Kenya

Care Packages

It has been a long time since we had an article about care packages, and it has been ages since we received one! Granted, they do charge us at the post office a percentage of the amount written on the customs form, but some things we just cannot find in Kenya, and we would love to have them. Here is our wish list! For my friends with horse connections, finding some items are quite difficult. We are extremely happy with used items as long as they are in good condition. I will post the horse items here first because they are difficult to find in Kenya, but if that is not an area of interest for  you, please keep scrolling. We really miss certain things like ranch seasoning packets!

Horse stuff: (I am posting links to products so you can see what we are needing, but if you have used items in good condition, we are happy to use those!)

  • lead ropes (seriously, we have broken most of ours!)
  • 4 hackamores (bitless attachment so our horses can be ridden without bits) see this link or this link
  • 1/4" or 6mm thick parachord 100 ft long for making our own halters preferably turquoise or black, but not really picky!
  • 20 pieces if possible 1" Stainless Steel O rings to make our own bridles
  • 3 crops
  • 3 or so (because they break over time, but one will do!) lunge whips
  • bean bags (very important for our therapy sessions!)
  • plush dice
  • game idea books for horsey games (just search for some on Amazon) We aren't picky, and I don't have any!
  • cones
  • reins
  • breast plates (3 ponies, one horse)
  • Stirrup leathers 
  • stirrups
  • helmets
  • Rope halters
  • saddles obviously not easy to mail so designated funds to buy them here- $400 or so? I found one I really like! 
  • extra money for hay (it is tripled in price at the moment, so we need about $400 for 100 bales)
  • hay nets
  • speakers and ipod for music for therapy. Our speakers are not loud enough.

Meds:

  • Nyquil
  • ibuprofen
  • acetaminophen
  • Children's meds ages 1 year and up
  • vitamin C chewables
  • pepto
  • sore throat meds
  • allergy meds
  • bug bite meds
  • antibacterial cream

Household:

  • Mr. Clean erasers
  • hand towels
  • wash cloths
  • silicone Popsicle molds
  • LED solar twinkle lights (all sorts, these are fun!)
  • flashlights
  • hair bows for baby Starlette
  • hair brushes (remember, we live in a country where we are the minority so finding good hair brushes is difficult)

Food:

  • Ranch
  • TexJoy
  • butt rub
  • seasoned sunflower seeds
  • pistacios
  • pecans
  • almonds
  • marshmallows (both large and small)
  • hersheys
  • chocolate chips
  • peanut butter chips
  • m&m's
  • Reese's cups

school supplies

  • Pens
  • crayons
  • coloring books
  • erasers
  • pencils
  • paint brushes
  • watercolor paper
  • glue
  • notebooks

Pet Supplies

  • Dog sweaters for up on this cold mountain Size Great Dane
  • Dog leashes
  • Chew toys
  • Flea control
  • Dog bed

 


Rain

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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. 

School Is Around the Corner

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.”


Highlights from Kate's Facebook Feed

Just in case you are not connected with Kate on Facebook here are a few highlights:

12805914_10153265076871854_413954805246675453_nBig sister kisses

 

I have never tried linking to a Facebook video, let's see what happens:

http://bit.ly/1TUk9DQ

 

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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?:

http://bit.ly/1L6mFpr


Last Day of November

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.

Kate.

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.


Mashujaa Day

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.


Baby Giraffe

We do not normally post much about the wildlife surrounding us here on the blog, but who can resist a baby giraffe?

Girafe

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.)