Saturday, February 19, 2011

quilt and the LivingRoom

Hi Everyone

The LivingRoom is a hospice started by Juli McGowan in Kipkaren, Kenya. It is the very same hospice that this team helped with the garden for patients and their families to walk together. It is the only hospice that will be helping children. On February 3, 2011, Juli sent me this email and picture of the latest edition to the LivingRoom family. I thought it was extremely touching how the village and the things that are being done in the village-- come full circle. Here is that email--
Today I brought a 4 year old girl named
Purity to Living Room. She is
terribly malnourished and has all of the
classic signs of kwashiorkor.
Her lethargy is telling. When she
arrived, I wrapped her in one of the
quilts the women had made. Something
about that was life-giving to me.

There is a long and hard battle that must
be fought for the sake of
this little one. I wanted to say thank
you for being a part of it.

A single idea, a single action can
move the world. It has for this little girl.

To everyone who has contributed in anyway
to Spanda INC. Thank you for all you do.

What would you do for any
little human being?--anything.

Thank you Everyone.

women's sewing group

Good Morning everyone

It has taken a few days:) to get back in the groove at home. I have been receiving communications from Kipkaren about the LivingRoom and about our women's sewing group. I would like to continue to share those stories. Carolyn Hamilton and Jennifer Pershing did an awesome job of conducting 2 classes back to back with sewing. Some of the village women had experience but all were energetic about these classes. Talking with Michelle Kiprop, who is a missionary over in Kipkaren and the director of the eye-dental-medical clinic, we did not want the energy to wane when this team left. So Michelle had a women's meeting Monday after we left and over 100 women showed up to take part in the sewing group and classes!! Here are some of the quilts that were made.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Home Safe & Sound

We are happy to say that all members of the Kenya 2011 trip made it home safe and sound on January 26. Thank you to everyone who helped make the trip and everything that was accomplished during it a reality. We are very excited to see how all the hard work plays out. Keep checking back to learn more about the Spanda Inc. events and happenings.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Changing lives onepaver--one tooth--one glass H20 at a time


At 4:00pm today the village came out to say their goodbyes. Talked asbout our their lives were different because of the clinic and clean water. We all were presented with gifts that are made in Kipkaren. And 100's of handshakes and hugs and goodbyes. Cosmos was there. He was along on our first trip. Struggling with life at that time, He introduced me to his wife, he has a new son and is working for the LivingRoom. It is always good to see Cosmos--energentic and happy--he had been an optician for us for the last threee years.
Went up to the school to take pictures and the children are drinking out the new well and carrying clean water home.
It has been an incredible journey!!
This team, as my teams, give until they almost break. I confess I am very tired and would have to say the team is probably reduced in size considerably:) It's ok-- I was walking to the school and fell down on the rocks. Nervous and embarrassed I yelled out safe. What else can you do?
All I could do is laugh at myself.
We have finished dinner and need to be up early for our plane ride to the Masai Mara. Wish us luck. There won't be any further communication until we get home.
However, I will be keeping this blog site live to update our progress--a womens' sewing group will start because of Carolyn and Jen. Some men have learned a trade that they can go and make a living with--laying pavers and planting flowers. Nicklaus, who is the foreman on the job site of the LivingRoom and where the landscaping was done. Your team has given me something I can have for the rest of my life. You can give me money but it is gone in a snap!! You give me knowledge and it helps my family and friends and me for a lifetime.

chlorinatoring at clinic and flossing

Hi Everyone

We were up early today the last day of our mission trip. Early to the clinic across the Kipkaren River--literally crossing the river finding the strategically placed rocks to step. This is the first time I have not anointed myself with the Rivers of Kenya. The first time I crossed and slipped in up to my ankles. I cursed myself and said how do they expect me to work with wet feet and shoes. Of course, once at the clinic--all the people waiting to be seen. I chited myself--these people had walked miles what was I complaining about. We began to see patients until the generator ran out of gas!!
Much has changed here. No running water no electricity when I did my first mission trip. The outdoor squatty potty was a barely a mud structure with a leaning door that did not close--luckily when it was hot. And a hole in the ground. Last year the "squatty potty" became a cement structure with a hole. Much more manageable, but ask Carla M. about her experience when she came in 2009:) To day I saw patients along side Julius and was able to walk in a wash my hands. In addition, they were able to convert the closet into a flushing toilet:0 Oh happy day!!
Now with the water chlorinated--the dentist and the maternity ward and the medical and optometry are safer for their patients and themselves.
After we had lunch--the whole team broke out and flossed!! In honor of Dr. Bessler!! Juli the director of the Living Room had to confess it is the first time she has ever floss with a team and she has lived here 9 years! It is a first of still many!!
This afternoon the water was hooked up and the chlorinator was running like a champ. But we weren't without excitement. We could not get the pressure in the system. So I called Carol at 1:15am--Thank you Carol for taking my call and tripping over the furniture to get John Hays' number. I called John shortly afterword. Sorry but this was our last day and thing were getting hairy. Besides it was only 11:30am for us.....I missed dialed--sorry goes out to the lady who was extremely kind to me on the phone with a wrong number...I apoloigised but John was eager to help. Told us how to build up pressure in the line. Half the team was late for Hut visits so off they went. Jims and I stayed behind--the jeep with the team wasn't gone 10-15 seconds --we had pressure we had water--chlorinated!!!!!!

A second home

Hello everyone,

Well, we did it. We have chlorine in the water at the clinic, we have people trained to make chlorine and maintain the system. I want to thank Rex for teaching me how to adapt when working on a project and how to make things work with what we have, Thank you Dr. Dad.

The people of this community are amazing, they have open their hearts and their homes to us. They have made me feel like we are a part of this community. I'm blessed to have been on this team to come here and work with these people. God bless the people I have met here because they have blessed my life.



That means "hello". Today is the last of our time here in Kipkaren. Many of the villagers turned out for a celebration, complete with signing. There were tears all around as we said our last goodbyes to the people who were our families for the last week. I have learned so much from them yet they are the ones that keep thanking me.

This morning started early with meeting at 7am for final connection of the chlorine injector. We had some minor problems but between Jen and a couple of really smart Kenyans, we managed to work all of the kinks out. I went on a couple of welfare checks today into the poorest of poor areas. The clinic works with several patience with AIDs and they check on them every few days. They have nothing in the way of possessions, perhaps are not the cleanest but in most cases are somewhat healthy, thanks to the clinic that Spanda, Inc has built. There are many grandmothers raising babies and small children because so many adults have lost their lives to AIDs.

So I'm off to another part of Kenya to experience the wildlife sanctuary and take a safari. Safari in Swahili means journey, so it shall be an adventure. The exciting times but yet I am sad that I must leave these people and this community.

I hope I can share with each of you something about what makes this village so special and close to my heart. I am humbled by their friendliness and gratitude and can truly say that I am a different person than when I stumbled into the Cedar Rapids Airport a week ago to begin this journey.

So to everyone in the states, good night and I will begin new adventures tomorrow.


Parting is such Sweet Sorrow

7 days ago we boarded a plane leaving our homes Iowa. The snow was blowing and the temperatue was low. 2 days later we stepped out of our jeeps and into our new home in Kenya.

This trip was an amazing and beautiful trip that will stay within my heart the rest of life. The lessons I have learned about the beauty of the human spirit and the beauty of taking time to know your neigher, care for your neighbor, and to take the time to visit was a lesson many people could use every day of their life. So many times we allow ourselves to get caught up in the daily press of living life to the tick of the hands on the clock. We allow the beautiful moments to slip away and be sacraficed to moments of productivity.

This village truly took us in as members of their family. Men and women we worked next to for just a few days invited us to their homes to meet their families. Children, elders, and complete strangers go out of their way to greet us and to greet each other no matter where they may be going.

The days Lauren and I spent in the local public school working with the children was heart-warming and was balanced out by the day we spent doing home visits. Home visits were really eye-opening and grounding. It brought us down to earth and really opened my eyes to what it truly means to live in poverty. These people spend their day looking for food and water and it leaves them no time to other things that may improve their life. Their spirits are amazingly positive and they loved that we came to visit with them. They especially enjoyed hearing tales of snow-covered Iowa.

I will truly miss the people of Chabywa (che-bi-o-wa). I will make a great effort to return soon.
~Markus Cannon

How do we say goodbye?

The releiving message the locals have left us with is that they don't say "goodbye"...just "we will see you again". Another powerful day here in Kipkaren. The projects were finished up with great success!

Mark, Sharon, & I spent all morning at the local school matching up pen pal letters from the kids at CR Prairie and matching up the Comfort Dolls with their child. We took pictures so you who sponsored dolls can see the light in the childrens' faces with their new dolls. It was like they weren't sure if the doll was actually for them. After reassurance it was a gift from a friend in America, they would take the doll in their arms and hug it with great love. I'm giddy thinking about it.

Mom and dad finished their work at the gardens at the Living Room and created a place of growth, beauty, and hope. The staff and residents expressed how it would chenge their lives.

Caroline, Dr. Fitz, and Jennifer worked miracles at the clinic finishing the chlorinator system at the health clinic. They were challenged with finding the right parts and compatible pieces to make the system work. They did it!

I made some amazing friends in the houseparents at the childrens' particular Etna & Mark We are grateful and honored to meet such devoted and loving people.

After a beautiful goodbye ceremony full of song and speeches of gratitude, we are dizzy with happiness and the message from a people who have hope to change their conditions for the better. They expressed thanks to us, and all I keep thinking is how much they have given us.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

the circle of life

Sharon our nurse was called in the middle of the night that a baby was being born. We got her an escort and she was on her way. Shortly, after 2am Sharon returned. Quiet. We found out later that the mother and child had to be taken out by ambulance and possibly at this time the mother had lost alot of blood and that the baby may be still born. It deeply effected this community. Many people were up 36 hours in an attempt to save these lives. It is met with deep sorrow that this child did not make and the mother was in surgery for several hours. Once again, if they would have been in the United Staes this would have probably been a uncomplicated c-section. It is a part of life here.
I told you about Rose and her entry in heaven on Sunday morning. Rose was one of the first patients to come to the LivingRoom and George came to the LivingRoom to die and today he is well enough to go home. Mixed so closely with sorrow is happiness. For Goerge is able to go back home. Because this community has decided to step and take care of the people who are given less than what is left. This to me shows the true heart and soul of a community not only are they there for the young but for their elderly and sick and dying.
It has been an unbelieveable adventure--this team has given 200% and with the last couple of days near, they barely rest. I have heard over and over how this team and the teams I have brought in the past have been organized and ready to move. They can't believe the things we get done in such a short amount of time. To this team--Hip Hip Hooray!!!!!

Just to check--We brought dental equipment--tools, handpieces,suction,gause,fillings, etc. We brought 5 individual chlorinators to teach out reach in the community, 1 industrial chlorinator for the clinic, optometry equipment--transition lenses, tint tank, pupilometer, dolls for the school the clinic and the living room--these children come into the clinic with burns or cancer and receive an angel of comfort doll. A pen pal program between Prairie schools and Chabiaywa schools. A huge thank you to Lauren and Marcus Cannon--they took this to the limit--all the letters were treated with such care by each child that received a letter. Nothing can touch you deeper than a child thought to be forgotten receives mail from a kindred spirit across the pond!!! One of the most spectacular sites was the incredible team of Carolyn and Jen and the women of Chabiaywa. 80 quilting kits taken over--all dispensed--they made 4 quilts and the women donated them to the Living Room. You could see women under trees, waiting for their spouse or friend to walk and they would be working on their quilt. All of the women talked about the class---HEY to the ladies in Iowa City for preparing the quilts. To Jen and Carolyn--I will never do battle with needles again. We might lose an eye--JOB SECURITY!!!!!!! Brought quilts,blankets,fitted sheets,scrubs,hospital gowns--children and adult. Wound care preps and soaker pads. Computer--6 of them to start a computer lab for education. And finally the smuggling in of the the six garden hoes, 2 shovel/picks,8 pick/hoes. Because the landscaping of the the Living Room--I deeply appreciate the whole team but especially--Mother Nature and Jims---Joan and Jim Chalupsky--we put in 6 pallets of pavers, 3 loads of sand, 50 trees, 100 of flowers--so approximately 200 plants, a tressel at the end of the walk, a stone wall, 2 additional pathways for benches. And an awesome amount of love and affection for the people of Kenya---And Joan and Jim did not think they would have anything to offer:)

Off for now will blog again tomorrow--getting ready to say good-bye to our family in Chabiaywa--then to Iowa.

Dr. Fitzgerald

Dental Chair and the clinic

Hello Everyone
I know that some of the team is on Tuesday but I am only on Monday:) Today, early we are off to the clinic. I have a couple of patients to see and then to talk with the staff. Jeremiah, the dentist is the Kenya twin of Dr. Bessler:) Meant with deep affection. He is very good at what he is doing and very maticulate. He is doing mostly teeth extraction with 2 filling per day. I think he is doing very well.. For me I notice that the teeth in the village have a different glow!!! They definetly are doing better with teeth care.. Surprising many of the patients anymore do not want their pictures taken but we were able to get several. Jeremiah is very happy with the chair and the new equipment, I believe he sees about 8-10 patients per day with 2 of those being more complicated. Clean water has ensured the safety of the staff person and the safety of the patient. A picture of the well that was near the clinic last year was always full of children getting water. It was badly contaminated, so much so the water sample turned black immediately. Because of the water at the clinic and in the community school. The children spend less time searching for water and less time in the clinic being sick.. With the chlorinator being put on the system, it will better ensure that Jeremiah and the rest of the clinic will be in greater safety of any type of wound exposure. In addition, typhoid is still a problem that is greatly reduced with clean water but possibly irradicated with the introduction of the chlorination.
So to Dr. Bessler and her team of friends and family and staff--GREAT JOB!!! You all have had a great effect on this community. And although you all have not met them--they are eternally grateful for the dental chair, the books and hand tools that have made their way over here.
As you all might know even in American, we may never know who we touch as we walk together in this life. In Kenya, rest assured that you all have changed the lives of many women, men and especially the children. Because of you the next President of Kenya or teacher to get the Noble prize or the engineer that invents the green opportunity may have been this child that at some point in time thought they had beeen forgotten and that no one would know them or care. And yet all of you half way around the world have changed the world. Hope has been restored in this community because the tireless efforts of many in Cedar Rapids, Ia. Once again--A single idea, a single action can and DOES move the world in an unbelievable way.
May God bless us all to live with compassion for our brother and sister every day. And to step up when we see our brothers and sisters in pain. Let's walk together to end the suffering--- one tooth pulled at a time with anesthetic---Thank you to Dr. Bessler, staff, family and friends--A job well done:)
Dr. Fitzgerald

It's a 10

Hey Everyone,

Every Tuesday the villagers can bring there cows to get them dip to kill the ticks. The ticks here can kill the cows. It was a blast to watch, some of the cows were not very happy about the process and were very vocal about it. Some of the cows did flying jumps all 4 legs sticking straight, others tried to refuse to no avail. All the cows got dipped. It was chilly, you could see the steam coming off there backs. I think I got some good pictures so look for the cow dipping calender for 2012.

Todays projects started out with quilting and quickly became a day of plumbing. After two trips to town we finally started laying out the pipes for the chlorine injector for the clinic today. We made good progress and the plan is to have up and working before the clinic opens tomorrow. So, Fitz, Carolyn and I will be up at the clinic by 7 am.

Good night all,

Chlorine almost complete

Thechlorine generator is nearly complete. That means good drinking water at the clinic for patients and staff. Two very clever gentlemen assisted with the piping and tomorrow we will finish all the hook ups. It seemed like a long day for villagers and visitors. Lots of projects are finishing up. The second morning of quilting was another success. I hade 18 new quilters and 26 women from yesterday came and worked on their quilts. It was wonderful to listen to all the women sit and chitty chat and gab about what was happening in their lives.

So tomorrow is the last day and if I think about it at all I will surely burst into tears. I really now understand how people come to love this place.

But tomorrow also brings a shower so I will be in the best of spirits despite seeing the completion of your journey here.

As always, love to all of you in the states.


Tuesday is a great day in Kenya

There have been many events in my life that I consider life-changing. There is no way to describe, once again, the events of the day and the beauty of these people and their country.
We started the day at sunrise witnessing my 1st ever "Cow Dipping" experience.
Please ask me later. It was like no other farm experience I have seen :)

Mark and I then took off for our morning of "Home visits". These are people in the community who have been tested HIV positive and were in dire need of care and attention. What a blessing Julie and ELI, as well as the clinic have been established here. They are now receiving proper medications and can live out their days in great care. They certainly live in the most meager of homes, but are happy and grateful to be alive. Their attitude about life was an inspiration to me. I thought I left the US to come offer something to these Kenyans, and instead it is me who is receiving the gifts.

Later in the day we visited the school to deliver the pen pal letters to the school children. Their happy smiling faces: priceless. After receiving their letters, they would rush back to their desks to pour over their messages from far far away (CR Prairie students).

Our evening was spent visiting the children's home to once again, witness joy and gratitude from 97 children living in adoptive care from 4 families. If there is a God, he lives here.

Thanks to all of you for all of your support for these people. They are in the utmost appreciation and gratitude.


Monday, January 17, 2011

Three days blessed

Hello Everyone

Today was a day to get some new projects started. Carolyn and I taught 44 lovely women about quilting. (To be honest I think some of them are much better then I at stiching) The ladies all seemed to have fun, they were talking and laughing, maybe at us I didn't understand anything they were saying. I don't think they understood anything I said either. I brought a small sample of a quilt to show them a finished product, and I was showing it to a couple of the women while they waited for something to sew and I made the comment "It is a blankent for a mouse" one of the ladies chuckled the other just looked at me, then she said something with the word mouse, there was a reply and then the woman chuckled. The 3 blankets that were made were all given to the Livingroom. The women all got to take a quilting kit home for themselves. When we were on our way home from the school there was a woman sitting under a tree working on the quilt kit she got.

After lunch Lauren, Mark, Carolyn and I went to the school with Michelle to give pen pal letters to two of the classes. I was taking pictures of the Children and kids are kids no matter where you are. I had kids that didn't want to get there picture taken, kids that were shy, kids that would not smile. It was great fun.

We were walking back from the school we were all talking about stopping a this little shop to get a coke and I offered to buy. When we got to the shop it was closed so we were out of luck. Mark Carolyn and I went to the build site for the living center to get the rest of the team. So, Lauren took my camera back because it looked like rain. So, we get back and Mark shows up at our door a little later with my camera and a ice cold coke, he does this little dance showing off his coke, do you think he offered to share? I think not.

Night all,

Sunday afternoon bumps into Monday

Hello everyone
After 3 hours of church and all I can say if all of church was this lively with singing and dancing there would be alot greater attendance:) They honored the team and it was very nice. We went to lunch and in our sunday best--I forgot other clothes--I was loading sand to wheel barrels, wheeling the wheel barrels and lastly on my hands and knees placing pavers while Jen and Sharon came up the back to level. I love work but the skirt has to go!! The comment has been they did not know that white people could work so hard. Or just to work. It comes originally with the British colony existence and the Brits would sit on the horse and bark orders. Kind of interesting.
Today was fabulous. Carolyn and Jen did an absolutely spectacular job of hosting a quilting bee. Forty-five women came for their class. As a group, they made 4 quilts in 4 hours. The quilts were presented to the LivingRoom to Juli. The women absolutely enjoyed presenting the quilts to Juli. Several of the women knew how to sew and several women did not. All of the women were given a quilt to take with them. After lunch, you could walk near the clinic, the livingRoom and on the road waiting--quilting. It was awesome!!
We had dinner with the engineer in charge of the World Bank project. Very nice man he has already been hear 3 months he is of Induan decent but I don't know if he is Kenyan.
Julius, our locally trained optometrist/optian came for me during the quilting bee and needed me to see a patient. The patient came to the clinic, he had just fallen into a thistle bush and one was lodged in his eye. I came into the clinic and he was patiently waiting. I could seee the thorn, saw point of entry but it had gone completely under the conjunctiva. Part of the problem, is I could not find the point of the thistle and in addition we did not have the best twizzers. Totally emerged in the conjuctiva and no ability to look in retina because he had a fairly advanced cataract. I had to refer him to the hospital. I felt bad, but if it penetrated the sclera it would be more difficult. No ambulance but we were able ot get a Piki Piki (motorcycle) to take him to the bus and gho to the hospital. I did not want to get into something and then be unable to shore it up. The conjuctiva is very vascular and if I had used a 25 gauge needle and tease it out, there would have been alot of blood. Bummer--but I am sure we got him good care. We paid for his transportation and the clinic call. His employer will reimburse him and he will pay the clinic in Chibyiwa. I started him on Vigamox that we brought in and that was helping with some of the inflammation.

Quilting a Huge Success

The first day of quilting was awesome. Tomorrow we are offering a second morning of instruction. We met in the church which has dirt floors and mud walls and also is still under construction. So on top of the language barrier, I had to contend with all sorts of banging and building noises. But I learned the Swahili words for for needle, thread, sew and square. The word row was far better understood than column. Three quilts were completed and donated to the Living Room which is the hospit care center near the church. All three were mizura-sana which means very good or beautiful.

Total attendance was 44 women from the village, three babies and two lizards. Tomorrow we will probably see some new faces and many of the women from today are coming back to work on their own quilts. Walking home late afternoon we found three women under a tree working on their bright colored quilts. Everyone is so proud of their handy work and so thankful for the material.

I must move on now. Showers are few and far between and my number has just been called.

Quilts in the morning and chlorinators in the afternoonb.

Love to all those stateside.

Momma Mazzu
AKA Queen Bee of the Quilts

Visiting the School

Today we continued the work on the "living room" and then we separated powers for the afternoon. A few people stayed at the living room to keep the progress of the landscaping on track while Lauren, Jennifer, Carolyn and I went to the public school.

Our mission at the public school was to set up a pen-pal conversation between the school here in Kipkarren with a school in the Cedar Rapids area. We handed out some hand-written letters from children in Cedar Rapids to students here in the public school. Were recorded the students names from Kipkaren and at Cedar Rapids and we took a picture of the Kenyan students so that the Cedar Rapids children can see the face of their pen-pal.

The entire event in the school was amazing, as have most all of the experiences here on the other side of the world. Watching the eyes of all these children light up when they saw us and then watching their enjoyment at reaching into their envelope and pulling out a letter for them was just incredible. They were tripping over each other to get in line and get their letter.

The reality check of this mission was seeing all the different ages of the children in the different classes. It reminded me of the stories of the one roomm school houses I read about growing up. There were 8 year olds in the same class as 14 year olds. Some of the children were unable to even go to school at a younger age, so they were beginning late. It was both sad and joyful to see this because it demonstrated the poverty (the major reason the children couldn't attend school at an earlier age) but also the sense of community where no one judges you baased on your age. they don't ostrasize you for being different.

It also made me see how spoiled we are as a nation becaue their classrooms are CRAMMED to the walls with students. Desks were made out of wood that looked like broken pallets, there were 3 people sharing a desk that looked only big enough for 1 person, and the building was just a concrete building with a steel roof. Yet they didn't care. The children were all glowing with joy and it was infectious.

~ Markus

Sunday worship

Hello Everyone
After breakfast on Sunday we all headed to church which is just down from the clinic. We had an unfortunate time as one of the first patients had passed away around 8am Sunday. Very sad for the family and the community she was 35, and leaves two children 10 and 12. The Living Room is one of the only hospice in Kenya that will be serving adults as well as children. Even the Kenyan government does not recognize the need and existence of a hospice like facility. So it was very sad, but led more determination for this team to understand the importance of what they are doing. In the service, we honored Rose's passing as a blessing and the end of her suffering and standing with her saviour. We ,on the team, all got to met Rose. God bless everyone in the world with this need and the celebration of life hereafter.
That afternoon, I had an opportunity to meet with a professor from Moi university. Very nice honor. They presented my team and I with gifts. We had a great brainstorming session about the clinic, the water and the great changes it has made and the future of those changes.
Then down to the worksite we went. Not thinking we would do much than work out all the details. We moved to truck loads of sand and began the pavers for the walkway for the hospice, the LivingRoom. We worked until the rain began, which right around 6:30pm. We quickly placed tarps over the sand that did not have pavers to save from flooding. The rain is considered a blessing and in that case this is a very blessed place and a very blessed project.
Hope all is well with everyone I will blog later day. Much to say. Kwaheri(goodbye for now:)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

2 days of spiritual awakening

One really cannot sum up the entire experience of being in Kipakaren among these beautiful people in a blog.
The people of this village are very caring of each other and of all their visitors. We have been welcomed into the homes of some of the members of the village for dinner and for lunch and we have also been the guests of honor at the church service this Sunday.
I don't say this lightly when I say that I am literally blown away by the sense of community here and looking out for one another and supporting each other's effort. So much of this experience reminds me of growing up in the midwest and has shown me how much times have really changed even in Mid-West America. The respect they show for each other is really a blessing and a salient reminder of how we could all live life differently if we choose to do so.
We have been making a lot of progress on the landscaping of the "Living Room" ( a hospice service being provided to the community ). We have built a wall, planted hundreds of plants, and are now installing the paver walkway to the garden area. What we have learned is that the project is less about the work and more about the working together. We learn as much from them as they learn from us.

~ Markus Cannon

Salutations from Momma Mazzu

Another beautiful day in Kipkaren. Three hours of singing and praise at church yesterday. Then time spent on preparing the chlorine generator for the clinic. A scruffy dog by the name of Mazzu has adopted the team and follows us everywhere. I identify with his name. Mazzu means "Iwas on my way somewhere and instead ended up here". I have tendencies to be distraacted by all the beauty of the land, the people and the nature that surrounds us everyday here. Quilty for this morning and tomorrow as well. Afternoon is for chlorine and the clean water. I think of each of you that has given your support and warm thoughts.

AKA Momma Mazzu

Sunday in Kipkaren

Sunday in Kipkaren is a day full of magic and joy. We started the day walking to the clinic site and current Living Room site. They sadly suffered a loss as one of their residents passed..a beautiful woman whose last days on this earth were spent with people who care and love her.
Our 3 hours in church seemed like minutes. There was lots of singing and dancing, and the children were enchanting and full of praise and hope.
The sermon was focused on "how prepared are you"? Very fitting. I've never witnessed such intense praise in a humble church with dirt floors. I cried with joy for much hope when they need so much.

After church we headed back to the project where we started the walkway for the residents. It was quick work with all the help. Even local community members walked over to see what was going on and picked up hoes to help. A late afternoon rainstorm sent us running and giggling.

It is truly a beautiful land with incredible people. It is an honor to be here and serve them.


From Joan:)

Glad we came to one of the most beautiful places on earth. The people, the scenery, the projects are all very exciting. Very genuine and welcoming people. Because of there hard work and helpfulness our project will be a success. Great team we came with. So much to do here, one visit is just a start.

Here's Jim with his comments:
The project is going well. The people are more than willing to do their part and truly genuine and very obliging workers. The people here are absolutely beautiful. Having a great time. The weather is beautiful! WE're gonna "get-er-done"!
-Jim H2-Hoe

Sunday Church

Sunday morning started early, we got up to watch the sunrise, it was beautiful. While we were there some kids joined us, there must have been 12 or 15 kids by the time we left. We started taking pictures of them and showing them to them and they would just giggle at each others pictures. It was great to see them smile.

We went to church today, service went from 10am to 1pm. The music was up beat and the speakers were all very enthusiastic.

Carolyn and I started working out how to in stall the clorine injector, we have a plan and we will be working with William on this project. The Living room flower garden is coming along great. We have gotten rain both days while working on it, this project is doubly blessed.


Sunrise at 6am Sunday

Good morning
The team arose about 5:30am and were met by Michelle and William to be taken to the view of the valley and the sunrise over what they call "Hide Rock". We drove into someones's back yard and parked and walked up the side. The sun had just become to rise herself. Thinking that we would be alone, we were just a few minutes later greeted by at least a dozen children. Before the sun came up we were taking their pictures and showing them the lde screen. Some of them shied away, a couple were brave and looked and then would giggle and laugh and point on the scrren. Perhaps it was the firsrt time they have ever seen themselves in a reflection, mirror or picture. The sun rose with no disappointment just enough clouds in the sky to view a very majestic Sunrise!!
Then it was breakfast which was lovely. And then Pastor Peter was kind enough to walk with us to church. We crossed the creek without anyone falling in including me!! Normally, I get to thinking about the next rock to land on and miss step the one I am on then wouldn't you know it I am in the Kipkaren River!!
The path that I have walked to clinic so many times is now changed due to the World Bank being contracted to get water from the Kipkaren River, laod it travel it to a different area were it will be cleaned and then distributed to mainly the Kipkaren town. The challenge for our village more known as Chiebywa will not be receiving any of this water. The foreman of the project has brrn in contact with a group from Chiebywa and is attempting to write a proposal to have this community to continue to get clean water. Would be a shame that this project is on Chiebywa land and could possible not serve anyone in this community. We will hope and pray that the project manager will be able to influence the project to stay in this community as well.
As for the well we put in by the clinic, it serves the clinic, and then runs to the children's community school and serves 600 children. The clinic has noticed a drop in sickness from the children and the parents have noticed the children thriving in a different fashion. Clean water is absolutely the answer to the immediate need. Anyone who can buy the pipe to the well can hook in. The clinic well was dug to 240 feet. For days the water was a sluggy grey they must have bore through stone for several feet. So then within 2 weeks, the water was clear!!
This well produces easlily 5000 gallons/day. When the holding tanks are full, of course the well is turned off to conserve electricity. Livingrooms well produces 7000 gallons!! Impressive.
Clean water has greatly changed this community and the healthcare concerns. Still several challenges but met with greater hope.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

I went to a garden party but ricky nelson wasn't there

Hi Everyone

What an incredible day!! Beautiful with energy swirling. Carolyn and Jen,our water team, went to the clinic in the morning to do water samples they take 2-3 days to show results. The rest of the team headed to the new site for the LivingRoom and started to map out where all the beautiful plants, trees and shrubs. Then Jims, this is what the Kenyans call him,and I went to town to pay pavers, concrete and buckets for the water portion. No easy feat. Things just take a little longer.
On the way to town, the main road that we are on is up for reconstruction, we passed by the hiring site and there where 10,000 people waiting in line to ber hired. Unfortunately, they will only hire 6,000. The risk is that 70% of Kenyans are out of work. The average Kenyan lives on $1/day. This does not come each day, they may get a job but be unemployed for days to months.
Once we got to town it was a journey to get the things we needed. There is a bit of a language barrier they are meters and we are in feet. So a simple discussion here was a much longer conversation. And all the businesses at 1pm, close for an hour for lunch.
We got all we needed and headed home. It is Saturday here so to get the pavers delivered was a chore. But they would try.
We got back to the Living Room at 3:15pm. The area had already been transformed. All the people working planting, building a stone wall, digging the path for the pavers. It was now 5pm and the paver were on their way and it began to rain. Rain is God's blessing to the Kenyans. So as we waiting in the jeep the lorrie came with the bricks. And ther we were Kenyans and Iowans creating a line and we all together single brick by brick emptied that lorrie that contained 40 cubic meters!! Took about 1 and 1/2 hours. Job well done!
2.1 billion people are without basic sanitation --1 billion people without water. 42% Kenyans are without drinkable water. But that number has changed and today with this team we can make a difference.
Have a great day!!

Building a bridge....I mean, wall

Antother amazing day in Kipkaren. This morning we all woke up at about 3am wondering: why can't we sleep?!? Oh, yeah, it's 9am back home.

The day was fast and furious and full of action!

We arrived at the new Living Room site where the plants and rocks were ready for planting. The goal: to create the outdoor plantings/retaining walls for the hospice residents who hope to move in very early this year. Working with the local Kenyans was an incredible experience. They were insanely focused and some of the hardest workers I've ever seen. Mind you, this is in blazing sun and on little food and water, it any. A few of the workers would sneak away to visit the gardening water hose (thanks to Spanda Inc and ELI this community now has a well to supply them with this water), and get a refreshing drink.

We planted roses, hibiscus, daisies, and many other beautiful Kenyan varietal plants, build a stone retaining wall, and unloaded a ton (literally) of paver bricks to build the wheelchair/walking path for the residents. Again, I am in awe of the local Kenyan team and our Iowan team. I am blessed to be here and can't wait to see what tomorrow brings. These people are amazing.

ps. Dr. Fitz--get some sleep!