Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Almost Christmas!

It is the 21st of December and almost Christmas!!!! Many years ago, 1973-74 precisely, I spent about 8 months living and working in Hawaii. Everyday was sunny and warm with an afternoon shower. I remember Christmas day so vividly. It was not the Upstate NY Christmas that I always had experienced. It was so strange. I remember watching the Minnessota Vikings on TV,the balmy breezes blowing. This Christmas will probably be much the same. At home, we already have a record breaking December going for snow! Here, it is 85 and humid. I am on the coast for a break.

The news about the projects...We still continue to work with William Kabbis on a variety on small projects around the Mbaka Oromo Primary (now with a population of 600 and more a better students coming from long distances everyday seeking admission) and Mbaka Oromo Secondary School (which will in January have approximately 180 students, 9 through 11). We have the secondary about 70% built. WE have put a pause on the major building there and turned our attention to our latest project, the Mbaka Oromo Health Clinic.

About fourteen months ago, I was sitting in Mwalimu Mkuu (headmaster) William Kabbis' office. It was a nice sunny day and the children were out in the school yeard for recess. William commented to me how delighted he was with how many beautiful classrooms we (the builders, the parents, the teachers and children, William and Building Futures and all of our supporters at home) had built. I looked out with joy and a humble pride. Yes, pamoja (together) we had accomplished so much in just five years. "And yet, Jemo, we have so many sick children". My mind immediately flashed to our morning, school opening assemblies. Six hundred students and teachers (k-8) gathered to raise the Kenyan flag, say their Pledge of Allegiance, and sing their national anthem. Then William or one of the lead teachers will give the wanafunzi (students) a pep talk for the day. All the while, when I stand and watch the assemblies....children are coughing. Even in beautiful classrooms, sick children can not learn.

Why are so many of our kids sick? Poor diet causes malnutrition, leaving the children open to inffection and illness. Poverty prevents regular checkups or doctor visits when a child is sick. What could We do about that? I told William, "I am very comfortable building the classrooms and latrines and libraries....but I knew nothing about medical facilities. I would love to help, but it was a bit our of my league. And,, about 3 minutes later, I said, "Okay, William, let's go figure this out!" That was about fourteen months ago.

Today the clinic building is 100% built! However, that is not HALF of the story! My next blog will tell some funny stories and some sad ones about "Our ROAD to the Mbaka Oromo Clinic"