Friday, February 19, 2010

The car is still missing and, at this point, little hope to get it back. The insurance is on the case but it will take some time until they release the money and then we will have to look again for a car. The car I am driving is a rental car that doesn't manage well in really tricky-to-get-to remote locations. I have spent most of the week in this car driving around the country to push for much bigger issues.

Nahashon and myself left on Sunday night to go to Nanyuki. The following day we met with staff from the Segera Mission and dispensary to discuss the current situation. It almost felt like going home and this was the first time I have been back since we have been working there everyday for two weeks in June last year. Even all local leaders did come to see me. It is so nice to see familiar faces and the hope they are carrying. I gave them all a brief update on our Engineers Without Borders Project and that we have at least 2/3 of the money needed raised. They were very happy to hear that. It looks like we will start to build the bridge in June! (photo women getting water)

Beside visiting Segera Mission, we also went to talk to the head teacher in Endana Secondary School and the involvement of the Engineers Without Borders Student chapter at UCI to improve the school. We only spent about 5 hours with the community but it was highly rewarding and fun. I can’t wait to go back and get things finally started.

Later on Monday, we left Nanyuki to go all the way to Mwingi to discuss on the following day and over 140 km dirt road the big scale farming project along the Tana River. The local chief was informed that we were coming and warmly welcomed us. We were taken to the Tana River (see photo) and next time I have to bring a 4x4 car, because the little Toyota we had barely made it. We also had a chance to discuss the framing approach with the chairman of the newly formed cooperative. It was highly informative and finally things started to make sense. Miscommunication and assumptions based on little information is a common theme here. People are very open to discuss but you have to ask all questions, they simply don’t tell you the whole story. So, the challenge of putting the puzzle pieces together started successfully. I am very enthusiastic that the approach of the cooperative has a high chance of success.

A great coincidence gave us a chance to talk to many of people from the surrounding communities (see photo), because they gathered together on the same day for elections. Now everybody knows that I will be living with them to get the project started. The same day, we drove all the way back to Nairobi only to get in the car again on Wednesday to leave for Namanga at the border to Tanzania. I was participating in a Maasai meeting to discuss issues of a dispensary managed by the Partnership.

It rained cats and dogs all night making everything really muddy the next day. I started driving in the direction of Arusha in Tanzania and a bus was stuck in front of me leaving only a small way to pass. Of course, I tried to get through underestimating how deep the mud was and we got stuck (not the first incident this week, because I already had 2 flat tyres J). It took a major effort of at least 6 other people to get the car back on the road. Covered in red mud, we continued. We went to Arusha to meet the District Commissioner to discuss big scale farming in the West Kilimanjaro area. We had a great meeting and we will have a very important meeting next Tuesday in Longido/Tanzania with district council to discuss the strategic plan they have been putting together. We made it all the way back to Nairobi still on Thursday.

Now it is Friday and I went briefly over to the girls home to visit and play games with the small girls and also to financially support the construction of the foundation of a water tank. Tonight, I will go to Nairobi to have a drink or two with Megan, who has finished her last exam to get her Msc.
Nahashon and myself managed to open a bank account for our future children home. I would highly appreciate it if you could pass the bank details to your friends and see if we can come up with enough funds to get the project off the ground. A little financial support goes a long way here. We could use some for these children.

Many, many hugs from East Africa,


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