Karibu Kilema

Greetings to everyone in Canada! You sure seem far away especially after our epic three day journey here complete with an unexpected stopover in Nairobi after our connection left early, yes early.Our reduced fare price seemed less a good deal and we were introduced to considerable bureaucracy early in the game with a cascade of kiosk lineups for Kenyan visas, transport and accommodation vouchers.Mellow officials provided multiple good lessons in letting go.  I strained to see what I could of Nairobi through a small sprawl of warehouses until we reached our hotel where my card key failed to unlock the door of my room after three tries and that’s when the guard with the widest and most brilliant of smiles said “Tulia”, meaning “stay calm” in Swahili, expressing the most important social rule here.  Later everything was made better with a cool Tusker beer and buffet with “action cooking”, it being New Years after all.  A happy one to everyone reading!

We’ve all adapted well to life here especially after a few days of travel and safari up front which helps to shed some perspective on where we’ve landed.It is a great chance for new arrivals to experience the change; the heat and dust, street dramas, grime and wear of local buses, crush of people at market, carts on the street, baskets on heads, and the smell of sweat.  Audrey and Claire have been giggling at local translations, Bobby instead of Lobby, and other idiosyncratic details of life here. Another sign read, “Please accounting your valuables.We are not responsible for any loose of your stuffs.”Or the best safari slogan, “we go thro’ every measure…. to give you wild pleasure.”    They were game in the intense Arusha market where finding a skirt with a Value Village tag Audrey laughed and even harder after the seller asked if that was her village.“Yes!” she said.  Lockie, our over the moon happy boy finally was fitted in Masaai shoes made out of old retreads.   Later at Meru House hostel we signed in as the Harling Pointers  ‘tribe’.  Boniface our friend and safari guide proved again his skill at sightings, producing three reclining cheetah after seeing just a flicker of tail in high grass near Ndutu.  Audrey and Claire fly swatted as many tsetsi as sighted zebra, many.   And in the crater, two lion gnawed on a wildebeest.

Back inMoshi we united with the remainder of our party, Rob and Priya from Amsterdam, here to experience Kilema hospital and create a short film about the Kilema Orphan Program and the back to school.  We piled into an unmufflered dalla dalla for the ride up to Kilema with all duffels in tow, having lost none to the Nairobi hiccup above.

As expected we’ve been pulled happily into the busy world of Kilema Hospital since last Friday, together with a group of Rotarians from Ontario who come every year to participate in local community projects mostly school and hospital infrastructure and equipment.  After settling into our rooms (we’re sharing rooms with Sunday in Cacha house, my old home with the lovely porch next to the sometimes noisy maternity ward) the greetings began and still continue as we run into staff and friends.  Sr. Clarissa and long serving Emiliana, the cook, were full of greetings as were Sunday and Irene, local Tanzanians who run the Kilema orphan program. Cacha has three CIDA interns working on site at various jobs, which had me again reflecting on the many extraordinary young people doing interesting things here at Kilema.  Everyone sends greetings to Canada and Dr. Chris even though they agree we’ve brought a little one, Lockie.

Saturday had all of us helping to outfit about 200 local orphan or vulnerable children with shirti, skirti, shorts, socki, viatu(shoes), daftari(notebooks) pens and pencils and school bags, many of which were brought over in our duffel bags.With so many children and unregistered orphans- orphans not connected to any support organization- it was wonderful to have extra supplies to give free.  Claire Takoski was a girl on a mission, sizing uniforms and shoes, counting out pens and pencils and taking obvious pleasure in the young children before her.  Much hand holding!  Together with Audrey, Lockie and Franki, the lovely son of Rotary volunteer Irene, a few hundred pre-measured shoes were laid out and fitted with efficiency.   Rob and Priya focused on filming the distribution and we’ve since filmed interviews with Dr. Nyaki, Sr. Clarissa, Sunday and Irene and various people and details related to the OVC program.In the last few days we’ve filmed at Kichilioni primary school, where Lockie should be attending starting tomorrow, and Kisaluni Primary and Secondary just down from Kilema hospital where many teachers displayed amazing talents while film rolled.We were so impressed!   And they were delighted to hear it!  Much slapping handshakes and laughter after.  Filming in the village and with Moshi cobblers and tailors who make school uniforms should complete the task, with editing to follow upon returning home.

Each day since my arrival children who are funded by donors to the KSF fund trickle in and reviews of this past academic year begin along with planning for the next.More on these details later but I’m left with a few immediate impressions.The children are bigger and well into puberty in many cases, they look healthy, their English is better in most cases and they are speaking more directly to me without help from a representative. They are talking about goals as well as challenges.It’s really exciting.  Many children who entered the orphan program in 2008 when we lived her are bigger, looking healthy and vibrant, even ones I know are ill.    D., who lost his remaining parent, a father in 2008, is now a mechanic and welder in Dar salaam and greeted me with a huge smile and eye contact! In three years I can see remarkable progress with so many children. I’m grateful to have this history here.

Thanks again to everyone who dropped donations and cheques at my door and to everyone who has shown and expressed interest in helping this community.It is wonderful to be here with friends on their first visit and see them take it all in.

We are working with a modem connected to the cell communications and having trouble uploading photos so will have to wait til we go to town for better transmission.

Thanks everyone! Baadaya

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