I first started to feel like I was back home in Africa when I got on the Kenya Airways plane in London and was greeted by polished, professional, friendly flight attendants, all dressed in bright red blazers. They are just so welcoming and gentle and I knew I was in good hands.
The flight was a special one, unbeknownst to me. When I arrived at the departure gate there was cake and champagne to celebrate the inaugural flight of a brand new Boeing 787 Dreamliner added to the Kenya Airways fleet. There were even two lions in the hold, being transported back to Africa from a circus in Germany. (You can read about it here – http://travel.aol.co.uk/2015/01/21/two-lions-rescued-cruel-circus-germany-moved-south-africa-born-free/)
After 35 hours of travel, like the lions, I needed some rescuing so I was excited and pleased to be met at the Kisumu Airport by Mary Etuku, the manager of the ICIPE Guest House where I will stay for three weeks.
After a brief stop to get my mobile phone working properly, we drove to Mbita, about 2 1/2 hours from Kisumu.
I had come to Kenya to visit but also to check on some of the projects we have been doing in the last year and realized as we bumped along that we would pass one of our school projects near Kendu Bay. Our driver, Kennedy , kept his eyes peeled and found the sign for Kamser Primary School so we did a U-turn and headed back , unannounced.
The students were away from the school on their lunch break but three teachers sat under a tree marking notebooks. They took me into the classrooms to show me the desks that CanAssist had funded last year. This was a bit of a win-win since the desks, rudimentary but functional, we’re all made by local carpenters, thereby providing some modest local employment as well as providing the desks for the students. CanAssist had also provided a rainwater catchment tank. The teachers told me that after a good rain, the tank fills and can supply drinking water for the 500 pupils at the school for several weeks. Prior to getting the desks, the students, usually 60-80 per classroom, were sitting on the floor to learn.
I was delighted to start my 2015 Africa trip this way. My Jet lag dissolved. I was pleased to see how these teachers were appreciative of our support and their report of how this contribution to the school had made a difference to the well-being of the students.
I may have brought them something else – another blessing. About 10 last night there was a 2 hour torrential thunderstorm that dumped much-needed water on the community. There has been no rain for weeks. I smiled as I lay in bed, my screened patio door open, and listened to the rain pour down, knowing that around this community there were water tanks filling up.