Wednesday, December 4, 2013


Hello friends! It has been entirely too long since I have given you an update and since I am back in Kenya it feels needed. Yes, I am back in Kenya! But only for 2 weeks. If you followed me last year, you know a group from Trinity Church in Boston came to work with their Pamoja partner Nyumba Ya Tumaini and in an effort to continue this partnership I am back to do some more work with Tatua and Nyumba Ya Tumaini. It was a long journey over here, but I cannot express how happy and thankful I am to be back.

The past couple of months have been full of seeing people and spending quality time with my family. Also I have made some decisions about my future. Just a quick update- I have decided to defer graduate school in Boston for a year. There are many factors that went into the decision, but I feel good about it and as I make more decisions I will let you all know.

All of the new YASCers have been out at their placements now for a few months and they are all doing incredible things once again. If this is a program you are interested in check out the website because they are accepting applications now for next year. Please continue to pray for current, past and present YASCers and for the global mission of the church.

I know this was brief, but expect a few more stories throughout my time here and a full report when I return home. Thanks again for being a part of this with me. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Barikiwe (Be Blessed)

Over a year ago I boarded a plane to Nairobi, Kenya with a heart full of excitement! Today I will board a plane again, this time headed back to Atlanta, GA. It is hard to express the exact emotions I am feeling at the moment. One thing I can say for sure is that my heart is full of gratitude.

This past year has been life changing to say the least. I have learned so much about mission, partnership, love, and myself. There is no way to thank each person who has been a part of this journey with me. Tatua Kenya has been an amazing organization to work for and the YASC program is something I would recommend to anyone ready to experience the world in a new way.

As I leave today I will start reflecting on my time in Kenya knowing that it is not over. In fact, I think it is just the beginning for me. I am excited to begin this new season of life returning to the US and returning to school in Boston with anticipation of returning to Kenya one day.

Most of you all know that I developed a relationship with one organization here called Nyumba Ya Tumaini, a home for street boys from Nairobi. For a long time I have felt a specific calling (for lack of a better word) to work with street boys and it just seemed impossible. Growing up I had the love and support of amazing friends and family, as I still do today. One of my favorite aspects of my life is the fact that I am an older sister to an incredible younger brother. Even though I picked on him and knew exactly how to push his buttons, the love I have for my little brother is huge. The joy I get out of being a big sister is one of the reasons I feel so much love towards the boys of Nyumba ya Tumaini. All that being said, I have decided to join the board of the organization and begin working with Ben (director) and the rest of the Tumaini community to restructure and build on an already incredible program! As this process happens I will keep you all updated and I will ask for your continued prayer and support.

When I return home I would love to talk to each of you about my experience with Tatua, YASC and Tumaini. Please send me an email or give me a call if you would like to get together one on one or for a group.

Barikiwe! (Be Blessed!)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Elewana Education Project

Me standing outside the Elewana offices.
As I have mentioned in previous posts, there is an Episcopal missionary named Rev. Zach Drennen who runs a project out in Amagoro, which is Western Kenya almost to the Ugandan border. It is called The Elewana Education Project. Amagoro is a relatively unreached area in terms of aid so they work with the Diocese of Katakwa to support secondary education through sponsorships, technology and community development.

I have been wanting to get out there and visit since even before I arrived in Kenya. Of course, it came down to my last week, but I am so thankful I got out there. It is a beautiful section of Kenya. I stayed in the mission house with Zach and another volunteer, Paul. It is clear that Zach and the rest of the staff is well known and loved in the community. The most important member of the Elewana family, though, is Bob. Bob is Zach's dog. He resides at the mission house and has become a beloved fixture around Amagoro. All of the kids get so excited when they see Bob pass on his walks.

St. Peter's Aterait Secondary School
In the short 6 days I was there I got to help plan for the Episcopal High School group who arrived Saturday, attend an event about English teaching put on by the cultural affairs office of the U.S. Embassy, go to Kisumu for the BIG shopping trip, and visit Mt. Elgon! It was a busy 6 days, but I loved every minute. The staff at the house and office were so warm and welcoming. The school we visited, St. Peter's Secondary School, is one of the best I have seen. Episcopal High School is working with the students there over the next 2 weeks to do a service project in the community. When we did the preliminary visit the principal and the teachers were great and seemed to genuinely love what they do. That passion is not something you see everyday, especially radiating through an entire school. I cannot wait to hear how the project turns out.

Now I am back in Nairobi and believe it or not this is my last full day in Kenya until August! It is really hard to believe that I get on a plane tomorrow night and arrive back in the US on Thursday. I am not sure how to feel about going home. I am definitely excited to see friends and family, but there is some uncertainty about what it will feel like to be home after a year away. Since I will be returning in August I do not need to be too sad this time and I do not have to say any final goodbyes yet, which is nice. I am sure there will be a lot of reflection to come. All I know right now is that this has been the most incredible year so far and despite the many challenges here, my love for this country has only grown. Hope everyone is having a good week. Talk to you back in the US!

Below are some more pictured from my trip out to Amagoro. Enjoy!
Diocese of Katakwa Mission House.

The mission house.

Me with Mama Beatrice. She makes some stellar chapati!

Paul (another volunteer) and Leonard (the house boy and future marathon star).

The science lab at St. Peter's.

On the way out to the school.

On the way up to Mt. Elgon.

We stopped for tea at the Mt. Elgon Lodge

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Just Imagine

Imagine for a minute that you are 14 years old. You live with your mom and step father in a poor community in Kenya. Your step father is a drunk and and at night when he returns home he takes his drunken rage out on you. Because of this you decide that it is not safe for you to be at home so you start sleeping out in the forrest or you find friends you can stay with. This angers your step father more, which in turn angers your mother. They decide they no longer want to deal with you so they take you to court and wrongfully accuse you of stealing money and being disobedient. It is your word against 2 adults. The court system finds you guilty as a minor and ships you off to a remand center for a sentence of 2 years. The intent is that YOU will be rehabilitated from behaviors that you did not exhibit to start with, while your mother and step father continue living just as they were.

Now your 2 years is over and you are sent home. Here's the kicker- you get home to find everyone in your family gone with no explanation. Eventually you get a hold of an uncle who is now taking care of you little brother and sister, but will not take you in. He will give you no information about your parents. You have no idea whether they are dead or alive. You are now 16. What do you do? The government has no luck tracking down your family so you are just sent back to the remand center for an unknown amount of time feeling hopeless, unwanted, unloved, bitter and lost.

Meet Mary Wangui. That is her story.

Me with my new friend Mary!
I do not know about you all, but I believe somewhere along the line the system failed Mary. In 2 more years she will be 18, considered an adult, and the government will no longer support her and regardless of where she is in her education or training she will be released with no where to go.

Yesterday I spent the day with over 100 girls like Mary who live at a remand center in Dagoretti. Through conversations with these girls we learned that the main cause behind their placement there is dysfunctional families. If they were not turned into the court by their parents, then most were found living on the street due to abuse or neglect. The remand center is a nice place with nice teachers, but in terms of rehabilitation I do not know how much they can accomplish with their resources. These girls put on a brave face everyday and as much as I know they enjoyed having visitors they are still filled with bitterness and loss. They need one on one counseling to understand they are loved and be reminded there is more life left to live and they have a choice in what that looks like.

My heart broke for Mary. What do you tell someone like that who has lost everything and has been told by her own family that she is not wanted? There is really nothing you can say and nothing frustrates me more than that. All you can do is listen and be a friend and show compassion. I do not blame her for feeling hopeless. Nothing in her life has told her otherwise. I believe there is hope for Mary and for each of the girls there and I am praying earnestly that God will reveal Himself to them. Please join in praying with me for Mary and the millions of children living in poverty. Pray for their parents, the governments, and those working to find solutions and bring change.

Entrence into the center.
I do not want this post to be all sad. Yesterday was a fantastic day because we got to know what issues the girls are facing and now we can use the information to work on creating a partnership between Nafisika Trust and the center. Not only that, but we learned more about where the gaps in the system are and now we can start looking at ways to close those gaps.  It was a day full of dancing, singing, and laughter.
The wonderful group from Nafisika.

Introduction and games!

Lunch time.

Small group games and conversation.

Mary, as I said, is one of many many children living on the street. The Be The Change projects in Rongai, Nkoroi, Ngong, and Dagoretti are working to get them back into school by working with the parents and with all of the stakeholders in the communities. You can support the project in Ngong by clicking here and donating on Global Giving. We have 15 days left to raise 2,000 pounds!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Global Giving

Yesterday I met with my friend Vickie, who started Nafisika Trust. Most of you that have read my blog before know that Nafisika is the group working in the prisons here in Kenya. Every time I meet with Vickie I leave encouraged. I am not only encouraged by the amazing work they are doing, but also by the incredible work Tatua is doing. Vickie and I met to finalize plans for an event we are having this Saturday at Dagoretti Children's Center. DCC is a remand center for girls and we are hoping to spend Saturday just getting to know the girls and see what their needs are to determine how Nafisika can begin a partnership with them.

As we were talking I could tell Vickie was exhausted and exhilarated all at once. She kept telling me about all of the meetings she was having with important people AND that at each one she used the skill of Public Narrative, which is taught in community organizing! She was thanking me because Tatua taught her that skill. It has absolutely NOTHING to do with me, but I told her I would pass her thanks on and I thanked her for reminding me how grateful I am to be a tiny part of this work.

I asked her how she was doing and she looked at me and said, "I do not know how I ended up here. I do not know how this work is getting done and how we will continue to do it." It just seems crazy how many big things are happening in Kenya right now. So many communities are coming together to support projects that they, themselves, want and need. Vickie told me that everyday she just asks God what to do next and when something seems impossible, which most things do, she prays and she trusts that God will come through. I can say the same thing for Natalie. At Tatua immense things are happening and communities are transforming and embracing their power.

This work is not easy and would be impossible to me without faith. Natalie and Vickie are two shining examples for me of what it means to have faith and a belief in the mission of God. Everyday I start to see more and more how important it is and will be to change the face of aid around the world. I go home in just 2 weeks and with me I am bringing a new outlook with a desire to live out the motto of Tatua - "Exposing the power of ground-up solutions."

This month Tatua is participating in an online fundraising competition on Global Giving. Donate here today to help launch the campaign in the Ngong community and send over 1,000 kids from the streets back to school! To learn more, here is a video of one of the Ngong leadership team members talking about her experience so far working with Tatua.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Three Things

Every week that passes here feels so full, but this past week in particular was extremely busy! There were three main things that I want to catch you up on. Honestly I could probably write a post on each one, but I won't. I will just give you the highlights.

First- Last weekend, May 17-18, we had a training at the office. It was a training for trainers. In a week we will be hosting a big training for all of the leadership teams that our organizers have recruited from their communities. Natalie and Ken facilitated a training to train our organizers and a few more local leaders to help lead the next big training. It was an incredible experience for me because it was the first time I got to participate in a training. To see people come together and find a shared purpose is a powerful experience. It was a couple of long days, but it was impossible to walk away without reaching a new level of gratitude that I get to be a part of this work. 
The group who attended the training!
David and I outside the Shalom House
Second- We received a visit from Rev. David Copley from the church office in New York this past week. I picked him from the airport Tuesday evening after his flight was delayed a couple of hours. We had a great dinner, but unfortunately we made a bad decision on accommodation. Even though we did not get much sleep, Wednesday morning we were up early and Zach Drennen, another missionary, picked us up from the hotel. While Zach and David spent some time together I was able to get some work done. That afternoon Natalie picked David and I up so we could go and attend a meeting in Ngong with Rose and Jacob, community organizers there. The meeting was for the community to decide who would be a part of their leadership team and how they could ensure equal representation from all areas within Ngong. It was amazing! Jacob did a fantastic job facilitating the meeting and the way in which the community has already taken ownership of their project is so encouraging. There were stakeholders from all areas of the community: church leaders, the area chief, youth and others. David, at the end of the meeting, brought us back to the Baptismal covenant and the part of it that talks about respecting the dignity of EVERY human being and how our work is in line with that. He was very encouraging about Tatua's model. I am very grateful that he was able to come. For those of you outside the YASC program, you need to understand that David is like our Papa Bear. And really everyone at the church office takes such good care of us and when we get to see them it is wonderful!

Third- Yesterday I went and visited Dagoretti Children's Home with Vickie, Maya, and Purity from Nafisika Trust. Nafisika is the organization working in the prisons here that I have gotten to do a little work with since I have been here. Dagoretti Children's Home is a government run remand center for girls who have committed petty crimes or are considered low and medium risk. The grounds were really peaceful. About 80 girls currently live there and attend school there. The school buildings they use were built in 1922! Believe it or not they look better than some other schools I have seen here. Nafisika wants to start doing more work with children and youths so as a first step in getting to know Dagoretti Children's Home we want to hold a 'Fun Day' event there on June 15th to celebrate African Day of the Child. If you would like to help support this event financially please let me know. We have a goal of raising $400 to make this possible so any contribution would be extremely helpful. Please send me an email to if you can help.

School building that was built in 1922!

On another note- I am going to Ethiopia tomorrow! I will be going to meet my friend Abby there and we will do some traveling around and site seeing. Don't worry pictures will come soon after I return.

As always na shukuru sana sana! (I am very very thankful for you all!) Summer has started for most of you now so enjoy the sunshine. 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Saturday Morning Thoughts

There is something that happens here all to often that leaves me feeling wishing I could do more and questioning whether I can do more.

Just a few minutes ago two small girls showed up at my gate asking for plastic bottles. They were covered in dirt, wearing ripped clothing, and shoes with holes in them.  The site of children in their condition is not an unusual site here, but it never stops taking my breath away. At first I just told them to wait and I would look for some plastic. It turns out we had a ton of plastic water bottles, and big ones at that. Catherine and Evelyn were so excited when they saw them. I was pleased to be able to make them smile with what I considered useless plastic bottles.

After that they asked for chakula (food) saying "hatukuwa kula jana usiku" or we did not eat last night. I am thankful for the broken swahili I have been able to pick up on and that I could understand that and communicate with these two precious little girls.  When they told me that I went inside and found a loaf of bread and brought it out to them with some butter. Then they wanted tea with their bread so I made them some tea even though we did not have milk they were thankful just to have tea with water and sugar. Boy did those girls love sugar! I brought them some water and we just sat outside and talked a little about where they live and where they go to school. Catherine, the older one, is in class 5 at Arap Moi, the government primary school in Nkoroi and Evelyn, the younger one, goes to a school in Acacia. They live up the road, probably about 2Km away.

After they finished eating they asked to use the choo (toilet) so I led them inside. They looked around skeptically then the older one asked me if I could help her with some clothes. I told them I did not have any at the moment, but maybe when they come back I could find some. In my head I was thinking, "I do not have any clothes small enough for these little girls." Then they asked for shoes and once again my thought process was, "no I have no shoes small enough and I do not even have any extra shoes here." Finally as they were leaving the older one asked for the shirt I was wearing. Now, I wish I could say that I just went inside and put a different shirt on and handed her this one, but I did not. It is such a hard balance to find where the line should be drawn in increasing dependency.

These two young girls did not choose to be born into the circumstances they live in and neither did I, but I wonder everyday if I am living in the love of God with what I have. Next time Catherine and Evelyn show up at my gate, which I hope they do, I will give them this shirt and any others I have because, even if they are big or if they sell them, I believe Catherine and Evelyn need them more than I do.

We can always do more and I am the first to admit that I fear doing more most of the time. To be honest, I like this shirt, and because of that I was afraid to give it away. I am pretty sure Jesus would not have used that as an excuse and from now on I am going to do my best not to either. God gives us opportunities everyday to love and be loved. That is true world-wide, but I think I can see it more clearly here in Kenya and for that I am grateful! It reminds me of the book by Bob Goff called "Love Does." And I think it is what Mr. Goff meant when he said, "That's because love in never stationary. In the end, love doesn't just keep thinking about it or keep planning for it. Simply put: love does."

I hope everyone has a great weekend and gets a new opportunity to love and be loved!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Back to Blogging!

Hello friends! I am so sorry it has been so long since I have blogged and updated you on life here in Kenya.

Believe it or not, I have actually been blogging every day for Tatua Kenya, so I will give a quick plug for you to go and read our blog. Exciting things have been happening since Be The Change has become a part of Tatua Kenya. I know it has been confusing for some of you so please read the blog. I hope it will explain more, but if you have any questions please do not hesitate to email me.

Now on to other exciting news from Kenya. I had a visitor here a couple of weeks ago. My fellow YASCer, Jared Grant, came to visit.  We had a wonderful adventure. God has given me so much love for this country and I love when I get to share it with other people in my life. I would encourage you all to read his blog as well about all of the things we got to do together and get another perspective on life here.
Jared and me on top of Kenya International Conference Center.

Really, though, Jared had 3 requests- Lions, monkeys and pizza! I may have failed him on pizza, but surely not on lions and monkeys.

My next piece of news is that I just found out David Copley, mission personnel officer from the church office in New York, is coming to visit in May! He will be here for just a couple of days so Natalie, Zach (Episcopal missionary in Western Kenya) and I will do our best to show him a good time. I am thankful he gets to come because I know he is busy traveling all over the world. In fact, he is currently in Japan visiting some other YASCers working there.

My last big piece of news is that I know my departure AND return date. Yes, that's right, departure AND return. I will be coming home for about a month and then returning to Kenya for about another month of work. My visa expires in July so I have to leave the country, but there is a group from Boston coming to Kenya in August and I am leading their trip. In order to make this all work the church has agreed that I can come home on June 27th and then with the generous contribution from my home parish, St. Catherine's and Tatua I will be able to return to Kenya July 29th through August 20th to finish my work. I cannot believe how soon June 27th is. There is no way to know how I will feel returning to the US, but I am trusting God is sovereign and He will prepare me for each next step in life, just as He prepared me for my time here.

I know so much has happened in the world in the past couple of weeks and I want to leave you with the prayer for Boston, my future home, provided by our Presiding Bishop.

Gracious God, you walk with us through the valley of the shadow of death. We pray that the suffering and terrorized be surrounded by the incarnate presence of the crucified and risen one. May every human being be reminded of the precious gift of life you entered to share with us. May our hearts be pierced with compassion for those who suffer, and for those who have inflicted this violence, for your love is the only healing balm we know. May the dead be received into your enfolding arms, and may your friends show the grieving they are not alone as they walk this vale of tears. All this we pray in the name of the one who walked the road to Calvary.

Amen. I will do my best to not let so long pass before my next post. I am thankful for you all!

Monday, March 25, 2013

A Tanzanian Adventure

As most of you know we had elections here on March 4th. I am thankful that I can say so far it has been peaceful.  Thank you all for your constant thoughts and prayers throughout the process. It is still not over, though. Now there are a couple of court cases we have to get through before there is an official president.

View outside Ben and Elizabeth's house.
One fun thing that came out of the elections for me was that I got to go and visit my fellow YASCers down in Tanzania! I flew down to Dar Es Salaam and then took a long bus ride to Dodoma.  The bus had some small issues, but I eventually made it. Ben and Elizabeth picked me up and we drove out to Msalato where they live. It is about 20 minutes from Dodoma Town on what I learned is the only unpaved portion of the Arusha Highway.  It is always strange when you arrive somewhere in the dark, but I love the next morning when you get to see everything for the first time. Msalato is a really peaceful place. It is dry and rural, but the people are really friendly and welcoming. There is a wonderful community of teachers and students from all over the world. Our social calendar was extremely full while I was there. Several of the other teachers had us over for dinner. Another YASCer, Brian Orlay, also works in Dodoma for the Carpenter's Kids program.  My second night in Tanzania we went to dinner with him and a guy named Chris who is also an Episcopal missionary working with Carpenter's Kids for a few months. Brian and Chris live and work together in Dodoma town.  It was good to spend time with them and hear about their work. They also joined us on a hike up Lion Rock.  Ben and Elizabeth have a great view of Lion Rock from their house and when you climb to the top you can look out over all of Dodoma. Hiking is one of my favorite things to do so I thoroughly enjoyed that.  During the days in Dodoma I was able to go on long walks and do some work. It was a restful week with some great people.
Ben, Elizabeth, me and Brian at the top of Lion Rock.

Beach in Dar.
I was able to get a MAF (Mission Aviation Fellowship) flight from Dodoma to Dar on Thursday, but I was not supposed to fly back to Nairobi until Saturday so I planned to stay a couple of nights at a guest house and visit the beach for a day.  Naturally plans changed.  As I was on my way to the airport on Saturday morning I got multiple calls from people saying I should not fly back to Nairobi that day because they were finally announcing the election results and while everything had been peaceful so far there was no way to predict how people would react.  No one wanted to leave their houses that day so I ended up staying in Dar for a couple more nights and just spent some time reflecting and working at the beach.  Cannot really complain about that :)

I have been back in Kenya for about two weeks now and it has been incredibly busy, which is why it has been so long since I have posted. I will try to do better. My fellow YASCer Jared Grant is on his way here right now to visit so get excited for a post about our adventures soon.

Have a blessed Holy Week and a very happy Easter!

Asante sana!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Momma Jenny in Kenya

So about 3 weeks ago now Momma Jenny, my mom, came to Kenya! I was spoiled to the extreme while she was here. She arrived on my 6 month anniversary here. It was so exciting to be back in the airport at the exact time I arrived 6 months earlier to pick up my mother who has never traveled to Africa before.  This may be a long post, but I want to capture as much as I can of what we did.

Our adventure started immediately the next day when we flew to Mombasa, which is on the coast of Kenya.  We spent a few nights at a hotel on the beach there just relaxing and catching up on the last 6 months of life.
The beach at Mombasa.
Next we headed out on safari.  Our guide Ibrahim picked us up and we drove out to Tsavo East and did a game drive through the park.  We made it to our accommodation for the night in time for lunch. It was called Galdessa Tented Camp.  It was beautiful! However, it was in the middle of the park and since it is not fenced or anything animals can rome freely so we had an escort throughout the camp. That afternoon we did a walking safari. Again escorted, but this time by a ranger with a giant gun. We went to Lugara Falls and saw so many crocodiles and hippos. I have never been so close to a wild crocodile!
View from our tent at Galdessa

Lava cave
After Tsavo East, the next morning we woke up and headed to Tsavo West where we again had a wonderful game drive in the morning and then in the afternoon we picked up another ranger and headed to some caves created by lava and did some exploration underground. There is an active volcano there and after our underground exploration we went to this giant hill created by lava rocks. It was basically a HUGE pile of rocks and we climbed to the top where we could look out and see the whole park. That night we stayed at a lodge that was situated right on a watering hole where all night animals would come and go. I think my mom stayed up all night to watch the elephants, then the zebras, the buffalos, the giraffes, the baboons, and even more.  We were so close to them!
Lava rock hill we climbed.
Watering hole right outside our room.
Mzima Springs. 
The next morning we were off to Amboseli, but before we left we stopped at Mzima Springs. They are these beautiful natural springs in the park.  Then we joined the convoy of vehicles going to Amboselli National Park. It was a bumpy ride, Ibrahim said it was a free massage. After a short game drive we decided that once we arrived at the lodge we would take the afternoon off and hang out by the pool and get real massages.  This lodge was FULL of monkeys so they has Maasai warriors around to keep them away from food. They used sticks and sling shots to accomplish this. Before we left the next morning the security guard at the lodge took us on a run around the edge of the park. We were running with a Kenyan at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro!
One of the many lions we got to see!
Once we arrived back in Nairobi we had some dinner then headed out to Rongai for part 2. We spent the next couple of days in Rongai. I took her to a few of the children's homes we work with. She even rode in a matatu! I was proud of her. Living out here can be exhausting and you never know what to expect, but it was such a blessing to share it with her. Saturday we spent the day doing tourist things. We went to the baby elephant orphanage, ate at Karen Blixen Gardens with Mike, went to Kazuri Beads, then stayed the night in Nairobi. Sunday we went to church at Mike's church then ate lunch with my friend Rev. Zach Drennen who runs a project in Western Kenya and then stayed the night at an interesting place called Rolf's Place. That was an adventure in itself that I won't go into. Monday was her last day here. We visited Kitengela Glass then spent the day with my friend Edwin. He took us to eat in Karen, through Nairobi, and to a park where we got to play with monkeys before heading to the airport. We had a wonderful visit and as you can see we crammed a lot into 12 days!
Baby elephant orphanage.

Suspension bridge we crossed to get to Rolf's Place.

Mom at Kitengela Glass.
Next week are the elections here. As I have mentioned before there was a lot of violence after the last election and I can only ask you to continue to pray for this country! So much has been leading up to this and right now nothing is certain.  We are praying for peace, unity and wisdom for the leaders and the people.

Here are just a few more pictures.
Mom and me with Ibrahim.

Mom and I at lunch before Tsavo West.




Playing with monkeys.

Thank you all for your continued support and love. Hope everyone in the US is staying warm, it has been exceptionally hot here.

Kwa Heri!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

January Recap

Rain and thunder have been the soundtrack to life the past couple of nights. I am not complaining, though because without the rain the dust is terrible. So much has happened the past couple of weeks. First- thank you all for your prayers for Ryan and his family.  I was able to attend the burial last week with Rachel and some of the kids and community members from Dream's.  It was in DEEP Maasai Land. It was the furthest interior Kenya I have been thus far. We traveled for at least 4 hours on what should not qualify as a road to a place where there was no electricity or water at all.  The whole community gathered for the ceremony, which was mostly in Maasai with a Swahili translator so I did not understand much, but it was incredibly sweet and moving.  Surprisingly, it did not last very long at all, maybe an hour and then they carried the casket to the burial place where we all took a turn throwing some dirt in before the elders finished covering it.  After the burial they fed us a delicious lunch and then we packed up and headed home. It was an emotionally and physically exhausting day, but I was so thankful to be there.
Maasai Land

Ryan's brother, sister, and uncle at the burial
The rest of last week was spent getting acquainted with my new role as the Development Associate for the next six months.  I will be switching from my monitoring and evaluation job to work more with the social media, grant writing, and being the lead on our Pamoja program.  Our Pamoja program partners groups in the US with groups from Kenya to facilitate cross cultural relationships.  If you are interested in learning more about this or being a part of it please email me at I am working on updating our website and creating a new look for Tatua Kenya and Be The Change- Kenya so when that is complete I will share the new website with you all.  Until then you can still go to the old BTCKE Website for some information about Pamoja.

Giraffe Center
Last Saturday I got to spend the day with my friend Lara Shine.  She is an Episcopal priest from Nebraska who just spent a few weeks in South Sudan.  On her way home she stopped in Nairobi for a few days and I was able to meet up with her and Jim, her teammate.  We got coffee at Java House, then went to the Giraffe Center, and stopped at Nyumba Ya Tumaini so they could meet some of the people I work with here.  It was a great day. To find out more about our adventure and their trip to South Sudan you should read Lara's blog.

Yesterday I got a new roommate.  Natalie and I went to the airport last night to pick up my new friend Andrew Nazdin.  He is from Washington, D.C. and will be staying with us for the month of February to teach a community organizing course to our newly hired community organizers.  Our staff has doubled in the past 5 days which is very exciting.  We hired 4 of the young adults who completed the program last year to be full time community organizers for this program year.  They will spend this month in an intensive course that will prepare them to go out to their assigned communities and get people moving around child poverty.

Me with Clinton
Today was a really special day.  I woke up at 5:30AM so that I could meet my friend David Kariuki in town.  He is the Kenyan country coordinator for an organization called Bright Point For Children. They are a child sponsorship organization that my family sponsors a young man through here in Kenya.  His name is Clinton and I met him while I was here in May 2011. David and I drove out Mombasa Road to a community called Ngaamba to see Clinton at school.  He is now in class 8, which means he is a candidate this year for his KCPE exams.  I could not believe how tall he was.  We got to spend some time together and I brought him some paper, crayons, and pens.  He told me how he still loved science and still wants to be an engineer.  The head teacher had wonderful things to say about him.  It was such a gift to see him and I plan on making it happen more while I am here.  Please pray that he continues to excel in school and that he will get good marks on his exams so that he can be sent to a good secondary school.  Life is not always easy out in the village, but all of the children at Ngaamba Central Primary were so full of joy!
Ngaamba Central Primary School
The last bit of news I will leave you with is that my mom comes in less than one week, which also means I will have been here for 6 months in less than a week!! Can you believe it? I can't!

Hope you are all well! Siku njema! (Good day!)