Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A New Person: Peter and NJ After 1 Year of ARV's

Peter's Ugandan Family

Temporary Kisumu Apartment

Blog 1 Kenya

June 24, 2009
Kisumu, Kenya

Dear Family and Friends,

We are now in Kisumu, Kenya where we will be volunteering for the next 3 1/2 months. Before arriving here, we spent a week in Kampala with friends and African family where Peter celebrated his 71st birthday with an RSVP Birthday Bash. Peter can still dance, although he had a difficult time keeping up with his granddaughter Maggie and daughter Atyero and all his friends. Hinda is still a great dancer but also had a hard time keeping up with the young folks. At the party a few people were asked to say a few words which were very special and meaningful to the both of us, and we were both deeply moved and honored.
In August we have been invited to a wedding in Uganda, and it is another honor for us so we will attend. In September we have been invited to an introduction ceremony where the couple to be wedded are formally introduced, and gifts are given to the brides family from the groom and his family. We will wear traditional clothing and will share photos with you. Once again we are honored to be invited. We were given parts of these clothes when we went to the home of daughter Atyero to visit and where when parents visit it is customary for them to receive a gift. Peter will wear a kansu,and Hinda a gomesa.

As we were waiting at the airport in Nairobi to board the flight to Kisumu, we watched 7 men sitting on the ground under a jet liner. They were jacking up the plane by hand - do you know much one of those baby's weigh? -and then it took them several hours to change one of the tires. We hope they screwed the lugs on good and tight. Glad it wasn't our plane. Happy Landings whoever you are!

Kisumu is the 3rd largest city in Kenya after Nairobi and Mombasa. It sits on the shores of Lake Victoria, the second largest fresh water lake in the world. Actually, we are right across the lake from Kampala and at the same latitude, just about at the equator.

Kisumu town is small compared to Kampala and Nairobi, but seems to have all we will need and will be easy to get around.

We just rented a very nice cottage within a 10 minute walk or so from the office. Two bedrooms - so you are welcome - and a swimming pool. It won't be available until July 1, so until then we will stay at another beautiful brand new apartment owned by the same landlord. We will be the first tenant, and there is a pool there also.

Peter has already picked up a few Kiswahili words, and by the time we leave should be able to get along with the basics.

The weather so far has been clear and quite warm, although the locals don't agree that it is hot yet. Uh oh! Lots of green all over, and very pretty hills. It is exciting to be here in the Great Rift Valley. This is where humans first evolved, and we shall soon be doing some exploring and sending you photos and blogs. So we have come back home to Africa and actually where it all began for us humans.

The organization we are volunteering with is quite impressive with most programs focusing on reproductive health. The Executive Director is a visionary "par excellence" and referred to as Mama "K". We expect to work closely with her and learn a lot as well as teach as much as we can. When we arrived at "K" we were welcomed with "Welcome to the 4 K's: Kenya, Kisuma, "K", and Kogelo, the ancestral home of Obama. Kenyans and all Africans, and we too are very very proud of this man. One of the most exciting programs is a nutrition program. The organization which we shall call "K", has developed a nutritional cereal or porridge for children and adults which are being distributed and/or sold to the clients on a sliding fee basis, but very soon will be marketed in retail shops.

We understand that this part of Kenya has the highest rate of HIV/AIDS infections and a considerable amount of child malnutrition. One of the reasons explained to us is because in this part of Kenya, there has been a lot of opposition to the political party in power and has thus not received important resources to fight and alleviate these scourges. Perhaps with the new power sharing agreement things will get better.

As we drove around Kisumu for the past couple of days, we saw burned out buildings as the aftermath of the election violence last year. Many people had to flee to here from their villages, and of course it put a strain on resources and services. "K" helped to provide emergency food and other support.

We will tell you lots more, but just wanted to start off with this. More later.

Hope you are well and happy. We already miss you. Come to visit!


Peter and Hinda

Friday, June 19, 2009

A Good Story

Blog 1
Kampala, Uganda
June 19, 2009

Dear Family and Friends,

We are here in Kampala, Uganda visiting friends before we go to Kisumu, Kenya where we will be for the next 3 ½ months volunteering. Some of you may remember that when we volunteered here a year or so ago, we helped a young woman who was dying of AIDS and TB become better. When we first met her she only weighed 32 kilos. Well this young woman, now 19 weighs over 45 kilos, and some even call her fat. It is remarkable how an organization like the one we were involved with coupled with modern life saving drugs and a good dose of compassion can not only save lives, but make them wholesome. So when we visited her a couple of days ago, she gave us this letter which we want to share with you. There are lots of feel bad stories here in this part of the world, but here is a feel good story.

Love and Hugs,
Peter and Hinda

P.S. Am having my 71st birthday here in Kampala with Ugandan friends and family.

“14 June 2009
Hullo Mr. Peter,
I’m very glad that your back and see how I am now. I’m relly very happy & my thanks goes to K*** as a whole, Mr. LK and more especially to you who gave me all the support while I was bed ridden. Your support, the care from the organization contributed a lot to my gaining back my life. Though I was down I was relly appreciating whatever you were doing & supporting. Dear Mr. Peter you were so kind, loving & caring for me. There’s nothing I can do as a reward but just to say thank you & may the almighty God add like 100 years to your life. As you left I remained still in the hands of the K*** organization & Uncle K continued to look after me up to where you’ve found me now. I’m now healthy & enjoying myself which I thought would not come. Dear Peter, how can I thank you!!! Even if I die now I will go with a clean heart because of the love, care & support you & the organization showed me. I will keep on praying for you day and knight because I take you & the K*** management as my savior. This is just a message of appreciation to you coz I’m very very happy for your coming back & finding me walking, doing everything as others.
Lots of Love from, JN”