Here in Kasambara Kenya, we have two basic types of weather; it is either raining or not raining. Fortunately, we do not have much extreme weather, just raining or not raining. The Shire, our almost twelve acres here in Kenya, depends on rain for water. We do not have access to any piped water nor do we have a well. We capture all the rain that falls on our roofs during the rainy season and store it in large tanks. We then pump the water from those storage tanks to a tank up the hill from the house and that tank feeds the house via gravity. Currently, we have a little over 100,000 liters of water storage (not full as our rainy season has just started.)
Water management is one of the top priorities here on the farm. We can not afford to waste any water. There are no flush toilets. You would be surprised at how much water toilets use. Instead, we use a composting toilet system. All the water from the sinks and shower (gray water) goes into a banana circle. Showers are limited and not every day. With careful oversight, our water lasted throughout the previous dry season. We never ran completely out. Nice.
Now the clouds have come and it is raining again. Tanks are filling, the grass has gone green again, and the temperature has cooled off a few degrees. The rainy season is our favorite.
Elementary and high school are something that I took for granted as an American. I started school in kindergarten and finished twelfth grade without ever once worrying about being able to attend school. Certainly there are some Americans that do have that struggle, perhaps they have to leave high school to help support the family. However I imagine that the majority of my peers had little fear of not attending school. I was never sent home because my parents failed to pay school fees.
Unfortunately that is not the case here in Kenya. Many children miss out on part of their education or all of it due to the inability to pay the school fee, buy a uniform, pay the lunch fee, or whatever new fees the head teachers dream up for that term. When a child has not paid the fee they are still expected to turn up to class in the morning. Then they are called out and sent home to collect the money from their parents. Who of course do not have it, which is why they have not paid the fee in the first place. This repeats the next day or perhaps the day after. The result is much absenteeism, creating holes in the learning process.
In a couple of weeks it will be time for us to pay school fees for the children we care for plus a few others in the wider community. Kate and I believe that education is a vital part of creating hopeful futures for orphaned or abandoned children here in Kenya. A child who has completed high school has more of an opportunity for higher education, vocational schools, and jobs. It is important, vital, that we keep as many children in school as possible.
“True education is a kind of never ending story — a matter of continual beginnings, of habitual fresh starts, of persistent newness.”
Unfortunately it only drizzled. It has sprinkled a few times in the past week, but we are still waiting those "tank filling" heavy rains.
Just in case you are not connected with Kate on Facebook here are a few highlights:
I have never tried linking to a Facebook video, let's see what happens:
This is what we were doing last year at this time (carrying water), but thanks to our campaign last year, we still have a little bit of water left in our new water tanks.
And how about one more video link?:
Yesterday was my forty second birthday. I spent the day hanging out with the kids and climbing up the hillside. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday.
The life we are currently living is not the life I imagined for myself as a young man gazing into the future. Not at all. About the only part I got right was Kate.
I had not imagined having children. There are now fourteen, and one on the way, in my life.
I had not imagined living in Kenya. It has now been almost eleven years here.
I had not imagined a life without religion. I am so glad that Jesus led me to a religionless life. What freedom!
I had not imagined building a farm. There are now pigs, horses, donkeys, cows, chickens, and rabbits outside my door.
This moment, right now, it is not perfect. There are things, resources, people, and skills missing from my life. No, perfection is not a part of my life. Yet happiness is. I am happy. Happy with how things worked out. I tried out some of my imaginings on the way to forty two, none of them brought me happiness nor contentment.
Living out my faith, my ideas, my commitments to family; these are the things that have made me happy to see birthday number forty two.
What will the future hold? Hard to say. I can imagine a future with:
More children rescued and given a hopeful future.
Our children living their lives faithful to their beliefs and convictions.
A farm producing enough food for us and the hungry in this world.
I can imagine a better future, and hopefully just like that younger man gazing forward in time, this slightly older one will find that his future dreaming fell far short of what actually has come to be.
Shot this with my cheap smart phone, a Samsung Galaxy J1 (at least I'm pretty sure that is what the phone is called.) Testing the video quality. I mean looks good enough for the internet to me, what do you think?
Today, October 20, is Mashujaa Day here in Kenya. Also known as Heroes Day, it is a national holiday where Kenyans remember those who fought for independence and those who have contributed positively to post independent Kenya. No speeches here on The Shire, instead if I can convince myself to go and look for mutton, we will grill this evening and celebrate our heroes.
I am not even sure who my heroes are anymore. See there is a problem with growing up, you realize your heroes were human after all. Frail, immoral, and otherwise just like you. How can a mere human be heroic?
Another heroic lesson one learns upon growing a bit older and wiser, heroes need not be superman. In fact super powers are not necessary. Sainthood is not a prerequisite. All that is needed is a willing heart, and the occasional heroic deed.
So who is my hero I will celebrate on Mashujaa Day? Kate is definitely my hero, and for sure my favorite person. This evening I'll toast her.
We do not normally post much about the wildlife surrounding us here on the blog, but who can resist a baby giraffe?
I took this from Rothschild's Giraffe Project's Facebook page. A cursory glance at their website indicates they are involved in conservation, which is something we care about as well. A world without giraffes is less a world than before.
(This baby was born in Soysambu Conservancy, which you would pass by or through to get to our place.)
Water fell from the sky today. Commonly known as rain. Not too much, but enough to actually get the ground wet. Mud actually stuck to the bottom of my shoes, and we slipped in the car on the road. Good times.
One of the big lessons that living in Kenya has taught me is; to try and live life more in tune with nature's cycles. You know, the seasons. We do not have winter, summer, fall, and spring here in Kenya. Just the wet and dry seasons. The fact of if it's raining or not raining has just as big an impact on life as the four seasons I grew up with.
There is no washing of the car during the dry season.
Bathing is not a daily occurrence during the dry season. (Once every three or four days.)
Water has to be rationed. First drinking water, then cooking, then hand washing, teeth brushing, and so on.
Dust becomes a part of you during the dry season.
Just try running down to the village during the dry season on the motorcycle without any eye protection.
You remember all those times when you were a kid spraying ant hills with the hose, and wonder why your parents did not scold you for wasting water.
If it is yellow let it mellow.
This particular dry season felt drier to me. Maybe it is the change of scenery. Now that we are living on The Shire the lack of rain is more pronounced. We have to feed the animals more since most of the grazing is gone. There is no green grass left. The place is really brown. Trees are looking worse for the wear, and there are no flowers. Water is harder to find. Thankfully a neighbor down the road drilled a well this year, and so we plus our neighbors have been able to get water via 20 liter buckets carried on a donkey's back.
It has been hot.
When it rained today it felt fresh, almost like the first flowers of spring. Not that we have any flowers yet, but still the dust was washed away. It cooled down a bit.
Now let us hope that the weatherman is wrong, like he normally is, and this is really the beginning the rainy season.