This April, Wally from WAY-FM joined Blood:Water on a Vision Trip to Kenya. Wally is a great advocate for the work of our partners in Africa. Here is a post from some of his experiences there.
One day during my trip to Kenya last week started and ended with a smile from one of the happiest people I have ever met, Yuca. She greeted us in the morning with a smile and a hug and kindly hosted us in her home for dinner. It was such a fun evening, especially for Zach. The family decided on the nickname of Rhino for him…and they gave me…wait for it…Dung Beetle!
We spent time touring the hospital in Lwala that the people who support Blood:Water helped to start. We went into a room with sick kids and, out of respect, were not going to take any pictures; but one of the mothers asked us to, and it made both the kids and the moms feel better, if even for a minute.
Things are different there. The Women of Lwalla are lucky to be able to give birth there. Because of the care, the practice of women not naming their kids till they are 5 years old because of the high infant mortality rate is changing.
We then went to a school and met an incredible young man named Evans. I was so impressed by him, I told him he had permission to marry my daughter. He smiled big, and when I showed him a picture of Haille his whole head was swallowed by his smile. Evans is part of the agriculture program at his school, and he even helps teach local adults how to farm. Education is the key to change there, and Evans will be a man who will help lead that charge.
Evan’s school has rain tanks from the generous support of people with Blood:Water so they have clean water. This school is even implementing a feeding program with the food that he and his class are growing. Sadly, the reason for this is so that they know kids at school will get at least one meal that day. His school is progressive and is a model for others to aspire to. Unfortunately, not every school is in such good shape.
I visited another school that is not as well off. One latrine is supposed to service 27 kids. Right now one latrine is supporting 107 boys alone. The girls’ latrine fills with water in the rainy season making it unusable and is next to the road with no doors. The metal buildings that resemble cages are for preschool children. There are no Mickey Mouse murals, or educational toys, just a box to hold kids. We would never let our kids go to a school in this condition. In fact, we would not even let our pets stay at a place like this if we left town.
However, there were two good things that I experienced there. Next to the sound of my daughter laughing as a child, the song the kids sang for us was one of the most beautiful sounds I have ever heard. Also, I will never forget the words of the school director, Rose, before she prayed, and oh yeah it was nice to be in a public school where the teachers prayed, maybe we could learn something from Africa, but I digress. Rose said, “A problem shared is a problem half solved,” and that is why we went to Africa and are sharing their stories with you, so that together we can come up with a solution for these amazing people.
By the way, the school was not even in session that day and all of these kids showed up on their own, dressed in their uniforms because they were honored we were there to meet them. I can say beyond the shadow of any doubt that it was us who were honored to be there.
As I wrote this the sitting on a deck with the most amazing view I was snapped back to reality by the sounds of children crying in the hospital behind me. The day might be done, but the work isn’t.