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Team 2015 Feb/March

I was struggling to fill the spaces this year.

However, along came my Interact 2014’s excellent presentation to conference and an impassioned plea from me for volunteers and a few other necessities besides and bingo we had a team (and a few other necessities besides).

Although depleted from the usual 10 or 12 in number I recruited 8 members, three old timers, five newbies, and what a team they were! We worked hard and laughed hard.

Rotarians Alison Stedman, Arbroath

AG John Anderson, Auchterarder

Jeremy Richardson, Orkney                                    5 Rotarians

Moira Hogg, Portlethen & District

Barry Davies, Kinross & District

Rotarian John Hay’s wife Beth, Spey Valley         3 Friends of Rotary

Rotarian Rose Logan’s husband Jock, Turriff

Last but not least, friend of Rotary, Alex Thomson, Inverkeilor.

£10,000 was raised beforehand to present to Sr Mary for tertiary education. Because Nyumbani cares for its orphans so well they are now growing into young adults achieving their academic goals (mostly) and moving onwards and upwards with confidence and a real hope for the future. College and University are now a possibility for many and this money will help those wishing to go on to further education without a doubt.

A further £6000 is being held in Arbroath’s account in readiness for a global grant planned for the coming Rotary year.

 £3495 raised from the sales of my African crafts was used to purchase materials for the projects in hand and the surplus left with Sr Mary to be used how she sees fit.

Every year Sr Mary identifies maintenance projects which our “Service Above Self” teams can fulfil and this February she asked that she and her offices benefit from a little tlc. This meant prepping and giving the whole building, an old colonial bungalow a facelift. It hadn’t been maintained properly for years and houses her offices and all the accounts staff.  My goodness what a beautiful job Moira and the guys did, it’s now like a new build. A wall was built to stem the flow of water in the big rains, new steps constructed and the garage also given an overhaul.

Drains are an eternal problem in Nyumbani home. I guess the property wasn’t built to house over 125 children, plus staff and volunteers from time to time and the quality of the original drains not sufficient to cope with today’s usage. Soooooo here we go again. Because the water from the guest house was always backing up we investigated and found that huge tree roots had grown through the main pipe, a job for two locals who cost us £7 for a skilled chap and half of that for his mate. This was completed and we paid them another £7 to put in another lead from a gutter into a main drain, job done, should make a difference. Meanwhile the cook managed to guide us to the kitchen drain which was also backing up but we decided we needed a contractor to come in to do that job. I have a feeling drains will be an issue until money can be found to redo the whole compound.

Over the past couple of trips we have been repainting the cottages the children live in and on making a new set of curtains for the first cottage I realised that they looked awful because the old curtain rails were rusted, bent and of inferior quality. An appeal at conference went out for donations of rails and one wonderful chap offered as many rails as I needed. In all he donated 40 very strong “Swish” rails which have proved to be fabulous and our curtains are now hanging beautifully, only one cottageful to be made now. Moira’s comment on seeing that job completed was “now all we need are nice colourful bedcovers to complete the new look!) Over to you Moira!

Kawangware slum clinic has become Beth’s baby and over four years or so she has managed to completely refurbish it to a high standard. She first visited just to see if she could help in some way and boy has she! It all started with a wee bit of a repair and a paint, she got husband John to give her a hand and together they worked away over a couple of trips. She then started raising more money each time and has made an amazing job even to the extent of tiling the floors. To say the manager was pleased is an understatement, she is now being nudged by everyone else to “do their clinic next”! Well done Beth.

New tools were donated also which helps enormously and I have found a “safe” storage place so that we will have them for next time. We did a few tweaks to Cottage D which is the last in line for upgrading which was done by Frances Wilson’s young group going out in July (this is following the success of last year’s Interact group).

Nyumbani Village in Kitui District also benefited from our help, the last 19 (of 100) cooking shelters were built by locals and funded by us. Hooray! We need a new village project now as that one has lasted a good few trips, wonder what that will be.

As ever I was very proud of my team, we had lots of fun, they worked very hard in the hottest weather I have experienced in Nairobi, learned an enormous amount about Nyumbani, HIV/AIDS, how Africa works (vastly different from home) and most importantly themselves. Thanks to one and all.


Trip number 2. June/July 2015.

In 2010 I took our four eldest grandchildren out to visit which was a great success and as I have now reached a significant age I felt it was time to take the next two in line, Ava (11) and Tate (9). Sons Mark & Roddy and Roddy’s wife Beth came along too to see what Granny does in Africa.

We spent the first few days meeting my Nyumbani family (over the years it has become my second home) exploring everything, understanding what goes on in our diagnostic laboratory and seeing what our fundraising over ten years or so has provided.

The Lea Toto project in the slums was another very important destination. We visited Kawangware clinic ably managed by Margaret Otieno and were given an in depth insight into the workings topped off by a visit to a couple of houses in the slum where we talked with two of the care givers about their situation. One girl whom we took to be around forty and the mother of several  youngsters turned out to be 14 looking after five siblings on her own. But for our services who knows what would become of them.

A trip to Nyumbani eco village in the bush around 4 hours drive from Nairobi came next. We opted to stay in one of the latest innovations – an eco voluntourist block – another source of revenue. Tourists who come to Kenya on safari often want to see the other side of life and opt to volunteer for a week or so. We have hooked up with several Safari companies who provide people in this capacity. They, the safari companies are suffering a great reduction in trade and tourism due to the influx of attacks from Al Shebab on the border of Somalia and in one particular area of Nairobi.  This block is superior to the other volunteer blocks in that it has tiled loos and showers that work.

My family spent time being shown around were amazed at the sheer size and scale of the village which has evolved into the foremost ecologically sound, soon to be self- sustaining project in sub-saharan Africa for infected and affected AIDS victims. I have to say at this juncture that most of the children are affected and not infected here as this village was the 3rd vision of our founder Fr D’Ag to bridge the gap left by those wage earners now deceased leaving the ageing grand-parents to look after umpteen grandchildren without the help of a welfare state. Finally we visited cluster 9 which is our set of four houses funded by Rotary District 1010 and friends. This was fun, the children had a rugby ball which provided scope for lots of play and we adults presented our four Susu’s with a new set of cooking pots and boxes of biscuits for the kids. To say they were delighted was an understatement.

I was particularly pleased that my family raised over £12000 from two events prior to going so we were able to present Sr Mary with a cheque for this amount. I let them choose what this donation was to be used for and they decided to fund two new classrooms and a store for the primary school in Nyumbani Village which I’m happy to say are now almost complete.

Back to Nairobi and the prospect of a 5 day safari to Mount Kenya, Lakes Nakuru and Naivasha then finally a couple of days in the Maasai Mara was on the cards.

Thoroughly enjoyed by everyone.


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