from work calling and checking on me to make sure I am safe.  Nice people.  I was even driven home on Friday morning with a “body guard”.  Thanks Monica and KMET.  You are taking very good care of me and I appreciate it.  I only wish we could all get back to work and do our jobs.  Hope by Monday.

There is an interesting program that KMET is involved in called MTIBA.  It is a health care investment plan where anyone can put money into a health account and use it for treatment for anyone in their family.  For each 100 Kenyan Shillings per month that you put in, the investors of the project add another 50 shillings, thus there is a very large incentive to save for you and your family’s health care.  It is a 5-year project.  In each locale, there are several health care facilities to choose from including KMET.

Since I know that many of you know what is going on here with the elections and the fear of violence, this is short only to let you know that I am ok and safe, and well taken care of and am not taking any chances.  Have lots of food and water.  I’m ok.



Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Sylvia, The Schnurman Pharmacy Pharmicist

Reading is Sharing

KMET Buildings Including New Top Floor

Elizabeth Hair Dressing Teacher

New Hairstyle KMET Student

It Takes Three

KMET Cooking Class

Monica - KMET Security Guard

Blog Kisumu July 25, 2017

July 25, 2017

Kisumu, Kenya

Hi Family, Friends, and Everyone!

Some you may know that I arrived back here in Kisumu on July 6, to work with KMET once again to finally finish helping them build the final phase of the KMET Building.  I think and hope that it will finally get done before I leave here on September 18.  In fact, we are planning to have a dedication just before I leave.  It will have been 8 years since Hinda and I first came here to help on this and other things in 2009.  WOW!!

Just a bit about the journey.  It was very long – some 26 hours or so, sitting in planes, airports, flying, waiting, and getting tired.  In the Dubai airport, a very kind woman came up to me as I was trying to buy a bottle of water and bought it for me.  These are the Muslims that Trump is trying to keep out of the United States!  Imagine!!

I am working hard and feeling it more than ever before, Part of it is that at work I am upstairs and downstairs so many times a day, and then when I get home to rest, there are stairs again, so I am constantly climbing.  Good exercise?  Maybe.  I hope so.

Home is in a nice part of town in a large compound with about 5 or 6 houses including mine which as 4 apartments.  The only problem is that it is a little further from work than I would have preferred, but it is very quiet and secure.  Actually, it is very close to the local zoo, which among other animals has lions which roar very loudly at night.  If you have ever heard a male lion roar you will understand.

One of my jobs is to help raise money to buy building supplies, pay the contractors, etc.  Two years ago I asked a particular hotel that we have done a lot of business with to contribute to our building fund, and they agreed.  Since then, they never paid their pledge which was fairly substantial.  When I came back I followed up with them and others.  Some have in fact contributed, but this particular place did not.  Last Friday afternoon when I had already gotten home, I received a phone call from them to come and get their check.  I tried to explain that I was home and would come the next morning or Monday.  “NO!  Come Now!!  Of course I did, but after waiting for 2 years, it had to be now or never.  Oh well!

The Presidential elections are scheduled for August 8 and there is a lot of tension here in Kisumu and around the country.  In 2007/8 there was a lot of post-election violence and many people were killed and injured and there was a lot of looting.  No one knows what will happen and all are hopeful that the election will be calm.  Our office will be closed for the day preceding and after the election so that people won’t have to travel.  Many people are stocking up on their food supplies, and I will also.

Because there is a fear of looting, some of the supermarkets have very little stock and sometimes one has to go to more than one store to get what you need.  But also there are some large supermarket chains that are having big economic problems and as a result, there are lots of empty shelves.  I mean EMPTY EMPTY!!

Cooking here are home means making everything from scratch and by the time I get home, I don’t want to have to chop and grate vegetables, make rice or some other thing.  The pots and pans leave something to be desired, the knives are dull, the refrigerator is small, so Hinda suggested I hire someone to help with the cooking.  I hired a college student to come 4 nights a week and do the cooking.  I pay her a fair wage, and of course buy the food, and then she also stays to eat and if there are leftovers – usually- takes them home to her aunt, uncle, and nephew where she lives.  Good for me!  Good for her!

So, I’ll leave it at this for the time being and send some photos.

Enjoy and love,


Monday, November 07, 2016

Eye Clinic Volunteer Optometrist Checking Reading For New Glasses Perscription

Assistant In The Eye Clinic With Eye Chart

Optometrist Examing KMET Client

KMET Eye Clinic

Dear Everyone,

I am very proud to tell you that KMET opened their first volunteer Eye Clinic.  It is staffed by an Optometrist that I met a couple of years ago, and this year when I came back here, he agreed to volunteer weekly in the KMET Eye Clinic. 

Some of you may remember that in 2011 I helped to start the KMET Dental Clinic which continues to thrive.

This Eye Clinic is just starting, but there is a big demand.  Many people here don't go to get their eyes checked, especially people who can't afford to get exams, let alone glasses.

Our Eye Clinic is low income, and the Optometrist that is volunteering also has a shop where he manufactures lenses for frames that he sells for a low cost.  He has even agreed to take a small down payment for the glasses and allow our client to pay the balance off and still get their glasses.

Yesterday, the first day, we saw 10 people; some of whom were our staff.  The Eye Clinic will be open every Monday morning from 8am to 1pm.

In addition to the Optometrist, Gordon Abonyo, he also brings an assistant, and all of the machines and equipment that he uses including an array of frames.  So we have to send a vehicle to pick him up each time.  Hopefully, we will be able to make the Eye Clinic permanent like the Dental Clinic, Lab, Medical Clinic, Pharmacy, and Youth Friendly Clinic among other services.

So, for me and for KMET, another great day.  I am very proud that I was able to do this.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Pink and White At Home

Wednesday, November 02, 2016


Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Final Phase of KMET Building

Remodeling KMET Cafeteria

Juliet, KMET Intern

Blog From Kisumu November 2016

Kisumu, Kenya

November 1, 2016

 Dear Family and Friends,
I haven’t written before this because I have been pretty busy working, and I don’t usually carry my laptop home at night or on the weekends, but I have found a quiet moment today, so here I am.

 I don’t know about the weather where you are, but it is dam hot here!  In the 90’s every day with a bright relentless sun overhead.  We only had rain a couple of times, and except for once, it was not heavy.  The other night however, the heavens opened up big time with thunder, lightning, wind, and inevitable loss of power.

 The rains were supposed to have come, but they have not, and like the rest of the world, the weather patterns seem to have changed.  If there is global warming, it is surely here in Kisumu, Kenya, although there are places not too far from here where it rains heavily every night.

 I also haven’t taken very many photos – also because have been busy, but one that you will see on this blog is of Juliet, a young intern who I was teaching to photograph, and also got this nice photo of her.  The other couple of photos are from my phone and will show you some of the work I am doing.

 As you may know, I am helping KMET build the final floor of the building I started here in 2009, and subsequently added another floor and also another entire building.  But this is supposed to be the final phase.

 The photo with the “scaffolding” – Kenyan style is the building where we are adding the final floor.  The other is a small remodel of the KMET “Cafeteria” used mostly by the staff.
I am going to try to take one more photo to add to this blog of my good friend “Sunday” who Hinda and I love very much.  We help her with her education, and she also takes good care of me.  She is really a very good, kind, caring person, and I appreciate her company, although she has a very rough schedule between her university classes, her church attendance, and she has just gotten a job volunteering with the Kenya Red Cross.

 If anything, the roads and traffic have gotten worse.  If you haven’t been here, you wouldn’t believe it anyway no matter how I try to explain it.  The roads are so full of holes that roads is not even the proper word to use to describe them.  I have been traveling around town on the back of a motorbike – piki piki, but have decided that it is just too dangerous.  Most drivers don’t have a license and/or are drunk.  So I have been using tuk tuks – a small covered 3 wheel cart that holds about 3 people.  Very bouncy.  Safer, but not safe.

 But at work, the KMET vehicles take me where ever I need to go which is convenient and safe for me. 

I continue to learn Kiswahili and can get along pretty well,  and I have also learned some of the local language from this part of the country – Dhluo, the language of the Luo’s (Obama land).  But the most fun is to mix them up with English.  I have always been good with language and like to learn.  Even though I am a better speaker, Hinda always is able to understand pretty well even though she can’t speak.  So, after 56 years, we are still a good team.

Even though I am doing good work that I enjoy, I miss home.  I can’t work much past the midafternoon because I am a fast worker because of my “can do American culture” compared to a slower pace of life here, and the heat tires me out.

I have been doing a lot of fundraising which has been going well; negotiating contracts with contractors and other suppliers and “fundi’s” – workers.  So at the end of the day, am raising money and trying to not spend too much.  It is pretty much expected here to negotiate and bargain, and after so many years of this, here and around the world I can do ok at it.

The mobile phone system leaves a lot to be desired,  Most people carry two phones with two different numbers from two different carriers, but that doesn’t always mean that the phone works,  Last night, no phone service from 4pm to 7am this morning.

I do most of the cooking at home, but a lot of the meals are made from scratch so it takes time – except breakfast.  Have learned to be a pretty good cook I think.  My friends seem to like it, at least they say so, but also take extra portions.

And now a word about time.  You know there is African Time (I don't mean a time zone), and there is "mzungu" - white or American time.  "Ne'er the twain shall meet".  It is difficult to get used to sometimes, especially if you are a bit compulsive like me, and usually get to places early, rather then late.  So they say, "There is no hurry or rush in Africa", and a truer statement there never was.  I'm have learned a lot of things but I'm not sure I'll ever be able to be comfortable with African time.  On the other hand?  Maybe I should.  But then, I wont get as much time.  As George Bernard Shaw once said, "Give me enough time, and I'll write you a short enough letter".

So, I'm sitting here in my too hot office area, well past 2pm waiting for the bank to have called more than an hour ago to tell me the status of the KMET loan I have negotiated, and the most recent status update is "bado bado"  Not yet!  So I'll just have to wait as hard as that is for me.

Finally, like you probably, I am following the election back home and don’t know what to think.  I listen to the BBC radio news and also follow on line.  One week from today it will all be over and so I will come home to a new President Elect.

Well, maybe enough rambling for now.  I’ll be home at the end of November.  I miss home, friends, family, and dog Chico!

Peter  (Omosh – the name everyone calls me here at work.  Omosh is a nickname for Omondi – one who is born early in the morning – I was)

Friday, September 16, 2016

Necropolis, Samarkand

Registan Square Samarkand

Babushka and Grandson Khiva

Flowers for First Day of Schoo,l Bukhara

At Madrassa Site, Samerkand

Bride and Groom, Samarkand


Greetings at Bazaar in Samarkand

Man at Tomb of Tamur in Samarkand

Woman in Bukhara

Horses in Kyzilkum Desert

Yurt Camp and Morning Clouds


First Day of School


Big Old City Wall and Small Man

Golden Smile

Old Man in Khiva

Blog From Uzbekistan
September 16, 2016

Salaam Alekum!  Drasvicha!!
Greetings in Uzbek and Russian!

We arrived in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on August 31, 2016 to tour the Silk Road, but when we told people we were going to Uzbekistan many people didn't know where Uzbekistan is.  Uzbekistan is in Central Asia, and borders the other "stans".  Kazahkstan, Kyrgystan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan.
The Silk Road is the route that silk merchants traveled from China.

We had never been in that part of the world before, but to say the least, it was great:  Food, people, ancient sights, customs -- everything.

And interestingly, Uzbek is very similar to Turkish - many words the same, so communication was a bit easier than we had expected since we both know Turkish from when we lived there in 1960.  Also,  Uzbeks speak Russian, and Peter knows a little, enough to just get along. 

Uzbekistan is perhaps the cleanest country we have ever visited.  Wide tree lined streets, modern building, very little traffic, along with the mix of 2,500 year old buildings and sights.

When we arrived the President was in a coma, and no one knew if he was alive or dead.  Alas, he died about 3 days after we arrived.  Islam Karimov was the first President of Uzbekistan, and 3 days of mourning followed.  All was peaceful.  No coups or threats.

Uzbekistan is 95% Muslim, but is a non sectarian country.  No public praying or other public religious observances,  And for a photographer, it was easy to photograph Muslim women as you shall see.

Tashkent is the capital with many government building, nice shops, and open air bazaars and markets with everything you can imagine, and very fresh.  Much of Tashkent was destroyed by an earthquake in 1966 and rebuilt by the Soviets.

We flew to Urgench in order to drive to Khiva, about 7 hours on excellent roads.  Our car was a Chevy and nearly all cars there are Chevy sedans, since they are manufactured in Uzbekistan.

Khiva is an ancient, several thousand year old walled city.  Quite small so it is easy to see it all.  Norbek was our driver there and for the rest of the trip.. Saida was our knowledgeable and friendly guide.

In Khiva, we saw many brides and grooms who had just been married and were parading themselves through the old city, being photographed and video taped.  Most with white gowns and suits, but some with traditional dress.  By the way, because of the Muslim culture the brides must be virgins, and couples do not live together before marriage.

Even though we were jet lagged, we still were able to visit all the places we had planned to see. The food was great:  Green noodles which are hand made with parsley juice, plov (rice, onions, carrots, lamb, and oil).  Plov is a national food, eaten only at lunch.  Great bread (Non) cooked in a tandoor oven.  Ate delicious melons, including torpedo melons. Much of the food is Russian, since the Russians came in 1868, and in 1920, Uzbekistan become one of the Soviet Republics until 1991 when it gained independence.

Saw a lot of cotton and rice fields.  Cotton is the biggest crop, accounting for the largest export in the world.  All land is owned by the government and rented to the farmer and the farmer is told what and how much to plant.

Norbek our sweet driver and Peter had a lot of fun speaking Turkish.  Norbek lived in Ankara, Turkey where he attended University, and we also lived in Ankara.

The faces of the Uzbeks are very interesting - Tatars, Mongolians, Russians, etc.  And great to photograph.

We drove to Bukhara.  Stayed in very Russian hotels.  Breakfasts included kasha (Uzbek/Russian for hot cereal), blintzes, cheese pancakes, sweet farmer cheese, eggs, and the best fresh sweet melons.  Bukhara is very old, very clean and very well preserved. 

Bukhara had a large Jewish population which dwindled to now very few.  We visited both Ashkenazi and Sephardic synagogues.

Everyone wipes their silverware off so we did, well Hinda did anyway, and fresh compote juice.

Uzbekistan was hot  in the high 90's but mornings and evenings were delightful and comfortable.

Next we drove to the Kyzilkum Desert to stay in a yurt.  Comfortable, and nice to see the stars through the open roof, and fell asleep to Uzbek folk singing. In the morning, Peter's glasses broke.  Norbek said he could have them repaired but it seemed they were too broken for that, but he insisted they can do anything in Uzbekistan, we made a bet, two days later he told us the glasses were sent to Moscow on a special plane and lo and behold he gave them back as good as new. Peter lost the bet and Norbek got a very healthy tip. If this had happened in the USA, we would have thrown the glasses away and bought new ones, since we live in a throw away society. On the drive to Samarkand, many trucks from Iran and Turkey.  Stopped for tea, and ate fresh tandoor non - bread. 

85% of the people in the country are under 25, so there are not enough schools, thus morning school for some, and afternoon school for others.

On the way to Samarkand, we visited a family owned, multi generation ceramic factory where everything is made by hand and bought a beautiful dish.  Abdullah was the one who made our dish. He has been around the world showing his craft and has been in Santa Fe many times. We are so happy to have one of his pieces.

On to Samarkand, another 5 hours or so.  Our favorite city in Uzbekistan.  Lots of beautiful tiled mosques and madrasas - Muslim schools.  There is also a Jewish school in Samarkand, but it is open to all children, who also study Hebrew.

In Samarkand, is where Amir Timur (Tamerlane), lived and is buried.  Very beautiful tiled mausoleums, mosques, madrasas, and other buildings, many from the 11th Century, as in all of the cities we visited.   But also very modern universities and medical schools.  Feels very cosmopolitan, good restaurants and coffee shops.  In one of the restaurants we ate Chicken Kiev, which we haven't had since we left Turkey in 1962, and it was just as good as we remembered.

In our hotel there, a very traditional Russian hotel, brides and groom came to be photographed several times a day.  Lots of fun to watch and also photograph them myself.

Samarkand is where paper from Mulberry trees is made using the same ancient process.  Supposed to last for 1,000 years.  Very interesting hand made process using only hand done processes and water wheels, and heavy stones to make the paper.

Some other foods:  shashlik - shish kabob, pelmeni, samsa, manti, borsh, nan.  Delicious. All food is prepared when you order it, so it takes a while.  Only Plov is made ahead of time in huge vats.  And of  course roast lamb. In Uzbekistan horse meat is often eaten, we did not partake.

Uzbekistan is 12 time zones later than Seattle.  A 19 hour flight on 3 planes and two changes.  On the way home we had a 9 hour layover in Istanbul, in the middle of the night.  So we rented a room at the airport hotel and got a little rest.

We said goodbye to Norbek in Samarkand, his home, and boarded a high speed train for a 2.5 hour trip back to Tashkent.

In Tashkent on our final day, we wanted to see an exhibit of fine ceramics including those from Abdullah, but everyone told us to go to a different place and finally with Peter's limited Russian and phone calls to Norbek, we finally succeeded in finding the Gallery of Fine Arts.  After we stopped in a very upscale neighborhood for coffee and met a group of medical students.  Very nice!!

Back home on September 11 tired, jet lagged and happy.

Hyer!  Dasvidanya!  Goodbye in Uzbek and Russian!

Peter and Hinda

Monday, February 29, 2016

Effi y Raul


Friday Night Merida

Noche Mexican Merida

Folklorico Merida

Farmer in Muchucuxcah

Farmer's House in Muchucuxcah

Boy in Poop

Teen in Poop

Girl in Poop

Drinking Coconut Milk

Meeting in Palapa in Tixcacalcupul

15 Year Old in Tixcacalcupul

The Real Last Blog

Final Final Blog
February 29, 2016

Hi All,

We thought we were finished with our blogs from Mexico, but then we realized there were a few more item we should tell you about.

We realized that we didn’t say much about the serious problem of marginalization of the Mayan people here in the Yucatan Peninsula.  And it has been going on since the Conquistadors from Spain arrived in the early 1,500’s and it continues until today.  This is similar to what happened and still happens in the United States with Native Americans, and in other countries with indigenous populations.

What is this marginalization?  It is economic, educational, health, in fact, all of the important aspects of life.  Mayan people are excluded from all of this.  In the villages, the government doctors do not speak Mayan.  There are few, if any Mayan teachers.  Government programs like vitamins for children and pregnant women which are given all over the country, somehow bypasses the Mayan villages.  When the government gave out more than 2,000,000 TV sets because the TV system has changed, and requires special antennas, the Mayan villages, if a few people did manage to get a TV,  didn’t get an antenna, and they can’t afford to buy one.

Many young people who want to go to a university, can’t afford to go.  The scholarships don’t provide enough.  The courses offered near the Mayan villages only prepare the students to work in the big resort cities like Cancun or Playa del Carmen, rather than offer courses which would permit them to return and work in the villages, in order for these students to help the villages and the residents become more independent, financially and otherwise.

In short, neither government nor the society as a whole seems to care about these Mayan people.

Thus, groups like this one we work with are doing a good job.  Helping develop income generating activities that are highly successful now and operating independently.  Helping small farms – milpas – produce more and better.  And many of the milpas produce enough to sell their excess, and even supply local primary schools with food.

Merida, where we have been staying has an abundance of parks and activities:  concerts, dances, some blocked streets on Friday nights, Saturday mornings, and all day Sunday in the Centro.  We have enjoyed all of these activities.  Plus, it is very safe.

But, it is time to go home, so bye bye.

Peter and Hinda