Monday, March 08, 2010

Adhiambo - Beautiful Produce Seller in Obunga

Monica Relaxing in Village Wearing a "Tach" on Head

"Mama in Monica's Village

Monica Greeting Elder in Village

My Sign Language Nick Name (Specs)

Deaf Student

Student Signing His Name

Monica's Boma in Village

Pam's Family - My Family

Priscilla Getting Ready to Cook

Rainbow Over Obunga

Powwer is on at KMET

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Last Blog from Kisumu

Last Blog From Kisumu
March 8, 2010

Hello Again,

This will be the last blog from Kisumu.

My two months have flown by, and I have accomplished pretty much all that I set out to do, so I feel pretty positive. I wasn’t sure what would happen, but it turned out well. I also worried about being here without my dear wife Hinda who has always managed to take care of her “high maintenance” husband, but as you know, I was so well taken care of, worried over, pampered, and more if you can imagine that.

The biggest bonus of this trip was the opportunity to live in the community with the families of several of the staff that I worked with. I learned how many people in the world live and surprised myself just a little by being able quite handily to get along with out all of the creature comforts that most of us are used to.

The biggest accomplishment from a work point of view was getting electric power into the new KMET building and getting most of the remaining construction contracts and supply contracts negotiated at very favorable rates to KMET.

Something else, although I didn’t do it myself from a technical point of view, I did was kind of the person urging, encouraging, lobbying for a revamped website, thus the KMET website at now has sample songs from the CD that Hinda and I spearheaded last year, a new donate page, and more. Check it out and if you haven’t already got your CD, it is now easy to do so.

Here is an excerpt from an email letter from the KMET Director, Monica Oguttu, that is about to be sent out to KMET contacts and donors. You had better sit down and be prepared as you read what follows:

“A few days ago I visited three rural primary schools and met with a group of over 1,000 adolescent and pre-adolescent girls. I was there among other things to help introduce a sustainable school feeding program, integrate Reproductive health skills into the school program and introduction of our reusable sanitary pads.

When I asked those girls who were already experiencing their periods what they were using for sanitary pads, the response was something I had never imagined. I am sorry but I cried and had to leave the room. The community where these girls are living is so poor that there are not even rags to use or even a piece of their mattresses – for they don’t have mattresses. They sleep on a mat on the floor. And what others call rags are the clothes they use!


Despite the discomfort of using cow dung, and the embarrassment, you can imagine the diseases that the girls can and do get.


I could barely contain my shock, my tears, and my anger at the conditions that these beautiful young people are forced to live under. With your support I want to distribute our reusable pads to these girls, and we can give a girl a one year supply for only $10.

It is really easy to do now. Just click on the following link to support one or more girls for a year with clean, reusable, and washable sanitary pads. “

Some of you have already helped, but maybe you want to help some more.

Where I live now, in the Obunga slum, there are a lot of people drunk from “changaa” – a local potent alcoholic home made drink. I see people drunk in the morning on the way to work, and see them lying in the mud on the street at night on the way home. It is very bad stuff, and I assume that the drinking here is for the same reasons that there is a lot of drunkenness in other places where there is a strong sense of hopelessness mostly because of poverty, little education, no jobs, etc., etc.

I spent this past weekend in the village home of Monica, the KMET Director. It was a very interesting and enjoyable experience. First of all, we both had a chance to rest and unwind, and also to have many good conversations, and purposely, not about work.

Monica’s village consists of a series of “boma’s” – compounds composed of a series of homes, often for those of an extended family. Monica’s boma for example contains the homes of all of her brother in laws, and her step mother. In Luo culture, when a wife dies, and the man remarries, or already has a “nyieka” – co wife, she has to have a separate house. She cannot use the house of the first wife which remains vacant. Thus, there are many houses scattered around the different bomas that are vacant.

Many of the houses are quite cool, especially those with thatched roofs. The ceilings are high and the hot air escapes through spaces between the walls and the ceilings.

At Monica’s boma, (actually her husband Peter’s boma), there were no mosquitoes and I didn’t even sleep under a net. The types of trees which they have planted all around serve as a natural mosquito repellent in addition to providing shade and fruit: avocado, mango, tamarind, and more.

In the village, there is a primary school, and attached to it is a school for the deaf which we visited. There are 25 students – the oldest is 15 and the youngest around 7 or 8. All are poor and many carry very sad stories. There is a stigma about being deaf, and so many deaf children in this country, and perhaps throughout East Africa and Africa are socially isolated and with no access to any kind of an education. In fact some of these very students we met will not be taken back into their families. The principal is a very caring and loving man, and really loves these children..They are learning sign language, some faster and better than others, but all were learning. Three of the students also had other mental disabilities, but were certainly a part of the group. We learned their names, and they danced for us, and then we joined them. KMET is going to provide the girls in puberty with the reusable sanitary pads. I have pledged to purchase the first ones for the 8 girls who have already gotten their period, and KMET will bring a team there to teach them how to use and care for them and also teach them about Reproductive Health.

So, that is about all for now. I will see some of you very soon – I arrive in Seattle on March 16, and some of you I will see “somewhere around the world” in the not too distant future. Hinda and I are planning a trip back here to Kenya and Uganda, and elsewhere beginning in January 2011. It will be our 50th weddinbg anniversary gift to ourselves, so don’t be surprised to see us knocking at your door sooner than you imagined.

Oh, before I forget, I had to kill another chicken last night. There was one in the kitchen and the “girls” didn’t want to, so “the chicken killer” did. That’s 2 notches on my gun (for chickens – many more for rattle snakes)


Peter Omundi, (my Luo name)