Thursday, August 10, 2006

In The USA We Wear Pants!!

So let me tell you one of the funny cultural situations that has come up. Here in the Kenyan villages, women only wear skirts. To wear pants (known as trousers here) is somewhat scandalous at best, and indicates that you are a street-walker at worst. Well one day I was with a group of Americans who were talking to a group of my Kenyan friends. My Kenyan buddies were asking about cultural differences. The Americans began to explain that in the USA women don't wear skirts but "just wear pants". The Kenyans were horribly shocked at this statement. We were confused because our understanding was that they were already aware of this fact. Then one young man asked "so they don't wear trousers they just walk around in their pants!?". This led to a conversation clarifying definitions. It turns out that in Kenya "pants" is a synonym for underwear!!!!

The Resilience of Children

I'd like to share some more about some of our kids in the Children's Home. We have three brothers at the home who have experienced more in their short years than many of us will in a lifetime. These three children definitely have spunk. They caused mass chaos in my filing system. You see I knew them as Allan (age 6), Ian (age 7) and Francis (age 4). When I went to pull some papers from their social work file I couldn't find them. I was puzzled as the children were obviously in our home. I had completed medical files for each of them. I finally found a file for Francis and saw that he had two older brothers named Bonyface and John. Turns out that the boys had changed their names!! So all of my medical papers were labled incorrectly.

Anyway, on to their story. Their father was found murdered in their house (I believe the children were with his body) and it is believed that the mother was the murderer as she has not been seen or heard from since that night. No one wanted to take the children in and they wound up with a housegirl who had two children of her own and was a single mom. These children are soo precious and so full of life. The other day Francis, the youngest, coverered himself with white chalk and walked around declaring mimi mzungu! (I am a white person!)

It is such a blessing to see the changes that happen in the lives of these children. They arrive often with only the clothes on their backs. Many are withdrawn and fearful. Within just one week you begin to see drastic changes. One girl, Gloria, had me concerned when she arrived. She refused to eat meals and would not make eye contact with anyone. Just two days ago I was at her house and she came running up to me. Chelagat! (My Kalenjin name) do you remember me??? I'm Gloria!!! I stop and wipe away a tear as I thank God for the way he works in the lives of these young ones.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Children's Home
I'm having the time of my life working with the orphans at the Children's Home here in Kipkaren. I've been blessed with the responsibility of managing the healthcare for all of the children. We are up to 56 kids as of yesterday. We are accepting children prior to knowing their HIV status; so one of the first things I do is test them. Thus far we only have one child who is positive, and we knew his status before he came to us. After testing, I conduct the physical exams, growth and development checks and provide general health-maintenance. This includes deworming everyone as well as getting them up to date on their immunizations.What a task! I do have to say that I love my job though. The kids all love me and come running to clobber me with hugs whenever I show up. Although I must admit that they are usually a bit gun-shy the day after immunizations. Pray for the children as many of them have horrific pasts. they are all adapting and adjusting to life in a family with 20-24 other children. Pray that the parents will have wisdom and energy. Pray that I will have wisdom and energy as I have undertaken this huge task of healthcare management. Pray for the health of the children. Many of them are malnourished and suffering from malaria and other various ailments.

Life in Kenya
It doesn't get much better than this. My walk to work is through some of the most beautiful terrain in creation. I frequently sit in a gazebo by the river to work on completing medical charts. Last week I learned how to do milking and yes, I milked a cow!! Our typical meals have a base of either rice, pasta, potatoes or a staple food called ugali. Ugali is made of corn flower and water. The main dish is usually accompanied by vegetables and some fresh fruit. About two to three times a week we have meat. It is usually goat, beef or chicken. I always know when we will e having chicken because I see them (the chickens!) running around the kitchen in the morning. I live in a mud hut with a grass roof. Every morning I get a hot shower although it is from a bucket. I'm getting good at donig the number 11. That's when your two legs make the number 11 as you walk from one place to another.

Kipkaren Bridge is Falling Down!!
A few weeks back we had a bit of a tragedy in our community. Our bridge that spans Kipkaren river collapsed into the river. Thankfully the man who was crossing with his cows was not hurt. He jumped onto the back of one of the cows in the river and made it to shore. This loss has a huge impact on the community. The school, the clinic and the cowdip are all on our side of the river. Those living on the other side are stranded. Pray that funding for a new bridge is found. Pray for the community as they work through this tragedy.

Patrick's Story
I'd like to share with you about one of our children in the Home. His name is Patrick and he is a picture of resilience. He is one of the most affectionate 9-year-olds I have ever met. His mother died of AIDS. After she died he was taken to his father who had previously left the family. His father has another family now and refused to have anything to do with the boy. He kicked him out of the house. Patrick then lived in the bush and on the streets for some time. When he was foundby a good samaratin he was covered from head to toe in scabies and was deathly ill. They took him to the hospital where he was tested for HIV and found to be positive. He wound up living in the hospital for the 6 months prior to when we came for him. This child is amazing! He has the biggest smile and huge hugs for anyone who is willing to receive them. Pray for Patrick to stay strong and healthy. We are facing the challenge of how to keep him from being too close to the other children when they are sick. Pray for wisdom in raising Patrick and that his time with us (however long or short it may be) will be blessed.

Youth Camp
Tis upcoming week we are hosting a youth camp at the Empowering Lives Training Center where I live. We are expecting 300-600 youths. Pray for us during this time. We will have a team of 13 Americans here running the program. We want to see God move in mighty ways. We also would appreciate prayer for the logistics of hosting so many people. Please pray for dry weather while we have the guests with us. Many of them will be sleeping in tents. The center turns into a slippery muddy swamp during the intense rains.