#23 More Shughli Shughli

Friday, August 5, 2011

#23 More Shughli Shughli

I was thinking I didn’t have much new to write about until I looked at the recent pictures I’ve taken and found many things.  So here goes.

In #22 I wrote about my good math teacher friend, Cecilia and having a reunion of ¾ of the Ndingi math department of 2005.

They all arrived promptly at 2 pm (I’d specified “American time, not “African”) and off we went to La Belle Inn, here in Naivasha.  Everyone was so glad to see everyone else.  We laughed and reminisced, and talked math teacher stuff, and children and all the stuff people do when they are catching up.

Oddly enough I had an appointment with my friend Mary Frye at the same place about 5:15.  She wanted me to meet her friend, Nora, here helping Mary with the Longonot Elementary School project, refurbishing the school, encouraging the students and placing as many as pass the KCPE (8th grade exam) in high schools.  We have 6 boys at Ndingi and 5 girls at SFG.  Anyway, I showed up again, 45 minutes after I’d left and had another wonderful chat, but the best part is that Nora has nothing to fill up her suitcases, returning to Pasadena Monday—I should say “had” b/c now she’s schlepping home 1 ½ suitcases of stuff I’ve bought to bring home for our fund raisers.  What a lovely syncronicity, since Judy and I have bemoaned the fact that it’s so hard to get our treasures home.  She has sold virtually everything she brought back in July.  And did I wait long to go shopping?  Of course not!  I immediately called Joyce, who makes the lovely shopping bags and totes, telling her to keep that machine going hot and heavy.  She will bring bags tomorrow—as many as she has been able to sew by then.  And…I called my friend Damaris, who was volunteering at Life Bloom in 2006, teaching the ladies to sew.  Joyce was her prize student.

Damaris now volunteers at a primary school (grades 1-3 only) called Helping Hands, just near Ndingy.  I had never seen it, but she wanted to take me there, b/c she teaches weaving to adults there and they had some nice things to sell.  I was blown away by this school, built and run by a German couple, older than I am who came to Kenya in 1962.  I don’t know nearly enough of their story, but the school is their “last project”.  They’ve been working on it slowly but steadily for 15 years, as they get funds from friends in Europe.  It is so beautifully designed and constructed I was agog.  Above is the inner courtyard, Damaris’s daughter Jane and the school secretary.

It will be a boarding school upon completion, with lovely quarters.  Of special interest is that they seek handicapped children particularly, although the school is open to all and all handicapped children are mainstreamed.  Damaris says it is hard to find them b/c they are seen as shameful and hidden away.   They also train adults in useful skills (like weaving).  

I thought I took pictures of all the beautiful cloth, but evidently I didn’t push the button all the way.  RATS!  The colors were luscious and I bought like crazy.  Every time I told myself, “enough already” I’d see something else I thought was just great.  And now that I’ve pawned off all the treasures I already had, my suitcases will now be filled with these things.  This is Damaris, Elsie, who is the Jill-of-all-trades here and Damaris’s daughter.

Coming back home, I stopped to record the progress of the bell tower, Fr Kiriti’s professed “last project”, but I give that claim little credence.

Here are the men shaping the stones, with the rear of the church in the background.  To the right the masons carefully place them.  Note the bell at the left.  The placing of the stones is particularly nice.  I’ve been watching this process from the day I noted a big pile of stones dumped between the church and the children’s home and wondered, “What is Fr Winchester building now!!!!”  Bay area readers will know the story of Mrs Winchester and her amazing house.  Google Winchester Mystery House it if you don’t know it.

Later in the evening an old friend arrived, Jo Foxford, the woman I met in Nakuru in 2005, who developed an almost fatal case of malaria, recuperated in Naivasha and was instrumental in our receiving a grant from Manos Unidos in Madrid (for which she is a volunteer) to build our 2 science labs.  In addition to her work for MU, she has cobbled together sponsors for some 30 children, mostly orphans in the Kisii area (northwest Kenya) to put them in school.  Every year or so she visits them to report their progress to the sponsors.  They are not so fortunate as to have a home like Mji Wa Neema.  Many were barely teenagers when they were left with younger siblings to raise.  She told us one story after another, some very sad, some truly inspirational.  She’s spending the night in my guest room before going for some well deserved R&R at one of the big wild animal parks.

I think this brings me pretty much up to date, except to say that my groups of form 1’s and 2’s have both grown.  I must be getting pretty good press.  One form 2 boys wistfully asked me today whether I was coming tomorrow-Saturday!  I have just next week at Ndingi, then move on to do the same at SFG.  However I will miss Thursday b/c the diocese of Nakuru has scheduled a workshop for me at the Pastoral Center.  I think this will be a pretty big one.  So that’s cool!


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