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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Journey to Chogoria in the Jamestown Sun

Hello! It's been so long since I've posted anything here. I believe everyone who was on the trip with me would agree that it was a bit of shock coming back to the U.S. and realizing that life kept going...and we had to catch up.

Now, after we got home I had a few thousand photos to go through and it took me awhile to figure out what I wanted to say, but finally, I have created a Journey to Chogoria newspaper insert!

It will be inserted into the Jamestown Sun this Saturday, October 13th.
I will also have copies on campus and there will be some in the news stands.

How exciting. :)

Pick one up! Check it out!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Winding Down

 As you may have noticed, blog posts and pictures have slowed down a little. The last few days have been full of people and experiences. Now, we are spending our last night in Chogoria. There is a very bittersweet feeling in the house.
 Today we said some of our first goodbyes. We finished our time at Village Hopecore International. Only a few tears were shed, but memories and friends were made that will last a life time.
 Tomorrow we leave at 10:00 am to head to Nairobi. We will stay one night in Nairobi and then take a flight to our resort where we will stay until Friday, when we will fly back to Nairobi and then catch our first international flight home.
 Tonight, we are packing, journaling and printing off pictures to give to people tomorrow. Our last morning in chogoria will be a very emotional morning followed by a long drive.

I am not sure if I will have a chance to blog anymore on this trip. We will stay one night in Nairobi, but I will not be bringing the computer to the resort.

There will be more posts and more pictures once we are home with unlimited internet and time. Can't wait!

Until then, (or maybe tomorrow, if I have time) thank you so much to those of you who have kept up with this blog. It means so much that we got to over 2,000 views and that you all enjoyed the posts and the pictures.

To close, I want to extend congratulations to my friend Allison, who commented a few times on this blog. She had a beautiful baby boy (on Sunday I think.) CONGRATS!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Faraja and a Waterfall

Yesterday, the group decided that we had had one of the best days of the trip.
In the morning, we went to Faraja Project. This family center provides a feeding program for children and a safe place for them to play. They also have a pre-school and a library. We were able to play with many children, see them get a good meal and blow lots of bubbles.

Abby held a very successful bookdrive in Jamestown and was able to bring bags of books to help build the library at Faraja. We had a really fun time browsing through all of the books and putting them on the shelves, knowing that they would be read by many children who didn't have books of their own. It was a very low key, yet satisfying and inspiring way to start a Saturday.

At Faraja, there is one little boy named Clinton who started coming there when he was very small and very ill. Now, he is healthy and happy and basically runs the place. He loved playing with us and letting us carry him places.

We also brought a ton of coloring books and crayons. Tables were lined with kids coloring and they were all talking and discussing and stealing crayons from each other.

After Faraja, we were picked up by Micheni, the driver for Village Hopecore International. He agreed to show us a beautiful waterfall and a natural land bridge. The hike down to the waterfall was very slippery and a little treacherous, but we all made it through. The hike was definately worth it. The waterfall was breathtaking.

After the hike, we returned to the house, muddy, sleepy, a little sore, but satisfied. What a fun and exciting way to spend one of our last days in the area.

(Pictures will be uploaded eventually :) )

Friday, May 25, 2012

One Week Left

As I write this post, we are approaching the time we will board our plane and leave for home in one week. One week left here in Kenya and only three days left here in the community and Chogoria.

The next few days will be filled with teary goodbyes, friendly hugs and many thanks.

In fact, we have a few thank you's to say tonight.
First, to the F.I.S.H Foundation. There is no way we could have ever made it to Kenya with out the support of this amazing group. They gave each student a scholarship to help pay for the cost of the trip, which decreased the amount we had to raise on our own.

Next, to the community and family members who supported us on this journey. Your financial contributions, donataions of school supplies, well wishes and thoughts all helped us get this far.

Everyone of us at this point feels a little torn. On one hand, we can't wait to go on safari and then head home to our families and comfort food. On the other hand, each of us has expressed that spending many more weeks in Chogoria would be a fantastic and enjoyable experience.

This community has welcomed us and climbed into our hearts, where they will never leave.

One week left! Where do the days go.

Gifts and Reverend Brenda

Today was a day full of so many things, but a few of the best parts were gift giving at Village Hopecore and visiting Reverend Brenda and her beautiful home.

As we start to wrap up our time here in Chogoria, we are giving gifts to some of the people who have influenced us the most. So many people at Village Hopecore International made an impact on our stay here. We handed out a few special gifts: a calculator to Albert the accountant, a flashy hunters orange hat to Micheni, our driver, and a pen set to Dr. KK. Then we let the rest of the staff pick from an assortment of other gifts. Speaches were given by Chris and the three girls who spent the most time with Village Hopecore and those thanks were given back.

Working with Village Hopecore International was an eye opening and educational experience that not only taught the students about the challenges of a non-profit, but also showed them parts of Kenya many people will never see. In return, Village Hopecore International gained new friends and used our Character in Leadership students to help write a documents to include more character and leadership qualities into organizations in the area.

After the gift giving, we were introduced to Reverend Brenda. Reverend Brenda has lived in Africa for over 20 years, and has a beautiful little house on the complex. Her yard is gorgeous and filled with flowers and plants and a swing that hangs from one of the highest branch in a huge tree. After swinging for a while and eating supper, we returned to her house to just sit in the clean and well furnished home. After living in the guest house for this long, it made us all a little homesick, but very appreciative to have met her and to enjoy her hospitality.

Also, because she has been here so long, she knows many more things about the culture and the people of Kenya. She answers all of our questions patiently, though she greets and brefriends many travelers just like us.

Like I said earlier, today was very full but wonderful.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Gapath Dancers

Yesterday, we experienced something that was truly experiencing Kenya. We were honored to attend a meeting of the Gapath Performers and Educators. Gapath, is a mixture of a Meru word and an English word. When translated it means small path. In order to live a healthy life and help others, they must follow a small path.
 The Gapath Performers and Educators are a group that uses the traditional mother tongue of the area, traditional songs and dance to teach people about the culture of the Kimeru and to teach people about things like the dangers of alcohol, AIDS, malaria and typhoid.

 Earlier in the week, Dr. KK Mugambi asked the three students, Darla, Morgan and Jacie, who are working at Village Hopecore, to prepare job descriptions for the leaders of the group who are elected. The problem was the people of the group elected people because they liked them, not because they were qualified.
 The group wrote up job descriptions for the people to show them the importance of competency and urge them to think of these requirments when electing their leaders.
 The Gapath dancers agreed with the job descriptions for most of the leaders including the chairwoman who was elected unanimously, but secretary was a bit harder.
 In order to be a successful group, one person must be able to read and write in English and KiSwahili. The issue with language is that different regions have different mothertoungues. This becomes an issue when traveling out of your district or talking to a person from a different region. Unfortunately, no one in the group was able to read and write both languages. The position was post-poned until new members joined.
 Before and after the meeting though, they danced and sang for us. Few things are as beautiful as the Kimeru people singing. When they sing together, they are strong and confident and their dancing is contagious. Despite the fact that they don't have traditional dress yet, you know you are witnessing a part of history when you watch them dance. After all, the chairwoman is over 70 years old. (She could be older, the exact age is escaping me.)


Last Sunday, we attended a 3 hour church service here. (As mentioned in a post below.) But I skimmed over the process of offering.

In this church, there are many members who do not have shillings to donate to the church. When this is the case, they bring a gift to be auctioned off and then the proceeds will go to the church.

The offering is collected in baskets, not plates and things that are placed in there may be jewelry, a live chicken or fresh produce.

The first item they held up was a pink necklace. Amy, (one of the girls who has been going to the school) bid 100 shillings. After seeing the bright color, I called out that I would pay 200 shillings and the necklace was mine. Don't worry, Amy got a nice red necklace and Cindy (our advisor) purchased a purple necklace.

Giving offering this way made church such a fun experience and the congregation loved that we participated. It was a wonderful way to bond with the people of Chogoria Complex.

The church tower of the brand new church that should be finished in January.