Saturday, October 13, 2012

No Two Places

No two African places are the same, of course, and the peoples are broadly diverse.
Joseph and his family
are Mijikenda.
Barack Obama's family comes
from the Luo tribe
I've met some of themWhen they find
out I'm American, they ask if I know
Obama, and they're a bit surprised
that I haven't met him in person. 
The 40 million folks of Kenya, for example, are variously Kikuyu, Luhya, Kalenjin, Luo, Kamba, Kisii, Mijikenda, Meru, Turkana, and Maasai. A few from other ethnic groups (Arabs, Indians, and Europeans) are there as well.

Are there differences? Why, yes there are.  (And there are between 40 and 70 tribes, depending on how you count, they tell us.)

The Mijikenda (Swahili for 'nine homes') are a group of nine sub-tribes.  They settled in Kenya in the 16th century, and now spread along the coast from Somalia in the north to Tanzania.  The Mijikenda are considered the best cooks among the Kenyan tribes, by the way.  Rice cooked in coconut milk is a specialty down south among the Digo sub-tribe.  Not bad, really.

Ask them. They'll tell you all kinds of stories about their history and culture.
Abdul and his family are Arab.
Isaac, my friend and personal
adviser, is Maasai.  He tells
me which of the local
vendors are crooks.
As varied as they are culturally, they all get along quite well together. At least regular folks do. The crooks and the politicians (but I repeat myself) seem to be the annoying exception.

Mijikenda kids in Shanzu.
East of Mombasa, children play jump rope with a vine they found.

Oh, the young lady in the 'AFRICA' photo up top is from Djibouti and a nice family.  They're friends of ours too, and from Somalia, I think.

You should go and see for yourself.  Coastal Kenya and the highlands are wonderful.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A reason to ...

Young friends from the rowdy neighborhood, Sao Tome & Principe
Worn out at the end of the day.  Ever get discouraged and tired of trying so hard?  There are reasons to go on.  Each one has a face, each has a name, a family, ....  they're our neighbors.  It would be easier but such a shame to just pass by on the other side of the road.

In this tiny country on Africa's west side, the basics of being fed are mostly met, though the effort to do so is pretty demanding.  Balanced nutrition is still needed.  So are schools, clean water, health care, and more.

The great burden is borne by moms and dads, as you might imagine.  Too many are illiterate and unskilled, and the local economy offers little opportunity.  Their great desire is to care for their children and to give them a chance at a better life.

Walking several miles for water, local folks struggle
just to survive in Kenya.  I took this picture last year;
rains have failed again, and the need is greater yet.
On the East coast of Africa, the continued drought has brought such concerns to a critical stage; there's no water, little food, and today, immediate needs.  Want to lend a hand?  We have direct access to 40+ children (our school sponsorship group) and their families.  We'll cover the administrative costs and your gift will go directly to the need.  A $100 gift will feed a couple of families for perhaps a month, or it will buy a truckload of water.  Give me a call; I'll be glad to plug you in. 

Despite the distress of today, folks everywhere receive us graciously.  They're glad for friends who will labor with them through the hard times.  Just knowing them returns more than can be described.

Want to be a hero for a day?  You can, you know.  :)  Or a month.  Or more.

Abdul and Samuel (by the car) sort through things for the
school kids.  (Photo from last year's visit to Guruguru)

I'm on your side
When times get rough
And friends just can't be found
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.

(Often, music says things a little better than a narrator could; this particular song from the past points at a deeper good than perhaps we realized when we first heard it.)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Kenya's Need

It's the beginning of October, and coastal Kenya is suffering. Our dear friends there are scrambling to survive. These are folks we've met personally.

These kids (left) were among the first we encountered in the Tsangatsini region north of Mombasa.  We began with 10 kids who were not in school because their families couldn't afford it. Uniforms and fees let them attend and receive one meal a day. For some, it's the only regular food supply they have.  Soon, the number grew to 30+ and later to 42.  We added just the ones who were the most in need, because we're stretched thin.

I've been in the village. It has
been an extraordinarily difficult
place for the folks who live
here. Guruguru is the village
in the pictures.
The rains have failed for two years now, and crops have failed, dust is everywhere, and the animals are dying. Our friend who lives there, Bishop Samuel tells us,

"At the moment we have 42 children; I wish we can reach 50 children. The families are very poor, no employment, most are illiterate. The rains failed for two years now and famine is always in this area. The children need uniforms shoes school bags pens; Wakili said he had lost his books; I will buy him new ones. Food prices gone up making more difficult. By his grace we will do what we can."

We scrambled and sent additional funds...

"Thank you Brian. I bought some food to help. I found 5 children not going to school for they had not eaten. The government has not sent relief food; it's very dry now. People are drinking salt water; the fresh water pipe project not yet complete. animals dying."

"I saw women who walk 20 Km to bring home water in buckets and jugs. The land is total dry; no vegetables. dust, animals dying. A man said he sold his one cow for 3000 shillings, equivalent to $35; normally it would cost $300; a great loss."
A truckload of water saves a hundred 3-hour trips on foot or bicycle to the nearest water supply, and this is clean water.

We have direct access to the village through Bishop Samuel and his church staff. We know them well and trust them as partners in the work. They give us a full accounting of the funds we provide. If you'd like to join in the effort, it will be deeply appreciated. It takes about $10 to feed a child for perhaps a month. We need to cover the next few months until aid arrives, and the water pipe project is completed. Leave a comment at the end of the blog with your contact info; I'll get in touch immediately. Thanks so much.