Monday, April 28, 2014

Finding Mom

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Share expanding_opportunities.mp4 - 34 MB

The volunteers at J WHS are super!  Here is a video created by Sophie Marcus Martin!  Check it out!

Share expanding_opportunities.mp4 - 34 MB

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I am not always so honest BUT...

Close encounter with the Kenya Police
My journey to limp Mickey, the van, home for a long rest, was going smoothly. After the long slow climb from Isiolo to the junction, I stopped to cool and refill. Then the rest of the way to Nanyuki was as smooth as a journey in Kenya can be. I was feeling pretty good when I cruised into Nanyuki, booked a room and had one of the best fruit salads ever. Then off to collect the hand spun animals I had ordered a month ago. Almost there, I could see the sign on the right.   Roadblock for police check.  I was not waved through.  The young police officer greeted me with a firm but courteous greeting and informed me that my tail lights were out.  OOPS, now I knew there would be a problem.  I politely stated I was not aware and would have them repaired immediately. He was not letting go.  He would have to take me to the police station and book me. Now I knew it was going to cost money and time. I really didn’t want to part with either. Both of them were very important and very little.
I can’t give you “chai”, a bribe, I stated.  He said “ I didn’t ask for one” I said “I know but it is very common in Kenya isn’t it. So I needed to say that up front” So he continues to tell me the process. To the police station, pay the fine, or impound the vehicle and go to court tomorrow. Neither of which was a positive option.  I knew I had two ladies waiting for me at the weaver shop. I politely asked that before we did that could I go just over there to where that sign was for the curio shop. I was surprised but he said yes, at my age J he believed that would be where I would go and he will just hold my license until I return. Another surprise…. So off I went to do the business and have a bit of time to think this through and check the brake lights.
Now accepting that I was about to lose time and money, I relaxed into the situation and returned to the police officer after calling a friend to get the name of a mechanic who might be able to help.   The officer approached, I expected him to get in and we go to the station but instead he repeated my options and started a conversation. I am so grateful for the peace that was in me when I needed it. I really have trouble remaining at peace when situations are going to cost money. There is very little money in the organization for administration or surprise encounters. But this time peace was there. I wanted this officer to know the work of our NGO and I wanted to know more about his work as a police officer.  Meanwhile he saw me trying to get a mechanic to meet me at the police station to fix the lights. He went off to stop another vehicle and returned.
He asked me why I thought he wanted “chai”.  I said “I know there are honest policemen in Kenya. But there are many who are not. So are you saying you are one of the honest ones?” His answer was one of the most honest I have ever heard. “Ok well sometimes I am not so honest, but…”
There is hope in Kenya. I truly enjoyed my close encounter with the Kenya police.  I truly enjoyed getting to know this young man who has two young children and hopes one day to be an accountant.  I am truly grateful for the peace I had that no matter what happened with time or money, God knew and was on the job.  I didn’t get his name, but he is now implanted in my heart and will be in my thoughts and prayers.
By the way, he let me go and I had both taillights fixed.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Day 1 and Day 2 : Construction of Ariemet Girl's Rescue Center

Yesterday the apartment which will roughly house us for a month or so was leased.  It is truly a nice place with cold running water, toilet and shower.  As we are only staying the short time the furnishings will make it like camping in a suburban apartment.  It is on the edge of Isiolo and so far tonight it is fairly quiet.
Monday we started in earnest.  First a trip down the beautiful wide empty newly tarred road to a nearby village to look at a building style that would work even better than what we had planned.  As most of the residents in this area do not drive or own an automobile, Mickey the van comes in handy as a “free Ride” for many. Their fare this time was a photo.

 Then off the main road to the dusty, bumpy dirt road.  Isiolo area is a dry, semi arid desert.  The stark beauty is striking.  Trees with a few green leaves hanging on until the rains. Trees with no leaves only thick thorny branches to protect them from the scorching sun.  We meet a few truck carrying sand. The Turkana community is finally earning some compensation for the sand pits that are on their communal land.  This not only brings in money for the community from the sale of the sand but also employment for many of the strong young men in the community.  This is one of the happiest events for this community.  A meeting of the Turkana community in this area had been planned for the discussion of a variety of community issues. Paul Mero thought it a wonderful idea to bring the Rescue Center to the front at this time. The meeting was long and hot but the Turkana community is very welcoming.  Children greeted me and some cried that terrified“first white person” cry.  The meeting as usual is under “the Tree”. I am never quite sure how they tell everyone to meet and under which tree. But when we arrived there were some tables set up under the tree and a gathering crowd of men, women and children.  One of the interesting things to notice is and he variety of clothing. From the most traditional shuka, with interesting hats decorated with feathers, knives, spears and walking sticks for the men;  kanga, and mountains of neck beads for the women through shirts, ties, cotton dresses to jeans on women!. The women mostly gathered under trees further in the distance and many cooking a meal. The men were gathered under two trees around the tables. Security guards were posted around the meeting site in case there was any outside disturbance. As the meeting time drew nearer, people could be seen coming cross the sand in all directions.  Finally the meeting began with greetings and prayer.
During the speaking opportunities from elders and community leaders, I wandered around a bit and greeted women, children, security officers and men.  Many did not speak English but those that did were more than happy to explain about their culture.  Younger men gathered separately from the elders.  This is the tradition.  Elders will approach the young men when they have something to say or teach.  The younger men can approach the elders but usually with a problem for them to solve.
It I Some of the elders remember our first meeting in 2009 when they dedicated the land to the project.  It has taken until 2012 to obtain a building grant and some had wondered what had happened. They were very happy to see I was back and this time ready to build.  They are ready to dedicate time and resources to the project.
After a long day, I returned to Isiolo town to purchase the bare essentials for a comfortable night sleep.  A mattress, sheets and pillows.   Then off to the new apartment to “camp” in the hallway as it is the only light bulb in the place.  Here I sit alone on a round cafĂ© style chair in the darkness, recalling the adventure of the day, wishing for a cup of tea with  fantastic little modem connecting me to the rest of the world.
Tomorrow, off I go shopping for household essentials, like a tea pot! Oh I suppose I could get some dishes and soap too.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Yeah! I have arrived here in Kenya and picked up our volunteer, Sandy Squire. Now on to the work!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

All packed and ready to head to Kenya in the morning. Join us.... Check out for the journeys scheduled between January and April.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Bev Stone is speaking about Philanthropy and Wellness and the activities of Expanding Opportunities in Kenya on Jan 14th, 2:00-3:00 at the Wellness Center on 39 Main Street downtown Belfast. 930-8012 FMI