Summer 2010 Phase VI Team Journal

Summer 2010

Phase VI: Team 4

June 15 – July 16

15 June 2010

Group consensus upon settling into the Nairobi Youth Hostel: WHAT THE HELL ARE WE DOING HERE?

Not in a literal sense – because we have a good idea of the physical tasks we have ahead in Khwisero – but the odd travelers high called jet lag. It is currently 10:00am in Montana – so we are wide awake and aren’t totally sure what time it is here. The great irony in flyinf to Kenya is realizing the power of money – it buys a ticket, allows us to travel for 27 hours straight, land in a third world country and still wonder what have gotten ourselves into… an adventure begins!


108 man hours spent traveling; 10 bags: 20 % EWB’s; 4 people; 2 mosquito nets; 18 beds; 3 sinks – 1 working; 3 toilets – 0 working; 1 creepy urinal; no lost bags; 1 new “Mexican” friend; 2 security screenings failed – zero items confiscated; 0 mosquito bites … for now.

16 June 2010
Yournal, yournal, yournal, yournal!
Day 2 in Kenya.
We got up and had Cliff Bars for breakfast. Griffin took a cold shower. Team decided to stay dirty.

Upon leaving after “breakfast”, Annie and Zach realized they had entered Africa. What an exciting moment! We went to the Cybercafe, got a new sim card, went to the bank (multiple times), lunch and to the benches outside of the Hilton. We were there for ten million hours, approximately. It was there that I ( Annie) made a new friend who eventually requested my phone number. Unable to lie or come up with a different number, I gave him my home number. Hopefully he does not call my Mother. Oops.

Ronald came and we went to tea. I really don’t remember what we did after that; I was exhausted. Essentially, oh! We got lost on the bus returning home. Epically lost with much walking back. Then we finally arrived home, went to dinner and returned for some card games. We started with Palace, but I couldn’t get the rules right so we played Hearts. Then we played with the bouncy ball. And bed. We’re excited for bed!

Kenya is much different than Montana. I don’t know what I’d expected, maybe nothing. It’s much dirtier and most things are disrepair. It’s hard being singled out for being white. Getting letters from home made me miss my family. But an epic adventure awaits!

In the Mzungu count: Erin at 15; Zach at 13; Griffin at 15; Annie at 5 (and one boyfriend)((with 10 digits))(((and one mom))). Two locked doors. One wrong bus route; 200 wasted shillings. One blatant mzungu calling. Still 4 people; 2 mosquito nets; 18 beds. 2 first cups of Kenya tea. One Ronald Omyonga! 700 missing bob. 2 official games of Hearts. 2 working toilets; 1 working sink. 4 Easycoach tickets.

17 June 2010
Today was a crappy day.
Day 3 in Kenya

Today the delicate flowers of the group had had enough and decided to wash their hair. A we were setting out to the Java House for breakfast Annie and Erin were upset to find out about the hair washing. For the second and third time today we missed the ambiance of the Java House interior and sat in the exterior. Breakfast was eaten smoothly, Annie again ordering two items when the rest of the team ordered 1. The Kenyan tea pot was excellent.

Waiting for our ride to Kibera we heard the British girl, a verbose nightowl was leaving for Uganda to protest the poisoning of women at a peaceful protest. The ride to Kibera was quick and violent as any through Nairobi. Meeting Annie and Diane, they and our guide entered Kibera.

We winded through the “streets” moving from a paved road to a hard packed dirt road to a back alley to a slip of land between tin shantys not qualifying of any passage name. We observed a few of the bio gas latrines, more for the view the top floor offered than anything as questions were answered. Annie and I (Griffin?) got their first taste of children chanting “How are you?”and thoroughly enjoyed it. They we have been told that will not last.

Another walk into downtown found us yet again at the bank. I got as close as ever to my dream of a picture with the army guys. One more trip to the Cyber Café where we hoped to find a decent restaurant but would eventually decide on the Java House. In the evening Annie and Erin decided to wash up to be presentable for our bus ride at 9 tomorrow.

Accounting: 1 successful bus ride, 3 meals at Java House, 1 “muddy” boot, 4 mosquito nets, 18 beds, 4 people, 4 clean heads, countless “how are you’s?”, 1 trashed sock.

Early 19 June 2010
10 hours of “easy” Coach
Day 4 in Kenya

Godwin, the taxi driver, picked us up this morning at 6:00am. Leaving the hostel, we drove to the easy coach station. As our bus did not leave until 9:00am, however, we had a bit of waiting to do. We, therefore, ate our breakfast of dry banana “cake” and played crazy eights, go fish, etc.
Around 9:00 we boarded the bus. I promptly fell asleep until we reached the Rift Valley. This area as well as tea country offer beautiful views! The trip was otherwise fairly uneventful. We reached Nakuru, which by distance is the half way point, in 3 hours and 20 minutes. After this, however, the roads turned hilly and bumpy, and the rest of the journey to Kakamega took another 5 ½ hours. Luckily, Jackson met us in Kakamega with a matatu, and although the ride was expensive (3500 bob) and long (we went through Mumias because of the rain), it was much appreciated. After about another hour, we arrived at Jackson’s new compound. A huge meal of beef, ugali, chapatti, skumawiki, and potatoes quickly cured our moods.

After dinner and tea we went to bed. Annie and Erin shared a bed as there are three in the hut. A beautiful sunrise this morning has cured the bad taste of Nairobi.

Evening: 19 June 2010

After our first night in Jackson’s new compound, we awoke to find out 2 of 3 existing EWB teams were headed to Kakamega – there goes our productive weekend. Plan B: check out Khwisero market and hang out with Team Megan. Before that adventure could take place, we got our first taste of the open air Khwisero shower (facing the road … awkward) – after six days unshowered, being clean has never felt better! Then … BREAKFAST! Doing mornings the slow way, Kenya style with a few cups of tea, wonder bread and fried eggs.

Bellies full and bodies clean (short lived) we walked to the market and through the vendors to meet John Okana. He welds the gates for our boreholes and holds the key to our new EWB office (with electricity). A bit has changed since I have last been here. More people have power, new cars and matatus drive the streets, and new shops have appeared too. What hasn’t changed a bit are the curious children, and lingering adults whenever the mzungus are around. The Beehive opened up in time for 9 mzungus from team G and team M to catch up and share stories and soda while our phones charged in the office. On the long route back home, we discovered we were late for an unexpected lunch of rice and beans… Then came the rains – which continue as I wite and wait for more chapatti at dinner. Tomorrow is Sunday and will probably be another quiet day for us.

ACCOUTING: countless Khwisero style “How are you’s”, 9 mzungus at the Beehive, still 4 people but 3 beds. 4 out outdoor showers, 3 local meats, 2 rashy legs on Erin, 8 smelly feet, 1 dysfunctional internet modem, 1 fully complete game of war (legit), 1 baby cow in the backyard, 1 sunburned Griffin, 1 lame book on leadership, 1 HUGE MOTH

20 June 2010
Our first visitors. Day 6 in Kenya

Sunday in Khwisero is very quiet and rather nice. After another set of warm showers (such a happy Griffin!) and an early breakfast we set off for Shirali and Munyanza. Griffin and Erin showed Zach and I the two schools and on our way back, we stopped at the Shirali borehole to get water.

Oh my, the Shirali water. It didn’t look too incredibly bad, but after filtering (Griffin’s filter was orange-stripped and much worse for wear) and steri-penning, the water was clear but tasted worse like iron. So we sat around for an hour or so and considered our conundrum. Zach and I went adventuring around until Eric and rock star Justin called to announce themselves. We chatted with them and then took naps. A mid-afternoon nap during the rainstorm is quite wonderful. It gets incredibly cold during and after the rain.

We had a nice little nostalgic party before dinner. I like to think about what my friends and family are doing because it still doesn’t seem real that we are here. Even walking around, through the African countryside.

Griffin was helpful today; we were walking back from Shirali and a group of Kenyans walked by and asked if he could have some of our water. Zach and I clearly had water, and our great leader said, “I don’t have any.” We snuck off. Thanks, Griff ☺

ACCOUNTING: 1 possibly (but not) eaten cow or dog. 4 people, 3 beds, 7 mosquito nets. 1 jerican of very iron-y water. Griffin: 5 demerits, Annie: 13 demerits, 2 visitors. 1 mystery meat.. 1 squished vitamin, 36 unopened Mama notes. 4 silly mzungus.

21 June 2010
What are we doing here? Day 7 in Kenya

Our first work-day, week day in Khwisero could have gone better. We awoke early in the hopes of being on our way to conduct business as soon as possible. Instead we waited, as we have been growing increasingly accustomed to. Before TOO long we were on our way to Munyanza to schedule a meeting later in the week. We were told that the headmaster “was around”, which I later found was not the usual edicate when we visit schools, and ended up again waiting. The headmaster was very polite and nice and we quickly scheduled a meeting. As we left the children made fun of our voices.

On to Shirali where we were greeted more warmly from the children but less so from the headmaster. She seemed disinterested and even dismissive and mentioned a project to pipe water from the junction to Shirali and Munyanza. Greatly weakening our “If you want water you need to work for it” argument. No meeting scheduled but perhaps a phone call coming on Wednesday.

At Khwisero market later in the day we sat down to use the internet after stepping at several “top up” signs with no Safaricom minutes. We all checked email and Annie nearly cried. Obviously the man training has not been working. Erin continued working as Annie and I met about Orange water. General consensus. It’s too bad for us. After that largely unsuccessful meeting Annie and I were on our second adventure in as many days. On this one we met a very nice fellow named Charles and talked with him for some time. If not crazy he would make an excellent translator. Erin got invited over to some less delightful person’s home of her way back alone.

In the evening Sydney and Renee dropped by to drop off some supplies for a sand filter we likely don’t need and was designed by Dan when Mike spent a semester already designing one. Luckily they did not get stuck here in the rain. Hopefully we have work.

Accounting: 1 new friend, 1 failed advance, 3 beds, 4 people, 2 unexpected visitors, 2 times lost, 300 internet minutes, 1 log (unsplit)

22 June 2010
Matatu to Kakamega – Day 8 in Kenya

Today we traveled to Kakamega in order to email, buy junk food, get Zach a pillow, buy a water can, and to connect with Ronald’s brother, John Omyonga. Zach and I had met John a couple of days ago when he visited Jackson’s compound in a nice, new SUV. Ronald’solder brother and Jackson’s nephew, John also invited us to visit him in Kakamega.

Today, therefore, Jackson arranged for us to go to his house after we finished our business in Kakamega. We set out from the house at about 8:30am and boarded a matatu in Khwisero market an hour later. After a cramped, sweltering rise, during which we bottomed out once and almost rolled over several times, we arrived in Kakamega.

At this point it was 11:30am. We connected with Megan and Bryan soon after this (Megan was withdrawing money and Bryan was being measured for a suit) and decided to head to John’s at 1:00am(should be pm?). Each of us headed to the Cyber and everyone but me ran errands soon after.

At 1:00am(pm?) we drove to Jonn’s and I was shocked to find that his house was made of concrete, had running water, had electricity, and was surrounded by a huge farm. After being given sodas, John, who we had learned is a Mech. Engineer, gave us a tour of his land and took us fishing in his tilapia pond. Annie caught all sorts of fish!

Following fishing we were given rice and chicken, were driven by John back to Kakamega, boarded a van matatu (slightly more comfortable), and arrived in Khwisero at 8:00. We walked home and had a dinner of fried beef liver … ugh!

23 June 2010
Housekeeping and Munyanza Meeting – Day 9

We had showers today! It was nice to finally feel clean. After breakfast, which followed showering, we headed to a meeting at Munyanza with Patrick.

At the meeting we learned about Munyanza’s overall situation: Although the water has been tested and found not to be harmful, the community does not use it. The school, however, uses it for drinking, construction, etc. but not for cooking. It is still orange, but like Shirali, the water will run clean after use. I aim to find out how long this takes. Additionally, Patrick believes there are too many close water sources for the borehole to be an attractive option to the community.

Since Patrick became headmaster two years ago, there have been three break downs. The first was due to a break in the chain, which was quickly repaired. The second was because a bolt came loose. This was soon repaired by an EWB trained technician. The third and existing is due to a nut coming loose from a bolt that connects the pump lever to the mechanism (as far as we could tell from Patrick) …

… Finishing a day later …

This breakdown has not been fixed because Patrick has said that he could locate the EWB tools for the India pump. The tools, however, are at Jackson’s and only consist of pipe wrenches.
We finished the meeting with Patrick by giving him my phone number and telling him that we have no “program” for Munyanza. He seemed to take this fairly well, but then asked for new, metallic hand washing stations.

Before we left we also learned that the WMC committee meets, but irregular. Agneta is still the chair person. As the well is not being used by the community, the school has taken to charging each parent 10ksh per term. This has, apparently, yielded mixed results. They have money, but can’t collect from some parents.

On the way back from Munyanza, we were stopped on the road and I (Griffin) was asked how old I was. When I answered “21” the man replied that I look no older than 14. We also met Kate and Alisa on the way back to Jackson’s. They were heading to our meeting, but we had not known to wait for them. They were “incubating” water samples in their pockets.

After this, the team headed to the market. I charged my phone. Annie found a new backpack. Zack(h?) and I looked for shelving materials, but found that they were too expensive.

We returned home and we talked to Jackson about the fellowship program, issues with Elwangale, and furnishing the office. Later, a frog invaded our hut. We corralled it around the room and out of the house.

Also, we found Renee making a sand filter when we got back to Jackson’s. They call her “Masai” around here.

24 June 2010
The Inyundo’s: Day 10

This morning we had a “sleeping in” contest that failed terribly (all were up by 7:30 as usual.) After a group song along, we went to breakfast in our p.j.’s. Team tooth brushing and the usual chaos before leaving ensured. Instead of walking though, we took Annie and Zach on a piki-piki ride to the Inyundo’s near Namasoli/Mundeku Primary.

Jill and Weboko run the Khwisero Water Development Program (KWDP) with the chair, Stanley, and three other employees. Though they have been in the area most the their lives (Boko is a native) raised children, and worked on local water issues – EWB as a whole has generally taken little interest in their advice or experience. I met the couple last year and spent a lot of time with them and was again determined to continue relationships with them this year so … off we were on the piki’s with Joseph and his friend. 400 bob and a beautiful ride later, we arrived and met Stanley.

After the standard book signing and introductions, we were invited to the house to meet “Mum” and “Dad”. After round one of chatting, Stanley gave us a tour of the Baraka Farm. We saw it all from the cows and chickens to the crop fields and fish farms. Jill insisted on serving lunch for everyone, so round two of chatting ensued while preparations were made. We sat down to ugali and skuma in the kitchen with carrots and bananas – all grown on the farm. By this time, it was getting late, but we all moved to the living room and dove into difficult conversation regarding our work here.

Though the couple certainly don’t agree all the time, their knowledge is extensive and their attitude of honesty toward us is refreshing. Among many topics, we discussed the ideas about project ownership at Shirali and Munyanza. Our team has made a further commitment to seek out the effective systems in place at Ikomero, Emwaniro, and Ebuhonga in the hopes of making current and future Water User Committees more effective. We hashed out the difficulty of communication that sub-tribes create boundary issues in some of these places, and that ultimately, people are only human – with their own priorities and goals. We further agreed that a gift mentality with our projects must be avoided, and that any coordination between the water projects of Khwisero would be a great improvement over the current lack of communication.

Other oddities which occurred at the Inyundo’s include my greeting with Jill and Weboka both — I was deemed fat – as a compliment. Also, the Inyundo’s have a new baby calf, we broke into song with Jill, and we were told we were doing a good job – and represented a generation of hope. It all comes down to good leadership…

Accounting: Two first-time piki rides, two baby calves, one new team name (not to be written), two helpings of ugali, still four people – three beds – 7 nets, one doomsday scenario, eight dirty feet, one new and sketchy backpack.

Tomorrow – the drilling at Mwisena begins.

25 June 2010
Day 11: In which griffin Mzungus a Kenyan

Today we essentially went on a joyride to Megan’s compound. Drilling was supposed to start at Elwangale. So we mounted the pikis and started on our adventure. It was a pretty long journey, which contained some very sketchy hills. Added to the mix was the extremely hot sun.

I was moderately miserable by the time we settled in at Megan’s compound. Dumb cold. Having a cold in Kenya is silly and uncomfortable because the same conveniences are not available as in the States.

We met the headmaster and senior teacher, Samuel and Sam (I think), respectively. They were both very nice. I can see good relations continuing at that school for EWB, Construction on the composting latrine seemed to be going well. The children were so cute; they followed us around and stared at us. It is fun to go to a school where we are still novelty.

After lunch, we went o Kilingili for market day. There were very many people. A (probably crazy) old man followed us around saying we could get married. Thanks, but no thanks friend. As mzungus, I feel that we attract the crazies.

We finally got pikis home, arriving back at our compound before it started to rain. And oh did it rain. We settled in for journaling/reading and what eventually became an extended nap. Right before Felistice arrive to welcome us to dinner, we awoke. Dinner was quiet and then back to bed.

Accounting: 1 newly hung mosquito net. 2 Pikis, 6 people. Multiple “Is this really happening?/You’ve got to be kidding me.” moments. 1 excellent pineapple. 1new set of cultural customs. 3 dormilioncitos. 1 Kilingi creeper who dropped 1 f-bomb (shocking!)

Tomorrow’s preview: showers!

26 June 2010
Day 12 – Something irrational and completely random

This morning we, or at least I, was awoken by a knock at the door. The first time since we arrived that something was ready for us before we were ready for it. The call was about our shower water being ready. Both Griffin and I hustles and were naked and soapy in no time. Annie was all over breakfast putting the rest of us to shame. After eating and forgetting to take my doxy. Griffin was off to Kakamega to get money, use the internet and shop. Erin, Annie, and I took a walk to Khwisero market. Annie screeched and dropped her bag, to the delight of the people in the area., including Erin and myself. Apparently there was a strap in her hair which she thought was a bug. We swung by the office in the hopes of charging and using Erin’s computer. Finding the electric work that was supposed to be complete in 20 minutes 20 hours ago, we did neither. On to our second task of the day, buying toilet paper. We went to the general store, the store closed at 11:20 in the afternoon. A short u-(?) stop at the Beehive and we tried a different store. Successful in our acquisition of one of he few luxuries we can not live without we started home. When we left for the market we were invited/forced into services at the church near Jackson’s the following Saturday. On our return we found the service still going on and resolved to find a way to avoid attending next week. In addition to shower day, it was also laundry day. We had our clothes being washed and on our return added our sheets to the laundry list. A laborious wait took us to lunch. Erin barely able to hold out but glad that she did when lunch consisted of rice, lentils, cabbage, and delicious green oranges. After lunch I forced Annie and Erin to play Frisbee. I thought they were getting much better until Annie dropped one that rolled into the mud pit behind our hut.* I am still not completely convinced it was an accident. Griffin returned home with stories of twister, mzungus and piki accidents as well as essentials like TP, cookies and chocolate. One of the many children around wanted a picture taken and got one with Annie. The result is something he would likely cherish well into his awkward teenage years. In the evening, termites came spewing from the ground. We did the most logical thing and ran outside, grabbed them all by their wings, shook them violently, and promptly devoured them. More juicy than I expected and a bit nutty.

Accounting: 10 mzungus spotted, 10 termites eaten, 1unreasoned story, 1 questionable picture, 1 book read, 1 solo trip to Kakamega.

*I did not drop the Frisbee into the swamp. I missed it and it flew/rolled in. I would have caught it had it been thrown better. (Annie)

27 June 2010
Day 13 – We almost watched business time

We took today “off’, eating breakfast and then playing cards and reading until lunch. After lunch we continued with more of the same and finished by playing Frisbee. Highlighting the day: we created “Kenya cards”, which is a variation of crazy eights; the dog harassed the cow during breakfast; we played Frisbee in the yard and got one of the many staring kids to toss it with us. We were supposed to talk with Jackson today at 5, but he avoided us and then left for the market at 6. That is all.

28 June 2010
The Board Meets

Today was our first meeting with the EWB Khwisero Board, hosted by Khwisero Primary School. The following notes outline the highlights of the meeting and resulting work for our team.

Minutes were read – question the restructuring of the board was brought up and made clear at a later time that EWB MSU is confident in the board make-up , but we will be sending letters to the representing offices to confirm – the point was made that various Do’s are too busy to attend themselves – the board reiterated that equality is expected between projects in the East and West – a report was made by William Arthur of he MEM outlining that CDF money can be expected anytime between July and August, that not all water points along the pipeline have paid their portion and Emwaniro is hesitant about their duty to pay, and that little commitment is felt by the community and no further support from the MP – next, a report from Samuel Kaka at Mwisena about his excitement for the new well and latrine, no breakdowns, no problems, possible issues with the management structure, and he wants hand washing stations — next, a report from Elwangale with Megan, borehole well underway – update from Griffin about Shirali and Munyanza – next steps = attend Thurs headmaster meeting.

— to do list for our team: get the board member names and titles from Jackson – revise existing EWB letterhead – write cover letter for the application – revise/translate into digital file (app and letter) – print Wednesday evening for Thursday am meeting – Erin to work on fellows program – hopefully the board can select the top 5 - 20 schools before August 4 so that the teams after us can make visits, test water, and help the board select next summer’s schools before EWB leaves Khwisero this summer.

Overall, the meeting seemed productive and on the same page with our thoughts goings into the meeting. A lunch followed the meeting at the Beehive, and there members dispersed. Annie, Zack and I did some charging and computer work during the afternoon and walked home to meet Griffin (who had been at 2 pm meeting) with three Tuskers. A night meeting with Jackson over tea confirmed our positive thoughts about the board meeting.

Accounting: 1 successful meeting, many heaping servings of ugali, 1 demolished bag of Sour Patch Kids, 3 Tuskers consumed, 3 mzungus walk home in the mud, 980 ksh for lunch, 1 charged cell phone, 2 beans growing in our poop/mud walls… mmmmmmm mmmmm dinner…

29 June 2010
Day 15: The mystery wings, the great flood and “excuse me…”

I will consider today a successful day. Erin, Zack and I went to the Mwsoli Market. Oh my goodness, it was great. We all got lovely things and perfected our bartering skills. Erin almost mzungued a Kenyan.

Oh! I forgot the title event! Last night there was a great commotion probably involving bugs that were stuck. Upon waking up this morning, we discovered a whole lot of little wings. They looked like termite wings, all over the floor. And all over the road on the way to the market. We are baffled and not Kenyan, so we cannot solve this mystery.

Alright, so market, and return home. We played cards and finally had lunch. After lunch, business. While we were out, G looked over the last application and made some changes as well as roughdrafted a cover letter. We went over these and determined a game plan for tomorrow and how we shall complete revisions in time for Thursday’s meeting.

That was followed by some Frisbee and rain. And oh how it rained. It rained and water leaked under the door. It flooded the outer room. It was incredible how much water came in. Now we have a soggy poop hut. I wrote a short about it. The flooding, not the soggy poop. As I wrote this, we listened to some people trying to get a car unstuck fro the mud. It was suggested that I mosey out and say, “It looks like you boys got your car stuck.” It would be in a thick southern accent. We also discussed running out and yelling random thing, as they were yelling a lot. Unfortunately for us and fortunately for them, the car seems to have been unstuck. So now I guess we’ll have to just read until dinner. Lame-oh.

Accounting: 5 shawls, 1 skirt, 1 African dress, 3 returned bottles, 2 near-headshots, countless wings, 2 small poops (not apart of our house), 1 flooded room, 1 stuck car, 4 amused mzungus.

30 June 2010
Day 16: The team parts ways; boys against girls

This morning we sat down to breakfast and went over the plan for the day. We were planning to all go to Ebushibungo and use the two computers there to create a new application for the schools. Near the conclusion of breakfast Jackson mentioned we had a meeting with the chair of the water user committee at 10am. It was 9am. After quickly replanning and a rushed spot of tea the girls were taking a piki to Ebushibungo and Griffin and I were off the Ebuhonga (or so we thought).

The day prior there had been heavy rains, and though the sun shone bright this morning, the roads remained soft and muddy. The ride from Jackson’s to the paved road was slick, in several places we lost control but never fell. Initially I was quite happy to see the pavement approaching. That was until the driver stomped on the accelerator (not the exact terms that ought to be used for a motorcycle but apt in this situation) and sent us screaming (again not literally) down the hill towards our destination. I was again elated when we began to slow, turning off the pavement. As before my happiness was short lived as these “roads” were even less solid than the ones before. Slipping and sliding about, the back wheel rarely completely stable we made our way up a long hill, passing a turn Griffin said was the way to Ebuhonga. A few spills later, the last of which would find the piki on the ground, we decided it would be easier/safer to walk and began to trudge up the hill, well past the suspected turn, with a few minutes yet to spare before 10. Finally finding a school, we were … disappointed to discover it was not Ebuhonga. Trudging down another muddy road we arrived for our 10am meetings, 40 minutes late, and met for less than 40.

After our meeting, we went to Ebushibungo to enjoy some luxury for at least today. Annie and Erin were well on their way on the application. We were all treated to lunch with several kittens playing about and watched a program on NatGeo. We learned a few very applicable phrases in Kiswahili. Erin’s computer had a brain aneurism and was shot for the rest of the day, hopefully not the rest of the trip.

Upon completion of the application we all made our way to Khwisero market as we have taken to doing Daily. After the usual difficulty of a normally benign task we had printed the application and were getting it copied 50 times. Annie and I wandered off and yelled at by a public official for asking questions. Griffin successfully flirted with a rather voluptuous, and therefore quite wealthy, woman. She stopped in the middle of the road, enraptured by Griffin’s charms, and beckoned him over. Griffin played hard to get so she insisted. Eventually she gave up, at least for the day, and continued on her way. I don’t dare ask but I imagine Griffin will forever dream about the one that got away.

Accounting: 2 propositions, 1 “hilarious” prank, 50 copies (not all complete), 3 piki falls, 1 cookie stolen, countless Kenyan phrases learned.

1 July 2010
Day 17: Nothing happened and it took too long

Today I woke up at 6:30aam, walked to the market and waighted (sp…oops!) 1 ½ hours for a girl to show up (1 ½ hours late) and take ¾ of an hour to print 100 pages poorly. I returned, took a late breakfast, and put the applications together with the team. We came up 5 apps short. The team returned to Khwisero, had the girl print 5 more (for free!), and returned in time for lunch (lentils! And rice).

After lunch we separated ways as I went to Ebushibungo, where I saw a latrine training and got the ATM card, and the rest went to see the drilling at Elwangale. We all returned at about 4:00pm, which left us enough time to play Frisbee and make contact with one of Jackson’s kids (we played “roll the Frisbee” and not monkey in the middle…).

2 July 2010
Day 18: Kisumu

After breakfast as usual, the team embarked on a much needed adventure/break from the countryside – to Kisumu. A very bumpy matatu ride to Luanda, and then a transfer got us there in a couple hours. When we got off at the matatu without our Lonely Planet, we followed Griffin to the end of the city in one direction, called Molly for help, when I led the train of mzungus back to where we started and found the United Mall. Hurray for the “American Mecca” of Western Kenya.

Griffin made a stop at the bank before we sat down for a delightful American-ish lunch. Though the fry sauce was a bit off and the gravy on Annie’s mashed potatoes a bit sketchy, we thoroughly enjoyed the variety in our diet and the first cold drink in weeks. Oh, did I mention the running water? I used the bathroom twice just for the thrill of flushing and not seeing where it goes – the running hot sink water and automatic hand dryer were an added bonus –

We also took an hour or so in the cyber to catch up with news from home, and I most definitely won the ‘sad day’ award for having to write my thesis advisors that my computer had crashed and with it, my hopes of completing my work. Whaa whaa. Annie and I drowned our sorrows in an ice-cream esque popsicle. The last stop on the agenda was to Tusky’s where I bought and sniffed an overpriced pineapple along with Zack’s mango Zesta and Annie’s chocolate and muffins – so very healthy our choices were today!

However thrilling this taste of modern Kenya was, I also couldn’t help remembering some of the inconveniences associated with modernity and its people. Just take the bathroom scenario. The second time Annie and I went, there was a line of 10 other women and children, two stalls were out of order, the communal toilet paper ran out, women cut in front of us in line, more than one couldn’t figure out how to flush, and Annie ended up sharing our stash of toilet paper with another gal. All this was new again after our simple experiences with the pit latrine at home – and resulted in us taking a very long time while the boys waited for us …

Anyway, we finally left the mall to find a matatu home and were apparently a big enough pain to the private drivers that we were pushed to the Msamaria Mwema. We went as far as Luanda – slowly – before we ditched the bus for a quicker personal matatu which we chartered to the Shirali junction. By far the best ride yet! Plenty of room groovin’ tunes, and high speeds on the tarmac. We arrived home for a gorgeous sunset, and bookended the day with dinner as usual.

Accounting: 2 times across the equator, 1 very expensive pineapple, 2 odd “ice cream” treats, 8 very smelly feet (tomorrow is shower day), 6 cold sodas, 1 epic day.

3 July 2010
Day 19: Many Children and possible fish ponds

Upon waking and eating a late breakfast (an increasingly common occurance), the team split to accomplish separate purposes. Griffin traveled to the land of Ebushibunga for a PM meeting. Mama Erin was considering going to visit Jill, and Zack and I decided to go on a mission to find springs.

Because it was church day and we are heathens we tried to sneak out the back. Success! We made it on backroads to the main road. We crossed the bridge and took a right on what looked like a well-traveled mainish road. We wanted to find a spring that Griffin said was by the river, so we walked this road until we got to what looked like someone’ compound and then discovered that it turned suddenly right. A man had already spotted us and was walking out to greet us. We decided to stop and talk to him, as he might be able to direct us to some springs. We exchanged greetings and he asked if we were from Khwisero. We replied yes, and that we were looking for springs. We started walking along the path and he said he didn’t know what we were saying. After further explaining, we gave up. We got to a path we knew and realized that he was taking us back to Khwisero. So we kindly parted ways. Deciding to stay on back roads and not venture to the right of the big through-road, we wandered along some new paths. Once more, we came to what appeared to be another person’s compound. Zack said to continue so we could ask these people about springs just as children started yelling “mzungus” and running toward us. After hand-shaking and how-are-you’s, I asked if this road continued. The boy nodded. I asked about springs in the area and he nodded again. This path honestly did not look like it went anywhere, but we followed it anyway. And then it turned and we walked along a very vague path directly through someone’s compound. All the while, the children followed. We collected another on the road, marking 5 in total.

We continued walking with the children. There was a particularly sketchy moment where the girl next to me was walking and slapping her fist. There was some sound in the cornfield to the left, which Zack claimed to be a cow. It was instead two children with machetes. Staring. We were worried.

Coming up on a path, we came upon Felistices. I thought it was comforting because she could tell them to go home. Instead, she told us their names. Sharon, Anna, Joshua, Ruth and Feliz. Ruth was the youngest and Joshua had stickers all over his face.

They journeyed with us for some time. And then to our great joy – we ran into Charles! He joined our entourage. Thankfully, he translated what the children said for us. They had asked us for pictures, and then they were wondering what we were going to do with the pictures, and if we were going to do witchcraft with them. We replied that we were not, that we were going to show them to our friends and family back home. We walked on the path by their house, and I pointed and said “ingoho” multiple times. They smiled and nodded. Zack asked why I was saying chicken. Oops.

Charles told the children to go home. They said they would see us tomorrow in exceptional English.

He took us to see springs. One was Jackson’s spring; the second was through the cornfield of Jackson’s mother (who we met); the third was off the main through-road, past the bridge on the left. The last two were sketchy. The second’s pup was partially submerged, causing the water to be contaminated with the stagnant water. The third was similar, although the pipe was above the water. There was still a large portion of standing water, and we saw a hookworm in it. Yuck.

It was now about time for lunch. Charles walked us back (as he knew where we live). It was awkward because we planned to meet him after lunch except we didn’t know whether to invite him to lunch or what. Awkward.

Mama Erin was sleeping when we got back. She said she didn’t want to meet Charles because she wasn’t in a talking mood and he’s a big talker.

Oh, I forgot that as we started for home, a boy approached us and introduced himself as Humphrey. He is a student supported by Kallie. His English is very good. He asked for Quinn’s info and we replied that we didn’t have it, but that he could come back later.

Lunch: rice and beans. Papa Griffin was still not home. After lunch, Z and I went to meet Charles again to see fish farms. We were slightly worried about this fish farm business. Especially after we said we didn’t have any method of communication and he called someone as he led us down a small path. At one point I evaluated the road for potential escape running.

The ponds were real, and by them, another spring. It was very well-kept and there was a place to turn the water off and fill the ponds. The ponds and surrounding forest area is a project by a guy who is a major in the Kenyan army. Charles invited us to his house to have the groundskeeper explain the fish farms to us. We declined.

As we continued along the path, Charles showed us a watermelon farm. The man who owned the farm came out. He was Charles’ teacher at one point, although now he instructs teachers and does ag on the side. He invited us in and showed us around. He had watermelon, pumpkins, banana trees, avocado trees. He invited us back for watermelon in two months when it is ripe. We declined. He offered for Charles to climb into the tree and bring us avocadoes. We again declined. Although we do think some avocadoes might find their way to our house.

We finally returned home. Kate had some back with Griffin. She stayed and shared our pineapple. She left and the rain started. We shared real life stories and then a knock at the door.

As everyone usually knocks and speaks, I was pretty sure Zack would open the door to a large man with a gun. It was Humphrey. Not a large man and no gun. He sat and chatted for a while. He’s a funny kid with a silly laugh. Once it stopped pouring, he left.

Dinner was outrageously late at 9pm. Erin was going to die.

Accounting: 5 chattering children; 2 scary machete-yielders. 2 actual fish ponds. 0 sneak attacks. 3 life stories. 4 clean mzungus. 1 sponsored kid. 3 new springs. 1 satisfactory pipeapple.
Many baby watermelon plants; few promised avocadoes.

4 July 2010
Day 20: A Mexican fourth of July

Today being a Sunday, and in one team member’s opinion the greatest holiday ever, had our plans changing rapidly from one moment to the next. Ultimately we decided on Ebukwali. After our usual late lunch we phone our usual, and according to most, the best piki driver in town. His phone was off. This was troubling as it meant, among other things, we had to walk to the market. The morning was overcast and cool, so the walk was mostly pleasant with only the most minor of mishaps. At the market we got 4 pikis and headed to Ebukwali. Mine stalled almost right away and remained a bit sketchy until we started riding up the rocky and muddy hill. There it went from a bit to beyond sketchy as he lost control and drug my knee on the ground before stopping the bike. It didn’t hurt much but the worry of an open sore in a house of poop can no be underestimated. Half the team was out shopping for supplies for this most glorious of holidays. They returned and we played Frisbee and then soccer with a collection of kids for awhile. I was quite happy to get some real exercise and played perhaps a bit too long. We had guacamole and salsa with chapatti before lunch and it was wonderful. After lunch we played maybe 3 point of ultimate and then headed home. Grif and Erin left Annie and I home alone as they went to greet the new team. Big mistake, but I won’t go into exactly why.

Accounting: 1 Mexican piki driver, 3 near-death piki rides, 3 ultimate points, a few drinks before lunch, 1 battery (uncharged)

5 July 2010
Day 21: Back to Kakamega

After a long breakfast, we headed to Kakamega. The girls were initially planning to go to Ebuhonga for pen-pal writing. As this didn’t end up getting scheduled, however, all four of us went to Kakamega. We got money, small bills, groceries, went to the cyber, and Zack got fitted for a three button suit.
Upon finishing our errands, we took a matatu back to Khwisero. Annie, Zack, and Erin got a soda at the Beehive and I boda-ed back to Jackson’s.
There, I found Woody, Ben, and Jenny Sue waiting for us. We played cards until their pikis arrived, at which point we said our fairwells. Woody and Jenny Sue were headed to Nairobi and ultimately a phone home. Ben leaves for the coast tomorrow.

6 July 2010
Frisbee (EE-EEE) Under the African Sunset

Any day that involves extensive piki rides is a good one. After much discussion and a few plans that fell through, the whole team ended up on a piki parade to Elwagale – plus Quinn, who joined us after dropping off the remaining water testing supplies. We had planned to talk with Megan before our meeting with the Mwisena Water User Committee, but she “was otherwise detained”. We ended up watching the well drilling at the school for a couple of hours waiting. They may be done drilling as I write.

It was incredible to see the drill hit water today… you know its coming soon when the driller dawns the full-body rain gear. They started at 50 m this morning and have probably gone the remaining 30 m today. We left the school reluctantly at 12:30 in order to call a piki to Mwisena, only to be further delayed by THE TASTIEST juice and bananas… and a lack of Megan – still.

Like good Kenyans, we finally wrangled pikis and arrived 44 minutes late to meet Samson. Then it was our turn to awkwardly wait for HIM to finish his lunch and for the remaining committee members to arrive. Then we toured the borehole and teacher latrines to find the projects in good repair, and several new income-generating activities (IGA) under way. Though Samson does give a “used car salesman” vibe, the water user committee is rockin’ so far. Once we sat down with the entire committee, the news going around was generally positive.

— the borehole has needed no new repairs – the latrines (and resultant urine thus far) are in good use – the account has 400ksh in it – the water services 30 homes – plans for IGA include a seedling farm, veggie farms, bottling the water, and compost use from the latrine.

After the meeting, prolonged goodbyes, and the infinite signing of the guestbook, we finally got back to the pikis who graciously waited (for a cost) an hour for us. We piki’d back home to find the new Mundeku team (Laura, Tessa, and Chris) meeting with Jackson. They were enjoying cookies and soda (purchased by Nellie aka US) and catching up on the pipeline issues.
As soon as we nixed the heavy convo – we showed them into the hut for customs (of which I can’t divulge, but it was only half successful).

Once their pikis to Mudeku arrived, we started a rousing game of Frisbee – got Hillary and Samos throwing everything in sight – and generally enjoyed the sunset and evening compound activities. Din-din was bawling, the boys were screeching, women cooking, and Frisbees flying – even got a poorly constructed “Good job” from the boys as we ended the game!

Tomorrow A and Z start water testing, and I’m going to visit Jill! Yay

P.S. The frog is in the poop-hut.

7 July 2010
Day 23: The day in which I realize our house is made of e-coli

Well, today Kenya did trump all. The frog had abandoned the corner (we found his home is in the corner by our bed with two mushrooms, sick) by the time we greeted the day.

I boiled the bottles, while everyone set on their separate ways. This was when we still believed our days would hold success. Erin and Griffin went to the market for charging and piki acquisition. They were going to send a piki back for Zack. His piki arrived after I had finished boiling. Unfortunately, he and the battery took the trip to the market only to discover that the battery re-charging will take until tomorrow morning. So, there goes our day of water testing. While we waited for Griffin to finish his chat with Eric and Erin to return from Jill’s, we made a flip book on Griffin’s engineering notepad. It was of me putting a frog on his bed and him getting upset and exploding.

They returned, and only Griffin had success. Erin went to Jill’s except she wasn’t there. So we played a few rounds of Hearts and had lunch. Jackson is having new windows installed. They’re very nice. Tess stopped by as we were finishing lunch.

After lunch, Erin went to Jill’s again. Griffin took a trip to the market and came back as Zack and I finished a game of super war. Then we all walked to Munyanza to the head teacher we don’t have tools. Except everyone was gone. So we walked back and stopped by the lady who makes dresses. I got all measured and will have a skirt and blouse. Zack and I scampered to the market to get my camera (which didn’t charge) and had sodas. And we returned home. To wait for dinner.

Accounting: 4 failed plans. 1 dead battery to take all day to charge. 1 really super! flip book. 1 new card game. 500 bob spent of Joseph. Countless inappropriate “your mom” jokes. 6 bottles boiled. 4 random army-looking people. 1 tummy-ache.

8 July 2010
Day 24: Battery water

After a breakfast consisting of egg, bread and jam, to which we have grown quite accustomed, we sat in the hut awaiting the arrival of our guest Megan. We held little hope of her being on time after our last episode of expecting her return but to our surprise she showed up right on time (Kenya time). She performed the requisite customs and earned herself a meeting with us. A short discussion of the fellows program ensued until Megan was taken for a more traditional custom in the main house that did not involve our team. Her return prompted more meeting followed by closing customs.

Oh, also, in the morning I went ot the market and retrieved the battery, charged but I have no idea how.

We set up the incubator and ensured it was working properly then I went with Griffin and Annie to the 4 springs we had planned to test. For the extremely sketchy one we rigged up a rather ingenious sling for it so we didn’t get hook worm. We walked down an eben more slick and eroded path than the one to Jackson’s Spring and as always in our adventurousness ended up going straight through someone’s compound.

Then I took a nap.

Accounting: 4 shoes taken off, 4 arm wrestling losses, 6 samples incubating, 1 meal missed.

9 July 2010
Day 25: The first water samples!

We met with Megan today at 10:00am. While she was here we performed customs and then talked about the fellows program (Annie lost arm wrestling, by the way). We discussed the general program concept and decided that Erin would get as far as possible with setting the program up during the next week and then Megan and I would finish the rest of the work. After this Megan was “kidnapped” by Nellie and taken for tea. She was returned to us in time for her to catch a piki away.

After lunch the girls went to the market and Zach and I went to Ebushibungo and Ikomero. With Eric and Kalen we met with the head master and got all of the information about the WMC, the well, the bank account, etc. We were also reminded that JJ or Laura promised them a latrine. We said no. They also wanted the matching funds promised by Quinn in 2008, totaling ksh5000. We told them we would get back to them and will probably pay them.

The first set of samples was read today. The blanks were clean, the rest had total coli form, and two had e. coli.

Actually, we didn’t see Megan today (that was yesterday…). Instead, the team boiled sample bottles and I walked to Munyanza to tell the headmaster that we don’t have the tools he wants (Jackson only has Afridev pipe wrenches). I told him to contact Haikal, whose contact info is on the borehole sign.

10 July 2010
Day 26: Kisumu Take Two

Today I woke up feeling much better and mostly recovered from an annoying Africa bug but not quite up to the bumpy road trip to Kakamega… so, off to Kisumu for Annie, Zack, and I. Griffin had a meeting for the LVNWB pipeline project at Jackson’s with Kalen and the pipeline team, so he opted to stay home. However, the meeting started so late that he left for the office to get some computer work done. We heard the meeting went well in his absence, but not much more.

Back to the Kisumu journey… we learned some valuable things throughout the day, most exciting was that Annie will, indeed, miss Africa! When we flagged down a matatu headed to Luanda, the majority of passengers were pulled off, rearranged and squished in order to accommodate three mzungus. As we crowded in the very back where one other Mama was, I think we all realized at the same moment that all four people in three feet of space used to be a whole lot more uncomfortable three weeks ago. Though the passengers far exceeded the “reasonable” amount, the ride to Luanda was rather enjoyable and seemed faster than previous matatu rides. Kenya time, as it speed and slows according to the particular activity, also being something we are adjusted to. Once in Luanda, the smoothest transfer EVER ensued where the three of us were ushered into a large matatu. Because we were the late arrivals, there were no actual seats left, but we learned that wood planks laid over empty isle space makes for “adequate” seating. Zack and I rode on the boards for quite a while until a drop off passenger caused a seating rearrangement, forcing Annie on one – which was only fair really ☺ The rest of the ride went fairly well, just when we thought we would be crammed for the duration of the rough road nearing Kisumu, we dropped a load of people…

We found the United Mall with less effort than our previous visit and headed straight for the cyber for personal email and some EWB typing. After a couple hours and a few hundred bob, we decided lunch at the malls inside restaurant. In hind sight, the milkshakes, pizza, and fries we ordered could have been a poor choice – but mostly turned out well. For further reference, the milkshakes were flavored, shaken milk… and not much better than it sounds – but they WERE cold – also something we’ve done without for quite a while.

Then it was decision time: either we got groceries and returned home to sit in the poop-hut waiting for dinner OR go see a TERRIBLE American movie to prolong returning. So of course, we went for the movie! After securing some of the groceries to cook dinner tomorrow night, we headed to the theatre to see THE BACKUP PLAN. If anyone reads this searching for movie recommendations, or at all for that matter – I wouldn’t highly suggest this movie. The most it provided was a couple hours of cheap entertainment, and valuable lesson number two: American culture is NOT missed by anyone… enough said.

Just to make life more difficult, we returned to the store (Tusky’s) for water, as we are led to believe that even the water cans at home are now molding. I’m done with the water, on week left, I’m walkin’ to the market to start a plastic bottle collection! (small rant) So we head to find the Msamaria Mwema again, but it proved more difficult this time. Finally a nice young man took pity on us and showed us the way. A brief moment of relief quickly changed into unease as we realized the bus was overflowing people. Realization number 3: Sometimes being white gets you a seat (or stand) even if you aren’t sure you want it.

Same nice man already offered to hold our groceries while we lodged ourselves among the standing crowd – Zack, being at least a head and shoulders too tall to stand comfortably. Ok, skip all the boring waiting, ticket buying, and first few minutes riding… super drunk, smelly, sleepy Kenya dude standing beings to fall over taking up twice the space necessary and… “butt humping” Annie. This goes on FAR too long for anyone’s liking despite many minute position shifts so finally, sensing Annie might actually cry, I start singing “my humps, my humps, my lovely lady lumps… my milkshakes brings all the boys to the yard…” whenever the “but humping” proves to be overwhelming. This gets an uproar of laughter from us, and a few uncertain looks from those around us… mainly, the guy behind me who is similarly “annoying” me from the opposite side. Realization number 4: we have grown accustomed to limited personal bubbles, but not this small. The bus seemed to clear out slower than normal – but finally, we all secured a seat in time to get off again at Luanda.

The mzungus attracted matatus right and left and finally we secured a mom-sketchy, music bumpin’ matatu. While we waited for others to “get on the Khwisero bus” Zack purchased a pineapple for 60 bob and off we went. Lets just say the “mm” gives you perspective on what an enjoyable matatu ride should be. We cruised until we hit the Mulwanda turn off and passed it… turns out the driver voted for the long way around – mostly because he hadn’t listened to the “Buffalo Soldier” soundtrack of Bob Marley yet. So the Mzungus get down dancin’ on the bus with the Kenyans!

Just when you thought the story was over as we arrive at the market… we keep going without stop in search of gas. Spot one fails, so does spot two and then we SKETCHY drove THROUGH the stalls in the market to get gas at spot 3. I own Zack 5 bob for that one, as I was fairly confident that after spot 2 entering the market, we would reverse and go around. No luck, never bet that a vehicle has the capacity to reverse here.

The final saga of the day occurred as we left gas spot 3 for the market intersection. We got the van totally high centered crossing the erosion ditch. After much rocking, we were sure they could finally take us to Shirali… but no. We wasted all that time getting gas just to be kicked out at the intersection! Luckily, there were two pikis near by that didn’t look too terrible, so we opted for the ride due to the large amount of groceries and water. I thought, once again, this would be the end of the story, but I’m not that lucky. Slowly, as we rode, I began to slip uncontrolled toward the back of the bike. Every bump pushed me a little bit further until we got to the Shirali junction and I thought I might die. I asked the driver to stop, but it seems like everyone knows we live at Jackson’s now, and he insisted on door-step delivery. With the hilly entrance to Jack’s, I finally bounded over the bar and was precariously balanced on the tiny metal luggage seat behind me – nervous grimace, hanging on to Annie in front of me for dear life. I really thought I was a goner, and then we stopped. That was a nervewracking end to an awesome day – last realization: never tell the driver you are “ok” unless you really, perfectly, are.

11 July 2010
Day 26: Hot.

Well, today was just as the title implies.

Unfortunately, Griffin’s day started by being sick, continued that way throughout the day and looks like it will conclude as such. He seems to be getting progressively better. Perhaps it is that as the continues, he loses more of the contents of his tummy.

So Mom and the kids were left to fend for themselves. We were going to make dinner for everyone tonight, but decided to post-pone until tomorrow in hopes that G will be doing better.

After lunch we boiled bottles and preppred for sample testing. I sewed my backpack back together. Opting out of lunch, we journeyed to our spings. The first 3 are relatively close to each other, the fourth we had to discover and the fifth required a long walk.

For lunch, we treated ourselves to PB&J sandwiches, Pep, and Swedish Fish. Yum yum! My American tummy was pleased beyond measure for a nice PB&J.

After lunch, naps. After naps, yournalling. After yournalling, more yournalling. Hopefully after more yournalling, dinner. How does our luck hold today?

Accounting: 5 springs tested, 2 hours in Kenyan sun, 4 miles walked. 1 child with a machete. 3 PB&J sandwiches. 1 ill team leader. 1 game of super war. 1 very disruptive church service. 3 clean Nalgenes. 1 very bored Annie who might keep making up accounting for lack of anything else to do. 1 bottle of pep! (Mm mmm good!)

12 July 2010
Day 27: Kenya Trumps all but American/Mexican Cuisine

This afternoon Erin, Annie and I went to Ikomero to settle some business, namely to drop off a copy of the new application and 5000ksh we promised them. (We referring to EWB not us specifically) We arrived and had the pikis wait for us as we planned on being quick. As it turned out we were since the Head Teacher/Master was not in and we met only with the Deputy. She was quite pleasant and happy to see us but had no idea what we were talking about in terms of business. We decided to drop off the application, keep our money and head home. Well I planned that, the girls instead going to get their nails done. Somehow I ended up in the market again, having earlier taken the fastest piki there and back to get the battery charged. Also in the morning Molly and Katie came by to discuss the rainforest plans and to meet Jackson.

Before getting their nails done, or as it happened just going to the closed salon, the three of us got food for our dinner tonight. It was all thrown in a large sack Annie bought and I headed home. The girls not far behind apparently. I ran into Nelly taking the boys for a walk, quite adorable.

Before long we started preparing our Mexican dinner with fruit salad. I learned to make chapatti, though admittedly poorly. We perhaps made too much guacamole but otherwise it was a success. The first early dinner in some time.

Accounting: 1 sack, 20 unpainted nails, 500ksh kept, 1 missing Head Teacher, 4 reservations for the rainforest, 3 burned tongues, 4 chapatti made.

13 July 2010
Day 29: Because everyone else can’t count…

This morning we all pikied to Emwaniro for a 10:00 am meeting with Harrison, the headmaster. Kelan, Eric, and Tessa joined us. We were given a tour around the school and then had a very insightful meeting. Harrison seems to keep the school and its projects running well. He is also able to keep politics out of the water user committee (as much as possible) and able to attract other projects and income generating activities. The WUC also is doing well. There have been no breakdowns and the account has 13,000ksh. I even took some water from the well (it tastes fantastic!) I did steripen it to be safe, though.

We then pikied back to Jackson’s around 12:00, had lunch, and hen returned to “business”. Annie, Zack, and Erin sampled several more springs, Zack went to the market, Annie and Erin bought water, I received the computer from Kalen, and I otherwise took it easy, reading outside.

Zack and I played with Hilary and Seamus, but then had to stop after the second time they started crying. Hilary had gotten pretty good at throwing the Frisbee. Seamus is still scared of us, though, and Hilary leads me around by the hand or by pushing my butt toward Seamus in order to scare him. Seamus then usually fashions a weapon out of corn or weeds. He is usually too scared to hit me, though. They also do not share the Frisbee well.

14 July 2010
Day 30: The beds have molded to us…

If there ever was a “Kenya crunch time” now would be it… We split up a few different directions getting work done today. This morning, Annie and Zack boiled bottles, which depending on the day, may take a whole morning…and it did. Meanwhile, G and I went to the market to wrap up some computer work with the fellows program typing and letters to the Board members representative offices. After running a few errands, we arrived home just in time for lunch – and in time to find A and Z consuming Swedish fish…
After lunch, A and Z were finally set to continue water testing – and in search of THREE new springs no less! Happy to report they were successful and managed to live through the experience with only an any bit on A’s foot and being mocked extensively by Munyanza kids. NEWS FLASH: they also ended up in a front yard with a couple old ladies via a cornfield – instead of being awkward the ladies gave A hugs and sent them back to the road. Once gathered back a the poop-hut around 2 pm, we watched A and Z take out the previous samples, incubated the new ones in our arm pits to bring them up to temp, and started another round in the ghetto incubator.

Also after lunch, G held down the “fort” while I headed to say goodbye to the Inyundo’s. Jill and I were having a nice chat until we were interrupted and asked to run an errand to the hardware store. Being family, I was just ushered to the car and sent along to purchase chain-link fence and barbed wire. Jill and I took Alfred with us to make the deals and do “the man stuff”. The fencing became necessary after a couple years of property line arguments with their neighbors. Anyway, after the Hardware store, we hit up the post office and fruit stand in the Yala area. Once we returned home, I was fed cookies, quencher, and banana at the kitchen table like a good fourth grader. Shortly after, we took a few family photos and parted ways. Jill did her motherly duty of walking me out to the road, from which I walked to see the Mundeku team. They shared a pineapple and brief exchange as I dropped off the computer we borrowed.

The highlight of the day… abeautiful evening piki home while Joseph continued to declare his love for me. Should anyone want his mailing address:

Joseph Wemali
c/o Denis Oyango/Box 54-50135
Khwisero, Kenya

It was texted to me this morning along with his best wishes.

15 July 2010
Day 31: In which we celebrate Griffin’s Birthday

Today, we stated the morning with a delightful breakfast of fried eggs, just fro Griffin’s birthday. Not really.

Then we all mounted pikis (minus Joseph, much to Erin’s great sorrow) for Ebushibunga for a composting latrine training, also for Griffin’s birthday. Not.

It was a little awkward. We weren’t entirely sure what we were doing. I felt bad for the students, as they were told at least ten trillion times that they shouldn’t urinate in the hold for “fecal matter”. What 4th grader know what fecal matter is?

Then Erin, Zack, and I returned to the Khwisero market for supplies for G’s birthday and water for our adventure to Kakamega tomorrow.

After retrieving all we needed, back home for packing. I got a gunny sack in which to pack, I think it was a delightfully good decision. So we packed until Griffin came home, and then he packed while we sat and watched. Zack and I listened to some wonderful music i.e Timbaland, J.T., Jonas Brothers, Michael Buble, Jesse McCartney, and Queen.

Once G had finished packing, we had a brief birthday celebration. I guess in Kenya, birthdays are celebrated by paying one’s parents and having them retell the birth. I told of Griffin’s birth. I wonder if that means he also has to pay me…?

We think it might actually rain tonight, which would be great.
Tomorrow we leave this crappy, mold- and frog- infested hut. Griffin is off to the coast and Mom and the kids are off to Kakamega for the rainforest.

Accounting: 1 awkward latrine training; many awkward “candid” photos. 3 sketchy pikis. 1 very exceptionally slow piki ride. 1 super sketchy purchase. 4 G and T; 1 first; 1 finished bag of jelly beans; 1 pear Alvaro split 4 ways. 1 last night! 1 crazy. 4 delicious maize.

16 July 2010
Day 32: You Want to Live in the Rainforest

Today started earlier than usual. That isn’t to say that the rooster started to wake us up any earlier, but today Griffin listened. He (Griffin not the rooster) was on his way to the market to meet Laura as they were both heading for the Coast. Several minutes after Griffin left Jackson decided to check in. Still being an hour or so before dawn we were less than thrilled at this second wake-up call.

Eric came by for breakfast and quickly took Griffin’s place in our hearts. We concluded packing and said our goodbyes and boarded a matatu for Kakamega. With Expert skill they tied our many bags securely to the roof. I know the number of bumps we found on the way the bags would have become the property of some lucky Kenyan.

I picked up my suit and got the bus tickets (8pm yeah night but that will be another entry) Erin and Annie went to the bank. A woman asked me for a bible. Chris and Tessa, who we accidentally ditched arrived and the girls went grocery shopping. Chris and I organized us a ride to the rainforest while some kid asked us for money and played with a bottle of glue (maybe I am not sure what it was exactly.

The trip to our “hotel” was as sketchy as ever but as always we made it. Rooms are quite cheap but absolutely everything else is a small fortune. The rooms seem great which I think is mostly a symptom of our living conditions previously. Right now there is a meeting with music outside so I plan on joining the fun. Will be back to finish later.

So back, there wasn’t much dancing, it was a retirement party for a father. I tried to walk around town but got in trouble for not seeing Nancy so I was walked back to the Banda’s to greet her. She was very nice and I told her we would all greet her when everyone woke up. We all went to her office to pay for the sunrise walk and after she showed us a trial that led to a sweet observation deck. Kenya Kards took us much to dinner that was amazing, though we have no idea how much it was. Katie arrived via Piki later and the whole troop was there safe and sound. Can’t wait to get up at 4:45am.

Accounting: several monkeys, 2 bandas, 5 mint-chocs, 1 missing team leader.

17 July 2010
Day 33: Former Hot Sweaty Man Love Sack

This morning, we found ourselves stumbling around in the darkness of our Rainforest Bandas at 4:45am. At the time, no sunrise seemed worth the effort and early morning chaos, but once on the road, I was sure the-now-six mzungus were on the brink of an epic adventure. Armed with cameras, we met Nancy (our guide) and started walking for a mile or so along the road by headlamp. Though there were several muddy pot holes, at some point I started to wonder why we needed a guide in order to walk on a well trafficked road. Finally, we turned into the forest along a winding trail that took us up and around a large hill. By the time we came out of the forest, the first few rays of dawn appeared, and we climbed what was a former volcanic area above the tree line.

By the time we reached the top of the hill, the sky was brightening and we flopped down in the long grass – cameras ready – to watch the sun appear over the mountainous horizon. It is so difficult to describe the view in words… the hill we stood on high above the rest of the forest, the valleys of the Yala laid below, and off in the distance in every direction rose far-away mountains. After a few minutes, the fiery sun began to rise, once it was visible, the rest of it came up quickly. All six cameras were snapping picture after picture, then we basked for a while in the new dawn light.

THINKING the experience couldn’t be more incredible, we circled the hill and began the decent for a path taking the slow way home. First, we found ourselves at the mouth of a former coal-mine – now inhabited by huge crickets, spiders and bats. “Team spelunking” finally had the opportunity to prove ourselves, and I’m sorry to report that at least the female portion of the team would fail miserably. I was pretty much ready to leave as soon as we got in but once the bats started flying into us, that experience was considered over. After the cave, we took the long way home, stopping to eat various medicinal plants and take photos. It was around 9:30 when we got back to the Bandas – and everyone was in search of some breakfast.

WE snacked on bread and jam, eggs, and tea and in a half-asleep stupor, watched the monkeys that live in the Bandas compound. Then we decided to explore the compound some and visited the Butterfly Hatchery – an experimental Butterfly farm which is frequently on school fieldtrips and by Rainforest visitors. By noon or 1pm, we were ready for another meal, so the group headed to the canteen for chapatti and soda. Right outside were a couple VERY tame monkeys who posed the tourists.

ONCE back at the Bandas, Annie, Tessa, and I opted for a nap (which turned into four hours) while Katie, Chris and Zack visited Nancy’s house and took another quick walk through the forest. When the six reunited, a rainstorm was headed for us, so we bundled up, hung out on the Banda covered porch, chatted, and consumed an entire bag of Swedish Fish. These are some of my favorite Africa moments, just being in the surroundings, talking with people, and enjoying the present. This is also when we met Hannah, from England, who thought she lost her husband – Marcus – until the rain stopped and she left in search of Marcus.

FAIRLY soon after it stopped raining, it was time for dinner. In the dining Banda, we found a wealthy Israli family who was traveling Kenya in a 2-car matatu caravan with 2 drivers and one cook. They seemed nice enough, but were clearly having a very different experience in Kenya than we were.

At dinner, we had chapatti, ugali, schuma, oranges, beans and meat. Also, Hannah came back to see us with her husband – who had found shelter at a nearby house and drank tea while the storm blew over. They brought some extra spaghetti with them to share – enough to give all six of us a couple bites. Personally, I preferred the Kenya meal, but it was much appreciated by all. Shortly after dinner, all the cats began to make my allergies crazy, forcing us to retire to the Bandas. A couple more hours of friendly chatting ensued before we declared it time for bed at 9pm – what trouble makers we are… All in all a thoroughly enjoyable day and one worth repeating – a different side of Africa that I had yet to experience until today.

Accounting: 6 mzungus traveling together, Day 3 I to be without a shower, Day 3 in same clothes, countless monkeys, countless chapatti consumed, 2 mating butterflies, 1 incredible sunrise, no snakes seen, last bag of candy consumed.

18 July 2010
Day 34: The Great Wait

Today started out delightfully without chickens, children, cows or rooster, but with many Israli visitors loading their matatus.

We roused ourselves, did some minimal packing and gathered for breakfast. After the best bread I have ever had in my life, America pre-life included, we finished packing and gae ourselves a self-guided short walk. In the short walk, there was an intense trail of safari ants and two tree in which we could climb in. Returning, we found a large collection of monkeys which we photographed.

The taxi we called finally arrived after we had waited for an hours. Little did we know (actually we knew very well) how much longer we’d be waiting.

Shortly, before noon, our extremely bumpy taxi ride, we arrived at the Easy Coach station. Eight hours early and with all of our Kenya world possessions. This meant that someone would have to stay at the bus station with our good at all times. We went out and did our business in shifts. The added members of our group (Tessa, Chris and Katie) left to return to Khwisero. It is odd to think I won’t be going back there after this. Although, I am extremely excited for a breakfast tomorrow of bagel and scones.

Our plans for the next two days in (is?) fabulous. It includes lovely things such as showers, more American-esque food, marketing and shaving. Yay!

This all shall follow our through-the-night trip to Nairobi. Which really works out as we then don’t have to pay for the hostel tonight.

Shortly before dinner time (a delicious meal of PB and J’s), we were greeted by a man named Williams (possibly Ted Williams). He was fairly delightful and very motivational. He asked us when we were planning on getting married, except me because he said I looked 16. Thank you? My favorite thing he said was that he liked his wife, that she was a good woman. She is a doctor in Utah. She’s white and he’s a marathon runner. He invited us to tea, which delightful Zack and I as we decided to work on our drifting skills.

Eventually as we boarded the bus, with Erin and I sitting together and Zack across the aisle.

It was incredibly bumpy to Kisumu, but after that, the roads became more smooth, relative to other Kenya roads, of course.

We all slept as well as one can in that situation, with Zack occasionally sleeping on the shoulder of the man next to him.

Truly, I didn’t mind the ride. It was very bumpy and uncomfortable for the neck, but otherwise.

Accounting: 24 man-hours spent waiting. 1 bus waiting room nap. 3 sodas; 6 PB&J sandwhites, all made and eaten.

19 July 2010
Day 35:

We arrived in Nairobi at some point in the early morning. I myself was too busy snuggling the man next to me, while asleep mind you, to notice until one of the girls alerted me. The bus almost drove off with our stuff but didn’t. We managed to find the worlds most expensive taxi (relatively speaking) thought the many comforts that resulted in the high price eluded me.

The desk clerk was not around so the guard took our info and asked if the dorm room would be alright. Having stayed there previously we quickly agreed, anxious to get some sleep, rent free. We were surprised upon entering the dorm room as many of the beds were already filled with sleeping people (I would say kids, but they seemed to be Annie’s age). One of these people was still up writing in a journal. He looked about as happy writing in his as I do about having to write in here every few days. Though he quickly lost his spot as the most upset person in the room when the guard turned the lights on. It took a few moments to get him to shut the light off and by then we had already made a few more international enemies.
We eventually got another room. We went to the Java House for breakfast and all had amazingly delicious meals. When we first arrived in Nairobi I was not super impressed with the menu but this time everything looked delicious. Heading downtown we went to the cyber and the bank, then shoe and tourist shopping. Annie got a mzungu hat for her dad. After lunch we found Tratoria then headed back. I got a Ginger Nut and it is the best things I have eaten by a Manji. Annie and I went back to downtown finding a shortcut along a sketchy road and only after Annie took us the wrong way. We got dressed up and went out for a fancy dinner. Saw a ton a touristy mzungus. It was an amazing dinner and we almost got to meet the owner.

Accounting: Not enough time for accounting.

20 July 2010

Today, Annie and Zack leave. Our A to Z group is no longer bookended with them, but I still have my own work to do in Nairobi with remainder of my time in Kenya. It was a good last together though…

The morning started with the arrival of my new roommate, Katie, from Liverpool, England. Annie and Zack had barely packed their things before she got in. As we were awkwardly chatting, Molly popped in the door. Apparently she and Quinn had been staying down the hall for a few nights unbeknownst by us. Soon after, the team (plus Molly) walked downtown to meet with Ronald. After the half hour walk and half hour of waiting, we found Ronald and went to Uchumi for tea and a debrief chat. Overall, the work we completed was taken positively, and Ronald encouraged us all to return to the US with ways to improve EWB and future work in Khwisero. As a side note, I was finally able to talk to him about wwork on my thesis as well.

After tea, I asked Ronald where we might find a market to visit, and with very little wandering, we found the City Market. While the place looked peaceful enough, one of the mzungus showed up, chaos ensued. After an hour or so, we had all had enough of overpriced junk, bartering, lying vendors…. And that was just the IS stalls outside the crappy earrings I bought along with some off-loaded American junk and try to trade rather than purchase… I think we all had at least one bargain to be satisfied with among all the junk that we paid WAY too much for.

Annie, Zack and I walked back to upper hill for lunch at the Java House… one last American/Kenyan style milkshake and various American-esque meals. Upon crossing the street back to the hostel, and last minute packing, it was time to send A and Z of the former Shirmunyabuhonga back to the US of A. Godwin came in short order and now I am alone…

To wrap up my day (now with a full blown head cold) I took a nap, chatted with Molly, went downstairs to the hostel restaurant for dinner, and promptly fell asleep with some Nyquil.


Phase 6:Team Six

July 25 – August 20

July 28, 2010
Jackson’s house
Day 1

1st Thought

Team six is a pretty weak name so there should be a new and improved name.


Took the 7:30 am bus from Nairobi to Luanda via Siaya. The rift valley was invisible through the cloud of fog. I seriously imagined dirt road all the way to Khwisero. Being a first to the African continent, I was mislead by misconceptions on how advanced the culture is. If I could only fir in a s a local and not a mzungi then people will stop asking for money. From the streets and markets of Nairobi to the bustling town of Luanda, everyone is trying to get me to buy something. I just don’t understand fully but am getting there. The slums of Kabera had the coolest people I have met so far. From the UMADE trust to the children screaming “How are you? How are you? How are you?” as if it was one word. Everyone met the mzungi with joy. As we walked through the heart of the slums I started to piece together the entrepreneurship that supplied the life and heart of Kenyan culture, the slums are not for the homeless but a chance for people to move with every very little from the country-side, make money and disperse to their homeland around Christmas time with spoils from a hard-earned years wage, Quinn mentioned being in Nairobi during this time a and had to scrounge around the city to =find a business that was open with an internet café. Eye opening.

Five full days after departing the states with all my belongings, I arrive in the quaint piece of land that makes up Jackson’s home.

My immediate impression:

How the heck are we going to get anything done with limiting resources in this place in the middle of nowhere? If I died alone here, I don’t think anyone in the Khwisero region would know how to communicate that to my parent. Fortunately EWB has been here, and set up a tremendous line of contacts and community development that I am in good hands and not on a solo fight to change the world.

Revised impression:

The work we do could actually go unnoticed for hundreds of years. If there were an imaginary hand feeding our projects and humbleness triumphed, we are one friggen small spec on this planet and it will take a lot of work to make a big change. You have to start small. But realizing the distance from Mom, Dad, sister, brother, foe, is making me realize how huge this planet is. I don’t think everyone is here for themselves, and I highly don’t any single person here is aiming to change all of Kenya. There is an intangible desire to be here, and everyone will keep that to themselves, but we are all apart of something bigger

“Catch a man a fish and he’ll have food for a day, but teach a man to fish and will have for life.”

Closing humor:

While sitting in the matatu, street vendors were burning to sell McLaine something. The car was packed, his window was open, he is white… perfect hit. I sat with my back to the window facing McLaine in the backseat, Griffin was smushed sitting four across in the second row. We paid too much cause we ain’t local. Oe guy tries to sell McLaine a razor for ten minutes. M says over and over “No, I don’t need one.” The guy keeps talking in Swahili desperate for a few ksh. The 12-year old boy keeps trying to tell McLaine that the guy doesn’t understand English, although he keeps saying “brother”. I can’t take it anymore and grab McLaine’s Swahili book in search for the word no = hapana. The kid and guy next to me both exchanged smiles of laughter as poor McLaine fends off the vendor in his broken Swahili.

On second though, team name? THE ENCORES

July 29, 2010 Day 2

The day started out being awoken by the family rooster. We then ate breakfast and headed for the Khwisero market. Along the way we got to use our newly learned Luhya vocabulary. The two words I could muter up to remember were Mulembe and Busheri. Laura said that if you speak Luhya to old ladies they love you for it, so as we arrived into the market our first order of business was to register the sim cards on the cell phones. As I waited while Griffin and Michael registered the cards I had a chance to try my Luhya on a n old lady and Laura was right she did love it, then her whole sentence after her laugh wasn’t understood. She laughed at me more for only knowing one word. After that we went into the market while Griffin used the computer. Our search was fro a watch me. Along the way we played soccer with some boys, and they really enjoyed Michael’s juggling skills. But since we didn’t have all day we continued our guest for my watch. We were finally lead to a shop that had many watches and I was able to purchase two for 70 bob, since in all odds I’ll at least be able to break one of them. The one I am wearing now I is yellow and digital with a small rabbit just below he clock. With that errand finished we continued our walk through the market where we also purchased bleach, cell phones minutes, and a soda. As we drank soda we talked Kenyan culture and how its very touch to deny a poor person asking for money but it’s a very important puzzle piece to the Kenyan puzzle. We then regrouped and returned home for lunch at 1pn. After eating we began to think what could be done with the rest of our day. We threw a Frisbee, played soccer and even created a folf course. Then the decision was made to go get new water from the close by spring. We walked .25 miles we carried it back — I have maximum respect for the women of Kenya who have to haul water often, it was very tiring. Boiled that water on our return so that we could sterilize our water testing cups. Once that was done we used the rest of the day water to fill our empty bottles Then the rest of the day was left open with more Frisbee and soccer played. Michael came up with a kind of Kenyan shuffle board game we ended calling Keta, meaning to knock down and get hurt. I won the first game while Michael won the next 2. He then played Griffin and as they finished the sun beginning to set. We all ended up reading for a bit then we ate dinner and as I finish this sentence I am heading to bed.

Friday July 30th 2010

This morning I woke up at 5:30 and stood in Jackson’s pasture under a full moon to call home – and decided that was my favorite time of day here – the middle point between setting moon and rising sun. At breakfast, Mike forced down his hard boiled egg – not his favorite – and we estimated that he had about 12 more to go, as we are served them every other morning. Griffin stayed behind me to have a meeting with Jackson and Mike, McLaine and I walked to 5 surrounding springs to take water samples and test PJ/iron content. Lead by out GPS and sometimes accurate intuition we walked through small clay trails, main roads, maize fields and backyards finding most of the springs we were looking for and meeting tons of kids along the way – shaking hands and practicing our Luhya. We returned back home around 12 and called some piki pikis to go to M-— (?) — Mike and McLaine’s first pikis rides of the trip. We had a look at the nearly finished composting latrine and had a meeting with Harrison, the head teachers to get the payment for the fundis – who would not like to be paid for their labor on the second slab that was poured over the first poorly constructed slab. We also talked about setting up a time for the management training for the latrine for teachers and what to do with the urine run-off-weather to let it empty into a free bucket or into an evapo-traspiration system or simply be absorbed by a layer of gravel covering the ground. On the return trip, one of the pikis had a fire issue so we stopped at the market and bought some bananas and mundazi while schools boys stared but were too shy to speak with us – a tad awkward. Once home all of us went in search of the last well we were looking for – but ran out of time – which was also close to Jackson’s spring. Mc, Mike and I continued on to the market where we ate bananas, oranges, got a knife sharpened, my shoe nearly repaired (going to come back when he has some glue) and evaded a crazy old man who wanted 20 bob and acted like he would grab the half eaten banana out of my hand. We bumbed about looking for playing cards and eventually headed back home – ah – and McLaine discovered a snack called “maize puffs” which looked like Cheetoes but tasted liked fast-dissolving packing peanuts. On the walk home we grazed an avocado and four more bananas for the trip tomorrow – going to Kakmega to draw out money to pay the fundis and get Griffin fitted for his suit. It was the perfect time of day to be out walking, cooling down and beautiful light through the trees. We said “good Evening” in Luhya to and old woman passing with an umbrella and both eyes clouded with cataracts – she stopped – realizing we were mzungus but so surprised/confused that we had greeted her – that she just kept talking on for a while and we all had a good laugh. A guy on a boda passed and greeted McLaine saying “Griffin.” – I guess we do all look the same to some people. After all, I’m still mistaken to Kate in the Kumativo market by the crazy drunken dude. In the afternoon while everyone else was inside, getting the water samples into the incubator – I at outside with my book but we called by my new friend Lehya from the window of the church directly next door. She is the choir conductor and they were practicing up for tomorrow’s service so I went and sat inside to listen to them sing – so amazing – and of all ages – a 9 year old boy to a 20+ year old woman – all so talented. Afterwards I walked with Lehya to her home near by to meet her Father, sister and daughter, we made a date to cook dinner together – they are even going to write down the “procedure” for each dish they make – I’m so excited. After I’d returned, Mike and McLaine were still out – they had gone to test one more spring. At dinner McLaine did try out eating ugali with his hand instead of wrapped like a taco in his chapatti – we’ve got to watch ourselves now around Nelly Nelly – who also taught me “Where are you going?” in Luhya: “otsitso nena?” and I’m going: “etsitsanga Khwisero”

July 31, 2010 Day 4 The Hilarious Trip to Kakmega

After waking up, we were given showers (past due I was told, though at this point I can’t tell) and breakfast. Following breakfast we walked to the market and got a matatu – if it can be called that. For, it was neither a van nor a “sweat box” but something like a mini Msamaria Mwema and , therefore, the poshest matatu ever. Indeed, showing on Kakamega days is usually inadvisable as the shower is usually undone after about 20 minutes matatu-ing. The luxurious nature of the ride coupled with an unheard of hour of traveling made this assumption false, however!

Upon getting to Kakmega we went to Barclay’s, where I withdrew 50,000ksh from EWB’s account and, in doing so, learned that we can withdraw more than 40,000ksh per day! I am not sure what the limit is, but I aim to find out next time.

Next, we went the cyber and then wandered around looking for playing cards. Distracted from this goal, McLaine and I got fitted for suits (which, by the way, cost, in total, 1950ksh!). Meanwhile, Laura and Mike found “Fifa 2010 World Cup” playing cards and paid 150ksh for them. Meeting back up, we went to the Mama Watoto for groceries. We each got water, cookies, TP, etc. McLaine also got 2 packs of “Coca-cola” cards for 20ksh each… meaning Mike got mzungued for his. Oops…

After being relentlessly accosted for money, we arrived as the matatu station where we were put on the wrong, similarly nice matatu. While we waited for it to leave we bought sim-sim, chapatti, etc. after about an hour, we left Kakamega. Stopping in Musihila, we asked to confirm that the matatu was going to Khwisero. As it was not, we were transferred to another (Khwisero-bound) matatu, which arrived shortly and was just a jenty (?) as I’ve come to expect! Otherwise, we made it back to Jackson’s without incident, where we played Frisbee with the surrounding community’s kids. Once the tape job on the Frisbee wore out, we called it a night and made plans to play again tomorrow.

A dinner of ugali, risussa, chapatti, orange, potatoes, and liver rounded our day nicely (except, that is, for the live, which I, Griffin made the mistake of identifying and announcing). Finally, we read the water samples before going to bed. Notably, the blank was clean and Jackson’s spring (Emungweso) was free of E. coli!

August 1, 2010
Jackson’s guest hut

First thoughts: I don’t mean to complain, but everytime I put my hand on the wall or brush up against it a dirt clot falls off. The musty clay seems to be getting to Laura as she has a sore throat. Griffin woke up today with a dirt clod on his neck. He must have a hole in his mosquito net.

Morning: I awoke at 7:30, a bit of sleeping in. I got up to find Laura reading. We walked to Jackson’s spring to get water. There were three Kenyan women at the water hole and they kindly filled up our water. I struggled as I put the full bucket on my head compressing the water, and causing it to gush out the leaky top into my head. Free shower. I’m glad I wore my dirty clothes. Breakfast was my 2nd ever hard-boiled egg with bread, butter, and jam. I choked down the egg and chased it with jam. I did more PH testing with bottled water and discovered that clay is charging PH from neutral to slightly acidic. This could be the reason for corrosion of pipes/steel. I dressed my Sunday best in bathing suit khaki pant and pink button down Lacoste shirt and chacos. If my skin were black I might pass as a Keegan. Morning prayer then church.

Church: Nelly took us to her church! Church of God near Shirali school. Church was at 11. The first people showed up at 11:30. The priest and pastor were there by 10 to 11. McLaine and I went outside to corner the chickens into being scared. We just wanted to play. The priest changed outside then they p-- 2 i-—. McLaine and I ran to the side door. All the hymns were in Swahili but every now and the, they would translate verses for us. The pastor woman was in center, singer-lady on left., priest on right. Pastor and priest wore purple shirts with clerical collar. John 10:7 and Mark 10:45 only. Nelly corrected the pastors actions when he forgot to pray after the reading. Very casual service. I enjoyed singing. My ass never hurt so much on a wooden bench. There was a strange disruption in the middle of the sentence when Nelly announced who paid what for the conference. McLaine turned to me, laughed, and pointed to the phrase in Laura’s book which had the Luhya translation for “Fuck off”. How appropriate in the middle of church. The open-air churches claps from across the creek could heard over our service adjacent to 14-yr-old Joshua’s house. For some reason I could not sit still after sleeping nearly 11 hours and wanted to get my boney bum off the hard wood.

Lunch: Griff happened to be at the hut for lunch. We played hearts until lunch and then some ipso facto. Lunch included hot rise and beans which was what poor Griffs wanted. Plantanes, meat, oranges and false hope of tea. Fundi workers got a small 14” cake size dish of Ugali and Sukumu wiki, and probably our leftovers.

Afternoon: Boiled/sanitized bottles. Laura, McLaine and I went to find more wells. Wandered aimlessly with GPS some kids showed us well, we logged in pts 23 – 27 and Victor’s house. He showed us the rapist, several wells, his people, told us we could borrow some bibles. He is a teacher at Munyanza and very helpful. His house is in the GPS and is more than willing to help us. He is a friend of Quinn. Me guy named Maurice that also wanted Laura’s number. Laura told Victor that we had a “date” to go bike riding. I told her to be careful for what she wished for.

Evening: same old: cards, ugali, chipati, tea, some meat that Laura dislikes, oranges, but wait:… I don’t think elipses can follow a colon. She said Jakes… poor Laura. Dinner has become a plate grubbing quiet time rather than a “can you please pass the ” kind time.

2nd Thought: All is good. Kenya is chill. I zinged some kids when I asked “How are you?” before they could. Amen!


It seemed like we slept in today or maybe I was well rested, but anyhow we were awoken by a loud commotion this morning. It was a funeral procession for someone from Nairobi. We later asked and found out it was the Church of Dubai. After breakfast Laura and I left for Ebushibungo to check on the latrine being built. Mike and Griffien stayed at Jackson’s. Mike wasn’t feeling good so he stayed, and Griffen was reading applications from schools. Laura and I left sharing the same peekee driven by Joseph. Along the way he asked Laura why muzungoo don’t want to marry Kenya’s, because Kenyen’s are very willing to marry muzungoo’s. I thought this question very funny but realized that many Kenyen men have fancy’s for the EWB girls. As we arrived we talked Harrison and the fundie about the finishing of the latrine. We talked about the finishing of the floor, the doors, the roof, and the doors on the bathroom. Shadrack showed up and more was talked about what could be used for the doors. Also harrison asked if we could pay to place wood for some final touches to the appearance of the building. We told him that since it was only for appearances we didn’t want to pay for it. After the meeting and the fundies well on their way Laura and I started making the rounds to many of the springs in the area. Overall we got 6 samples with one of them being a new spring. We returned, and then Griffen and Mike left to get samples. Once they came back, we put the samples in the incubator and I started journaling while Griffen wrapped up some work and everyone else hungout.

8/3/2010 ← edited by GS ☺

Trip to Elwangale

After breakfast we set out in pikis to Elwangale – the school on the hill – which was a beautiful ride over rolling hills and the Yala river. We inspected their composting latrine which works awesome and their borehole (which is concerningly close to 2 sets of active latrines), both of which they are very proud. The well seemed to be in non-stop use and we all employed ourselves at the pump while students kept replacing full containers with empty ones. We were also lucky to be at the school on the last day of their Haikal management training and awards ceremony so there were several speeches of thanks to Haikal, to us, to Jackson and the EWB board in Kenya. Griffen gave short speech thanking everyone and reminding them that we’ve had successful projects, and non—or less successful projects and that much of that depends on them — and that their ability to mange these projects makes our work at home easier – it is easier to attract grants or do fundraising with success stories on hand – which is what we hope Elwangale will be – the school on the hill!! Haha. Afterwards we were all served lunch of sodas, chapatti, rice, beef, and cabbage and were taken on a tour of the surrounding springs that students relyed on before the school borehole. It was quite an adventure – Samuel was our leader, the senior-teacher, but we had a pack of 8 or so other teachers, a random old man we picked up along the way and mike and McLain. We talked about the way the river swells during the rainy season – up until 2 years ago there was no bridge so students from across the river (on the Kakamega side) had to wade across which was very dangerous since there were plenty of hippos about. We talked about bananas – how most families plant a few trees behind their huts because they can get 200 – 300 ksh for a bushel or 800 is sold in smaller clumps. We talked about erosion, farming, forestry efforts made useless by farmers who uproot newly planted trees to plants their maiz, and other efforts to teach farmers how to replenish the soil through crop rotation or plating groundnuts or sunflowers which fix nitrogen (or have some other benefit). I asked about the Luhya that is taught in schools up to 3rd grade – children are taught to read and write Luhya but they aren’t tested on it (probably sending the message to students that it isn’t as important as learning English or Swahili). They also said there was a lot of hostility from the government regarding teaching the tribal languages because they feel it creates further divisions, lets people talk behind eachother’s backs and encourages pride in being Luhya rather than pride in being Kenyan. We went to 5 or so new springs on our GPS scrambling up steep clay hills or through peoples side yards and maiz fields. A pair of old men at one spring wanted their picture taken and so did a pair of women and their children working in their field and later an old woman, who when I walked up to show the photo to – realized that she was blind. At the last spring it started raining and we were pretty well soaked through by the time we made it back to the school. Samuel stayed with us until the rain dried up and we had called the pikis – he played us some songs he had downloaded onto his phone and we had an akward and very silly dance party. The boys played soccer with some of the students (Griffen had left long ago to go pay for paint needed for the latrine). We walked to meet the pikis and had one of the best rides of my whole trip – I was cold, exciting at times because the world seemed even greener and mysterious with the fog over the river and hills – and hilarious because of Mike and McLain’s way of greeting everyone on the road – Mike was like a robotic pope – arms lifting to wave left and right paired with a smile and a loud greeting and McLain – arms just waving wildly – I was getting their aftermath, kids, adults, old mamas waving wildly and laughing at me too.

Day 8
August 8, 2010

Referendum Day!

We woke expecting to have breakfast and a 10:00am meeting with the fellows and Jackson. At 10:00a, I decided to ask Jack about the delay, which was pushing it even here in Kenya, and found that Patrick wasn’t coming because he was helping with the referendum. Jack and I then decided to reschedule the meeting, which was probably something that, in all reality, he had done already.

Mike and I then decided to boil bottles and McLain and Laura went to the market to get curtains for Ebushibunga and tippy-tap materials. Boiling bottles was completed without incident and Mike an I went to sample a couple of springs before lunch. We were asked several times along the way if we had voted yet…

McLain and Laura returned to Jackson’s before us along with Mandazi and bananas and tippy-tap materials. We then ate lunch – rice and beans! After lunch Laura, McLain and Mike went with Victor to sample more springs and ended up walking a very long way. I read and scheduled. After they returned, we played with Seamus and Hilary and played Frisbee (2 v. 2 with a single box as the endzone. After the usual dinner, we went to bed.

5 –Aug – 2010
Day 9

I wish there was a way to get piki dust out of my eyes. I wear sunglasses and try to arch my head, but to no avail. I can’t tell if it’s the dust from my piki, or the dust that is kicked up on the road.

Breakfast included fried eggs for the second time in a row. I have been having tea everyday and enjoy it. I have to start cutting back on the milk because of my lack-tardness.

10AM Eshinutsa: we left at 10Am and arrived at 10:45 for our 10AM meeting. Awesome! The school teacher was desperate for a project. School on hill with secondary school means multi-purpose borehole and distribution point. It will be important to point out and mark locations of filled pit latrines from the 40’s.

1:30PM Mushikongolo: Joseph tried to make us pay 150 for a piki from Eshinutsa to Mushikongolo. Griffen told him off by showing hima a map that Adam Stigler had made, Thank you Adam. We get a tour of the school, the gut really talks it up, shows community support with existing remnants catchment system and new latrines. McLaine and I played soccer for an hour with the Kenyans and got owned in the African heat. Griff took a piki back.

4PM Jackson’s: McLaine and I failed to find the spare key. I let my sweat dry and climbed the tree of knowledge, Griff came shortly after. Oh lunch included bananas and mandazi, I gave one to Jackson.

Play hearts… I’m getting lazy, refused to go to market. Tired, reading is tough.

Final Thoughts: Good team bonding… Laura disappeared today and returned after sundown. Everyone is getting along well. Good humour. Hopefully whit won’t be a buzzkill. He comes soon.

6 – Aug – 2010
Day 10

We split up for the day, Griffen and Mike went and checked out schools while Laura and I went to Ebushibungo to check on the latrine. When we arrived we found the fundie still not done and once again low on cement. We talked with him and then talked with Shadrack, who called Harrison who met us at the school. We all talked about the use of materials and maybe a chance of stolen goods. Both Shadrack and Harris told us they had been watching and assured us no materials had been stolen. So then we went about asking the fundie how many bays of cement were needed. He ended up asking for 7 more. With this agreed on we left for home. Our peekee driver Ben took us to lunch as a small restaurant, It was very good. Then upon our return we found Patrick waiting at the house. So while he waited we played Frisbee. At 4:40 Mike and I left Griffen at the compound and joined Laura at the neighbors house where we helped make chapatti. It was very fun and the neighbors are a very nice and welcoming family. After dinner we returned home and played cards before heading to bed.

August 17th 2010

After breakfast, Mike and I walked up to the road to take a mutatu to Kisumo – we were going for the day with the intention of picking up PVC pipe glue, pineapples and Whit who had flown into Nairobi on the 4th but since we were concerned about post-referendum violence, we advised that he wait a few days to travel. The seventh day Adventist church next door was having their Saturday service and the neighbor Kenya was teaching a Sunday (Saturday) school class for the young kids – we ended up sitting with them – with a view of the road – as they sang song and danced “what is your telephone number?!” “B-I-B-L-E!!”. They were adorable and Mike had them laughing with his goofy dancing. We caught a mutatu going to Luwanda but there was so little room that mike ended up sitting on 2 people and I ended up sitting in the driver’s seat – with the driver. He was reaching around me to shift and I told him we made a very good team – I’m a very helpful co-driver. We made it to Kisumu and found a tuk-tuk (motorcycle rickshaw) to a chemist shop run by Indian ladies to buy eyes drops for students from the eyeglasses clinic. We ended up walking back to the market that was packed with vendors selling veggies, melons,
Bananas, beans, and lentils stacked in cups on heaping bags and dried fish and squawky chickens. We walked to the Easy Coach station/tuskies/super-weirdo-mall where we got some lunch. I had a chocolate milkshake that made my year and chicken curry and Mike had a juice and a double burger. While I checked my email – Mike began to have an allergic reaction to something in our lunch and was getting hot and itchy and swollen faced. I found a pharmacy in the super mall while he sat against a pillar looking half dead and returned with an envelope of deratin type pills (even though all I had wanted was an antihistamine). He started to cool down and feel better and we moved to the lawn at the front of the building where Whit met us and gave him some benadryl he had in his pack). After a bit, we went out looking for a hardware store which was a bit of an adventure. Most of the “hardware store” stuff was a room of cans of random stuff and rebar wire. We ended up being led down a narrow alley by a man who sold news papers to an Electricians shop who had what we needed. We found a Masa Maria Mwema bus that was going to Luwanda and threw Whit’s stuff up top. Mike bought a radio for 500 bob and Whit and I sat stuffed in the back seat talking with a new grad from college about to start his job at a highschool. By the time we got to Luwanda, it was getting dark and the mutates were slowing down and not going our route, so we started to walk to Jackson’s, picking up some child companions along the way. The rain held off and we were able to get home before it was troo late and Whit practiced his Luhya with travelers on the road. Griffen and McLain came out to greet us under tree.

August 8th, 2010

My first day in Khwisero! We woke up to a great breakfast of fried egg, tea, and a whole loaf of bread. After breakfast we convened in the conference room (that is the bench in the yard) next to din din (that is the small cow tied to the tree) to discuss the game plan for the day. Griffen was headed to the Khwisero market to charge his phone and take care other business. Laura and McLaine boiled water testing bottle and supposedly discussed the complexities of life. Mike took me water testing near Jackson’s house. We met up with Alex, a 16 yr old Kenyan who lead us around to four new springs we hadn’t recorded yet. It was amazing to walk around the area see just how peaceful and beautiful the Khwisero area is. After coming from Nairobi it was just really nice not to breath in death with every step. We did several PH tests and as expected, most were below G.S. Also, many of the pipes at the springs were corroded. At one spring, an older man came down, and after seeing us test the water, became convinced that we were building him a spring on his land. After several attempts at an explanation, Mike finally conveyed to him that we would not be building a spring for him. After a great lunch, which apparently is what we get everyday judging by everyone else’s lack of excitement, we al headed over to the Shirali school. We then spend two hours continuously running the pump, taking water samples every ten minutes to test several different things including: water hardness, iron qualities, flow rate, and visible clarity changes in the water as we pumped. The water pumped much clearer to begin with than we expected, but the group determined this was probably because the construction workers near the school had been using the well frequently. After finishing at Shirali, we headed to several springs south of Shirali to gather a few more water testing samples. Then, the group minus Griffen, went down to the river Yala in search of hippos. To our surprise, instead of hippos gleefully playing in the river, we found a naked Kenyan man. An unexpected ending to the great Hippo Hunt of 2010, as well as my first day.

August 9th, 2010
Day 13
The Arrest!

Today we rose, had the usual breakfast, and prepared to go our separate ways. McLaine and Whit were headed to Ebushibungo and Laura was going Mwhila clinic, while Mike and I continued on our tour of schools. McLaine, Whit and Laura called pikis, while Mike and I waited for Jack to be prepared. After negotiating fares, the three went on their way. Soon after, Jackson asked us to call pikis, and I had Joseph return after dropping everyone off. Upon Joseph’s arrival we found that Jackson had left. When I called him, he said that he wouldn’t be ready for another hour. Frustrated, I returned to reading.

When Jackson showed up an hour and a half later, I was somewhat upset. Greeting Mike and I, however, Jackson stated: “Sorry, I had to arrest someone.” My thought: “That’s hilarious!!! OR, good excuse.” We subsequently recalled our pikis and left to visit M-— . We rrived 2.5 hours late to find the headmaster, deputy and SMC chair who had arrived 1.5 hours early. Oops!

After apologizing, we started the meeting and visited their spring. After about an hour meeting we left to visit Mwirembe, which is a new school (~2 years old) and pretty run down. The headmaster, however, never showed up.

Meanwhile, at Ebushibungo McLaine and Whit bought seven more bags of cement, delivered the newly purchased PVC glue, and told the fundi, once again, that labor required to fix the slab. McLaine pointed out that if people were paid extra to fix mistakes, everyone would make intentional mistakes. This was taken well, apparently, and the fundis will be finished Thursday (8/12/2010). McLaine and Whit also sampled some of the springs around Ebushibungo, which had previously been sampled by Sydney.

The day was capped by a walk to Khwisero, sodas, a tour of the office, bargain bananas, and a boda race (which Mike won on foot).

10 – Aug – 10
Day 14
Oh, Laura’s last
4 Meetings at School, Piki rip offs, Pop

Last thought: Fast pikis are fun, especially on the tarmac.

10:40AM Meeting at Mujiti, 40 mintues late. It’s cool, we stopped to see Nelly at clinic, not arrest someone. Meetings starting to go as usual. Collapsed latrines. We back it to…