21 December 2010

J's Trip To Kenya - Part II

Thursday 2nd December

Thursday morning dawned bright and early.  The walls of my room were squared off before they reached the rafters, leaving open roof space below the corrugated iron covering meaning that no room in the dwelling had a ceiling. The small house consisted of three rooms plus a tiny kitchen, and because of the open ‘attic’, it was possible to hear every movement and every conversation taking place in the house. Moses and his wife were in the other bedroom sharing the bed with their two youngest daughters aged 10 and 2.  The four other visiting Pastors and family members were billeted throughout the village.  They all convened in our house for breakfast where I had been promised an African version of deep fried doughnuts and copious amounts of African tea. 

As I lay in my bed, listening to the morning sounds, I wondered what to do...I heard the gas being lit on the other side of the wall and water being poured out.  Florence, yet another of Moses’ adopted daughters, started singing as she prepared tea.  I slyly emptied my ‘water bottle’ out of the window.  There was no way I was going to visit the loo during the darkness of the night.  Thank God for the Shewee!! As I heard voices I recognised, I called out through the roof space ‘Habari za asabuhi’ (good morning in Swahili). Nzuri was the response I received, followed by ‘Julie, your water’s ready’!

The Loo !
My first encounter with an African toilet the previous evening had been somewhat embarrassing.  I had held off as long as possible but eventually retrieved my loo roll and casually tried to navigate across the living room area.  Moses was seated in conversation with the four visiting Pastors.  Seeing me with the loo roll, in no doubt as to where I was going, he broke off his conversation to ask, ‘Are you sure you know what you are doing??  Is it a number 1 or a number 2??’ ‘Stop right there’ I yelled and fled across the garden only to return two minutes later as I realised I had forgotten to take the key!

My shower !
After my visit to the toilet, I was quite prepared for my next initiation - the African shower. Tatu, Moses’ wife walked with me back to the ‘loo’.  Sitting on top of the stool  was a large bowl of water.  Above the door were two nails, one on which to hang your clothes and the other, your towel.  The ledge of the tiny high up, open, window is where you place your soap. Tatu explained that you start from the top of your body (your cleaner bits) and work down to the dirty bits. She had added a pan full of hot water into the bowl so it was a wonderful warm temperature.  ‘I have made you an African shower’, she said proudly handing me an empty, plastic Blue Band margarine tub into which she had punctured many holes. Full of warm water and held above my head in the privacy of the tiny loo, this invention did a wonderful job!

Showered and dressed, I came out the loo to a hive of activity in the garden.  Newly laundered clothes had been draped across bushes to dry in the hot sun.  Paul James was busy ironing the creases out of his trousers.  The iron was filled with hot charcoal.  How do they find the motivation to do all this without electricity?

Friday 3rd December

Before I left France to return to Kisumu, I was very touched by the individuals who had given donations to take with me.  I guess this started when I had a stall at the local Vide Grenier (car boot sale) here in Tourrettes.  It was an incredibly tiring day but I managed to raise almost 300 euros and Nicky and Tim (the Isaiah Trust trustees) suggested I use this to supplement the Maize supply which would mean food on the table for the next four months or so.

As my travel day approached, numerous other donations begin to arrive.  A local minister, now retired, hastily placed some ‘notes’ in my hand and someone who had read my interview in a local magazine, sent a cheque for 200 euros.  I took my stewardship of this money very seriously.  I really wanted to use it in a way that would form a strong connection or bond between the donor and the beneficiary. As soon as I met Pastor Peter Mackenzie, I knew he would be one of those beneficiaries. 

On the face of it, Namamatatoa would appear to sound idyllic.  It is a beautiful, incredibly fertile place but is decimated by the Aids epidemic.  The villagers who haven’t moved to the cities and the relatives of those who have died from Aids, now consist of widows and orphans all of whom are incredibly poor. No one more than Pastor Peter Mackenzie understands this demographic disaster more than he does. When I asked him about his story he remembered Covenant House (the home I stay in when in Kisumu).  He was one of Mama Pat’s original boys, orphaned, living rough on the streets and then he moved into her orphanage as a 10 year old.  He was one of the lucky ones - he received an education and furthered his interests by enrolling in Bible College. Invited by Moses to start a church in Namamatatoa, he has a complete understanding of the pressures that influence the youths in this small rural community. Under his influence and guidance, 12 youths gave their lives to Christ and were baptised in the river during our 5 day stay.  When asked if Pastor Pete needed anything, he said that his ministry could be greatly extended if only he had a bicycle to continue ‘spreading the word’.  Thanks to the ‘divine connection’ with our local ex Minister, also called Peter, Pastor Peter Mackenzie now has a bike!

With the donation from another source, it is planned to lay the foundations and build a kindergarten so the tiny ones can be taken care of whilst their mothers work on the land to help feed the village.  Maybe Namamatatoa may actually exist on Google Maps one day!

I was so busy talking to Magdalena and Pastor Pete that it was approaching lunchtime before I asked for an update on the progress of ‘my little boy’, John Felix.  The response was not good.  He’s been lying down all morning – ‘I think it’s Malaria’, said the Pastor.

A 'Well' John Felix
I found him stretched out on a mattress in the shade, weak as a kitten, limp and with hardly any response at all.  For me it was shocking but my rational mind told me that I had to accept that this is an everyday occurrence for many of the inhabitants here in Africa. With its limited funds, the Isaiah Trust cannot keep a stock of essential medicines and whilst serious illnesses (eg. Typhoid) would warrant a visit to the public hospital, many illnesses and infections are simply left to run their course.  

I gently helped John Felix into my little bedroom and lay him on my bed.  Looking through my stock of lotions, potions and medicines, I administered some Nurofen and then sponged him down with cold water.  I lay on the bed next to him, held his tiny hand and thanked God that I was there to take care of him. 

Later that day Moses took me to find a local pharmacy where I bought a stock of malaria tablets (another donation by our neighbours, Tan and Angie, put to good use). I gave medication to John Felix, day and night and over the following few days he made an excellent recovery and became much stronger. In no time at all, he was sitting up playing games with me and winning! I thought of the 24/7 access to hospitals, clinics and doctors that we have in our world and thanked God that for once, I was in the right place at the right time. No child should have to go through that pain, despair and misery. 


sam said...

Really fantastic. You only missed on salsa dancing in Nairobi.


Susan Jamson said...

Hi Tom
My name is Susan and I work for Chickenshed in London. Is your friend Judi from Daniel Adam? She is absolutely brilliant and helps to support our theatre company. You have written that in your blog that you would like to start your own Chickenshed. Would you like me to send you information about our company.
My email address is susanj@chickenshed.org.uk - please email me if you would like me to send through information.

Best wishes and have a lovely Christmas. Susan