Wednesday, 9 April 2008

I'm in Kenya - part 1 - Kisii

It was with a little trepidation that I boarded the plane to Nairobi at the end of February, but any fears were soon dispersed when I walked out of the flight-side and saw the smiling face of my friend, Vincent. Vincent had travelled from Kisii to meet me and seeing his face was a tonic to me.

We took a taxi into town, where I popped in to our offices to dump my luggage. My co-director was there, surprised to see me, as he had been telling me that it was not safe.

Greetings over, we all went to see one of my clients and arranged for back pay to be sent to me in Kisii. This was a relief as I went over with very little money.

Vincent and I found a shuttle and set off for Kisii.

Kisii is the location of Mercy Gate Orphanage, which I support - Vincent and his wife, Abigael, are the directors.

After a brief stop in Narok for lunch, we eventually arrived in Kisii just after sundown. A short car journey later and we were home.

Josephat, one of the kids on the Mercy Gate register has been fostered by Vincent and Abigael, has been waiting for me to return since I left in September last year. He was over the moon when I walked through the door, not waiting for me to put my luggage down before he threw himself at me.

The next few days was spent looking around town and visiting the cyber cafe. Whatever did we do before email?

Kisii is an important town in SW Kenya. It is in a very fertile area and the economy relies on agriculture. It is off the main Nairobi to Kisumu route so it rarely gets a visit from tourists. The town is shabby, full of rubbish, chaotic, wonderful.

On Saturday, I held a belated Christmas party for the kids at the orphanage, and bought games and toys for them, as well as a lot of fruit and soft drinks.

They had a brilliant time, as did I.
We took the opportunity to measure their feet as I had collected mobile phones in the UK to sell and raise money to buy shoes.

The week was spent selling the phones and looking for business opportunities that would earn money to run the home, and the following Saturday, we held another party.

This time, we provided a cooked meal from the contents of a food parcel received from the USA. And we fitted all the kids with new leather school shoes. They were delighted.

I took Josephat, who is four and extremely small for his age, to hospital for a check-up. I thought he had an intestinal parasite and the doctor agreed. We got the appropriate medication. We also had him tested for HIV/AIDS.

Jospehat is lively. Once he started his medication, he became even livlier, so it looks as if I was right. I have since received the results of his HIV test, he is negative.

All too soon, it was time to leave Kisii for Watamu, a journey right across the country, stopping off in Nairobi to see my friend and co-director, Dominic.