Friday, February 27, 2009

Starbucks has made it to Kenya

I just had to take a picture of my new Barista Mwita! I don't know where he got this apron, but it excites me a great deal to know that my chai/lunch place has it's own Starbucks Barista. For those of you who know of my love for Starbucks, you will find this almost ridiculous. :)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

In the classrooms

Today Nicole took Chris and I around to all the schools in out district. Chris is taking over Nicole's position here as the Water Sanitation Project Manager, and that program is inter-related with the Education program in that having clean and close water at the school makes for a better learning environment. So I saw 6 schools: 5 Primary and 1 Secondary. The "niceness" range of the appearance of these schools went from mud and stick structures that look like the manger scene of a church at Christmas (actually worse), to painted concrete buildings that look nice, but are skeletal.

It is a bit overwhelming, to me, because I have no idea where to start at this point. You look at the mud and stick school started by a young man who is passionate about the children of his community having an education, so he built the most basic structure ever; and then there is the well-built skeletal structure that is also headed by a degreed and passionate man who wants to see secondary education rise. He repeatedly mentioned that these teenagers could be just sitting around at home right now, but through free education they have a place to become empowered.

Then, there are all those schools in between that have valid needs as well and are needs in which I might need to do some exploring to identify them (or the root of them).

So that is just a brief description of my day today and the work ahead of me. I appreciate any prayers for guidance.

Note: I'll try to get some pictures of the schools in the coming weeks. I didn't bring my camera this time because I felt it necessary to be focused during my introductions. Although you can refer to the Nuru Website for pictures of some of the schools.

Also, please continue to pray for Martin and Cath. I just got an update that Cath, who is South African, could not get an extension on her visa in Germany to be with Martin and is trying to get a 3 month visa ASAP. Martin has cancer all over his body and is given a year at the longest. They were supposed to be married in April in South Africa, but will possibly be pushing the wedding up and in Germany because Martin can no longer travel.

Just a reminder of who they are, they were on the Sudan TIMO team in Lohutok working with the Lopit people. Cath lived in my hut during her month out of Lohutok to observe the Scotlands. She is the most amazing person ever and the biggest pray-er that I've ever met. Martin is so kind and gentle and just loves the people he works with and has such a strong devotion to Africa.

Thanks for your prayers everyone!

Monday, February 23, 2009

My postal address in Kenya

For any of you who want to send me a letter or package, here is the address:

Meghan Baird
c/o Nuru International
Po box 176
Isibania, code: 40414

Things I'd like?

For now the best things I can think of are:

-letters or cards from y'all
-Tuna packets
-Nature Valley Granola bars
-Cliff Bars
-oatmeal packets
-Starbucks coffee

Those are the things that are expensive/can't get here. The mail might take anywhere from 3 weeks to 3 months or more. It just depends. Flat envelopes mail faster than boxes. For example, if you mailed Tuna packets, they'd get here faster in a flat rate envelope, rather than putting them in a box.

so, cool. Thanks for asking (those of you who asked) for my address.

FYI, I'm safe in Isibania and getting settled into my new house, which is nicer than my mud hut last year. Later in the week, or at least by Sunday, I'll write a post about the house and maybe try to get pics on here too.

Just on more thing: Please pray for my friends Cath and Martin. They were scheduled to get married in April, but they just found out that Martin has terminal cancer and has a short life expectancy. I'm sure they'd appreciate all your prayers. thank you.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Made it one piece

Hey all,

Just to let you knowthatI made it safely into Nairobi on Tuesday night. I haven't been using my laptop because of the internet source options, so I haven't posted yet. Because I'm paying per minute at an internet cafe, this is just a short note to let you know I'm here. For the past week I've been staying with my friend Carolyn again and today or tomorrow I'll be heading to Kijabe to stay with my friend Erica (from thosewho remember her from ABO last July). Then next weekend I'll head back to Nairobi before hitting that LONG and DUSTY trail to Isibania (Kuria).

Maybe next posting will have some pics from the two weeks, or at least some pics of my new house when I get there!

All my luggage made it safely to Nairobi and i've been doing some required reading furiously. Although, yesterday Carolyn and I, along with a 7th grader from RVA, went to the Nairobi Museum and saw many artifacts from all over Kenya. Not your typical Valentine's day, but hey when you're single, what is?

I hope all is well back home. Take care and I'm praying for you all!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Making a list and checking it twice

Bags from Last Time

As I'm preparing to leave I have been to Target, been to Wal-mart, and been back to Target again. I've packed all my stuff, unpacked it, and re-packed it again. I'm not sure, because it is only Thursday, but I may be finished packing. As of now I have one Rubber maid Action Packer (plastic crate), one big hawaiian duffel (from last time), a backpack, and a medium size duffel. I totally thought that I could mange my junk down to a small duffel and the Action Packer plus backpack this time, however I guess I must love junk because obviously that didn't happen. Well, there is the random other stuff I'm taking too, that will be dispersed to various people throughout this tour. One bulky item being about 10 little photo albums that I'm bringing to give out to my friends in Ikotos, in hopes of seeing them during my month break in mid-May/early-June. I printed photos of different sets of friends (i.e.- Amuna, Madeline, the pre-school kids, Agnes, etc.). As I was putting them together, I couldn't help but to tear up just a little bit at the thought of them having something of their own and to own a picture of themselves-- several pictures of themselves. My little pre-school friends such as Ingerim and Amama probably have very few things in this world that they can call their own. Namely, a dress or two, and their cup for school lunch. I just cannot wait until I can give them their photo albums and watch them look through it.

Some people have asked me if I am bringing less stuff than last time, or at least know what I didn't need last time that I won't bring this time. I'd say that I brought a lot of the right things last time, yet not enough town clothes. This time I'm bringing a few "nicer" shirts and a pair of jeans to wear in Nairobi and for when I go visit Rachel in Mozambique during break. Last time I packed as if I was going back out in the woods like when I worked for the Alldredge Academy as a Wilderness Instructor. That wasn't horrible, with the exception of cooking with one tiny camping cook pot and using sporks when I have guests over for dinner. Last time I also did not bring a set of sheets, but this time I am because the happy camper get-up that I was going for only lasted for so long before I was definitely wanting to free my tootsies from my silk sleeping bag liner! Also, only having a travel pillow was less than comfortable night-after-night, however, I'll see about buying one in Nairobi instead of bringing one all the way from here.

One major thing (things) that I am not bringing this time is a bag full of school supplies. This time, with Nuru, there are no hand-outs. Plus, if I deem that a school would need something, almost everything is available in Nairobi, which is a 6-8 hour bus ride. Last time I brought 50 lbs of schools supplies and 35 lbs of toiletries. I also realized that most of the toiletries can be bought in Nairobi (although some are more expensive).

What are the things that I wish I could bring but don't have room?
Well, first of all, my own Starbucks Barista, but other than that, enough Quaker's instant oatmeal and tuna to last the entire 6 months and my bicycle. In Sudan I REALLY missed riding my bike. Some days I'd daydream about riding my bike to Lobwaya and back. The main reason I'm not bringing it is that it seems to annoying to deal with getting it to Isebania (my town). Maybe at some point I'll buy a cheap one there.

What have I been up to since training?
Well, since training I've moved completely out of my house in Morgantown (thanks to my stuff babysitters the Wassifs, Hardestys. and Tiffany) while battling the evil snows of which that town throws forth; then driving down to Wytheville,VA for a Rotary meeting; then to Kelly's house in Harrisonburg for the night; then up to Martinsburg, WV for some minor toe surgery, having dinner with my gurus of guidance, Les and Jan Smith; catching up with Karen at Shepherd University; and then driving home to Bowie, but not before stopping by Starbucks for a Skype teleconference with my teammates in Frederick,MD. I rested, read and packed this weekend before shlepping back to WV's Eastern Panhandle for another round of visits. This time on the roster was The Outfitter AT Harper's Ferry (thanks for my sleeping bag and the pizza), Potomack Intermediate School (from my guidance days), the Franklin's house, and then (impromptu) sleeping on Karen's floor last night before heading home this morning. Now it's home-bound until Monday when I take off to Kenya. WHEW!

Have a great weekend and feel free to mark this blog up with comments throughout these six months!