Friday, June 27, 2008

Nairobi safari and Giraffe park

Last Saturday my bowie-friend, Sybilla, her husband Vic, and I went to the Nairobi National Park for a game drive. They picked me up in a SUV stocked with American potato chips and grahm crackers-- yum. Nothing says safari-drive like munchin' on some salt n' vinegar chips and looking at a herd of zebra. heh
At the park, we saw zebra, wildebeest, eland, t.Gazelle, giraffe, baboons, and vervit monkeys. One of the best events of the park was when we stopped for a toilet break and two baboons and their baby (hooked to the mamma)were right outside the vehicle. Sybilla had already gone outside the vehicle when Vic spotted the primate couple. .

Vic tried to keep the baboons on one side of the vehicle using carrots so that they would not attack Sybilla. At one point the male baboon charged us and jumped up into the window sill. He was hanging on by his hands and Vic started yelling random noises at it until it backed down. It was pretty scary-- and funny. Then I gave Vic his asp from the front seat so he could show the baboons who's king of the jungle. However, at one point the male jumped onto the hood of the car and then onto the roof. We could see his feet and bum walking over the sun roof. Fortunately I caught that moment on camera. When the baboon jumped off the vehicle, we kept it at bay until Sybilla could make a sprint for the vehicle and get in safely. (For those who don't realize this, but baboons have very sharp teeth and are agressive).
We laughed about that for a bit as we drove on to see the alleged hippos in the hippo pool. There, at the entrance to the hippo pool, there were the cutest vervit monkeys and some of them had little babies attached to their bellies.
We took an armed guide along the trail to the hippo pool, but none were to be seen that day. It was a nice walk though and we were able to see some hippo dung as evidence of their existence.

After driving around a bit more and seeing the above mentioned animals, we left the park and went out to Karen for lunch. We ate at a place called Talisman, which I totally recommend if you are in Nairobi because the place is beautiful and the food is excellent. They even served me my coffee in a french press with steamed milk on the side. Now, that is a good place when they know how to make good coffee!

After lunch we went to the Giraffe Park to feed them. There, they give you food and the giraffe roll out their long slimy tongues and take their food from you. Its really fun and cute, but also pretty gross. Your hand is left all slimy and sticky at the end of it all. My coordinator told me that some people put the food pellet in their lips and make the giraffe kiss them. EWW GROSS! I did not see anyone do that and I am better for it! All in all, the giraffe park was nice to enjoy. For those who are visiting Nairobi, one can stay in the Giraffe Manor where the giraffe peek their long neck and head into your bedroom window as a morning wake-up call. I have only seen the brochures, but it looks like fun.

So last weekend was fun and all week I have been helping Carolyn with the preparation for ABO (orientation). Except for Monday, when I had to go to the doctors because I had the worst night ever and woke up sick as a dog. I had been sorta sick since Friday (probably picked up the bacteria in Nakuru), but the worst of it all was Monday. I had to drop off a little **cough** sample and get it tested.
So, in the end, I found out that I had some bad strain for a bacterial infection and they gave me an injection in my rear for the horrible, skull-bashing pain I had in my head, and another injection for the bacteria. Then, on top of the doctor's bill and lab fee, I had to pay $50 in meds to fight this sucker off.

Now I feel great and hope not to have a repeat during ABO for the next 3 weeks. I promised Carolyn that I would not get sick this time. We have 9 kids to entertain with Africa trivia and 1 man down could be disasterous. Please pray that none of us gets sick while in Machakos. I will be posting from there.

Friday, June 20, 2008

HIV and Children's Conference in Nakuru

Well I am back from Nakuru safe and sound. The conference was interesting and I was able to network with people who work in children's ministries and AIDS ministries.
While I was there, I also continued helping Carolyn as her personal assistant. Anything that needed to be done, I was there. Right down to using my running hat as the staff tip jar at the end of the conference.

At the conference we visited Hope For Life , which is a center for people who are affected by HIV, that was started by a Kenyan woman named Josephine, and is assisted by 2 AIM missionaries-- Josephine is one of the most dedicated and hard-working women I have met. Most of the people there are moms, and grandmas who are the caretakers of children who have lost their parents to HIV. Some of the women are also infected with HIV. At the center, the women are taught practical skills such as sewing, painting, and beading (jewelry, key chains, etc.).

The children who come to the center, come for lunch in between the school day.
They also have Bible teaching while they are there and learn fun songs and dances.
While we were there, we saw the different crafts and also watched the women sing and
dance, while we ate the lunch they prepared; and then the children sang and danced for us-- first the older kids, and then the younger ones. They were, of course, so cute!

Now that I am back in Nairobi, Carolyn and I will get cracking on preparing for the July orientation school. We have a busy couple of weeks ahead of us! However, I am taking a little break tomorrow, as my fellow Bowieite, her husband, and I will be driving through the National Park to see some animals, and then on to the Giraffe Park, where you get to feed the giraffes while standing on a high platform.

By the way, the Scotlands, who I was with in Ikotos, gave birth to their second son, Aiden Lawrence, on Father's Day (last Sunday)! Mom and baby are doing well, and Calum is said to be helping as much as he can.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


It has been about two weeks since my last blog, so I thought I'd update you on the goings-on of me in Nairobi. As of Monday morning, before the crack of dawn, Veronica, my sister left Kenyatta airport after spending a week with me.
We went to the elephant orphanage where she was so in love with the baby elephants that she adopted one--some people adopt Kenyan children, and others-- elephants. geesh. The elephants were orphaned due to ivory poachers who have killed the mother. A team goes out into the bush looking for these abandoned baby elephants and brings them to Nairobi to restore their health and eventually ease them back into the wild.
We also went on a Safari walk (others call it a zoo) where we saw pygmy hippos, leopards, and got to pet a cheetah!

Today I received word that Veronica is safe back in Bowie after her long European/Nairobi tour. It was great having her here-- in the Motherland. :)

Yesterday I met with a fellow Bowie-ite who works in Nairobi. We have a mutual friend from Trinity Lutheran and weird enough, my mattress is currently residing in her house with the church members who are renting the place. We also have a marathon connection, and got to talk about the craziness of running on Ngong road. By the way, after the first day of running on Ngong road (one of the busiest roads) I felt as if I had emphazyma from the pollution. Although, today I only ran on Ngong road for the first 15 minutes and transferred myself to the less busy parallel road which has a wonderfully humongous hill. Anyway, it was a nice lunch at Java House yesterday!

Speaking of Bowie, while my sister was here I laughed with her about how much great training I had for coming here by living in Bowie. Anything that happens slowly here or goes wrong, I just think, "what's so weird about that?" I mean, in Bowie I have had to leave the movies because the projector caught on fire. The traffic, pollution, loud rap music playing in a place of business...just as much P.G. County as it is Africa. Heh, those from Bowie are laughing right now and those who aren't your really missing out.

On Monday I will go down to Nukuru for the AIDS and Children's conference. It's theme: Knowing God's Heart for the Least, Last, and the Lost. I made a wild and crazy banner out of African print fabric for the main hall. Carolyn has got me manning all things crafty. Rhonda and Sonya, sorry, I have become Martha Stewart instead of Andy Warhol. The funny thing is that I'm not really crafty at all. I stink at crafty-- that's why I had to quit graphic design and go into painting. Its okay though, I think the banner and the name tags look great. Next stop power points and paper animal chains. ha ha...oh brother.

I'm interested in the workshops for the confrence. There will be a counselor speaking on child resiliency for traumatic events like family members having AIDS. The participants and speakers are those who either work with AIDS patients and/or work with children. The overlap is so great here.

So that is all for now. You know now that I'm NOT taking an extended vacation until July. I think I have adjusted to Nairobi life, but I still miss my girls back in Ikotos a lot. Via Skype, I can communicate with one of my friends from an NGO there and she relays messages to Madeline at the borehole in the morning. The first thing I will do when I get home is figure out a way for her and Amuna to get school fees for secondary school. Madeline still has one more year, but both of them will need money to get to Uganda to sit for their primary 7 exit exams before going into secondary school. One snag, even if I do have donors, is how to get the money to them. I think I have an idea though, so if you're interested, I'll keep you posted about that.

Have a great week and pray for me because I have a wee cold. Thanks.