KENYA/USA CHRISTIAN RELIEF & DEVELOPMENT, INC.

THE FULL STORY OF THE KENYA MISSION 2004 (By Cathryn Weiss)

March 12-13, 2004
Today has been amazing! We were met at the airport by everyone imaginable. The KUSARD team in Kenya, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), and Simon's family could not wait to greet us. They have been preparing for us for a long time and we were finally there - in Africa.
It was so exciting and so much to take in. Their extension of hospitality was extremely warm and welcoming. When we got out of the airport and out into the parking lot we were introduced to everyone. CRS gave us bright yellow baseball caps and Fr. Daniel gave us shirts with all the different Swahili phrases on it. After the introductions by the different organizations that we would be involved with while we stayed in Kenya we went to the Panafric Hotel to freshen up.

After a warm shower and changing into clean clothes we were all set to start an adventurous mission trip in Kenya. One that we knew would be full of surprises and a lot of first experiences.
AT NAIROBI ANIMAL ORPHANAGEAT NAIROBI ANIMAL ORPHANAGEAT NAIROBI ANIMAL ORPHANAGEVISITED THE MASAAI VILLAGE
We went to the Nairobi National Park for sightseeing and lunch at Ranger's Restaurant. We all had an enjoyable lunch and got to know the African Hospitality Holidays team. After lunch we walked around the park and visited the animal orphanage. We had a guided tour to lead us through both the park and the orphanage. He explained to us the different facts about the animals that were in the park, how they got there, what they ate, etc. The tour guide really knew his information and was willing to answer any questions that we could think of.

Afterwards, we drove to the Maasai Manyatta to view their culture and watch a performance of a traditional dance. They took us into one of their homes that they have turned into a living museum and showed us the different tools that were unique to their culture, what they used them for, and the history behind them. They also showed us different beaded pieces that they used in celebrations. They shared with us the headdresses, the necklaces that women wore when they got married, and other pieces. VISITED THE MASAAI VILLAGEThe woman that gave us the tour did a wonderful job explaining and was able to answer any questions that we had. Afterward, some of the members of the community did a traditional dance for us. The dance was a typical dance, they jumped high which is a unique part of their culture, and chanted a song as they danced for us. You could tell that they enjoyed what they were doing and were thrilled that we came to see them and learn more about their culture. This means a lot to the small community. After the dance we all got back into the car and headed out of the community. The road to and from the community was extremely bumpy. There were big ruts in the road, big rocks, and there was one road after another. There were no signs telling you what direction you were going in or mile markers. The roads just lead one into another and you needed to know where you were going or you could very easily get lost.

On the way to the Carnivore Restaurant we stopped in Sylvester's community to use the internet to email everyone at home. In Kenya, the rates for internet service are extremely high, therefore, there are very few families that have internet services in their homes. Instead they use Internet Cafés and pay a couple of shillings per minute to use the internet. Sylvester owns the Internet Café as well as the African Hospitality Holidays and a local bar in town. The internet service in Kenya is much slower then the United States Internet service so it took much longer to email everyone. Once we emailed our families, we all piled back into the van to head out of the community. It was extremely dark out because there are no street lights. People all gather in town and spend their evening together, singing, dancing, socializing and having a drink or two. Just by looking at the community you could tell that everyone was enjoying themselves. As we drove out of the community, it got darker and darker out. Until we got into Nairobi, you needed to know where you were going because it was just like coming out of the Maasi community, there were no street signs telling you where you were or what streets you were on.

Our final stop was the Carnivore Restaurant. The Canivore RestaurantThere we experienced all sorts of unique meat including beef, lamb, chicken, alligator, warthog meatballs, ostrich, and chicken intestines. The Carnivore was an experience of a lifetime and we all had a blast. It was a really pleasant way to end the evening after traveling. The African Hospitality Holidays team where also with us and had dinner with us. This was the last night that we would be spending together until after we did the work that we came to do in the Machakos Diocese. After an enjoyable evening with them we went back to the hotel for the night to rest and to prepare ourselves for tomorrow.


March 14, 2004
Today was a beautiful Sunday and we had the privilege of going to Fr. Daniel's parish for Sunday worship. Today we were also handed over to CRS and now they were the ones that would be taking us all over and making sure that our needs were met.
We got to Saint Jude's Church for the ten o'clock mass. Father Daniel greeted us when we came and then he asked us to sit down and go over the readings and gospel in English with him so that we would understand them. He also gave us Bibles to use in English so that when the readings and gospels were being read in Swahili we could follow along. Father Daniel also explained that he told his congregation to celebrate mass as though it were not Lent and let us have the full experience of a Sunday worship. During Lent you normally do not have liturgical dancers and the music is solemn. He promised that Sunday worship would be anything but that.
Mass At St. Jude Thaddeus ChurchMass at St.Jude When the music started the liturgical dancers came in, everyone was clapping their hands, singing with all their heart, and everyone was enjoying themselves. It was an amazing sight! The congas were being played and Fr. Daniel had a kayamba that he played. It was so neat! The liturgical dancers wore red checkered outfits and the altar boy servers wore red skirts, white shirts, and a red shawl. Fr. Daniel wore a stunning purple vestment. The choir wore white shirts and black bottoms. There were rows and rows of choir members. The prayers were all sung and the liturgical dancers danced to them. They prayed the neatest and most moving Our Father, it was the first time that I experienced it and it is something that I would like to see sung in the states. Most of the worship was through singing and Fr. Daniel was up there singing right along with the group.
The mass lasted for three hours and there were at least one thousand parishioners there. The children did not make noise, the adults did not talk, and no one ate a single ounce of food. At the end of mass, Simon got up and introduced us from KUSARD U.S.A. A member of the board presented Simon with two maps, one of the Machakos Diocese and one of the surrounding area. He was overwhelmed with the maps!

After mass we were invited for lunch in the rectory. Lunch was an assortment of ethnic foods including but not limited to traditional chicken, rice, veggies, and special assortment of dishes that are served only at Christmas time. The women kept filling up our plates, telling us to eat more. We were going to roll right out of there!

Garden HotelFrom there we left for the Garden Hotel. After we all checked in and freshened up we met with the Member of Parliament, Gideon. After introductions, we had afternoon tea with him and discussed the key issues in Kenya as well as the HIV/AIDS epidemic. We discussed how many people are affected, how it is treated as a big secret whereas the only way to conquer the epidemic is to educate the communities on it. We also discussed the healthcare systems and how they needed good and reliable doctors. Many doctors from the government do not always show up when there are hours at clinics or they are known for doing crooked things. A good, reliable doctor is important because you need to know that there is someone that you can trust and that the people in the community can trust as well. Gideon said that he wanted to do something and help his people. He does not want to see them living in these conditions too long. Gideon stated "I'm with all of this from sunrise to sunset." He is ready to help conquer all of these problems while he is in office. (See Appendix for Notes) In conclusion, he invited us to stay and use his facility and to enjoy ourselves. Gideon ended stating, "It is so great to have the United States be one with us." The meeting with Gideon ended with a prayer from Rev. James and Fr. Daniel.

Kamba MuseamAfter the meeting with Gideon, we headed to Kamba Carving Industry to have a cultural experience. On the way there, we stopped on the side of the rode where Simon's brother was killed in a motor accident. We had a brief moment of silence for his brother. After the moment of silence, Rev. James said a short prayer. Simon said that he could finally feel at peace knowing that he was able to visit the site where his brother was killed.
On the way to Kamba Carving Industry, James, Andrea, and I talked to Peter about having a group come in two years. We explained how we would like it to be a bigger group so that we would be able to do more and get more done. In our eyes this trip is an investigative trip. We wanted to see what was being done, what needed to be done, where the people needed help, what might have been overlooked, what people could do if they came, and to really see the community and what their needs are. This trip was to work out the little kinks that might arise in the future. If we are able to work out all of those kinks then a trip in the future is foreseeable. (See appendix for notes)
When we arrived at the destination, the Kamba Carving Industry, it turned out to be a community in which they made wood carvings. We were all in heaven - there were so many carvings at such reasonable prices. We spent two hours having fun and shopping, spending time together learning about their culture while we spent money which helps them support their families. Everyone was looking for something in particular. After we all got a ton of wood carvings, we piled back into the cars and headed back to the hotel. It is not safe to be on the roads after dark because that is when most of the accidents happen. When we got back to the hotel we went through all of our medical supplies and got out hand sanitizer, Deet, wipes, and anything else that we thought we might need. We realized that the tubs of medical supplies were missing as well as the brown box of yoyos. We were able to tell Peter this and he assured us that the tubs and the box of yoyos were already on site.
After going through all the supplies James, Sandra, Jill, Simon, and I all had dinner together and relaxed. After dinner Peter joined us to discuss what the rest of the week had in store for us, what our goals and objectives are and what we wanted to see while we were here. We realized that we had not created any goals or objectives and really needed to start thinking about them. We told Peter that we wanted to see and experience as much as possible but other than that we did not even think of objectives or goals before we came. We told Peter that we would think of some goals and objectives and let him know what they are. This was one of the things that would need to be done for our trip next time - have a list of goals and objectives created before we left so that we could give them to Peter so that he could make sure that all of the goals and objectives were reached if not touched upon.
After dinner we moved to the lower level of the hotel to relax. At this time we all just talked and got to know each other better. This is very important that we also do this so that we can build community and get to know each other better. By learning from each other, we will grow and be able to work together and get more accomplished. This is all part of community building.
It was a great day in which we experienced a lot and learned so much. From the minute we got up and went to mass until the minute that we went to bed we were growing as a group and getting to know each other better. Whether or not we realized it, we were creating strong bonds that will not sever anytime soon. We have also learned tonight at the debriefing that if we are going to make a difference and we are going to be helping people, we will need to all stick together and help one another. There are going to be times when we need to lean on each other and we need to be prepared for that. Peter also stressed that we need to ask questions and not to be afraid to show our emotions.

March 15, 2004
CRS & MACHAKOS DIOCESE FACILITATED THE TRIPToday was a day of meetings with the different organizations that we would be involved with while we are here in Kenya. The meetings were a little long and tedious. We also had the opportunity to meet with Bishop Martin and visit with him. The meeting with the Bishop was the highlight for the day. Bishop Martin met with the group to talk to us about why we were here in Kenya and what this new organization, KUSARD was and how it is helping the people of the diocese. During the meeting, all areas were discussed, how the organization was started, what the goals of the organization was, how we plan on continuing the work that has already started, and what role we wanted Bishop Martin to play in this organization. Bishop Martin informed us that he would be coming to the United States in June for Bishop Rodimer's fiftieth anniversary and would be more than willing to visit some of the parishes that supported KUSARD while he was in the states. We told him that this would be a wonderful idea and would help support the cause that we have all come together for. Simon also asked permission for Fr. Daniel to come to the United States in September to promote the program and do some fundraising at the same time. Bishop Martin agreed to that and thought that it would be a wonderful idea. He gave Fr. Daniel permission to be out of the diocese for approximately three weeks. Everyone was thrilled over that news. The meeting ended with Bishop Martin being presented with the letter from Joe Duffy and concluded by stating, "I'm both proud and happy to work with you and wish that this relationship continues." (See Appendix for Notes)

MEETING WITH THE DIOCESAN STAFFMEETINGThe rest of the day was consumed with meetings with the diocese. Everyone stated who they were, what roles they played, and how they wanted to see KUSARD involved in their areas. Everyone had their own ideas and through this meeting, everyone was able to work out the role that their organization played, this was between Catholic Relief Services, Diocesan Developmental Center, and KUSARD. These meetings laid down the foundation for KUSARD and made it understandable to what role each person played. (See Appendix for Notes)
At the debriefing in the hotel, we explained to Peter that the day was very valuable but we wanted to make sure that today would be the only day for meetings. We wanted to get out into the community and start helping, start experiencing what it is like to live in the area and what everyone does. Peter promised us that starting tomorrow we would be doing just that. Also at our debriefing we shared some concerns that we had with the program and how we needed to make sure that our concerns would be met. One concern that was raised was lack of communication. It was felt that people were not communicating and this would end up hurting the program instead of helping it. This issue would be addressed so that this concern would not have to be raised again. Peter also went over what we would be doing tomorrow and what we should expect. He explained how we would be visiting families that were either affected or infected by HIV/AIDS. Peter said that the families were eager to meet us and show us around their homesteads. In order to get to their homesteads, we were going to have to walk so we needed to dress comfortably and be ready for a day of fun and learning.

March 16, 2004
WELCOMED AT MWANYAMBEVOToday was a heartbreaking day. We starting off by heading over to Kyale Parish to meet the members and use their bathrooms. Their priests were so welcoming to all of us and made us feel welcomed to the parish. They welcomed us to use their bathrooms anytime that we need to, just stop in and let them know that we are there. We were also invited to use their guest home as well.

From there we went and visited Mwanyambevo which is a community that has been affected with HIV/AIDS. We visited three homesteads and met the family members. In order to get to these homes we had to climb down these really steep hills, it was really a cliff that we were climbing down following a narrow path. There were times that if you slipped, you would have just slid down the cliff until something stopped you. It was a remarkable walk and used team work to communicate with one another to help each other down. They did not want any of us to fall. The one family that we visited the lady had lost her husband and was raising her children all by herself. She was thrilled that we came to visit and gave us eight eggs to take with us as well as a root. We did not want to take the eggs or the root because we felt bad, that was the food that she used to feed the children but we had to because we would have been insulting her if we refused them. When someone wants to give you something you must take it and say thank you. The second homestead that we visited the family lady had lost her husband as well as various family members to HIV/AIDS. Her mother had also just lost her husband three days earlier. Besides the lady caring for her children her mother is also raising her son and daughter-in-laws children. She was an elderly lady yet you could tell that she really loved the children and tried to provide the best home environment for them. The final homestead that we visited the young child had a very large bump on his head. It turned out that he had water on his head. The mother explained to use that the boy was going to be operated on within the next few days. If it was not taken care of, the boy could eventually die from this condition. We had to climb back up from the homesteads, up the cliff and we ended up landing at the school that we were planning on visiting that afternoon. The students were all excited when they saw us arriving - they could not wait for our visit. At the school, the students gave us a very warm welcome. They were all clapping their hands and singing for us.

Mwanyambevo ChildrenThey put on a wonderful program for us that was made up of songs, dancing, poems, and a skit. Everyone in the school had a role in the program and family members came out to watch their children perform and to meet us. The students made us feel privileged to be with them. The songs that they sang, the dances that they danced, the poems that they read, and the skit that they put on were amazing. You could tell that they worked really hard and were planning on us coming for a long time. They were excited that we were there and even more excited that we wanted to learn more about them and their culture. We realized how little the children had yet how happy they were. They were not asking for a million dollars, all they wanted was some love and attention. When they danced, they invited us to dance with them. When they sang, they would use our names in the songs. When they did that we would get up and dance while they sang the song with our name in it. While we were at the school, the students that are involved with the CIPACAM Program were all given yellow t-shirts to wear.

Mwanyambevo AIDS CampaignThe t-shirts said that you are either infected or affected with HIV/AIDS. The students who received the yellow t-shirts help educate the younger students on HIV/AIDS. They all put their shirts right on and looked great in them and were all so happy that they were given them! You could tell that they felt privileged to be part of this and that they take their responsibility on educating people on HIV/AIDS seriously. The students were all so loving and it was so hard when it came time to say goodbye to them. They all wanted to shake your hand and say goodbye. It did not matter how old they were. After we said our goodbyes we had to head back to our next destination.

After we finished with that program we headed back to Kyale Parish for lunch. The parish chef cooked a wonderful lunch for us and just kept on piling on the food. The parish was thrilled that we were there and could not have been anymore inviting. They all mixed and mingled with us and we learned all about them and the different jobs that they have, what their involvement is in their parish, etc. You can tell that everyone relies on each other for help and support and that there is always plenty of help and support for everyone. The parish priests once again reminded us that we were more than welcome to stop in anytime that we were passing through even if it meant to run in for a quick bathroom stop, we were more than welcome to do so. That was appreciated by us ladies!
LUNCHEON AT KYALE PARISHKyale Children's HomeAfter lunch we visited the handicap school. There were fifteen students in the school and they all have some type of physical disability. There was one child that also had a mental disability. The students were all very happy and thrilled that we came to visit their school and their home. They live in the rooms adjacent to where they do all their studies. The headmaster introduced the students to us and explained the program. We also took a tour of the school. While we were visiting the different rooms, we were shocked to see the condition of the wheelchairs the children used. The wheelchairs were ones made of all metal and really outdated. This broke our hearts that they did not have wheelchairs in better condition. The children in the program are all different ages and are both girls and boys. After the introduction and explanation of the program, the children then all sang a song for us. Then we all went outside for a group photo. I picked up one little girl for the picture, Linda, and fell in love with her. All I wanted to do was take her home with me but they would not let me. Simon told me that I had to leave her there that they would miss her if I took her home.

We went back to the parish after visiting the home. The school is right behind the church and rectory. Everything is built around each other. Fr. Theodore presented us with gifts from the parish. We were told that we were not allowed to open them until we got back home to America. It was just a little something to help us remember Kenya and Kayle Parish. It was so kind of them to not only offer their bathrooms to us while we were up in that area but for them to have gifts for each of us to take home with us to America. Fr. Theodore and his parish are truly appreciative people.
Today was a real eye opening day for all of us. We saw how little the communities had yet how rich they were in their faith and love towards one another. The children were all so happy and just wanted to be with us, wanted us to sit and listen to what they had to share with us. That was one of the important parts of the day, to let the children share with us everything they had learned because that is something that they are proud of. It is important that we let the communities share with us their culture because to them that it extremely important.

March 17, 2004
Today was Saint Patrick's Day in America. This was an opportunity for our group to inform them in Kenya about our traditions. Francis was wearing green and we were thrilled - we thought that he knew all about Saint Patrick's Day. But he did not, it's just what he happened to pull out of his closet that morning!

Catherine&SimonKituiuni Community welcomed us with much fun and hilarity. Amongst dancing, music and all kinds of jubilations, St. Cecilia threw open its doors to tne visitors in the true unpretentious African hospitality.The Community Welcomes us

That Wednesday was a very busy day for we had a lot that we wanted to accomplish and do. The first item on the agenda was to go to St. Cecila's Kituiuni Catholic Church for a church service. We ended up getting to the service two and a half hours late due to a group miscommunication error. Even though we were late, the parish still gave us a warm welcome and made us feel at home. The students were all excited that we were there and wanted to share with us what they had to offer and that was song and dance. The students danced for us to the music that the choir sang and the choir even used congas and other unique instruments. It was really neat to see and listen to. The choir wore these beautiful bright blue dresses and the liturgical dancers wore bright yellow shirts. The liturgical dancers and the choir did a wonderful job welcoming us with their singing and dancing. After that part of the welcome, Simon's father got up and introduced us to his parish. He was thrilled that we came and that Simon had started the organization KUSARD. He said how this parish could not be in the condition that it is in without the support from the United States and he has high hopes for the future. St.Cecilia Church

After Simon's father finished welcoming us, Simon's mother was also introduced to the group. She was smiling and you could tell by the tears in her eyes how proud she was that Simon did not forget about them in Kenya when he left to make a better home for his family in America. Then we were all introduced to the parish as the KUSARD - USA. Since most of the parishioners understand Swahili best, Peter got up and translated what we said to the congregation. Peter was a wonderful speaker so he was able to really get the crowd involved. Since we were running so late, the program was cut short and ended with a closing prayer from Rev. James and Fr. Daniel blessed everyone.
Afterwards we toured the church and signed the book stating that we were there. Everywhere you go there is a book for you to sign so that way the parish can keep track of who's been there. It is a really neat thing to do because it shows how people from all over Kenya have visited as well as people from other areas of the world.

Lunch was in a classroom in one of the school buildings. They had fixed the classroom all up for us, you would not have known that it was a classroom except there were posters on the walls for the students to use when they were learning. It was a good idea to use a classroom because not only was it close for us but it also gave us some insight on how they decorate their classrooms in Kenya. The lunch was a spread of all different foods, including chicken stew, beef stew, potatoes, rice, fried chicken, goat, fresh fruit, among many other dishes. The food was wonderful and it was so kind of them to provide us with this wonderful lunch.

After lunch we visited Kituiuni Primary School and saw how happy all the students were despite what we saw. The students's clothes were ripped and had big holes in them. The hems in the uniforms were coming out, the boys zippers had ripped and they were using string to keep them closed. It was a real eye opening experience for all of us, one that made us from the United States realize how lucky we were to have the things that we did back home. Despite the condition of the clothes, the students were all laughing and smiling and not being upset because their clothes were not up to par. It just showed that in the United States, we are overly concerned with how we look instead of how happy we are.

The next area that we visited was the Kituiuni Health Care Center. That was just right up the road. Instead of walking to it like everyone does, we all piled into the cars and drove up. Once we got there, we had the privilege of watching all of the students dance as well as some of the women. They all did a wonderful job and once again we got a taste of what it would be like to live in a community as Kituiuni. After introductions we had some more presentations from the group including dancing, singing, and poetry. They all did a wonderful job and we were as proud of them as they were proud of themselves. You could tell by the way their faces beamed! Since we were really behind in our schedule for the day, we ended up cutting the program short so that we could visit Kithangathini Primary School.

Kithangathini HighSchoolJames, Simon, the KUSARD - Kenya group, and I all went to Kithangathini Primary School. There the students also put on a wonderful presentation for all of us. It included some singing, dancing, and reading of poetry. All of the students were involved in some way, shape or form. The students were all so thrilled that we were there and that we finally made it to their school. They were waiting patiently for us to come all day and did not think that we were going to make it. After all the songs, dancing and poetry was read by the students, the headmaster went over some more statistics on the school and what they were doing, where they plan on going, and how KUSARD is helping them reach their goals. The school presented us with gifts - they were very generous to all of us and made us feel that we were welcomed back anytime. We then had to say goodbye to all of the students to leave. This was hard for all of us to do - to say goodbye. You never know what you are going to see next time and you know how important your visit was to these students. Just saying goodbye is not enough and the children will not let you leave by just saying goodbye. They want to shake your hand and thank you themselves for everything that you have done for them. The children were so excited that they formed enormous groups around James and I to shake our hands and thank us. We were so overwhelmed with the love that the children had and how desperately every one of them wanted to thank us. It was the neatest thing. The only thing was that the children got a little out of hand and started pushing the younger children and that is when we had to break up the group and leave. It was a perfect time because the children were too excited and we were afraid that they were going to get hurt. We said goodbye and quickly left - hoping to get back to the hotel before dark.

When we got back to the hotel, we had dinner and had a debriefing. We discussed what we had experienced, what our defaults are, what we needed to work on, and what the upcoming plans were for the trip. Peter went over with us the plans for tomorrow. They were that Andrea, Jill, Sandra, and Cathy were all going to be at the clinic for the day treating people and providing the services to the people. James, Simon, and I would be at the schools visiting the students and giving out the toys. Tomorrow was going to be a very busy day so it was important that we got a good night's sleep and were all ready to go bright and early tomorrow morning!

March 18, 2004
The day dawned; the day that had been much publicised free clinic at Kituiuni Health Center. Some of the Team members from the US were trained medical people, including their leader, one Dr. Andrea Brassard, and had wanted to offer their free medical services to the community. As such, Sr. Goretta of the Mission Cottage Hospital in Kikoko provided her personell to work with the visitors; and nurses from the Government hospital of Mutungu also participated in the two day free clinic initiative.

We were all ready to go bright and early so that we could get a jump start on everything. We were out of the hotel by 7:30am which was a record for all of us - something that the group was proud of! We made a brief stop at the Kyale parish house for a bathroom stop and then went right to Kituiuni Health Center. The Member of Parliament, Gideon was going to be there to open the center and present the center with medications that were going to be used. When we all arrived at the Center, there were already a ton of people lined up and waiting. You could tell that Andrea, Jill, Sandra, and Cathy were going to be working all day nonstop because the community members all wanted to see a doctor - especially those who had not seen one in a really long time.

MP HonGideon Opens the Free ClinicPatients lining to be seenWhen Gideon, MP, arrived, he presented the clinic with the medications, said a few words, took some pictures for the national newspapers, and then the clinic opened and Andrea, Jill, Sandra, and Cathy all got to work. They needed to get organized, see what the needs of the people were going to be and then get right to work. Peter was going to stay in case he needed to make any supply runs. They were going to be working all day and seeing as many patients as possible. They ended up seeing five hundred patients with the help of medical assistants that the government provided for the day as well as nurses and candy stripers from Precious Blood. Everyone worked together and except for a few minor problems the day went rather smoothly and many people were treated. This was a tiring day for them but at the end of the day the four of them felt that they really made a difference in the lives of some of the community people. Andrea felt bad that at noon she had to go out and tell anyone who was waiting that did not have a number that they should leave because they were not going to be seen. There was not enough time nor enough resources. Andrea estimated that there were approximately one thousand people there that wanted to be treated.

James, Simon, George, the KUSARD - Kenya team, and I all went to the different schools to visit the students and distribute the toys. The first school that we visited was the Kituiuni Primary School. That was the first place that we handed out the toys and got to see the students all excited in receiving them. They were in their glory and could not wait to play. The teachers had allowed them all to come out and play with the new toys. We gave the headmaster the yoyos to distribute to the students. Each school that we visited would be receiving one hundred yoyos to give to the students. The students wanted us to play with them so James with the help of the teachers, started a soccer game and George and I started a volleyball game with the help of some other teachers. The students who are not playing at that time would all line up so if the ball was to come their way they could stop it before it would go over. Of course, the volley ball would always be heading over in that direction and the students would laugh and get the ball before it had a chance to go over. The school really proved what team work could do and how each other works together and accomplishes so much.

The next school that we visited was Mutanda Primary School. The preschool class was waiting patiently for us to arrive so that they could have lunch. The other students were also patiently waiting for us because they had prepared some songs and dances for us. When they saw our cars coming you could hear them start to cheer. They were all so excited and could not wait to meet us. They had been preparing for us for a really long time. The first thing we saw was the meal that the preschoolers get from the KUSARD program. The students all get one cup of porridge for lunch. For most of these students, this is their only meal. The students all lined up to get their cup full and the parents of the students are the ones that make and serve the students. They were so little yet so happy. While on line waiting, they shook our hands and talked to us. I taught them high five so then all of them had to do that. The older students sang for all of us and danced. Fr. Daniel joined right in with the older students singing right along with all of them. After getting the cup of porridge, the students all sit and eat it together on the rocks. They were all so happy yet so tiny.

After seeing the children, we sat down and were welcomed by the headmistress of the school. As the preschoolers were finished with their porridge, they would all come running over to sit down and listen to what the headmistress had to say and watch the older students put on the program for us. All of the teachers were introduced and Francis proudly told us how his wife is the preschool teacher. The students sang, danced, and recited poetry for all of us. The students that were going to the school on behalf of KUSARD were also introduced to us and we were able to meet them. After that we danced with the students and then had to get ready to leave for our next destination. Before we could leave we handed out more toys and yoyos to the students. They were thrilled with the yoyos and could not wait until their parents finished flattening out the school yard so that they could play ball without having to worry about the rocks. While I was busy handing out the other toys to the teachers, James was showing the students how to yoyo. They were thrilled and could not wait to try it themselves. The toys were all given to the headmistress to distribute to the students. As we were leaving the students were all singing for us and running after the cars. They would not let us leave - the teachers had to come and have them move away from the vehicles.

To get to and from school, you had to take these really narrow roads that were steep and at times you would be riding right along side the cliff. It was amazing to think that the students walk to school, sometimes miles and miles, and when cars drive to the schools, the condition of the roads that they have to use are treacherous. The students at the school were also malnourished and you could tell just by looking at them. There stomachs were bloated and their bones stuck out. When I would pick up a child to give them a hug or talk to them, I was afraid that I would break their bones, that they were so fragile. It was really sad and you just wanted to do something right then and there for them. You wanted to give them all the food in the world so that they would not be hungry.

From there we stopped at Kithangathini Secondary School to meet the students and visit the school. The students all came out to meet us and welcome us to their school. When we all got a chance to talk to them, they were too intimidated to answer questions like, "What is the hardest subject?" or "What is the easiest subject?" They just stared when those questions were asked. We realized that they were too afraid to answer them in front of their teachers. While visiting the secondary school, we also received a copy of the grades. The grades were low and it made us realize that they were so low because the children are getting up early to go to school everyday and many students are learning without having food in their stomachs. They are probably hungry and when you are, it is much harder to learn. Before leaving we gave the students some new balls and jumpropes to play with. They were thrilled with them.
Our final stop was the Kithangathini Primary School. We wanted to give them the yoyos and balls for the students. When the students saw us coming with big boxes they all quickly ran towards us. The group was able to get the toys into the headmaster's office before the students saw them. We could not spend time with the students today because we were on a really tight schedule. As we were leaving the students were running after the cars and sticking their hands in so that they could shake our hands and give us high five. The teachers had to come out and ask the students to back away from the car so that we could leave. We did not want any children getting hurt.

We got back to the clinic to get Jill, Andrea, and Sandra. They were really tired and could not wait to get back to the hotel to rest. They said that they had a really busy day and helped a lot of people. Cathy had done a program for the men and talked about HIV/AIDS and how they are spreading it and what they can do to stop spreading it. She gave them the facts and made it clear that they needed to accept responsibility if they wanted to put an end to this disease. This disease will not just magically disappear, that everyone needs to be aware and protect themselves as well as the ones that they love. Cathy feels that the men heard her and she said that she only hopes that they start accepting responsibility.
We all headed back to the hotel emotionally and physically drained. We made our usual stop at the parish house to use the bathroom and stretch before we started the ride back home. Everyone was ready to hit the sack that night and get some rest after a long day. Our eyes had all been opened wide to the reality of what it was like to live in these communities and what the conditions were like.

We had our usual debriefing with Peter to discuss briefly what we would be doing tomorrow and what we had seen. Peter told us that what we had seen was something that people hear about but cannot imagine without seeing it themselves. We realized how valuable it would be for us to bring back stories and pictures and start educating the communities that we are part of about our experience and how much they need and appreciate any help that we can give them.

March 19, 2004
Today was another exhausting day of hard work. We all got out of the hotel early and started up to the communities to get ready for another day full of activities. Andrea, Jill, and Sandra were going to be working at Kikoko Mission Hospital while James, Simon, KUSARD - Kenya, and I were meeting to discuss plans for the future, visiting Precious Blood Secondary School, and saying goodbye to all of our new friends from Kituiuni.
Kikoko Cottage HospitalDrLingeThe first stop was Kikoko Mission Hospital to meet up with our group and get ourselves organized. Sandra was waiting to join us for the goodbye at Kituiuni. We headed over there and were shocked when we got there. The entire community was there waiting for us to say goodbye. They were as upset as we were that we would be leaving and not coming back for a couple of years. In those few days we had formed friendships that would last yet when it is time to say goodbye, that becomes so hard because you never know what will happen before you can come back to visit. The different groups were all there, they danced for us and sang some songs. One of Simon's former students, Dr. Kavoo Linge, an Obstetrician and Gynecologist, was there to say goodbye to us. It was an amazing goodbye ceremony, one that we promised that we would come back real soon and until we could come back, the community would remain with us in our hearts and in the words that we speak as we share all of our experiences. After the goodbyes, the different groups had gifts for us to take back to the United States so that we would have something to remember them by. After a tearful goodbye we had to leave, it was like we were being torn away from them, it was one of the hardest things that we had to do while we were there.
From there we went to Precious Blood for lunch and to discuss the goals of KUSARD and what the Kenya end of it wanted to see happen. It was important that we were all on the same page and had the same goals - short term and long term goals in mind. They promised to have everything available for us within the next three weeks so that the United States end of it could start moving along and getting support for the program. (See Appendix for Notes)
Saying GoodbyeAfter the meeting we all got together to leave. We stopped at the parish house to use the bathroom and say goodbye. This would be the last time that we would be using their bathrooms until we come again. We thanked everyone for being so kind and generous to us and making us feel welcomed. We told them that we found a second home in Kenya.
At the debriefing meeting that night, we all shared our experiences and what the day had in store for us. Andrea and Jill shared with the group how they saw over seventy patients that second day at Kikoko Mission Hospital which was an extension of yesterday's free medical service, and felt good that they were able to make a difference in their lives. Andrea was also able to get an idea of what types of supplies are needed and medication for the community. This was important because we would need to know all of this when we got back home. Everyone was ready for a day off to relax and recuperate.

March 20, 2004
Today was a day of rest and relaxation. Everyone had to start packing up all the gifts that the community had given us and get organized. Tomorrow we would be leaving early to go to mass and then leave for two days of sight seeing. In the afternoon we went ostrich riding and got to spend some time together as a group, enjoying each others company, having some laughs, and creating memories that we would not forget for many years to come. It was good to have some down time.

March 21, 2004
We were all up early and ready to leave for mass in the Cathedral. At the beginning of mass, we were thanked for coming to the diocese and leaving such a tremendous impact on the community. We all were introduced to the congregation at the beginning of mass so that James, Andrea, Sandra, and Jill could sneak out and go to a Presbyterian service. This mass was much simpler, they did not have liturgical dancers present because it is Lent and they are not normally part of the mass. They will be part of the mass starting on Easter Sunday when the church is no longer preparing for Jesus' Crucifixation and Resurrection.
After mass, Peter, Simon, Francis, Fr. Daniel, and I waited for the others in the parish priest's house. After we all gathered, we left to have lunch at the Bishop's house and to briefly reflect on our week in the diocese and what we wanted to see happen. The Bishop could not be present for lunch but wanted us to know that we were to make ourselves feel welcomed and at home.
We all enjoyed lunch at the Bishop's home and discussed the week and the impact that it had on all of us. We were all ready to head back to the United States to talk about the program and start getting support for it. We were all going to be waiting for Fr. Daniel's visit and until he came, we would be taking KUSARD and helping it grow and expand into bigger and better things. We ended with me stating that "The Paterson Diocese is committed to helping the Machakos Diocese in any way necessary to make life better for its people. The work has begun, the relationship has been planted, let it now grow on fertile land."

Appendix

Meeting Notes: March 14, 2004
Member of Parliament: Gideon Ndambuki

Meeting Notes: March 15, 2004
Rt. Rev. Martin Kivuva

Meeting Notes: March 15, 2004
Diocesan Office Meeting

Meeting Notes: March 19, 2004
KUSARD

Meeting Notes: March 14, 2004
Member of Parliament: Gideon
Garden Hotel

The meeting with Gideon began with a welcome from Peter. He introduced the team from the Diocese of Machakos, KUSARD, and Catholic Relief Services.

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