Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A 2nd Day in Kipkarren

I woke up to the sounds of dogs howling, roosters crowing, and Solomon, David’s youngest son, crying. The first two are self-explanatory, I’m not sure why Solomon was crying. I know that on Monday he was very upset that school was closed and he couldn’t go to class. Maybe that was the reason.
Upon waking, Juli and I went on one of the best walks of my life. We watched the sun rise and went to a rock on which Juli believes God dwells. Upon experiencing it for myself, I’m inclined to agree with her. We each had our own quiet prayer time before heading back home. After breakfast, I went on a tour of ELI’s facilities. I can’t remember ever crossing streams and hiking through uneven paths in a skirt before, but I’m now rather accomplished at it. My tour guide, Philip, was very informative and I learned much, not only about what ELI is doing, but about the history of Kenya and its current politics (more on the last subject later.)

Kenya was colonized by the British. During the time of their reign, the objective was to get as much out of the soil as possible without regard to the long-term damage that such pillaging would bring. As an agricultural society, the two primary sources of wealth were land and cows. When the British left, the people were ill-informed on how to create sustainable agricultural development. ELI seeks to reverse these trends through programs that teach individuals not only how to most effectively use their land, but to use all the resources of the land to improve their lifestyle. Nothing is wasted. Plants that aren’t harvested become compost or feed for the animals. Cow dung is used as fertilizer or to feed fishes. People are taught how to build double-deck gardens to ensure that water run-off is reduced. They are shown how they can take care of their cows without having to maintain them all day – allowing them to spend their time in other profitable endeavors. Also, they are taught that they can build a beehive, a fish pond, a tree farm, or a cow enclosure, on the land that they already have. In addition to this agricultural training, the Training Center hosts a library, provides computer training and a rehabilitation program for alcoholics, plus a variety of other services that help enrich people’s lives and build a stronger foundation for their future.

Along with the training center, ELI runs a children home for orphans. There are currently 96 kids at the children’s home which are divided into four groups. Each group has a set of house parents who are responsible for 24 kids. Additionally, each group has four huts – a boys dormitory, a girls dormitory, an eating area and a house for the parents. The children are expected to contribute to their own well-being and along with receiving an education at Brook of Faith (ELI’s school), they are taught farming techniques and help maintain the children’s home’s lifestock. When I came, children who are on holiday from school, were busy helping to separate the rice that would eventually be used to prepare their meals.

The third area that I toured was the clinic. The clinic recently added a new building and has room to provide the following services: eye care, labor and delivery facilities, a pharmacy, lab services, and immunizations. In addition, general check-ups and health exams are administered. The clinic is staffed by Kenyan nationals and is able to refer more severe cases to hospitals that are in the vicinity.

After my tour ended, I went to the graduation ceremony for those who had recently completed the alcoholic rehabilitation program. The ceremony lasted for approximately four hours and was composed of graduates sharing their stories and asking for forgiveness, along with preaching (both planned and impromptu) and singing. There were nineteen graduates plus family, friends and neighbors in attendance. The celebration ended with lunch. It was an amazing experience to watch as people set out with hopes for a better life, not only for themselves, but for the entire family.

PS – A random experience – when we were at the Eldoret airport, I listened in amazement as a gentleman in a plastic kiosk checked us in and shared with us the president’s travel itinerary. Political operations are much different here, and as Kenya prepares for their national election, it is the subject on everyone’s lips. The fact that a ticket agent at the airport could give us a detail accounting of the national leader’s travel plans struck me as a potential security hazard, but such is the unassuming way of life here.



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A 2nd Day in Kipkarren