Monday, March 1, 2010

March 1, 2010 - Visiting Machakos

On Saturday we took Kirsten and Hans to visit Charles' family in Machakos. I think it was a powerful experience for them and it was nice for us to be there again. Thank you to Hans for taking some great pictures!

Kirsten is holding baby Ellsie next to Charles' niece and his mother.

Grace, Emmanuel & I check out the water tank we bought them for Christmas. This water tank holds 3,200 liters of water that they collect when it rains. Previously, Charles' wife Janet and his mother had to walk a far and difficult distance to fetch water and do the family's washing. Janet repeatedly talked about "life before the water tank" and "life after the water tank". We are so happy to know that we made her life a little easier.

This time we brought the gift of solar panels. They have no electricity and these panels will allow them to have light in the evening so that his niece and nephew can study for school, and they will be able to charge their cell phones without paying to do it at a kiosk in town. Once Charles' gets someone to help him install everything, it should really make a difference. They were pleasantly surprised with this gift, along with the two energy-saving stoves, diapers, books and clothes we brought them. Kirsten and Hans also brought some sweet gifts for the children that were greatly appreciated.

Emmanuel had never seen bubbles before and enjoyed blowing them with Grace ("bubble" is one of her favorite words to say).

This is a beautiful view from the top of the hill that Charles lives on. Unlike our last visit, Saturday was a gorgeous day and we could really admire their environment.

We took the walk that Janet used to take to fetch water (it was long! and hot!) and met some children on our way. I am sure they were shocked to see mzungus, as we are a rare species in that area! We (me and you and everyone in the developed world) take water for granted each and every day of our lives - we turn the tap and it's just there.

Could you imagine doing this carrying large and heavy jugs of water?
(that is Janet holding Kirsten's hand)

Some very little girls carrying some very heavy water. It is a hard life to be a girl in Kenya.

We arrived at the water tap (you can see other jugs to the left of people who were there collecting water too). Trust me, taking this walk and seeing what other people go through to get a little bit of water for drinking, cooking, bathing, and cleaning made me appreciate water even more.

More children by the water, checking out the strange white people!

Emmanuel (who is 4 1/2 years old) read his homework to Kristoffer. He knows his numbers 1-10 by heart (11-20 if he looks!) and does very well on the English alphabet too. He was very, very cute and proud.

Little Miss One Year Old - who was exhausted after her birthday and cried for most of the nearly-2-hour drive to Charles' home (she is still not quite used to her new car seat) - loved eating chapati for the first time and was a very good girl for our whole visit. She thought it was really fun to play with Farmor's bracelet! And, thankfully, she slept almost the whole 3 hours it took us to get home (argh, afternoon traffic).

It was a good day for all of us, despite the fact that we were a bit tired from Grace's birthday festivities (and because she has been sleeping terribly!). It is always nice to get a glimpse of "real Kenya" and Charles' family is extremely hospitable. We managed to get away without a slaughtered chicken again this time (lucky guy) but did take home some arrow root (kind of like a potato), avocados, and eggs. We may think of them as not having a lot by the standards of our every day life, but they are extremely generous nonetheless.

This week Grace will see her pediatrician for her one-year check-up (fingers crossed that she's gained some weight this past month!) and Kirsten and Hans will visit the city of Kisumu and Lake Victoria in Kenya.


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