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Here is the audio of a radio interview that I did with CBC Radio’s Island Morning about our trip to Kenya.
https://youtu.be/SUI1M8W05yo

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I’ve also added more videos, including some of the highlights from our safari.
Here is our sighting of the leopard!  Plus some other big cats.  Don’t worry…this is the G- rated version.  No lion love!

https://youtu.be/m5ZwKi2gUJU

If you are on P.E.I., we hope you will join members of the Youth Tour at the upcoming Farmers Helping Farmers Annual Beef Barbeque.  It’s Saturday August 8th at the Harrington Research Station, 1200 Brackley Point Road, from 4:00-6:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 for adults, $10 for kids 12 and under.  It’s a fantastic feast and THIS IS THE BIGGEST FUNDRAISER OF THE YEAR for Farmers Helping Farmers.  The money raised at the barbeque will support all of the great projects in Kenya that you have seen in our blog posts.

Asante, Nancy

Lending a Hand in Kenya

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Here’s a story I’ve written about our trip.

You can check out all of the videos from our trip on my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTHArZUJGXIs_eAczslBufw

Asante, Nancy

Lending a Hand in Kenya

   Ten young Islanders have just spent two weeks in July following in the footsteps of a group of P.E.I. farmers who first travelled to Kenya 35 years ago.  And along the way, they’re taking part in a number of projects connected to Farmers Helping Farmers.  The P.E.I. Kenya Youth Tour 2015 is part of the 35th anniversary celebrations of the Island-based group.

   The youth group landed in Nairobi on July 9th.  Over their two weeks in Kenya, they spent several days with Kenyan teens at Buuri Secondary School.  Shortly after arriving, the visitors joined their hosts for a special “Games Day” featuring a variety of events from soccer and volleyball, to sack races and track events.  The Buuri students won most of the events, but the Canadians were the winners of the Tug of War!  While at Buuri, theyouth got a chance to mingle and ask questions about life in each other’s country. 

  Each youth participant contributed $500 towards projects in Kenya through Farmers Helping Farmers.  The P.E.I. visitors dug in, literally, at two schools that have just been twinned with schools in Canada.  The youth helped to plant gardens at Michaka Elementary and the Naari Girls School. The vegetables grown in the gardens will be added to the school lunch program.   The Islanders visited the Kenyan pupils in their classes – and there was even a game of “football” at Michaka.

    The Island youth also learned more about the work that Farmers Helping Farmers has done with rural dairy farmers and visited a couple of dairy “shambas” or farms, along with vet students from UPEI.  A couple of the group were even brave enough to put on a long glove and perform an exam on a Kenyan cow, with guidance from the vets.

    Many of the Island youth delegation come from farming backgrounds, giving them a natural connection to those projects.  Seventeen-year-old Daniel Whalen lives on a farm in Vernon River.  Whalen’s mother, Janice, is a past president of Farmers Helping Farmers and has travelled to Kenya. She also lived in Ghana for a year.

   “If you ever have the opportunity to go on a trip like this one, do it,” says Whalen. “It was an amazing experience and my knowledge and understanding of the world has grown tremendously.”

   Kelsey MacLean, 17, also has a connection to Farmers Helping Farmers.  She has also been involved in a twinning project through Kensington United Church.  The Sunday School at the church has been twinned with Kamuketha School for seven years.  MacLean was excited to finally meet the pupils there in person.  She even got to dance with the mothers of the students as part of a welcoming ceremony at the school.

   “Going to Kamuketha after hearing about it for so long was amazing,” says MacLean. “The students were welcoming and the ceremony was truly wonderful and very energetic.”

   Tammy Craig has a very personal reason to want to visit Kenya. She’s a teacher at Three Oaks High School in Summerside and the co-coordinator of the trip.  For the last six years, her school has been twinned with Buuri Secondary School.  Craig organizes a successful fundraising run every fall for Farmers Helping Farmers.   

   “Our Kenyan adventure exceeded all of my expectations,” reflects Craig. “Getting to see all the accomplishments Farmers Helping Farmers has achieved alongside the people of Kenya was extremely inspiring.”

   “As we visited schools, talked to students and worked beside the women in Kenya, we discovered the huge impact that water tanks, screenhouse gardens, solar lights and classrooms have made,” continues Craig.

   “The lives of the people we met have improved most significantly through the opportunity to educate their children,” says Craig.  “As a teacher, I was overwhelmed by the value each person placed on education.”

    Cara DeCoste is the other coordinator of the trip. As of September, she’s the school counsellor at Three Oaks.  She and Tammy Craig also participated in two youth trips to Ecuador.

   “The youth on our Kenya trip made us and all Islanders proud,” says DeCoste. “They worked hard, relished opportunities to converse with Kenyan students and freely shared their thoughts, opinions and what they learned.”

   Members of the Youth Tour will be visiting schools and community groups in the fall, sharing their experiences in Kenya.

The other youth participants on the tour are: Kelly Green, Rachel Vanderkloet, John Ployer, Carmelita Roberts, Tessa Craig, Tristan Russell MacLean, Sadie Milner and Taylor Larsen.  The other adult participants are Carolyn Francis, Peter Cudmore and Nancy Russell.

A Few More Farewell Photos

Here are a few more photos from our final day in Kenya.  I have finally been able to get them off my camera.  On our way back to Nairobi, we stopped to tour a shamba where they were growing coffee, as well as raising dairy cows.  This is home base for Dr. Shauna Richards this summer. She’s doing PhD research on dairy cows, and is also a board member of Farmers Helping Farmers.  There are also a few more final hugs with our friends in Kenya!  We miss you Catherine, George and David and Jennifer!

Asante for all!

Nancy

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One Final Post from Kenya

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Here, as promised, are some “behind the scenes” observations to go with some of the photos I posted earlier.

We hope you can join members of the P.E.I. Kenya Youth Tour at the Farmers Helping Farmers Annual Beef Barbeque on Saturday August 8th between 4:00 and 6:30 p.m.  We will also be participating in the Gold Cup and Saucer Parade, on Friday August 21st!  We hope you will come out and cheer us on.

Here now is my last post from Kenya:

As we wrap up our time in Kenya, I wanted to share some of the other experiences we have been having here.  This is my kind of “behind the scenes” look at our trip.

It has been interesting to travel in a group like this – with ten youth and five adults.  We are all from very different backgrounds but have come together to share this great adventure in Kenya.

Or not quite together.  We are in fact two very unique teams – Team George and Team David!

George and David are our two drivers, and they are both fantastic.  They are both employees of Sportsmen’s Safari, which has handled many of the arrangements for our trip.

A “rivalry” has developed between our two teams.  The guys (and Sadie,Rachel and Cara) are on Team David.  And the rest of us are on Team George.  They would argue that Team David is faster.  To which we would respond that we are better!

All kidding aside, it has been great having George and David with us on the trip and we will miss them!

Continuing on the subject of driving, I can tell you that every trip in the Combi is full of sights and sounds.  Driving along the streets of Meru is a visual explosion of colour…and stuff for sale!  There are pedestrians walking onto the street everywhere, dodging cars and the legions of taxi vans that transport people throughout the area, because very few people can afford a car.  Then there are the boda bodas, or motorcycles.  And then throw in a donkey or two.  And believe me, the donkeys have the right of way.  Even in the main part of the city, there are goats and cows tied up grazing along the side of the road.

We are often calling out the names of favourite stores – such as “Juggle Man’s Guru Shop”, “Cock and Coin”, “Paradise Beauty Salon” (beside the local prison) and “God’s Favour Butcher”.  In fact, there are a LOT of butchers in Meru.  And many of them seem to be combined – butchery and hotel.  Our favourite is “Fabulous Butchery and Hotel” and a store called “Decent Furniture”.

On the subject of signs, we say some great ones driving to Meru from Nairobi.  The group favourite: “Welcome to the Flying Church”.  Not sure what that means!

Most of the time, we head out of Meru towards the Kiirua area, with the elephant crossing on the way in and out of town.  The rural countryside is fascinating – with roadside vegetable stands popping up everywhere.  They sell potatoes in plastic pails, stacked in a pyramid shape.   There are pumpkins and bags of charcoal.  There are often women along the roadside as well, collecting firewood in the ditches.  They then strap it on their backs and we watch them making their way back to their homes.  The further out in the country we get, the more oxen carts and donkey carts we see.  And there is always a steady stream of kids in school uniforms, walking to and from schools.

Once we get off the tarmac, or pavement, the roads become dusty or rocky, or both!  We may have needed the Combis for the safari, but they also come in handy on the average Kenyan rural road.  You have to keep the windows closed, and even so, we usually get back to the guesthouse feeling as if we’re coated in dust!  Some of the roads are reddish, like P.E.I.  But there is also volcanic rock in many places…lots of it.

Another thing about rural Kenya are the …ummm…washrooms.  We have become experts, more or less, in using pit latrines or “squats” as they call them.  It’s always good to bring your own supply of toilet paper.  But because most places we were visiting knew we were coming, their facilities were well-stocked.

The guesthouse in Meru has been our “home away from home” for the last two weeks.  It was built by the Methodist church, which is very popular in Meru.   We are the first group to officially stay here and we are giving it a big thumbs up.   Our cook here, Catherine, has been keeping us well fed, including our favourite – mokemo – which is mashed potatoes and cooking bananas.  We have also been having a lot of fresh fruit – and eggs from the chickens that are kept here in the compound.

One night at the guesthouse, a group of Americans doing mission work in Meru and also staying at the guesthouse made pasta for us.  We reciprocated with a fancy pancake breakfast one morning.

In the evenings, Tammy and Cara lead the youth through activities that help them reflect on the trip and the experiences they are having.  Some are fun.  Others are thought –provoking.  There was an interesting one on guilt versus gratitude that made a big impact.  They have done a great job of helping everyone in the group to process our experiences here in Kenya.

Then, there are the card games!  Along with charades, that has been our nightly entertainment for the last 2 weeks.  In fact, we were at Jennifer’s the other night and she turned on the TV.  I realized that I hadn’t seen a television for two weeks!  It was kind of a shock.

Our group loves to play cards…from cribbage, to Cheat, to something called Wizards.  It’s a good way to unwind after a busy day!

Another of our favourite games while travelling is a Scavenger Hunt.  You can see some pretty crazy things while driving along in Kenya…including camels, men hammering rocks on the side of the road, bags of sugar cane and many other delicacies.  But one of our favourites on the Scavenger Hunt was looking for four people on a Boda-boda, or motorcycle.  Even better was when we saw five!  (I kid you not.)  We even started a little game, where we all had to take a drink of water every time we passed a boda-boda with four or more people.  It’s a good way to stay hydrated in Kenya!

I should also mention one of the unique aspects of the guest house.  The main floor has the kitchen and dining area and our bedrooms are on the second floor.  There is also a third floor that is…under development.  It allows access to the roof and I’m told the view from there is great.  There is a photo below of the mountain view from the roof.  I’m not telling where it came from!

I mentioned our drivers, George and David, earlier.  We are also going to miss our Farmers Helping Farmers employees here in Kenya – Stephen Mwenda, Salome and Gikundi.  They have all been part of our journey here.   We all met Mwenda at our very first meeting because he was on P.E.I. last summer , training with Charlie VanKampen.  We have also gotten to know Salome and Gikundi who have accompanied us on many of our day trips.  We will miss them all!

Stephen Mwenda is getting married this fall and he and his fiancée came to our Sunday dinner at Jennifer’s house.  Carolyn presented him with a wedding gift from his Farmers Helping Farmers family in Canada!  He and Caroline were very touched by the gesture.  They and Jennifer sang a song of appreciation.  It was a great moment!

Ah yes, and then there is Jennifer Murogocho, or Mama Jennifer as the youth were told to call her.  And now they know why!  She is truly the mother to all of the Canadians who come to work in this part of Kenya through Farmers Helping Farmers, UPEI and the Atlantic Veterinary College.  She is our “go to” person.  “Check it with Jennifer” is a common phrase.  And she knows how to get things done!

As I mentioned, she is a member of the assembly, the equivalent of an MLA on P.E.I.  She is also studying Public Policy right now at university, along with a diploma in Community Development at college, and we are here right in the middle of her exams!  But nothing seems to stop Jennifer.  She has been with us on our school visits, translating for parents and leading us in every dance!  She has hosted us at her home and taught us how to make githeri (stew) and chapati. (like tortillas)  She smiles and laughs and keeps everything running smoothly.  Jennifer is unique and we are blessed to have her working with Farmers Helping Farmers and with the Youth Tour!  She has said she will come visit us next summer and we can’t wait.

Asante sana to all who were part of our journey!

Nancy

VIDEO – Dancing at Buuri Church Service

I have now started posting some videos to YouTube.  Eventually they will all be moved to the Farmers Helping Farmers YouTube channel.  Until then, enjoy!

Dancing at Buuri
https://youtu.be/k4m9S9005yE

Elephant Orphanage:

This was our first visit in Kenya. The elephants have been orphaned for a variety of reasons, including poachers. Other than a one hour display daily, they are kept with wild elephants. Once they are four, they are re-introduced to their original habitat.

https://youtu.be/Mf_Tvwam-Po

Rural Kenya

The post below was about the streets of Meru.  The rural countryside is also a dazzling array of colour and activity.  Here are a few photos, including a glimpse of the squat latrines. Using one of these is an art unto itself!  You may think you’re getting good at using them….but it takes constant practice.

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The Streets of Meru

Driving through the streets of Meru is always entertaining.  We are always on the look-out for great names of stores.  And in Kenya, there are interesting combinations:  like God’s Favour Butchery and Hotel.  (This is a frequent combo!)

Here’s a glimpse of the streets of Meru, including the Nakumatt…which is the Walmart of Kenya!

P.S.  Donkeys always have the right of way!

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A Few More Reflections – including Photos of our FHF Team in Kenya!

The plan of getting a few more youth blog posts didn’t work out.  So you’re stuck with me!  I have a blog post called “Behind the Scenes in Kenya” written and ready to go. But right now, it’s a bit like a piece of lost luggage!  When I track it down, I will post it.

Until then, here are some photos to go with the post.  Besides what we did on the “official tour”, we also saw so much more.  These photos are designed to give you a sense of what Kenya looks like, in Meru and in the rural areas.  There are also photos of our Farmers Helping Farmers friends:  Jennifer, Stephen Mwenda, Salome and Gikundi.

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Breakfast in Brussels

So far so good on our trip back to Canada.   The Brussels Airways flight from Nairobi to Brussels was full. So there was no room to stretch out.   We’re hoping for a bit more space on our Brussels Montreal leg of the trip.   But it’s all good!  We left Meru at 8:30 yesterday morning so we are now 24 hours into our travels and feeling a bit smelly!  I  have heard lots if talk about long hot showers when we finally make it all the way home.  And be prepared for some unusual food requests.  That’s all I’m saying.  I’ll check in again from Montreal.

Wish us a bon voyage!

Asante Nancy

Boarding in Nairobi

We are boarding our flight to Brussels on Brussels Air.   We’re hoping for a good night’s sleep as we start our long journey home.  We have been talking about how much we will miss Kenya. …and especially the people we have met.  It was hard to say goodbye to David and George!   They’ve been with us every day for 2 weeks.   I think they were even a bit teary as we hugged them goodbye.

Asante Sana Kenya!

Nancy