Tuesday, September 23, 2008

New Address

I just wanted to let everyone know that from now on William and I will have our own private mailbox. So we would prefer to receive any correspondance or packages at the new address. The old address belongs to ELI and we will still work for ELI; so if you have sent anything to that address don't panic, we should still get it. Here is the new address:

William and Michelle Kiprop
P.O. Box 6367

Monday, September 22, 2008

Tired but Hopeful

It's been a long day; it's been a good day. Today I was "very Kenyan" and used all public transportation to get from Eldoret to the Nairobi guest house where I stay when traveling through the city. I left the house at 6:30AM and arrived at the guest house at 4:30PM.

Had I flown the flight would have been much shorter than the trip to the airport. But I also would have spent nine times the price of the public transport. That's right, NINE times!!! That's what I kept reminding myself as my teeth were rattling out of my head down the bumpy road.

Then I had the privilege of hauling my luggage from the mini-bus shuttle to a matatu (14 passenger van) to do inner-city transfers. This also cost me a fraction of what hiring a taxi would have. It was my first time ever navigating public transport without William at my side. I was pretty proud that I arrived in one piece without anything lost or stolen in the process.

So why am I in Nairobi? I'm carrying out the next step in applying for William's visa to the USA. We are really really really hoping we can make it to CA for Christmas. But we have no idea how the timeline is going to go. I have an appointment to turn in an application tomorrow afternoon. From there it will be 30 to 60 days before we can move to the next step of a physical exam, immunizations and background checks.

But for some reason I'm feeling hopeful tonight. I'm remembering how for two years we tried to get William a passport. And then the doors opened just weeks before traveling to Congo. So I know that when the time is right we will get the visa. I have a good feeling about this application.

I'm also smiling after catching up with a friend who is a missionary in Sudan. It just worked out that we were both staying at the same guest house this week. She is also a nurse and we spent a few hours this afternoon laughing and sharing crazy stories about nursing in Africa.

But I'm also missing my hubby. He called to tell me that the house was feeling big, quiet and lonely without me there. He tells me that even Jack (our cat) is sad that I'm gone. But I'll be back by Wed. This is an in-and-out trip to get the paperwork filed. I'm having a hard time keeping my eyes open after this long day. I think it's time to call it a night and fall into the wonderful Mayfield bed! Lala Salama (Sleep in Peace!)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Some D.R.C. Highlights

There are approximately 600 children attending the ELI school in Bukavu. The school is located in the heart of the slum of Keredi. Most of the families living in the slum were originally from villages. They fled to Bukavu for the safety of the city during the war. Due to overcrowding they have wound up in the slum. Every day lunch is served at the school. For many of these children this is the only meal they take for the entire day!

One day we made the two-and-a-half hour drive out to Mudakereza's home village of Chihonga. It was quite an experience!! We crossed dozens of bridges that looked like the one above. William was checking this one out before we attempted to cross.

William and I were both blown away by the village. Or maybe I should I say we were blown away by the needs in the village. One of the first things that we noticed was the lack of animals. Being from a village in Kenya we are used to seeing tons of cows, goats, sheep, chickens and dogs running around. We drove for two hours before we spotted our first cow; it was skin and bones. Mudakereza told us that most of the animals were taken during raids from rebel armies during the war. The villages are still trying desperately to recover. The cows that are still around only produce about 1 -2 liters of milk a day. (Our cows in Kenya typically produce 15 - 20 liters/day.)

We participated in a training session for delegates from surrounding communities. Each delegate represented a group of 100 to 150 people who are working on community development projects. The delegates collect the information from the training session then go back to their communities to hold their own training sessions.

William taught an agricultural session on planting beans. The audience was very receptive and had many questions for him. As I was sitting and preparing for my session I was honestly having a terrible time trying to figure out what to talk about. I kept asking Mudakereza questions like "Do you have problems with malaria here?" His answers were always "Yes! It's a huge problem!" He would then follow up with a comment like "But don't talk about using mosquito nets to prevent it because these people don't have access to nets." So my session turned into a Q&A with me doing my best to answer questions about low back pain, falling uterus's, arthritis, skin disorders and a host of other problems.
Then I began to ask some questions of my own:

"Where is the closest medical facility?"

"20 miles away. "

"How do you get there?"

"We walk."

"What if you are too sick to walk?"

"Someone carries you."

"Where do you buy your medicines?"

"We can get Tylenol at the clinic 20 miles away."

"How can I pray for you today?"

"Please pray that God sends someone to start a clinic in our community."

I'm currently uploading photos to my Flickr account that have stories and captions with them. So if you are interested in even more on our Congo trip click here to go check it out.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Child Soldier

Child Soldier, originally uploaded by momentswithmichelle.

My first exposure to child soldiers was doing the 30-Hour-Famine as a student in high school. World Vision was talking about creating rehabilitation camps for children who had been forced to fight in violent wars. About a decade later I found out about Invisible Children and their movement to create awareness and stop child soldiers in Uganda.

Last year I read the book "Long Way Gone" which was an autobiography by a child soldier. It was powerful and I read it with different eyes. You see I was aware that I might be spending some time in the DRC, a country with a huge track record for child soldiers.

Sure enough there are children living in the Keredi slum who are former soldiers. This boy, Just, came to us asking if he can please join the school to begin getting an education. He formerly fought as a soldier in a rebel army in Congo.

Some D.R. Congo Photos

Visiting a hospital in the city of Bukavu.

William serving uji (porridge) to the children at the school.

When we arrived at the ELI school in the slum of Keredi we were welcomed with traditional dancing and songs.

William's first international flight!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Hurry Up and Wait

It's been one of those days. We had an amazing time in Bukavu and Chihonga, D.R. Congo. We've been trying to get back to Kenya all day. Our airplane* had a stop in Burundi before coming to Rwanda to pick us up and take us to Nairobi. As it taxied into the Kigali (Rwanda's capital) airport one of the wings clipped an electric pole. So the wing was damaged and we began the hurry up and wait process.

After several hours we were finally told that the plane would come at 8PM and we could leave the airport for a few hours if we wanted. We joined up with another waiting passenger and headed to a local Italian place. I must say I've been rather impressed with Kigali. For starters they drive on the right side of the road!!! And it is amazing how clean and organized the city is.

Well it's now after 8. We have gone through tons of security checks. And I think I've filled out more customs forms on this single trip to Kigali than in all of my Nairobi trips combined!

I'm now hearing an announcement saying that we will be departing at 11PM. Ah, gotta love international travel in Africa!!! I'm running low on battery. But hopefully tomorrow I'll get a chance to load up some Congo pictures and stories. In the meantime let me keep hurrying up and waiting!!!

Before I finish up I just have to share that there is an Australian man screaming at the top of his lungs "Who is running this show!!??? Who is running this show???!!!" I believe security officials are making their way here to quiet him down. I'm starting to wonder if we should have taken them up on the earlier suggestion to spend the night in the city and come back tomorrow. It's reminding me of a layover I once had in Zimbabwe that became 24hrs.

*This incident occurred before prior to us getting on the plane, so NO I was NOT in a crash of any sort.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Yum Yum

Matumbo is a much desired delicacy here. Want to take a guess what it is??? Goat intestines!!! The white stuff is ugali. It's made of maize flour, salt and water. It is the staple food here in Kenya. We saved a bit of matumbo from William's birthday party. I was looking for some scraps for the dog and William said "Don't touch my matumbo!". Just the smell of it makes me nauseous!

William's Party

A few of the birthday guests after speech time. All of the guests received a seedling avacado tree from William as a token of thanks for helping him celebrate his birthday.

The Kiprop Kritters

Here are just a few of the Kiprop Kritters. We also have a pregnant cow, a dog named Rex (who does not like to be photographed), a dog who thinks she belongs to us, a sheep, and 20 chickens!

Jack is the king of the Kiprop household. He is one spoiled kitty cat. I give him cat food (virtually unheard of in Kenya) and William and all house guests feed him from the table (the traditional way of caring for cats!)

Our new puppy, Socks. It's nice to have another girl in the house! We were supposed to pick a puppy from her litter a month from now. But her mother was killed so she came home early. As you can see she is having fun with her milk and puppy food!