Location: Bolton , UK
For the remaining followers, this is my final blog now I am back on my home turf in Bolton Town..
We left The Walk for the last time at 11am on Thursday 22nd September, lots of goodbyes and children following us- waving, to the gate. The five minute walk home was very quiet we were lost in our own thoughts.. I was trying to take in the past 4 weeks, how quickly it had come and gone, and although a lot of good work has done I acknowledged the centre would continue on as it has done before. I remember thinking I'd probably miss the children and the community more than they'd miss us, that pretty much goes without saying.
My main reason for going to Kenya was for self fulfilment to experience a different culture, to work with children in a different country to have an opportunity to do something worthwhile with my time, when Maggie and Orlagh said I was going to Kenya I was in disbelief but I grabbed hold of the opportunity with both hands, and ran!
I never thought that I was going to Kenya to change the world or make much difference from the day to day lives of the children at the slum, Walk centre or community, however what I did want was 'to make their day' and to show them a little taste of something different, to spend the money raised on them and within their community boosting the local economy, and to have fun!!
I was worried that I'd find it difficult to deal with the poverty that I was about to faced with and whether I would be able to cope with that.
I convinced myself that unlike the materialistic western culture which we live in, that the folk in Kenya may actually be quite happy with 'their lot'- due to the old saying of 'never missed what you haven't had' In this niaive thought process the 'want versus need' obviously escaped my mind!
The reality was quite different... Children played without appropriate footwear, ripped clothes in sess pits.. they played with the boxes and the empty wrappers of all the 'stuff' they could never imagine ever possessing. They struggled on a daily basis to feed their children, to buy medication to treat their ailments, they had no light to see in the dark- my original theory was in tatters from day one.
One thing that I noticed was the children dressed in scruffy clothes most of the time, but Sundays- everyone were in their best dress. This was good to see. It was also good to see the complete sense of community which was so strong, the church being the centre focus.
There was talk about relative poverty, for example wages are low in Kenya, so are the cost of buying, renting and even building a house, so is food. To us these things are a pittence.. What struck me the most was that although the people can afford to live in the slum, can they ever afford to leave? How difficult would it be for a Kenyan to buy a £600 return ticket to England to visit us, when they struggle on a monthly basis to pay £10 rent?
to me it seems the only way out is through education, this is the main aim of the Walk Centre- who pay for children to go to Prison Primary- The cost of a desk, uniform and text books (around £40)
They also pay the fees for older children to attend high school..
They feed over 200 children daily and support 320 children in total and their families as best they can..
I'm glad to be back in Bolton, having missed my Family, friends and Bedouin like crazy. I look back at the past 4 weeks and it almost seems like a distant memory, like it was just a dream.. However my emotions are very raw to it; I feel an over whelming sense of empathy, understanding, and an urge to continue helping- knowing the daily struggles, the lack of food, resources, H&S (lol)
Next fundraising will be to build four homes in the resettlement area, culitvation of the land, farming equipment and title deeds- i reckon about £1,500. Also going to start a trainer appeal! They need trainers when the football team are using flip flops and school shoes (".)
And the question on everyone's lips seems to be, "will you return?"
Bet your boots I will!
with thanks to Clare Kelly and Stephen Greenwood for making this an unforgettable experience..and Great Places Housing Group for supporting The Walk and funding this once in a lifetime opportunity! :)
Time to be reunited with friends and family and paint the town BLUE! xx
This morning we woke early to the sounds of the mutatu.. Been up through the night again by howling dogs... They go on for everr! So annoying! Also got a bad back today (".)
Had a shower and washed my tan off and since then I've been watched Clate try to pack all of the stuff she has bought into her case. She bartered with all her clothes so she hasn't even got any clothes to pack and she is still struggling. She bought an elephant that weighs about 10kg on it's own (that's just one of the things) it's like the krypton factor challenge! Steve just took a pika pika to town to print off our boarding passes. For anyone interested.. We are travelling with KLM and our flight from Kenya to Amsterdam is KL4140, A'Dam to M/C is KL1097.
We are going back to school this morning to say final goodbyes and take some last bits we no longer need. Feels weird getting ready to leave, really enjoyed my time in Kenya but I'll be glad to get home and see family and friends.. I know come Monday morning where I'd prefer to be! ;-)
Today we woke and went to school for 7:30 to make chapatti... I rolled chapattis for 5 hours straight, not looking forward to tomorrow, *backache* it was worth it though, all the children had two/three chapattis, mince, cabbage, tomatoes, carrots, onions.. we tried a little too- delicious!!!
This afternoon we bought a tank which will hold 2000 litres of water- the idea is that the children will have water to hand to wash their hands following going to the loo. We thought this was money well spent. We also stopped for milkshakes- sooo hot today.
Tonight we plan to eat at Alex and Patricia's for dinner and then pack all of our things.
When we left the school today it didnt feel as bad as I thought it might, the children gave hugs and really enjoyed their party bags- especially the pop. WE are leaving for Nairobi at 12noon tomorrow so for now, Hasta Mañana! :)
Yesterday morning was mostly spent fitting shoes, everyone had a new pair- they looked brilliant...
We also met with the four women who are to inherit the land to prepare a plan of action to move them away from Nakuru and the slum for good...they need the land cultivating, they need four homes, tools to farm with and a land surveyor to complete title deeds so they all own their land officially... We reckon all this would cost around £1500 so fundraising begins when we get back! In the afternoon we bought some food for today's events..
In the evening we took Fred out for a meal, he brought along his eldest daughter Esther (8 years) she is beautiful. We gave Fred a thank you card and present for his commitment to the walk, for making our time here really enjoyable and generally for being a really good guy. He like the others was taken a back by the prospect, he thanked us, the people back home and feels that a lot of positive and helpful things have been achieved over the last 4 weeks. If nothing else we have raised Fred's profile as provider to the children... Because when he brings the goood food in, they thank Fred. Lol.
So today it is our last full day in Nakuru and our last day with the children and we are going out with a bang! Party bags, skipping ropes, frisbees, footballs, party games, singing dancing, face painting! Chapatti, meat!!
There are gonna be some tears before bedtime!! Camera is fully charged and ready to rock!
I don't know why all my 'brain child's are monotonous but this last one was. As we are having a party on the final day I suggested a few weeks ago that we should make party bags for all the children, at least 150...
Last night we selected the goodies to go in the bag and between us we packed out each paper bag with; toothpaste, toothbrush, notepad, crayons, pencil, Vaseline, a lolly and a drink of juice. X150! It took a while but it was another little 'challenge' now we are fallin over brown paper bags everywhere. We also exchanged a few of the football tops as a couple didn't fit... Bought first aid boxes for the walk, disinfectant to wash tables down with. We have skipping ropes and some toys are us stuff that we are gonna take for 'party day'
So now we have finished breakfast (pancakes, again) we are going to school to fit the shoes, then we are going buying chapatti flour, cabbage and meat for tomorrow. Meat is such a massive treat!
we visited the land we purchased this morning... it was a 2hour drive over rough terrain- felt like we were off roading for the majority opf the journey... felt sick! basically the land is 4 acres, the idea is that four families will come out and farm the land. They will stage it out though gradually so the families won't move out to live on the land until they have grown enough to sustain themselves and the family. The four families were selected on need, and whether they are able to farm their own land and whether they will do to better their lives. (they have to be careful not to give the land to people who will just sell it)
This afternoon we bought 140odd pairs of shoes.. hard task especially in this heat- boiling today. we bought an ice cream, :) *little luxuries*
We returned to school and sorted the shoes per class ready to hand out in the morning.
We then went back to town and bought some textbooks for the school, key stage maths, english etc etc
We also started buying 'things' for our party bag which we are going to hand out on the last day! lots going on!
Keep forgetting to take my Malerone. So yesterday I thought I had I had the onset of malaria, dizziness, sickness in the stomach, headachy... Turns out just had a really bad hangover! After 10k run and tea was in bed fast asleep for 8pm. After speaking to Smethy, that cheered me right up but equally got a massive homesickness pang! Give my head a quick wobble and now I'm over it.
I'm sacrificing myself today on two counts... Firstly we are driving milesss away to view the property GPHG bought last year (instead of sending volunteers) so I need to face my travel sickness demons face on. Secondly I hate shopping, HATE it, but this afternoon we are going to a second hand Market to buy (minimum) 150 pairs of shoes for the kiddies. The shoes on the Market are decent ones that have been sent over from places like UK etc... Best crack on with brekkie
10k run, done! Time for T-bone! :)
Last night we decided to treat ourselves, off we went 5pm to gilani's keg joint, football was on, it was good to see something so familiar. So we indulged in that and jaeger :-) x3 each.. And more drinks... Clare went to the bog and steve was buying a drink when some old guy skulked over to tell me 'you are a very beautiful woman' it was a *cheers pal, now move out the way coz you're blocking the football* moment. We went back to Merica to drink the stash we had in our hotel room. Steve bought a bottle of wine, then corked it. Lolololol. Never is an opportunity to laugh at each other missed!
We had our dinner and then I spotted Larry (one of the Market stall holders who had given Clare some good bargains) I said hello and he told me he was waiting for us to finish eating so he can take us out.... Alrighttty then. On the way back to the room we snook passed Larry (".) to finish drinks
Sooo not long after we headed to the lobby, Larry was STILL waiting, he told us he'd take us to a good club. We arrived at Dimples at 8pm. We were the only ones there, listening to retro RnB. :-S we had more drink, more shots and Larry had Clare in a corner telling her all about him and his origins as a Masai... Me and Steve thought it rude to interrupt so we pulled some shapes on the dance floor... Steve did some break dancing I did some cartwheels. *fun*
Clare found us at the bar... And wasn't happy we'd left her to get chatted up by Larry. So I went downstairs with clare so she could have a fag- Larry turned up. We had a little chat about running, he said he had a cousin who was a very good runner... I can't remember which is which now but one is a marathon runner, Nicholas lekuraa and an 800mtr runner- rudisha lekuta. Random.
So now I need to tell u what happened next- this all hear say because I don't remember, we left the club walked back to the hotel- Larry confessed his undying live to clare enroute home, and that they'd b together one day... (we shouldn't have bought Larry so much beer) Clare told him she was taken, this was not a concern of his. Lol. Clare fled the scene, steve told Larry that Clare had had a long day and too much excitement to deal with such a confession and she has retired for the evening. Larry said 'Is there a problem' Steve said 'no, you'll see her soon'
Apparently we went back downstairs to the bar, I was banging on about needing to b sick and sleep, I was tucked up and clare and Steve stayed up another few hours. *lightweight*
This morning I woke at 5:30am :-S and waited for the others to rise... Clare talked about how disgusting Steves toothpaste was.. She wanted to know why it tasted so 'manly' Steve replied 'it's aquafresh' clare brought out said toothpaste to discover it was SHAVING FOAM.... We laughed, a lot!!!!!
Just struggled through breakfast, all I can think about is 10k run! :-(
Lastly, GOOD LUCK DUNC! Run run run!!! x
Hello all, this morning as planned we visited the school paid some money towards meat for the children's dinner (meat is a really big treat and a rarity on the school dinner menu) we gave the football team their green tshirts- and gave Fred one too. Before we go we are gonna get Fred a polo shirt with Coach on the back, a whistle and a stop watch. Once the football team were given their top and a bag and pictures were taken I gave Stephen his casio watch- he was surprised and lost for words and gave me a massive hug *lump in throat moment* I told him he wasn't allowed to sell it. lol.
We then trotted to town, checked into the hotel before heading to the markets...
Step forward- no messing tail. I was bargaining for some items coming in at 1,200 another guy was selling me an item for 900- I wanted to pay him 500, we finally settled on 750 but not before the other guy had run across the road to fetch me a basket priced at 900. He was asking 1000 (wanting an extra 100 for running across the road in the rain) I said 'I don't think so pal- I could have run across the road myself...' I continued 'I'll have all your items for 2,100 and then I'll buy the other guys item for 750.' The guy waiting for his 750 explained the two men were not affiliated, my reply? "Tough!"
I got the price I wanted in the end, however definitely felt like I was coming off worse. (sorry to b vague but can't say what I was bartering for- *surprises*)
Still sporting my Kenya turbanesk scarf look- it's amazing I don't need straighteners anymore- I've gone for 3weeks without- I don't even need a brush! *paradise*
...how could I forget to mention that Steve tried selling me yesterday.... Oh how funny he is! Apart from the fact that he had mo selling rights it begged the question of how he would explain returning to the uk with a goat instead of a bluetail! Lol
Well after the full night of drinking and clubbing last night (in bed for 9:30pm, again) it was up with our daily 6am mutatu alarm. Sssshhh!
You really can't tell it's Friday night out here there is no such thing as a crunchy, TGI Friday or any other feeling the weekend may conjure up. (fb may be the only hint seeing all my friends planning their weekends activities)
Anyway today it's Saturday 17th. I bartered for a casio watch yesterday for Stephen, he saw mine and asked to have it, I said no as it was a gift but he's an awesome kid and decided to buy him one myself.. £3. Probably ripped off but compared to Argos's £7 it's a steal!
Yesterday Steve announced he was heading back to town in the morning to do more suit shopping, I announced id b waiting at home for him and Clare to return Shen they finished. This morning we are going to meet the footy team and drop off another mattress to one of the homes (I forgot to mention yesterday that we bought 5 double mattresses for some of the (dare I say it) more needier! this afternoon will mostly be spent bartering on the markets and sunbathing *here's hoping the sun stays out* :-)
Thanks for reading and continued support- I can imagine it's not quite the same just reading my exploits unless you've been. Rest assured there will b many photos to come! x