Friday, April 25, 2014

Cheek Pinch

Note the 'cheek pinch' in the front row.  Delightful kids.
Kids and sticks.  It's grasshopper season in southern Kenya.  These kids are out hunting grasshoppers which are a seasonal delicacy, I'm told.  Fried or boiled, they're ready in minutes. My wife says they're pretty good in a sauce over rice.  I'll take her word for it.

Working in eastern and western Africa, I've been offered a variety of things to eat; most were pretty good. One family adopted me. At a weekend family meal, I offered to bring things and make the salad.  As I stood at the table slicing tomatoes, the women watched wide-eyed like they were afraid I'd cut off my fingers or something.  I later found out that men NEVER do food preparation.  When I asked the men if they liked to cook, they were speechless.  Live and learn.

Our friend, an African bishop, met the kids in the picture while visiting a village we know.  It's located in the coastal plains outside Mombasa.  Nice folks in a harsh place.  The last couple of decades have brought persistent drought, so crops, forests, and flocks have suffered.  A difficult life. For now, Bishop Samuel is working on small assistance projects for the neediest.  He hopes to build a little church/community center there to begin the work of community development.  If you'd like to join in, drop me a note.  Or better yet, if you'd like to see for yourself, we'll provide introductions!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

By the Sea

On the eastern shore, this community is home to fishermen and their families. Boats are handmade and simple; they've been doing it this way for centuries.

The shore here is just across the road from their homes.  Kids come here to play in the water and watch dad do fishing things like mending the nets.  It's 85 and sunny pretty much every day.

Down the street and around the corner, there's an elementary school.  Making it through the 6th grade is a big deal, and not all make it that far.

There's a middle school and a high school in the capital city, but only a small percentage of kids in the country get to go there.  Still, it's encouraging to see the mob of kids in the city going to and from school.

Like all such efforts, it serves well for a percentage of the folks they hope to serve.  Out on the edges are more who can't afford the fees and uniforms and supplies needed.

STeP UP Sao Tome is a local NGO, a really energetic bunch.  They manage several scholarship and assistance efforts.  For educational assistance, they focus on those who need a little help making their way forward; orphans, distressed families ...   If you want to go and see for yourself, they'll take you in like they did for us.  Want an introduction?

Just minutes from our work site, this fishing community is organized under
the supervision of a 'beach captain', the local elder who keeps up with
boats and landing spots and who's missing at the end of the day.

The country is Sao Tome & Principe, by the way.  Need more incentive to go see for yourself? Nice hotels, guest houses, incredible beaches, and no crime or violence.  And good food, no matter where you eat.  Local folks are among the world's most gracious; if you ask politely, they'll let you take their picture.  :)

On the equator, the two-island country is much like Hawaii for climate, terrain, and foliage.  The rainy season isn't a bother, and the dry season is perfect for shorts and sandals.  At sea level, the climate is tropical - hot and humid with average yearly temperatures of about 27 °C (80.6 °F) and little daily variation. The temperature rarely rises beyond 32 °C (89.6 °F).

At the interior's higher altitudes, the average yearly temperature is 20 °C (68 °F), and nights are generally cool. Kids who live there complain about having to wear long sleeve stuff and having covers for their beds.  Annual rainfall varies from 5,000 mm (190+ in) on the southwestern slopes to 1,000 mm (39 in) in the northern lowlands. The rainy season runs from October to May.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


We all love the chance to do or see or experience something exciting and new.  So the fellow here in the blue shirt is like that.  His name is Samuel, and he's an African bishop, the father of 20+ churches scattered across southern Kenya and into Burundi.  His great pleasure in it all is introducing folks to real life, real community, and real faith.

I got to spend some time with him in Kenya.  He's an extraordinarily practical fellow; not a lot of tolerance for religiosity.  He encourages folks to live the larger life of caring for one another and making a way forward together.

A community kitchen cooking cornmeal for school kids,
part of an assistance project Samuel and friends manage.
From Samuel recently, " The Sunday service was great especial when you practice what you preach. Two young girls 10 & 13 years old walked for over an hour to reach us.  After the service they came jp front for prayers. They begun weeping crying. I cooled them and asked what was the problem. They said their father was killed. The mother divorced when they were little babies; got married to another man. They stayed with their father's family but because of poverty these girls were chased away. They tried to go to their mother; they found out the mother mind went berserk and mad.  The family rejected and refused to accept them. Coming to our church was their last solution. The tears and the story were touching. We gave; we sowed the seeds of love and kindness. We trust we will be able to locate an orphanage to take them this week."
Bishop Samuel and friends delivering water
during a recent drought.
Then, "I am glad that God our father makes a way where there is no way. The two girls will be taken by Barnabas Children Centre, Utange."

Samuel tells us later, "They say they were denied food, mistreated, and forced to drop from school Am glad we are there to help."

So here's an opportunity to help, to make a difference that will last a lifetime.  If you want to help Samuel in his work or perhaps provide support for the two girls, drop me a note. 

You can go see for yourself, too.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Our Flag

Children in school, some of them part of a scholarship program managed there by an NGO, STeP UP Sao Tome.  The coordinator provided today's pictures.

Activities included wall poster things, written rather nicely by little hands. The translation is provided in case you're curious.

Young as countries go, Sao Tome & Principe is among the world's nicest places.

It costs about $50/semester for kids to go to school; uniforms and shoes and supplies, etc.  It's difficult for most families, especially if there's more than one child.  If you'd like to sponsor one or a dozen, drop me a note.  You'll be welcome.