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raymondk’s Travel Diary

Tuesday, 01 May 2012

Location: Kenya

MapSunday 29 April

It was another early start and Alex took me to the Matatu station, just after 6am. I was off to visit Sr Paula and the nuns at who run a boarding school for local children and many orphan girls, a skills centre for 'low achievers' and a health centre. Their work is one of several projects supported by my Church in Sheffield.

The journey to Kimende about an hour from Nairobi went pretty smoothly, but when I got out of the Matatu I noticed how shabby and (poor) the town seemed. Mud roads strewn with rubbish, puddles, no hard surfaces ramshackle houses and stalls. It was about 8am and lots of people seemed to be standing around.. waiting for something or someone. There were several people in their Sunday best carefully choosing their steps to avoid the worst of the mud. I bought bananas and mangos for the nuns from the only occupied stall and with the help of a security guard was shown the matatu which would take me up the mountain to Kagwe.

The matatu had obviously been in a serious crash before as all the pillars of the vehicle had black scorch marks where the roof had been replaced. We wound slowly around the potholes and trenches on the road, dropping and collecting church goers as we went. The journey was probably less than 10km but it took 45-50 minutes. I was dropped at a track which had a sign for the convent and set off on the 2km hike with my bags of fruit. Although very rural amongst the tea plantations I was easily spotted and children came out of their houses to watch the Mzungo pass! Eventually the huge church came into view and I realised I was heading in the right direction.

When I got to the convent I was warmly greeted by Srs Paula and Cynthia. We had a lively chat over coffee and walked across to the church. The service was in Swahili and Kukuyu the local tribal language and the music and singing was amazing, I took a recording. The Youth came up the isle singing, dancing and clapping which I was later told was 'Dance for the Lord'. I managed to record most of the music.

After Mass I had lunch with the nuns who were very lively and humorous. After I was shown around the school, skills workshop (mainly sewing) and the clinic. We took a few snaps and the 4 younger Sisters insisted walking me back to the main road and took turns carrying my bag.

Back at the main road a crowded matutu picked me up and the passengers of the 14 seater grew to 29 with 4 guys hanging out the side door as we bumped down the mountain. Back in Kimende I eventually got a matatu back to Nakuru with many stops and delays by transfer to another bus took about 4 weary hours.

Monday 30 April

At school it was ugali and beans so there was not too much preparation or cooking. With time on our hands we started work on the final concrete floor. The high school boys were off school and worked really hard repairing the floor. They give much of their time helping at the centre as a way of repaying for the support they receive. Fortunately they were rewarded with a filling meal.

Fred and I made up food packs for the five most vulnerable families. The whole school was gathered in the yard and it was moving to see the difficulty Fred and Gladys the head teacher, had trying to select the children who's families we would visit. We gathered the children and the bags of food and headed off to meet their families. Despite seeing difficult conditions here over recent weeks, I was still shocked to see the desperation of the families we visited. One case had 7 orphaned children looked after by their very elderly, frail grandmother in a single room mud house in serious disrepair. Another family a single mother of 7 who's house floods every night during the heavy rains. Truly shocking.

Fred and I then planned how we should spend a new donation received in my account, this is being spent on more food for school and medicines for one mum who is severely ill at present with complications brought on by HIV.