Thursday, January 31, 2013

Book Delivery, with a couple of glitches

Today began with a visit to Savani's, where I picked up an order of books for the primary school. Samuel and Martin helped me move the boxes of books to the car... and they asked after the progress of the secondary school. I've been buying books from them for years now, so even they are tracking the progress of our work. Maybe one of these days they'll come out and see for themselves!
Yesterday we decided not to go out to Cura because of heavy rains, so we were happy that today had sunnier weather for our book delivery. At least for a while. First, this screw  punctured one of our tires... 

And then another tire went flat, just to make sure we were truly humbled. Gilbert and I had a laugh or two in the middle of the road, as he jacked up the car, removed the two tires, propped the whole thing up with stones from the side of the road, and headed back into town to get the tires patched. Oh, and the skies opened up and the rain turned the road to sticky, slippery, red muck too boot. It was an adventure!
But neither the punctures nor the rain nor the thick mud could stop us from delivering our precious cargo... and the teachers were THRILLED. The biggest hit was the new First Aid Kit!

Even the Class Eight kids came over to celebrate the arrival of the books, which we kept under cover, of course, to protect them from the rain. Another great day!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Nairobi Kismet Downpour

It was no Starbucks, but this cup of instant coffee kicked off a day of Nairobi unpredictability ...  I needed the caffeine to keep my energy up for the endless traffic jams and weather delays. 

The day started with a long meeting with Daniel, the volunteer accountant who manages the Cura accounts here in Nairobi. We brainstormed some approaches to reconciling our accounts, and I gave him a Seattle Sounders cap...

I had intended to go to Cura after my morning meeting with Daniel, but a torrential downpour ensued right after lunch, and I was forced to re-evaluate my well-laid plans. At the height of the storm, right when the rain was blowing sideways into the kiosk where I was nursing an Americano at Village Market, I got a call from Heidi, a contact Jane introduced me to at our Tribe meeting on Sunday. I decided to make the trek across town to meet with her... and I was so glad I did!
Heidi grew up in Pasadena, CA -- and we discovered our shared hometown roots over fresh juice at Pete's (no, not Peet's) coffee... Heidi is working with the Quaker missionaries in Nairobi and leads workshops in anti-violence training and healing for PTSD. She is the answer to about two years of searching for a therapeutic approach to the trauma our kids in Cura have experienced as a result of losing their parents. I am amazed at my good luck today -- and thankful for the rain and the wind and the traffic that made this connection happen!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Road Trip and Football and Meds, Oh My!

Waiting to pick up Scola for our trip to Kiambu. We went to see Grace, one of the older girls, who is in a boarding school and who we don't get to see very often. It was a beautiful day to be out on the beautiful new bypass road. The best sight, by far, was the motorbiker who had a crate strapped to the back of his vehicle... and his goat riding in the crate, enjoying the view!

We had an hour with Grace at her lunch break, so we looked through her copy of the Cura Yearbook. (She wasn't allowed to keep it at school, but we'll keep it safe for her. Scola and I talked with her teachers about her progress and made sure she has what she needs to get her through her next time home in February!
Back in Cura, the weather had changed, and the fundis were trying to beat the rain. They are installing the two new goal posts on the soccer pitch (thanks to fundraising from Mary Strickler and her students in Virginia!) today and will paint them and install the nets tomorrow. If all goes as planned. Which it sometimes doesn't.

After our meeting yesterday, I had asked Jane, Margaret and Perris got the order together for medicines and supplies and testing kits they need -- and they did not disappoint. With the roughly US$300 I had in donated funds for the Clinic, they were able to put together an order that will cover expenses and equipment for a whole month. This will allow them some buffer, since they usually have to order the required items as needed or as funds come in from patient fees. Such a little amount of money makes an enormous difference!

Monday, January 28, 2013

A Little Bit of Lots of Things

Today, I visited Mrs Mwathi, the head teacher of Cura Primary School, and delivered her copies of the Cura yearbook and the One World Chorus cd... She was thrilled, of course!

I also hosted a friend and his family -- who've been hearing me talk about Cura since the day we met over two years ago in Seattle. I was grateful for their interest, and the Cura kids were in love with their visiting children!

 I had a great visit with Margaret, Perris and Jane, the women who run Cura's clinic, and we talked about the impressive scope of service they provide...

 ... at a low cost, to boot!

And I did some coloring with the children, of course. That was probably the best part.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Roots and Shoots and a Shamba Walk

My Sunday held two wonderful major activities:

Lunching with Jane Goodall and local representatives from Roots and Shoots, a youth project through the Jane Goodall Institute (I can't thank Michael Flint of Tribe Hotel enough for the generosity and hospitality he showed all of us),

And bringing a friend from my University of Nairobi days out to Cura, where the children took us on a hilly, 5 kilometer walk out among the shambas.

From our highest vantage points, we could see the fruits of the labor local farmers invest in the land, and we knew Jane would be proud. Roots and Shoots will find a home project in Cura one of these days...

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Apples and Oranges and Girls and Boys

Lilly handing out oranges and biscuits...

Trevor and Jenn and Hayden handing out apples.

Cura GIRLS football team!

Cura BOYS football team!

The teams restructured themselves into mixed groups almost immediately, and by the time we left Cura, the kids were still playing. Who cares who won??
Many thanks to Lilly and Trevor and Jenn -- not to mention wonderful Gilbert -- who accompanied me to Cura today and who love the place nearly as much as I do!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Prepare Your Mouth!

My quick visit to Cura Friday made for a happy reunion… We arrived just as the children were getting out of school and as the Board of Governors for Cura Secondary School was concluding its Friday meeting. The water bottles donated by Ty and Mary Strickler were handed out to much excitement, and plans were made for a boys-against-girls football match on Saturday. Margaret tells me that Gilbert will be the head cheerleader for the boys, and I will be the head cheerleader for the girls… and that I should “prepare my mouth” because I’ll have a lot of cheering to do when the girls win!

Can’t wait.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Temporary Office Relocation

Cura's Seattle Office is temporarily moving. To Cura! Watch this space for updates from the ground...

Monday, January 21, 2013

Mary Strickler at Harrisonburg Rotary

Fresh off her inaugural celebrating, Mary Strickler will speak today at the meeting of the Harrisonburg Rotary Club... sharing her Cura involvement and her leadership of the recently-completed yearbook project. Thank you, Mary!!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Bursts of Color from Portland to Cura

The One World Chorus children -- with whom our Cura kids have already collaborated on the Welcome to the Village cd -- are sending colorful notes from the grey Pacific Northwest. The children at the Home will be thrilled to receive them next week!

Many thanks to all the parents who facilitated this creative labor of love!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Thank You Notes

Painter/designer Lynne Goodman found me through this blog by accident, but that began a cheerful email exchange that has resulted in this watercolor, now being made into cards that I'll use for my thank you notes... I guess I'll have to send Lynne one!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Radio Replay

If you missed the KSER radio interview yesterday, you can listen to the replay here
Look for the Sound Living program at 4pm on Friday, 11 January.

Many thanks to Ed Bremer and KSER for inviting me to be on the program, for the interest in the work we're doing in Cura, and for making my first radio interview experience so positive!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Cura on the Radio

I've been invited to be on a local radio program -- Sound Living -- to talk about the work we're doing in Cura! Please tune in (90.7fm if you're in the Everett/Seattle area) or stream the broadcast from 4-5pm PST on Friday, 11 January. I've never been on the radio before, so I'm nervous. But I do love talking about those kids...

Monday, January 7, 2013

Yearbooks are ready to head to Cura!

Yearbooks have arrived at my house and are ready to be added to my luggage...

These are the culmination of months of work by students in Cura and in Virginia. The project was funded by generous grants pursued by one of our most tireless fans -- Mary Strickler -- and was supported by the good work of our colleague in Cura -- Scola Nduta.

I can't wait to deliver them to the eager hands of the children in our Home!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

January CAB

The new edition of Conversations Across Borders literary magazine is available -- please consider making a purchase to support Cura Orphanage! Each piece is available for $2, or you can enjoy the full edition for $10. All proceeds go to support our new secondary school. 

Many thanks to our CAB partners!