Trip in Kenya

A Word on Matatu’s

Matatu’s are Kenyan busses. They are the public transportation, and they get very full. By very full I mean Very. Full.

The average matatu fits 12-14 passangers. The average matatu squeezes in 18 to 20 (although Sue tells me she’s been in one with 24).

Saturday morning, Ms. Sue and I woke up bright and early at 7 am. I was not very happy because a certain mosquito had kept me up most of the night. We had dropped the visitors off at the airport around 10 pm the day before, and now it was time for us to return to Kerugoya. We walked down to the main road-well, we walked until we spotted a motorbike, which drove us down to the main road. Then we waited for a matatu to come by and hopped in. The matatu we got played loud music, and had a lively, somehow adventurous feel to it.

The music was pounding, the bus was moving quickly, and the driver had the unfortunate habit of starting to drive off before everyone had gotten in. There was a tag team of sorts. The driver-and then the guy who took the money, who sat next to the door. When we got to a corner where people were waiting, he would hop out and yell, “Room for 2!” or “Room for 1!” Then the people would jump in-or not- and he would run along side the matatu, grab the door, and jump in as it sped away.

I found the whole thing rather entertaining.

One time a customer wasn’t fast enough. It was a youngish man, whom I decided must have been fairly wealthy but is now in the down and out. He paid the guy who took money before he got on the bus, and then as the bus started moving he wasn’t quite fast enough to hop on. I watched him slow, pulling his cap low in embarrassment as we passed him. The guy who took the money pulled a bill from his fingers and let it flap in the wind a moment before letting it go, and sailing back down the road to the young man.

He kept the money between his fingers-he would fold it in half the long way, then loop it around his finger, and each finger had several bills so that it almost looked like he had brass knuckles made out of money. When he wanted the driver to stop, he would take the coins (for some people paid with coins) and rap it on the top of the car, making a long clanging noise.

I had a seat next to the window, and then there was a space for the people to get to the back of the van, and then two seats across from me. When the back had filled up, they gave us a board to set between my seat and the next, so that another person could sit between us.

When we reached the central bus station Ms. Sue and I grabbed another bus heading towards Kerugoya. He didn’t play loud music, and there weren’t 20 people squeezed in. It was all right though; I was afraid the loud music was going to give me a headache. But.

I still liked the first one better.

Trip in Kenya

Time to Safari


So I’m behind on posting…but what else is new? Last Wednesday, Sue and I left for the safari. We took a matatu (bus) to Nairobi, grabbed a motorbike, and road up to Cindi Mendoza’s house. Then on Thursday we, along with the other visitors, took a five hour drive to the outside of Nairobi where the safari was held.

It wasn’t what I expected.

I was afraid we would be in tents, and would be driving out into the savannah. In reality, we stayed in a reaaally and I mean really nice hotel called Oltukai Lodge, had delicious American food, and then would drive around on the matatu looking for wild animals. The land was so flat, there really wasn’t anywhere for them to hide. I found the whole thing very strange. I’m so used to animals hiding in forests, but here they just grazed on the plains, and watched us drive by. It was almost like a zoo….only without fences and a whole lot more land.


The nice cabins we stayed in. There were two rooms per house, each with a room, and a shower. The beds had mosquito nets attached at the ceiling that you could pull around both beds, and they even had lamps. You don’t even know how much I miss lamps…

I wish I had had the foresight to take a picture of some of the food. Breakfast alone was amazing. Pancakes, and chocolate or white chocolate topping, fruit, rolls, cereal, sausage, omelettes…not only was it the most fancy place I’ve been to in Kenya, it is one of the best hotels I’ve been to period. You had to keep your windows locked when you left though, to keep the monkeys out of your room. And they hired a Maasai warrior to keep the monkeys away. He would use his slingshot if any got too close while you ate. Image

There were a ton of wild animals. Zebras, Elephants, Giraffes, Hyenas, Monkeys, Hippos, and we even spotted one Cheetah although I didn’t get a good shot of it. The landscape was beautiful as well. We all had a great time, and I’m sure we all gained some weight as well. But when you’ve been deprived of American food for so long…how could you not?






Running Around Like Crazy

Sorry it’s been so long since I posted! I’ve been super busy these past few days and haven’t had the time. Everything is going well here, and tomorrow I am heading off to a safari.

The visitors left yesterday so the children were very sad. We did a lot of things with the visitors while they were here. They brought basketballs with them, and taught the kids some basketball down at the neighbourhood court nearby (about a twenty minute walk). I went with them, of course.


Some of the locals were there; a public school was holding a track meeting. The younger kids as well as me and Loren, one of the visitors, were sitting on the court watching the older kids play a half court game. Next thing I knew, we were surrounded by curious locals, who wanted to know if we spoke Swahili, and where we were from. A few people pulled my hair; because our hair is different they get curious. In any case, I ended up standing up. It was a little unnerving how they were all surrounding me. It suddenly occurred to me what it must feel like for a celebrity; plenty of well meaning people, no place to hide. It worked out though, their teacher came and got them, and the locals went back to the track field. Actually, one of our boys ended up racing them later, it was quite fun to watch.

After Cindi’s Hope Academy had practiced basketball, we took them to some nearby Kerugoya private schools to play some basketball games. At the boy’s high school a mixture of the Americans and the Africans played for us, mainly because we have quite a few little boys but not a lot of older boys. I wanted to show all the students that came out to watch. They were taking exams but they took a short break to see who was winning. The school has about 800 students-for four grades.


It’s hard to buy good sports shoes here, so we gave the basketball team shoes that people had donated in the US. Cindi also brought along Bibles for each of the basketball members.


The next day we went to the girl’s school for the girls to play against. Since Cindi’s Hope hasn’t exactly had balls to practice with, they were pretty bad. They ended up having the girls play against the school’s B-team, and the boys play against the A-team. The boys won-barely. The girls were huge! Most of them outweighed the guys, and their coach kept telling them to be more aggressive. It was also funny to see how different they were from the Boy’s school. The boys in the Boy’s school were very shy and polite-but kind of stand offish. The girls though, they went to town! They especially loved one of our guys, Jonah. After the game all of them wanted a picture with him. It got to the point the girls from Cindi’s Hope were getting jealous! It was a completely different feel from the boys school, and the girls were hugging the boys right and left. I found the whole thing absolutely hilarious. (And yet somehow I didn’t end up with any pictures)

The day after that was Monday, and it was the last day the visitors were in Kerugoya. They left Tuesday morning to go to the school in downtown Nairobi, and we’re meeting up with them tomorrow for the safari. For the last night we had a Thanks Giving. Cindi wanted to thank God for having provided for the children, and having her family there, and etc. They brought up a pig from the farm (the one Cindi bought for a future school building) and we ate that for dinner, along with rice, French fries, coleslaw, and chapaiti (similar to a tortilla). If you haven’t noticed, they eat a lot of carbs here.

We went to the hotel the visitors are staying at for the meal. There is a little play area we waited in-the kids loved it. There isn’t any play equipment at the current school so it was a real treat for them. I prayed there wouldn’t be any serious injuries because-well, stuffing 50 kids in a 30 X 30 playing field is asking for trouble. Besides a few scraped knees it went fine.




The Thanks Giving was great, only I got a very tiny portion of meat. Somehow I ended up with two pieces of fat, and a piece of meat the size of two thumbs. Then the classes performed memory verses and songs, and then it was announced that the visitors were leaving the next day. Quite a few children started crying. I was surprised; I figured by now they would be used to visitors coming and going. Grace told me it was normal for the children to cry when visitors left. I thought about it some and then realized I never did cry about such things as a child. I was the one who cried when my mother came to pick me up! So yeah, I guess I’m a little strange…

Oh! And I didn’t mention this, but it didn’t rain the entire time the group was here. Cindi told everyone to pray it would stop raining so they could play basketball, and the morning after they left it started drizzling again…

And now I am off to bed, because it is almost midnight and I have to get up at 6 am. I have never been a morning person and I don’t think I ever will be…I need to move to a Latino country maybe…or become an author and keep my own time…

Trip in Kenya, Uncategorized

Lots of Little Nothings

Today I helped Teacher Faith in her classroom again. Classes are going well, in fact I would say they went better today than they did yesterday. One of the children in our class was in trouble yesterday, and so Teacher Faith was in a bad mood, and the children were on egg shells. Today it went much better.

I still don’t like how they teach math, but I began to understand why they teach English the way they do. Because many of the children come not knowing English, they use stories to teach them, and then ask them lots and lots of questions. The questions are made with only one answer, so that the teacher can tell if the child is understanding the nuances of the question. It was still boring, but I could see why the children are doing well with it.

There are visitors coming Thursday, so apparently they are not planning to do the normal school schedule while they are here. I’m not really sure what they are planning to do…a Bible School type thing? Crafts and games? All I know is it will be like school is out for the children until the following Tuesday.

Today we officially got some new children. They had come on Friday, but the District Officer hadn’t brought all the paper work so they had to take the children back to him Monday. It was decided that the District Officer didn’t feel like keeping up with them over the weekend, so he sent the to the school, knowing that he needed the paper work! Sue and the social worker, Esther, went to get the children, and apparently the District Officer was not happy. He told them, “They were very noisy!”

Sue looked over to see them quietly sitting on the bench and said, “They look to be quiet.”

And he said, “Well they were noisy earlier, and we had to tell them to be quiet!” (which Sue candidly remarked to me that ‘Of course, they are children. What did he expect?’)

In any case, we got the three children today, two girls and a boy, or else it’s one girl and two boys. It’s hard to tell sometimes, especially since they don’t have uniforms. The girl, who is maybe eight or so, I spotted her chewing on a pencil-mind you it was after lunch, and losing your pencil is the equivalent of getting grounded here. So I walked over and had her give me the rest of it. I watched her a little while later, and realized that she wasn’t just chewing the pencil-she was eating it! Sue told me that many of these children are from the street, but I was still rather shocked-I mean, she had just had lunch. Apparently though, especially for the younger ones, they can have a hard time feeling full because of what they experienced on the streets. In any case, she didn’t get in trouble today, they tend to be a little more lenient when you first come, but I am sure within a week or two if she keeps doing things like that, it will cause an uproar.



Tips for raising money and asking for donations

Today I had my last fundraiser for my trip to Kenya. I’ve learned a lot this past year in fundraising and asking for donations, so I thought I would share a few tips with you.


  • Make sure your heart is in the right place. I made a post about this, how I realized I needed to trust God to help me get the money I needed. Before you send out your letters, make sure to pray over them, and over yourself. Make sure your heart is right before God. If He told you to do what you’re doing, he will provide for you. You have to trust Him.
  • Be direct. Explain clearly. Don’t beat around the bush when writing your letters. I learned this the hard way. I didn’t explain well enough that donations needed to be sent to my church (I was following a template I found online. Next time I will be more clear) and got a few checks made out to me instead, which made it impossible for me to be able to send them a tax-deductible receipt.
  • Have a middleman. This can be your church or the organization you are going with. This will keep you honest, and honest looking. Even if you would never abuse someone’s donations, it will prevent any future issues where someone might try to slander you.

  • Write thank you notes as you go. I didn’t know this, but you are supposed to send thank you notes within two weeks of getting a letter. Also, I would suggest personalizing the thank you note, and writing it by hand. This shows the person you did not write them simply because you wanted money, but that you appreciate what they did for you.
  • Give a receipt. This should be obvious, but it’s best to give a receipt along with the thank you note, with the amount they donated and a date, so they can use it as a tax deduction. Also, you should keep track of your expenses on your trip, so that you can show donators what their money went towards. I wrote that if they wished for an account of my expenses, they could ask for it at the end of my trip.


  • Be open. Be open to suggestions from friends and family. I had one friend who offered to let me wear origami owl jewelry-for free-and also host a party where the money went towards my trip-for free. I didn’t make a lot this way, mostly because I am not that good at selling things. At first I was really nervous, I’m a terrible salesman. But then I realized, it was all for free, it wouldn’t take a lot of my time, and there was no reason not to do it. So I did. I only sold two items. That’s still money towards my trip.
  • Count the cost. The first fundraiser I did was for Cindi Mendoza’s girl school. I hosted a pancake breakfast on a Saturday, and invited several churches. I worked really hard and spent a lot of time on it. I believe I got maybe 40 people. 40 out of 500. In the end it worked out and I got about $300 for Mrs. Mendoza, but I learned my lesson-don’t start out with grand events. Start small, and as you gain a following and experience, grow big. If possible, try to get a head count at the beginning, and get a feel for how much are going to come.
  • Have a core group. I cannot stress this enough.  Those 40 people who came? They were my friends and family. I didn’t know it at the time, but they were my core group. These are the people who will root for you, that want to help you, and that support you. They are very important. Never forget them, because without them, you would never have gotten off the ground.
  • Branch out. You cannot rely on your core group forever-they are not a bottomless pit. I don’t have a lot of experience in this area as this past year is the first time I started trying to fundraise. I believe the best course of action is to be friendly and get to know more people-as well as your friend’s friends. I think the key here is to not get to know them for fundraising purposes, but because you like them.
  • Get to know the insiders. A friend of mine is a teacher at a private Christian school, and the advisor in charge of the student’s ministry group. She was excited to hear I was going to visit Mrs. Mendoza, and helped me organize a pancake fundraiser at the school. She spoke to the people in charge, and helped me get it all set up. The student’s ministry group even bought the ingredients for me- all I had to do was show up to cook the pancakes, no jumping through hoops required. It was a wonderful experience. I am super grateful to her. If I had been on my own, there is no way I would have ever gotten to do this.
  • Be flexible. Today, as I mentioned, we had a fundraiser at a private school near my house. We had done one in December, and this was our second one. We were all prepped, and ready to go when-surprise! There was a hiccup in the plans. Another group was already using the kitchen; we had accidentally been double booked. My mom and I put our heads together and concluded to cook the pancakes at home and bring them over (since it’s not a long drive). It worked. The pancake fundraiser went off without a hitch. Despite the slightly stressful beginning, it went better than the first.
  • Always be grateful. No matter if 10 people show up at a 100 people event, or if you made $100 instead of $500, be grateful. These people did not have to help you. They worked for that money, and they deemed your mission, your dream, important enough to donate some of that money to you. So be grateful. Make sure to thank them and remember them. Don’t worry about the other 90 people that didn’t show up, and don’t let it hurt your feelings. Be grateful, and remember them.
Prepping for Kenya

Third Step

Yesterday I went and got a shot for yellow fever and typhoid. Those things are expensive! But I am now apparently immune to yellow fever for life, so that’s a good thing.

In other news, I am currently selling origami owl jewelry to help with fundraising. My friend wanted to help me fundraise, and is basically letting me host an online party where I get 75% of the profits. I’ve never been very good at selling things but since it was free of charge without any strings attached I figured why not?

Alas, I didn’t get a picture at the doctors office, so I had to borrow one from the interwebs. But seriously, what kind of kid is that happy?

A child looking much to happy while getting shots at the doctors.

A child looking much to happy while getting shots at the doctors.


Second Step

Finally! My letters are finished and sent. I was worried I would never get them out. It is a huge relief to have them completed. That was one task I couldn’t wait on!

As I was signing the letters and putting them into envelopes, God reminded me to trust Him. I have been a little pessimistic about the whole thing, thinking that there is no way I could get all the money I needed for my trip. But then I remembered how even two years ago, when I was thinking about how I wanted to travel and see the world and meet new people and do…something (still working on the something. It’s a very hazy vision right now), I knew going to Kenya and helping Mrs. Mendoza was the first step. I cant explain it more than that, I just knew that was the first thing I was going to need to do.

So I realized that since going to Kenya is the first step, that of course a God would provide a way for me to go. So I know that those donation letters will get to the right people, and I will get the provisions I need for my trip. One step at a time.