Thursday, March 17, 2011

Christian Foundation For Children and Aging, Kenya, Africa

Sunday, Feb. 20 to Tuesday, March 1st, 2011   Kenya,

What a wonderful Mission awareness week.  I wish you could have traveled
with me;  I know in spirit many of you were there.  I arrived at the
Nairobi airport about 9 pm on Sunday, Feb. 20th and the CFCA staff was there
to greet me and others arriving from the states.  They held up a big sign
saying, CFCA with big smiles, and a warm welcome in deed.  We had a total of
17 who were sponsors of children from the states of (North Carolina,
California, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Maine, Colorado, Kansas, Indiana,
Illinois, and New Jersey) who were my traveling companions for the week.  Our
ages ranged from 82 years young to about 30 years old.  A lovely diverse
group, the best traveling companions’ one could ever want.  Stacy who was
part of our group was a representative from the CFCA office headquarters in
Kansas City, Kansas.  The local Kenya CFCA staff took care of us with
graciousness and kindness.

Some of the sponsors arrived earlier in the week to
or came that afternoon.  We didn’t check in to our lodging at the Rosa
Mystica Spiritual Center until about midnight.  We were all tired and especially the folks from the states who had jet lag.  All the sponsors met each other the next morning along with the CFCA Kenya staff. 

During morning orientation, Peter who heads up the CFCA Kenya staff gave us
an over view of the projects CFCA is involved in and introduced us to some
of the staff from the different departments.  Amos, the youth coordinator, led
us in several songs and we got a flavor of the beautiful African music and
dancing too.
A highlight of the day was the meeting of our sponsored children.  My sponsored
child is Jaysie and she will be 12 years old next month.  I have been sponsoring her
for about 2 years.  Her mother, Judy accompanied her.  It was a great
meeting of sponsors with children and their families.  Several of the
sponsor’s children were older teens; they have been sponsoring them for as
long as 10 years.  One young man is now in Nairobi University doing very
After lunch we went outside and got to know each other better.  Jaysie is a
shy young girl but very bright and speaks and writes English well as does
her mother, Judy.    All the sponsors brought small gifts to give to their
sponsored child.   I also had a gift for Jaysie’s mother.  
There was a shopping center in walking distance that had an ice cream
parlor, plus lots of stores.  In the afternoon we walked over to the
shopping center with two social workers from CFCA who monitor Jaysie’s
progress, and Jaysie and her mother.  I treated them to ice cream and we
called it a” girls day out  shopping..”  Jaysie has two younger sisters and
one younger brother.  There was a department type store in the shopping
center so I asked the social worker if I could buy a small gift for Jaysie’s
siblings,  she said that would be fine.  I had Jaysie pick out a small gift for
each of them to take home
We walked back to Rosa Mystica and said good bye for the day.  Jaysie and
her mother, Judy had about 2 hours to go by local bus home, changing buses 3
times.  We would meet them the next day at the Nairobi Arboretum for a
morning of games and a picnic.    Jaysie’s mother said they didn’t get to
bed until after midnight because the children were so excited about their
gifts and wanted to play with them.   Judy, Jaysie’s mother was wearing my
gift of a light weight crocheted sweater, scarf and sandals.    Jaysie
brought me a gift of a locally made purse and bracelet.  How thoughtful and
generous of them.
We had a fun morning of “kid’s games” but all the adults participated too,
including a three legged race, jump rope and singing and dancing.   The
arboretum morning was a great way to mix together and enjoy our time
together.   We also had short talks from some older sponsored children who
were in university telling the younger ones and the sponsors how CFCA
sponsorship helped them.  It was very touching to see the potential being
  I took Jaysie over to one of the young women who is in university
and introduced her to Jaysie.  I said, “Jaysie this will be you in the
.”  Her mother told me that some of the monthly sponsorship
donations I send through CFCA are being used to send Jaysie to a private
school because many of the public schools have 75 to a 100 students in a
classroom and the teachers are not well trained..  She was so thankful for
Jaysie’s sponsorship.  I was overwhelmed thinking my small donation each
month is providing this family with so much hope and a brighter future.  Jaysie’s,
mother brought pictures of the entire family with her to show me, including
her husband, Robert the children’s father.A very nice family.

We said our final good byes!!!  They asked me if I would return to visit
them.  I said, “I will leave it up to the Lord.”  I told them I sponsored a
young boy in Guatemala and plan to visit him the year he graduates from high
school which will be around 2013.   If God is willing I might be able to return
to see Jaysie go off to University.  We had tears in our eyes of joy.  I
thought of them as they left to get on the bus to return to their home,
wondering if I might get to see them again.   With Skype maybe that can be
arranged in the future, presently CFCA does not offer that to the sponsors. 
Our communication is done through written letters and pictures about once a
quarter.  I found out how important the letters and pictures are to the
sponsored children and aged, so I will be more conscientious in the future
with writing promptly

In the afternoon we toured the small CFCA headquarters in Nairobi.  They
showed us how they keep each child’s record, finances etc.  Presently a lot
is done by hand but they plan to convert a great deal of the record keeping
to computer in the future.   The social workers have anywhere from 200 to
275 sponsored children or aged as their clients.  To keep track of each of
these sponsorships is an amazing task.  I felt very comfortable when I left
the CFCA offices that money wasn’t being spent foolishly on lavish offices
or furniture.  Very modest in deed.      

After dinner we all packed and repacked for our next CFCA visits which would
be for 6 days in outlying areas.   Our little gray bus and our capable
driver, Richard and CFCA staff, Stephen, Amos, and Regina from Nairobi would
be traveling with us.  We had become a CFCA family.  They had to load our
luggage on the top of the bus.  So it mean’t lifting it up and taking it
down several times in the next 6 days.  The guys were great in handling it
On, Wednesday, Feb. 23rd we headed out of Nairobi for about 3 hours on some
paved roads but also some that were under construction.  Our driver, Richard
had a lot of work ahead of him with motorcycles, bicycles, big buses and
trucks on the road, plus pedestrians walking on the shoulder of the road..
The Nairobi weather was very nice, warm and sunny but cooler at night.  However,
as we journeyed to Nakuru the heat began plus lots of dusty roads.   We got
to Nakuru about noon and just dropped off our luggage and went to the
restroom.  Our next stop was to have lunch with some of the sponsored CFCA
community of ladies.  These ladies may or may not have a child or aged that
is sponsored by CFCA but they are helped in some way by an extended family
member who might be sponsored.  Also CFCA is working with Mother’s/Women’s
groups to aid them in micro financing to start small businesses; such as
raising chickens to sell eggs.
After we left our hotel in Nakuru we headed out on small dusty rutted roads
like cow paths in the country, the little gray bus was having a hard time
trying to go over all the bumps, ditches etc.  What you really needed was an
army jeep or caterpillar.  We didn’t really know what to expect.  We thought
we were just going to meet some nice ladies and have lunch.    After about
an hour or so bumping around on the bus a little tired and hungry here we
see a group of ladies on a hill singing and dancing welcoming us.  It is a
scene that I will never forget.  Out in no man’s land these wonderful ladies
dressed in beautiful African dresses in the bright sun waiting for us with
open arms.  They had prepared a homemade luncheon for us.  Lots of wonderful
local dishes including mutton, fermented milk, rice, beans, ugali, chicken,
salad, fruits and more.  I tried a little of everything.  They brought
pillows for us to sit on under trees for shade.  How they got all this food
in big pots carried up to this spot I don’t know.  But I am sure it was all
hand carried for miles by these ladies.    After we went through the buffet
line then the ladies ate.  I walked around and tried to shake every ladies
hand and thank them for the wonderful food and hospitality.  We took
pictures together with them.  I thought of my mother and her lady friends
from the farming community of Willowdale, Kansas.   How much sacrifice and
hard work they would do for others.

After lunch we visited one of the sponsored children’s home in the country
and saw the chickens that were part of the micro financing business.  The chickens were
really healthy looking and kept in clean quarters.  The mud brick home was 2
rooms, living room and another room for bedroom.  I’m sure some people sleep
in the living room too.  Much of the cooking is done outside on charcoal
fires.  Of course there is no electricity or running water.  I do remember
seeing a hand water pump which was wonderful to see.  At least they have
clean water.  Most often a water pump is shared by many families.     *It
was a day to never be forgotten.** * We said good bye to these lovely
ladies.  On the way back we had to get out of the bus so it could maneuver
up a hill, our weight was too much for it.
When we got back to the hotel in Nakuru someone cleaned the hall floors and
steps which were like linoleum and they put oil on them to make it shine.   
Well it was like a skating rink, it is only by God’s graces that one of us
didn’t fall.   I proceeded down to the bar and had a cold local beer, Tusker
lager.  It was very tasty.  We had dinner at the hotel and went to bed
early.  We were leaving tomorrow morning at 5:45 am for Lake Nakuru National
Park for an animal safari.  We saw rhinos, baboons, gazelles, African
buffalo, storks, flamingos and more.  We all enjoyed the safari and headed
back about 10 am for a late breakfast then bags to the bus to be loaded for
our journey to Kisumu which is about a 3-4 hour drive.    We stopped half
way on the journey in Kericho at the Kericho Tea Hotel which is located on a
tea plantation for a late lunch.  You could see that this at one time was a
grand place but no maintenance had been done for years.  The same situation
in Kenya as in Tanzania, maintenance of buildings, roads, grounds, plumbing,
and electricity is not done.
We arrived at our next place to stay in Nakura, Santa Anna’s Center.  Here I
shared a room with Karen from New Jersey.  She was a great room mate.    Santa
Anna’s was in need of a new cleaning crew.    No AC of course, but we did
have a wall fan that we put on plus used our mosquito nets.  The first night
we took cool showers, but they managed to fix the hot water and we had warm
showers the following days.
On Friday, February 25th we meet the and Bondo (Bon) project office
staff and sponsored families.  Lucy heads up this project with the able help
of Lawrence and other staff.     As our bus pulls up to an area a band of
young men are welcoming us.  They are dressed in professional band uniforms
but lack the normal band instruments that our USA students would have.  But
it didn’t matter, they had a drum some cymbals and plastic made to do
instruments, and performed for us with skill.  Some of the band members were
sponsored children.   If anyone has contacts with school band/students who
might be buying new instruments and would like to donate their instruments
this would be a great place to do it.  I think of all the musical
instruments that are sitting in people’s garages, basements or closets not
being used.
The day was spent in celebration of our arrival to their area.  We had lunch
prepared by the women’s groups, reading of poetry by children, singing by
children lots of dancing by everyone including all of us.  We had a large
tent so that kept us from getting sun burnt.  The ladies made us all “straw
hats”.  How nice of them.  There were about 300 people in attendance.  Lynn
and Terri of our group who are both choir members in their respective
parishes each sang a hymn as a thank you.  They did us proud.  It was also
very special to meet some of the aged who are sponsored by CFCA.   I talked
to many of the children that are sponsored and spent some time visiting with
two bright young ladies who are in high school.  One of them is on a tennis
team and is able to travel to different areas of Africa playing tennis.  I
asked her how she got on the team; this is not with the school she goes to. 
This is sponsored by a private group.  She said she tried out for the team
and was chosen.  I thought what a wonderful way for her to be able to expand
her knowledge and meet people in different places.  So often the young
people in Africa never get out of their immediate area unless they go to a
University or are fortunate enough to go to a boarding school. Most of their
parents do not own cars and cannot afford for them to travel.

It was a great day!!!  Thanks Kisumu CFCA.
The next day we traveled in our bus to another remote area called Bondo town
about 2 hours over dusty road construction roads.  We had to shut and close
the bus windows constantly.  It became a joke.  Lawrence from the Bon
project would shout “close the windows” when we were coming upon dirt roads
with flying dust, then when we would past the area he would shout, “open the
windows”.  He knew every little detail about the roads including upcoming
speed bumps.   We stopped on the way to visit Kit-Mikayi archaeological
site:  This rock formation dates back to pre-Christian times.  Most of us
climbed to the top of the formation.  After that we made several home visits
to sponsored children families.  All the homes very modest with mud floors,
clean and no electricity, running water etc.   Seeing some of the families’
homes is a big eye opener for most of us.  We also visited the Bon project
offices.  Again very modest.

It is hard to believe but it is Sunday, Feb. 27th.  After Mass we head for
about one hour to Ahero town to another CFCA project called Nyando.  This
area has sugar cane farming as a major source of income for the region.  Many
people are subsistence farmers.    We meet several sponsored families in our
home visits and also meet an aged who is sponsored by CFCA in her home.   We
meet about 25 women who are in the mother’s/women’s groups.  I walked with
one of the women and she told me that the group recently bought a big
outdoor tent to rent for income and they want to buy plastic chairs also to
rent.  They each have to give 100 Kenyan shillings a month to the group as
part of their micro financing project.  That would be about $1.20 in USA
dollars.  We also saw a goat project that the women are involved in of
selling goat milk.  I held hands with these wonderful women, wishing them
God’s blessings.  They felt like sisters to me.  Very welcoming, generous
ladies who work hard to provide for their families.  Many of children in
this area have experienced HIV deaths of both parents.  So they have
guardians, older sisters/brothers and grandparents who take care of the
smaller children.   The women give us a basket of gifts, mangos and honey
from their bee project.  The aged lady who is a CFCA sponsored gave 2 clay
pots for cooking and a gourd to our members.  What a generous gesture.
We had a full day and will head back to Nairobi tomorrow morning.   Back to
repacking the bags.

Monday, Feb. 28th is a day of travel back to the Rosa Mystica Center in
Nairobi and a clean room with hot water.  Yippy!!!It is about a 6-8 hour
ride.  We will stop at the hotel Kunste that had the slippery floors for
lunch which is about midway.  Some of the group bought really nice in
expensive gift items in the gift shop there.  So I thought I might browse
for a few things.  I found some inexpensive jewelry.  One of our group,
Lydia who grew up in Kenyan but now lives in California was a great
bargainer.  So before anyone made a substantial purchase they would get
Lydia to do the negotiations.  Also Regina from the CFCA office in Nairobi
helped with the purchases.  Many of our group bought beautiful baskets and
sisal purses.  Very artistic and colorful.   Lots of beautiful carved wooden
After dinner we had a final reflection time together and a trip review.

Tuesday, March 1st is our final day in Nairobi.  After breakfast the group
heads out to the Mathare Valley subproject for CFCA.  It is about a mile
away from Nairobi downtown.  The area has about 800,000 people living in the
second largest slum in Nairobi.   Lynn from Florida sponsors a child who
lives in this area.  I elected to stay back and work on my pictures to
download for my St. Joseph Girls Hostel mission.  Unfortunately after about
2 hours I had to give up on the project.  Using land line to download about
90 photos and emailing them is a challenge. Many Kenyans live behind walled
structures with security guards around the clock.
We had lunch at the Center then most of us headed out to the Giraffe Center
in a very exclusive area of Nairobi.   Beautiful trees and landscaping.   It
would be like a country club area in the USA.  You can see that Nairobi is
very cosmopolitan town with the real wealthy and then the very poor.  I’m
sure there is a middle class too.  I was told the land is very expensive in
Nairobi and the cost of living very high.
At the Giraffe center we got to feed the giraffes and learn more about the
three types of Giraffes in Kenya.  It was a nice outing.
Kenya is a beautiful country.  It appears to have a higher standard of
living than Tanzania.  The agricultural areas are more cultivated.  I saw
more tractors in Kenya than I saw in Tanzania.  Kenya is suffering from lack
of water at the present time. They grow lots of roses for exporting to
Europe.    English and Swahili are the national languages.  However, in the
more remote areas you will find them speaking first in their “tribal
language”.  So many Kenyans speak three languages, Swahili, English and
their tribal language. 
We had an early dinner about 6 pm at the center then boarded the bus, bags
on top of the bus for the Nairobi Airport.  Most of the group was heading
backing to the USA on flights leaving about 11pm.  My flight to Abuja,
Nigeria didn’t leave until 3:30 am but I went with the group because it was
too far for them to take me later.   After I checked in about 10 pm I met up
with Lynn and John from California and Terri from Colorado.  We had a beer
and wine together before their flights took off about midnight.  John and
Lynn were going through Dubai and changing planes and Terri was going to
Sweden on business then back to Colorado later in the week.
It was definitely a memorable 10 days.  I would recommend anyone who wants
to see how your donation dollars are spent with CFCA to take a mission
awareness week.
Thanks CFCA staff for a job well done.