Got the team up at 4:00 on Friday. Get their luggage out, ready to be taken by road. Except the drivers didn't show up till 5:45, by which time the team was already at the airport.
Got the packing going, then jumped in the car to rush to the airport, simply on a feeling that something's not right there. Got to the airport to discover their tickets weren't paid for. Ugh! No fun. Got that squared away and got them on the flight.
Back to the guesthouse, picked up the last few items to take up north. We were taking along about 200 lbs of veges, seeing that my friends get anything fresh flown in. Nothing but thorn trees grow where they live.
Hopped on our little Cessna 206 (I think--it's a small 6-seater) and were ready to take off when we were told the airspace had been closed due to military exercises. Got off about an hour later, flying over the Ngong Hills, then row upon row of mountains covered in coffee and tea plantations. Then things start getting drier, and you enter desert area. Flew over craters, then lava fields, over manyattas (groups of huts out in the desert), saw some herds of camels and dozens of dust devils blowing around the desert. Landed in hot Korr.
My friends welcomed us, gave us an overview of things going on in the north, and then we were to head out to see where they'd like to build a hospital.
Except, two men showed up with a medical emergency. A young woman in their manyatta had been in labor for about 36 hours. They were fearing for her life. We RUSHED across desert roads, only to arrive to the news that the baby had been stillborn, and the mother is recovering.
I played with the kids a little while my friends were talking through things with the families. Then we were off to see the area.
My doctor friend committed to getting the first steps done to building a hospital: drilling for water. If there's water in that area, they'll do the next steps of starting building.
Life up north is HARD. We saw several dead camels in the desert, the drought is so severe! I'm told people have lost more than half of all their livestock. They have no food. UNWFP drops off food twice a month, enough for 5 days. So they have food for 10 days a month. Nothing grows. Nothing but thorn trees.
We chased ostriches on our way home (the ostriches outran the car), stopped by a group of ladies under a tree having literacy class, and headed into the compound to the sight of a beautiful sunset.
Had dinner with our pilots (they were waiting for us till the next day) as well as 2 teachers who are helping at the first-ever high school for Rendilles, built by my friends, the Swanepoels.
Walked home under a solid sky of stars. No light pollution. No pollution at all. No clouds. Just stars as far as you can see.
Fell asleep knowing to a desert breeze cooling down the room.
Up early to a beautiful sunrise. After breakfast, headed to a Rendille culture day. My friends encourage the Rendille to maintain all that is beautiful in their culture, so all their schools get together to sing songs and enact customs.
After 4.5 hours in the sun (and more than 300 pictures of everyone in their traditional clothing), we headed back home to freshen up for our flight, passing up on the meal of camel and rice.
Flew over rows and rows of mountains, finally approached the Great Rift Valley, and was welcomed by the team. Then off to Ilula, where I had lived for half my time in Kenya.
It was GOOD to see the kids in Ilula. Boy! Have they grown! My hand hurt at the end of the night from shaking so many hands so tightly. (Also from hanging on for dear life with one hand and a baby in the other hand on the back of the truck in Korr, after culture day.)
Visited with the kids; showed them photos of Taiwan and heard stories. Got out of team meetings too late to go and tuck them in... Bummed about that, but that's life.
Up early for chai and team meeting, then off to the Rono family to visit. More chai. More news. They are thrilled to hear that Esther is doing well in Iowa.
When I got out from their house, kids were waiting to show me how Flannel is doing. She's fine. :) And to show me how they've grown.
Then to church. But that goes on for very, very long, so I slipped out to write this since I know I won't have a chance soon again! There are already several people asking if they can "talk to me" after church. It will all be requests for money. It's one of the toughest things in Kenya, and my least favorite part of being here.
Sat with the Sifuna kids for a while in church. They beamed when they saw me. As did I. They're looking healthy. No jiggers. And they're clean from head to toe!
After lunch, we're heading to Kipkaren. Looking forward to seeing my friends there, too.
The next three days, I'll be helping at meetings regarding clinic stuff, and doing some photo shoots the staff had asked me to do. And assisting the team to do what they've come to do: provide healthcare.
Some of them are doing eye care, some are doing dental care, two are doing general care, some are working on water projects.
It'll be a busy 4 days ahead. Not sure when I can write again. Will try to post at least one update.
All is well. I'm glad to be here. I'm glad I get to connect friends with friends for projects. And I'm glad I get to go home to Taiwan on Saturday again.