The last four weeks have been a whirlwind of Kenyan chaos & adventure!
When we left Wales 4 weeks ago we thought it was going to be manic knowing that we would be helping out with opening wells & setting up a goat bank on the West side of Kenya (see my last blog to read all about it); preparing everything for a UK Young Life team to come & help us build on the East side of Kenya near the coast & trying to catch up with friends in Nairobi in between-it definitely met our expectations!! But it was so worth it!
So, here's how things went...
Friends from around Kenya & a team from Uganda were awesome enough to come & help out with building as well as Maria & Lionece who came to Kenya with us a couple of weeks before we started. We all made our way to the school that was accommodating us & started to get to know one another. Meanwhile the UK team took 2 days to travel from Pembrokeshire all the way to our piece of land. After getting their arrival times confused they missed the (clean & efficient) train & had to take the (crazy) night bus to the coast. Knowing they'd be stinky, tired & hungry I arranged breakfast to be ready for them & let everyone know they could rest at the school for the morning & we'd all go to the plot in the afternoon. However after breakfast & a bucket 'shower' everyone just wanted to get to the land & start digging-what champs! And so the work began...here's a few pics of what we started with.
By day 3 we had done lots of digging but the land still wasn't even. But we had bigger problems than that: the 2 shipping containers which were going to be a major part of the building weren't close enough to where they needed to be & they were the wrong way around: on their sides. The lorry that had delivered them a week earlier didn't have a crane so they'd tried a rope to a tree, attached it to the container & then driven until it came off! We couldn't get a crane either so to turn the containers around & move them we had to use a bulldozer-it was crazy to watch!
Now that we had the containers in the right places people got to work on different things & over the last week the containers have been de-rusted, primed & welded. Others got to work on the wall that is between the containers to make a hall. In the last couple of days we managed to get most of the rust off, build the walls up to window height & get the ground relatively level. On the last day we planted fruit trees which the community will benefit from & had a celebration with all the locals invited too.
Amidst the chaos we had opportunities to get to know some of the people who live in the surrounding area, especially the women and children. This was great seeing as their the ones we're going to be working with once everything's ready.
After all the fun & hard work it was time to say goodbye to the UK team and most of the Kenyans. Bill (the guy in charge of the building bit), the guys from Uganda and a couple of Kenyans decided to be amazing and stayed to finish off what they could & some of them are still there now putting on the roof. These are some of the latest pics of how far they've got.
THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!
A massive massive THANK YOU to all of you who helped in one way or another to help us get this far! We're amazed at how much we've been able to do in such a short space of time and it's thanks to God's grace through you that's made it possible.
We'll keep on putting up updates of the progress so keep your eye out on our Facebook page (Love your Neighbour) or message me your e-mail address if you want to receive our newsletters. And if you want to get involved in our next trip don't hesitate to get in touch
It's been two years since I was last in this land of smiling faces, dusty red roads & delicious street foods.
It's so good to be here, to meet up with old friends, to eat my favourite Kenyan foods & to discover new places!
So far it's Lox, me & Joseia here along with 2 ladies who live in the U.K. & have come here to make a difference. We've had quite a few adventures travelling from one side of the country to the other & putting into action what God has put on the heart of one of these ladies, Maria.
To be honest, I've been inspired by Maria & the hard work & enthusiasm she's put in over the last year to do what she felt God wants her to do here. Firstly, she felt God putting on her heart to build 3 wells. She didn't have money to do this herself so she thought & prayed about how she could raise the money to do it. So, she collected empty water bottles & put a label on them asking her friends to put in 10p every time they drink water so that others can also have access to clean water. She gave the bottle out to her friends & anyone who was willing to take one & then followed up & collected the money every so often. Through doing this she raised enough money to dig 3 wells & to build a water conservation tank (to collect rain water)!
She then thought about what people here who are poor can eat each day? She was inspired by a book she'd been reading to start an animal bank. She's been asking people to buy a goat or chicken & over the last week she's been buying them & putting them in schools & with people in the community. The idea is that these animals will be loaned to poor families who will benefit from the eggs & milk. When their animal gives birth, they given the first one back to the 'bank' to pay their loan & keep the rest & so the bank continues to help other poor families.
It's been brilliant to see the wells being officially opened & people's excitement as they've been loaned an animal!
I've also been inspired by Maria's commitment to making these things happen. She didn't have much money of her own but she asked God for creative ideas so that she could raise the money needed. Through her obedience she's really made a difference in the lives of those people who now have clean water & milk or eggs to add to their limited diet.
It's challenging me & I hope it can challenge you too to think about what you can do? What difference can you make in someone's life today?
As Mother Teresa said, there's no big things, only small things done with big love. I believe it's these things which really make a lasting difference in the lives of others.
‘Your availability for God to use you will take you where He wants you to go to say what He wants you to say where He wants you to say it and how He wants you to say it’
After 12 long hours of travelling by bus along the bumpy Kenyan and Ugandan roads, we were woken up by the conductor and told that we had reached our destination; it was 5:30 in the morning and dawn had not yet broken. We were given our bags and left at a closed petrol station as we watched our bus disappear into the darkness. A tingle of fear mixed in with the excitement of being somewhere new and different after having spent too many days caught up in the hustle and bustle of Nairobi life. I prayed a silent prayer to God to keep us safe and help us reach our destination safely as I looked over to Amy and saw confusion written over her face.
Within moments, we were surrounded by 8 men on motorbikes, all harmlessly trying to find out where we wanted to go, each hoping to get some business in reward for being out of bed and available to taxi someone where they needed to be at that early hour. We repeatedly told them ‘Nile river camp’ as they discussed between themselves in the local language, Luganda, where exactly that could be. After some debating, one man, who appeared to be older than the others, said he knew the place and assured us that he’d take us there. He told me to jump on and instructed a friend to carry Amy.
We motor biked along, cutting through the cool fresh morning air and going deeper into the wild as the tarmac ran out and town turned into rural village. It felt like freedom to be away from everything modern and familiar and to enjoy simplicity; it felt like this is the real Africa, the Africa I had fallen in love with years ago. As we turned into the campsite, we found the place hushed and dark. The only noises that could be heard were those of morning birds and insects performing their best numbers to a sleeping world. From nowhere, a man appeared with a torch, as startled as we were to see someone walking around the campsite this early in the morning. It was now about 6am and the first signs of dawn were beginning to light the earth. The man turned out to be the watchman and asked us to wait as he fetched some keys. He came back quickly and pointed to a nearby room where he said we could rest a bit. We got into the dormitory where I was relieved at the idea of lying down on a comfortable bed after what had felt like hours of sleeping and waking up uncomfortably before re-adjusting myself to try and sleep some more on the uncomfortable bus seats. A bed seemed like heaven. As we turned on the lights, a couple of geckos were taken by surprise by our entry into their room and scuttled around; Amy in turn was surprised by them and mixed with exhaustion her emotions caught her off guard. Filled with terror at the sight of the creatures she froze in the middle of the room, unprepared to sleep under their watchful eyes. On the other hand, feeling at peace now that we’d safely arrived, I was overcome with tiredness and couldn’t wait to snuggle up on the comfortable bed and get some much anticipated sleep.
It felt like only minutes had gone by when I woke up feeling refreshed from the deep sleep I had found myself in but when I looked at my phone 4 hours had slipped by. I could hear Amy in the bunk bed below me begin to stir and awake from her sleep and noises of people chatting outside gave me the impression that the campsite was now alive. My mind was now awake and there was one thought on it; I have to explore! I stepped down from my bed and after a cold but refreshing shower we were ready for the day. We made our way down to the main reception which was also the restaurant, bar and anything else it needed to be, both of us were filled with excitement at every new thing we saw on our way. As we looked out across the river Nile, I felt in awe at the creation of God, so vast yet not a detail out of place. I took in a deep breath of the fresh country air and was filled with contentment; it was good to be here.
For three days we enjoyed out getaway. We basked under the warm Ugandan sun; we swam around and made up silly games in the pool; we kayaked on the biggest river in the world and we appreciated God for the life He’d given us. Every day, we enjoyed the delicious home-made food served at the restaurant knowing that the western style menu was something not to take for granted compared to our usual African diet. We shared stories, we laughed at each other and we made memories that we’ll never forget.
Time flew, and before we knew it, it was time to pack up and head onto part 2 of our adventure: Kampala. We got a motor bike back to the nearest town, Jinja, and Joseph our motor bike driver chatted and cracked jokes with us all the way; the friendliness of the people here never ceases to amaze me. We got on a minibus, locally known as a taxi and headed to Kampala to meet up with Lox and a bunch of friends from our Church. All along the way, our conductor played sardines with us and tried to squeeze as many passengers as possible onto the taxi. On arrival, we decided to stretch the ‘holiday mode’ for a little while longer and enjoyed a cup of coffee at a mall before joining the others who had travelled from Kenya.
The conference comprised of 3 influential African speakers who were successful not only in the world of Christianity but had also in their careers. For four days, we were encouraged by them to be a change in the world around us and to make a difference instead of accepting the status quo. They gave inspirational stories of standing up against corruption and of using their God given gifts to excel in their workplaces and in the business world. It was a very inspirational conference. The quote that stuck with me was ‘Your availability for God to use you will take you where He wants you to go to say what He wants you to say where He wants you to say it and how He wants you to say it’.
One day, when I was in Wales last year, my mum and I decided to enjoy a walk on the Pembrokeshire cost path. As we were on our way, she shared about the kids from some of the local schools she teaches in and said that some of the children, despite only living 5 miles away from the coast, have never been to the seaside. I was surprised and I thought that it’s a strange irony in life that wherever in the world we live we often don’t experience and enjoy the natural attractions which are near to us. Sometimes, we don’t think about it and other times we simply don’t get an opportunity.
Every year in Kenya, millions of tourists come from all corners of the world to enjoy the natural beauty and wildlife which God has blessed this country with. However, just as in Wales, the local people usually don’t get the same opportunity to enjoy these things for themselves. Therefore, we decided that we would give the children in our pre-school and the ones who have gone onto primary school this opportunity by taking them to an animal orphanage situated on the outskirts of Nairobi city.
We picked the kids up in a bus, and from the moment the driver started the engine, until we arrived, the children sang song after song at the top of their voices! The older children had been learning about animals in school and were so excited to see the animals for themselves as one of the workers showed us around and told us about the animals which were there, most of which had been rescued. The highlight came when a monkey came and sat about 3 meters away from the kids. They were happy to see the monkey until it suddenly ran up and stole a plastic bag one of the kids was carrying, thinking it was food! The monkey ran away and climbed up the nearest tree, hoping to get a packed lunch all for himself. Much to his dismay, the plastic bag was only holding the boy’s sweater; so after a thorough investigation, he dropped the bag into the crocodile pen. Seeing as the crocodile was in the water, our guide didn’t mind reaching over the fence with a stick and retrieving the bag as the kids gave a clap of appreciation!
We finished the trip with lunch and then got back onto the bus to sing some more songs as we made our way back home.
Every morning the children from Little Angel's Pre School come early to class, eager to get a cup of porridge. By lunch time, their hungry again, and we provide them will a healthy lunch knowing that this could be the only decent meal they receive each day. But this is not always enough, because they might not be getting all the nutrition they need from the food. Why? Because of a common parasite in Kenya, worms!
Research has shown that deworming has both physical and educational benefits for children: it increases children's attendance rates and, in the long run, increases their chances of going onto higher education and getting a well payed job later on in life. Therefore, we decided that from this year we'll be regularly deworming the children in our Pre School, and those who are being sponsored in Primary School.
"Findings of a long-term impact study in Kenya showed participants who were dewormed as children had higher wages, fewer sick days, more work hours, and higher-level occupations."
We bought the medicine we needed, which to our pleasant surprise only cost around 4 pounds for a big bottle of 100 servings. The children had 1-2 teaspoons each (depending on the age), followed by a yummy Quality street chocolate given by a friend in Wales, there were smiles all around! Then we had some laughs as I showed them 2 new puppets which were also given for the children from a friend while I was in Wales. The teachers were happy and said they'll be using the puppets with the kids during assembly and story time, and the children thought the puppets were hilarious!
It was good to be reminded that a little personal sacrifice can actually make a big difference and put joy in someone's heart on the other side of the world.
For more information on the benefits of deworming, please see: http://blogs.worldbank.org/education/rethinking-deworming
If you’re anything like me, then every year begins with a few New Year’s resolutions. Some might be for better health like, ‘eat more healthily’, ‘exercise regularly’ and so on. Others for spiritual growth like trying harder to read my Bible and to pray more often. And, if you’re anything like me, then for a few days, or maybe even a couple of weeks, I can keep it up. And, if you’re still anything like me, then after a couple of weeks I fail miserably in at least one or two of them, if not all!
So, if you are like me, and you’ve now eaten a stack load of left over Christmas chocolate, overslept when you were supposed to go for a jog and completely forgotten about reading your daily devotional at least a couple of times; then I want to give you an idea of how you can really make a difference this year. Not in your own life; but in someone else’s…
Two weeks ago, Lox and I came back to Kenya where the new school year is beginning. January is a mixture of happiness and sadness to children around Kenya; happiness for those who have the means to buy shoes, a new school uniform and to pay their school fees, but sadness for those who don’t have the money. This year, you can make a difference to a child by sponsoring them to go to school. For only 10 pounds a month, you can make a huge difference in the life of one child and give them the opportunity to go to school this year.
Even if, like me, your new year’s resolutions have gone nowhere, you can still make 2015 a year to count and begin giving someone the gift of an education this year.
If you’re interested, you can sponsor a child in 3 easy steps:
1. Respond to this blog and let us know that you want to sponsor a child
2. We will send you some forms so that you can set up a standing order and gift aid it too (if you’re a tax payer). Fill them out and send them to our charity umbrella ‘Links international’.
3. We will send you a photo of your sponsored child and information about them. If you want to, you’ll be able to write to them and they can write to you too!
"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."
More of my Awesome Adventures here in Kenya...
So I've lost all track of what day it is, what time it is, which week I'm at and how long I have left before heading home to the UK... well, actually I'm refusing to think about leaving yet haha!
So let me fill you all in on some other cool stuff I've been up to. This past week has been more of a chilled out week as the lovely Ruth, Lox & Kev have all had a weeks leave from work :) So the 4 of us went on a road trip to Naivasha for a few days of camping in the peaceful countryside! It was beautiful! So nice to be outside of the city of Nairobi for a little while. We camped by a big lake and at night you could hear the hippos! I didn't get to see one but that's Ok because I heard a story once of the strangest death that once happened... A guy bounced off his trampoline into a hippos open mouth and got eaten! I really didn't mind not seeing a hippo, just in case I became the victim of the next strangest death! However, one day we all hired bikes and cycled for miles!!!! My butt literally killed to sit on it by the end of the day! We cycled through a park where we saw wild animals just roaming around like it's normal! Zebras, Rock elephants, monkeys, goats... it was awesome! Then at night, as we drove along the road, we saw giraffes, just there on the sides! Oh my golly, imagine this in the UK!! Nope, you gotta go to the zoo for this experience! This adventure is incredible guys!
So anyway, whilst we were away on our awesome camping trip, I experienced something awful! Oh my gollly... imagine your worst fear Ok?? So Shauna, Lish.. snakes yeah?? Lucy, imagine a hugeeeee spider in your hand! Josh.. imagine 10 butterflies flying around your face! Ok! Got your fears ready? Here goes. Ruth & Lox have a lovely friend near our campsite so she invited us round one night for tea. Imagine what could have been the worst thing to serve me... a huge FISH! With it's head, tail, eyes and scales still intact!!!!!!!!!!!! Noooooooooooooooo! Can you even imagine what was going on on my insides!!!? And I couldn't be rude and turn my nose up right! I had to suck it up!!!! I was literally shaking inside haha... And not only that, everyone was eating with their hands, so imagine how awful I was feeling at the thought of touching my biggest fear with my bare hands! Oh man!! I couldn't! I was the only one using a fork and knife. But guys, I kept jumping every time my fork approached a scale lol.... thank you Jesus for the wonderful Kevin, who took compassion on me as I sat there wondering where to start! Haha... So did I overcome my fear? Hmm... let's just say I'm one step closer! :) Kev cut my fish up and put it on a different plate far, far away from the head and tail and creepy scales!
And on that note let me move on to some other foods I tried and loved on my trip to Naivasha. So we ate one evening at the coolest place! We had this huge board with just loads of chopped up goats meat! Never tried goats meat before, didn't want to either, especially after giving big cuddles to my new goat friend earlier that day! But my good friends over here told me it was beef so I ate! And BOOM it was awesome!!! I loved it! And we had a little taste of home too as I enjoyed a plate of chips and salad just like the salad I eat with my dad when I'm enjoying a Kebab! And my fave Kenyan food yet, Ugali!! When I get home, I'm gonna cook this for you guys! Also, the morning before we left, we also had a little taste of home as we enjoyed a good fry up! But check this out guys!!! The view from our table as we ate was monkeys!! Eating left overs after customers left! They were just picking at everyone's plate! It was awesome!
We lit the campfire at night, listened to the wonderful Jack Johnson, enjoyed a good cyder and listened out for wildlife as we stargazed under the African moon! And then we sang songs all the way home the next day. Thank you Jesus for Taylor Swift and country music and the patience of 2 awesome men as Ruth and I replayed the same song over and over and over!
And so I think this completes my blog for this week! I hope everyone back home is doing really well and enjoying the welsh summer! I miss you all and love, love, love you lots and lots!
Love Amy X
On the 22nd of July, as I was chilling out in my room, guess who walked in? One of my best friends, Amy Greig!! She's here up until the end of August and I thought it would make a nice change if you can read some of her experiences here in Kenya... So here you go:
So I've been having some good times this week guys, making some awesome, forever and a day memories with some amazing people! My adventures so far in Kenya have been awesome! Starting with an overwhelming feeling of love for an incredible bunch of people who live in the slums of Kibera... seriously guys, I love these people! They make me smile everyday making me feel so welcomed into their community! I've met beautiful children and beautiful adults.
So far, I've had the privilege of surprising, Blessed Academy preschool with all the amazing toys that were collected for them... the smiles on their faces as they practically jumped into my suitcase was just so awesome! They loved the toys! Thanks to everyone who gave! You really have made a huge difference to their little lives. The girls loved the dolls and the boys loved the cars! I was thinking it's awesome to have seen some photos before coming here but now to actually be here and meeting these beautiful kids has been an honor. They're name for me is "teacher Amy" and they're favorite English words that I give them when I'm there is, "Big Hugs"! They love cuddles and they love my silly accent! Hehe... they're awesome!
Also this past week, in between my visits to the preschool, I've had the privilege of meeting some of the street women Ruth and Lox work with. They're amazing people and so happy to give you a smile! I met a lovely lady called Dorcas, she taught me how to knit during their creative activity. We also discussed nail varnish. She likes blue so hopefully next week I can take my blue nail varnish and paint her nails! Whilst I was here, I also got to meet their beautiful kids! And they really are beautiful! So one little girl was fascinated by my pink nails. I think she thought they were edible because before I could say a thing, she had my fingers in her mouth and she was trying to bite them! Hehe... Also these kids were amazed by my long hair and my skin colour. They just wanted to sit with me and hug me and talk to me! The language barrier is difficult at times but as long as I'm giving them cuddles and smiles I think they're happy!
During my visit with the street women, I also met a beautiful girl named Mary. She's just 15. She finished her primary education but can't afford to continue with her schooling. Honestly it broke my heart because this child has big dreams of becoming a lawyer and then a judge. Her heart is so determined! While so many teenagers in the UK complain about having to go to school, this little girls biggest dream right now is to go to school! And all it would cost per month for her education is 20 pounds. It's unbelievable. So many kids can't go to school because they can't afford it. So again, I took it as a privilege to sit with Mary and talk and listen and pray, reassuring her that she is beautiful and CAN achieve her dreams!
So as you can imagine, I had quite an experience in meeting a few of these remarkable people and, on leaving the street women the other day I honestly felt so encouraged as Ruth translated the best compliment I have ever had in my life!! One of the street women told Ruth to say this -"Tell your friend she is lovely... just like Jesus." WOW!!! Well guys if I could have any compliment in my life before I die, it would be this one!
I've had an amazing journey so far. My eyes have been opened to lots of things but I just gotta tell you some crazy fun stuff I've had the chance to see too!! Firstly, people cross the motorway here guys!! And not only that, they literally walk out onto the road whilst the cars are coming!! It's awesome!! I'm slightly concerned for my life when I come home after getting used to this haha... as you can imagine everyone is holding my hand!!! Hehe
Not only this, but the buses here are AWESOME!!!! It's like a party on the bus every journey! There's lights and loud music and the radio guy, he doesn't like to let the DJ do his thing, he's so happy he sings all the songs the entire time! Really guys if buses were like this in the UK, people would not have cars! Also the buses here are called "Matatw's" they're not like buses in the UK, they're mini-buses. Everyone piles in!! And it's awesome!!! I think riding the buses is deffo one of my highlights! And riding on the back of a motorbike! Crazy fun!!!
So guys, this is my first week... well some of it! I need to go now because I'm chilling with a friend. So I'll update you some more next week!
Love you lots like jelly tots!
since January around 90 people have given their lives to Jesus through both the street ministry we do with Always Enough and evangelistic events with the youth from our Church here. we decided we need to do something to teach these new Christians about who Jesus is and what he's done for them and that something came in the form of a course called Christianity Explored.
we started last month and since starting 6 more women have become Christians and many others have said they now understand things about Jesus that they didn't before. some women have been healed from sicknesses and others have gone on to pray for their friends and seen them healed too!
the impact this course has had has been great, and we're only just getting started with it, I can't wait to see the effect it will have on people's lives over the next few months. lox is also running the course with the street boys and with a group of boys in juvenile prison and we hope to run it from our Church too.
a special thanks to Towy Church for providing the materials and we appreciate your prayers while we continue to run the course!
This week I went to the best graduation I've ever been to: the graduation of former street women and men who are going through or have completed their rehabilitation!!
8 women and 1 man graduated, and out of them 5 had been admitted to the rehabilitation directly through our weekly work on the streets. It was amazing to see the change in their lives and to see them confidently making presentations in front of everyone. The same women who used to come to our street meetings drunk or high have now been drug free for 3-14 months, (depending on when they were admitted) and are looking and behaving like any other women.
There were different levels of graduation for them, some had certificates for courses in English, literature and other things; but 2 were celebrating their total completion of the rehabilitation and will now go on to live their lives as they always dreamed to!
It was such a joy to be a part of such a great day and I hope for many more to come!
Welcome to my blog! In case you didn't already know, I'm Ruth. In 2010 I graduated from University and before I even had time to settle down and get a job I felt a tug on my heart to go to Kenya for a few years to help in any way I could. When I arrived it was love at first sight; I loved the more relaxed way of life, the way Kenyans would laugh at EVERYTHING and the way people would put people first. On my first day there I also met Lox, a tall, dark & handsome African man who had the same passions in life as me and the more we worked & laughed together the more we fell in love & after a couple of years of dating we tied the knot & got married. Now I live, work, eat & sleep Kenya. It's great to be able to help those who are in some ways less fortunate than me but amazingly I always feel that I'm the one who gets blessed and learns so much from the people I try to help and from everything I do. Enjoy my blogs which give you a taste of this crazy yet wonderful life I lead.