Monday, October 17, 2011

Cowboy Uncle


Maureen and Miriam

Big Spoon

Collecting Rainwater

KMET Dentist and Patient

Monica Helps Launch Quality Health Care Financing Program

Marion's School


Young Boyin Village

Boys in the Village

Give Me A Big Smile


Roselyne at Home in Awasi

Ruth Drying Dishes

Santa Pours Cement in Hot Sun

The Building is Rising

Blog 3 Kisumu, Kennya

October 16, 2011

Habari zenu,

I am writing this on a hot Sunday morning keeping cool with the fan blowing on me. I will go out later when it cools down a bit. We have had a lot of rain in the past few days and also it has been pretty hot.

As you can see from the photos above, the new K-MET building is progressing quite well. It does looks like it will be pretty much completed by the time I leave here in early January. If that does happen, I will be both proud and happy. It will be an important thing for me to have helped K-MET once again in their building projects. I am trying hard to get the building done within the budget which is increasingly difficult because of the extremely high inflation here – 20%+. Kenya’s Shilling is the second worst in the world as compared to the US Dollar. When we first came here in 2009, the exchange rate was in the 70’s, and now it is 106. This makes life very hard for most people who are struggling to just get enough food to eat.

Our new Dental Clinic is doing well. That is if you consider extraction doing well. There is very poor dental care here. It just isn’t affordable, so people only go when their toothaches are so severe, and their tooth has deteriorated so much that there is no other recourse except to have it, or even 2 or 3 extracted. So, I am going to try to start a children’s dental clinic, and perhaps if we can get at the kids early enough coupled with education about good dental health we can slowly turn some things around, even if only for a few people. You see so many people here with missing teeth. The K-MET staff has health insurance, and so we are negotiating with the health care provider to add our dental clinic to their preferred providers, and when they do, it will help the staffs, who like so many others have big dental problems.

One of the best things about volunteering is that you learn about different cultures. Sometimes we Americans and other Westerners don’t even realize that there are many different cultures besides theirs. For example, one of the taboos in the Luo culture is that a son in law can’t talk to his mother in law after a certain time at night. Conversely, a Massai man can talk and even touch his mother in law, but not his sister in law. A Luhya mother cannot sit on the couch in her daughter’s house, but sits on the floor with her legs outstretched. And Roselyne’s mother cannot eat kuku (chicken) or eggs in Festus’ mother’s house, but it is ok for Festus’ mother to eat kuku or anything in Roselyne’s house. It is pretty confusing to understand this, and I am not sure that I do, so for you Luo’s, Luhya’s, Massai’s and others I apologize if I have it wrong. Anyway, it is very interesting to me, and I hope to you too.

One of our staff was riding in a matatu and the police pulled them over. All were taken to court to a holding cell for not wearing seat belts. Guess what – there were no seat belts in the matatu. And to top it off, the matatu driver, conductor, and the matatu itself were released. While the passengers stayed locked up for the entire morning. Crazy!!

Kenya Power and Light has installed an automatic pay system You just need to go to Mpesa or online and buy power time like air time on phone. The problem is that for some people when they try to pay they find that they don’t have an account, and after a few days their power is disconnected. Kind of what you would expect from a bureaucracy – anyplace..

In English, I can say I am going home. Here when you say you are going home, it means to the village of your family. On the other hand, when you are going to your house, you are going to the place where you live, (in town).

I continue to be saddened or concern about the high number of people I meet that are HIV positive. And in this area it is the highest in the country. On the other hand the ARV’s that people take allow them to lead a normal life and that is good. Still, it will be better once we are able to protect people against becoming positive. And for that matter, prevent malaria, TB, typhoid and the rest of the killers. I know we will.

Hinda and I are looking for a place to volunteer in 2012. If you have ideas or suggestions, let us know and we will follow them up.

So, I hope you have enjoyed reading this blog and viewing my photos as much as I have enjoyed writing it and taking the photos. By the way, most of the people photos were taken yesterday while I was attending a funeral in Awasi, the village where Roselyne and Festus come from.

Take care and be good!