Saturday, 30 July 2016

Friday and Saturday week 1

Friday was a rest day for me, and a much needed one.  Debbie and Paul with two of their friends were spending the day at Severin, so I joined them and spent a day resting on the sunbeds and reading.  The evening was hard, and eating alone felt very odd.  I had an early night and, thankfully, caught up on the sleep I had missed on Thursday night's travels.

I woke on Friday morning to the realisation that my alarm had not gone off and so I had just ten minutes to get myself up and ready to meet Festus, the house dad from Casuarina House.  He had agreed to take me to do various errands in Mombasa as he was going there to do the weekly market shop. Amazingly I did manage it, and grabbed the packed lunch I had ordered as well!  Toby (one of the Casuarina children) was in the van as well - apparently he had saved pocket money to spend;
A stonking headache when I woke was a message to me that I needed to drink more throughout the day - not alcohol, but water - and so buying some was added to my list. I decided not to accompany Festus round the market as I had been warned the previous day that he ran round!  Instead I sat in the van and ate my breakfast and enjoyed watching what was going on around me.
 When Festus returned, we had to wait for Toby - who had purchased a fetching pink padded gilet and a zipped sweatshirt top - and for the vegetables to be brought to the van.  Once this was done we set off to pick up the solar lamps I had bought from Solar Aid in Nairobi.  In true Kenyan fashion these had been put on a bus in Nairobi to be transported to Mombasa.  Unfortunately the address I had been given for the office was actually the address for the depot rather than for the parcel office, so we set off again.  Mombasa traffic was heavy by this time and I was so glad I was not driving!  The rule seemed to be that if there was a space, anyone could drive into it.  It was interesting to see the range of vehicles on the road and I hope to gather photos of these for a later post.  The sight which really caught my eye was that of two or three men pulling and pushing large handcarts laden with goods - often purchased at the market.
The lamps were collected - I ventured into the parcel office alone and navigated this successfully, feeling quite proud of myself.  By dint of pushing and pulling we managed to get them into the minibus and I was very glad I had not tried to pick them up in a car, as they would not have fitted.  We then went to Nakumatt, a local upmarket supermarket in a shopping centre, where I was unsuccessful in getting a sim card.

Then to a chemist, where the malarone was overpriced and beyond what I had in my purse as I still had not changed my money.  Finally (I thought) to the exchange shop, where I got a good rate.  Then Festus pulled in to a garage, where I saw a chemist and went in to find that they did have Malarone - and it was cheaper than the price I had been asked at the previous chemist (which Debbie later said was trying to overcharge me!)  They also had water, so I got that as well.

From there we went to Casuarina House.  The children have grown and changed so much (not surprisingly since it has been nearly 6 years since I met them) and I struggled to recognise most of them.  I did recognise house mum Caroline, and she greeted me warmly.  After lunch we headed for the feeding programme.  I had been really looking forward to this as it was about to begin on my previous visit and I have heard so much about it.  500 children from the village are given a hot meal, cooked by ladies from the church, and 250 families are given a bag of maize flour to take home.
Getting the children who are entitled to have a meal into a line was a major operation in itself - but one which Jess, the current volunteer, took in her stride.

She and I then dished out the food, with the aid of two of the ladies from the Church.
Following the hot meal, children were given their bags of maize.  This was an even more difficult task, with Festus calling out the names of the children and some older boys giving out the maize.  Kadenge from Casuarina House turned up to help as well, but it was a major task to stop children who were not on the list from joining the line to pick up a bag of maize.
Having helped to support the feeding programme through my fundraising for so many years, it was good to see it in action.

After that Debbie took me back, calling in at Nakumatt as she needed to get some things.  This time I was able to buy the phone card and to get a large quantity of water as well.She dropped me off at the hotel where I have had a very refreshing swim.
The main task this evening is to add the phone numbers to my Kenya phone and send texts to various people.  We saw Florence, who has a group of ladies who meet to sew, on the way to Nakumatt and I have arranged to go over there on Monday to talk with them - and to drop off some of the solar lamps to give out to children at the school..  I have also met today two people who have ideas for businesses.  One is Jimmy's mother who would like to start a business selling charcoal and fire wood.  This is particularly attractive as she is a widow and her son Jimmy (who currently supports her) has been invited to join the interns programme at our church, Bromham Baptist. The second is actually a couple, Matthias and Sara, both of whom are disabled.  They have a well and would like a water tank so that they can sell water to people.
On Tuesday I have an open meeting time for ladies who wish to tell me about their business ideas, which I will be speaking about at one of the services at Utange Baptist Church tomorrow.  Things are starting to happen, and that is good and makes being out here easier; it reminds me of why I have come.

Friday, 29 July 2016

Journey part 2

An early start - 6.15 - meant I was quickly through the baggage drop. Another bonus was being offered a seat change - still by the window, but with extra leg room, next to the emergency exits.
Breakfast was enhanced by a conversation with Vivienne, who lives in the same town as me (what are the chances of that?!). It was followed by more people watching and a little shopping. Nothing major, though I did splurge on two books which caught my eye in the "buy one, get the second half price" offer. I love online shopping and ebooks - but browsing is much more satisfying in a book shop. I've already completed the first of my purchases - a rally interesting recount of how a family's life changed when the author's brother suffered a brain injury.
Remarkably quickly, it seemed, we were called to the gate. However, that was the last remarkably quick thing for a while. We ended up taking off an hour late.
Turkish airlines strikes me as much more luxurious than other
Airlines on which I have travelled. Individual screens with a huge range of films, music, tv programmes and other assorted resources. I enjoyed watching our route on a 3D map as well, identifying Belgium, Austria, Serbia and Bulgaria as we travelled over them.

The descent into istanbul's Araturk airport was spectacular. We flew in over the sea and then along the coast.
Despite the late departure, there were still 90 minutes between our arrival and the scheduled departure of the next flight. Which was just as well. The gate number was 700 - and it was right at the far end of a vast departures terminal. The walk took 20 minutes.
20 minutes before the scheduled takeoff, we had not boarded the bus to take us to the plane so it was clear this would be another late takeoff. When we did get plane side, we waited in the bus for another ten minutes. There were lots of increasingly short tempered passengers while seating was taking place, but eventually we were ready to depart - an hour late once more!
Caught a fabulous sunset en route.
After unloading passengers at Kilimanjaro, and reloading replacements, we had only a short hop to Mombasa where I was met by Bene from Severin. I crawled into bed at 5am!

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Journey part 1

My morning yesterday was spent on all those last minute jobs, before Will took me to the station to get the very convenient train to Gatwick.

For a wonder, the train was clean and smart - Thameslink have definitely improved since I last used them! I enjoyed watching the changing scenery, particularly the different residential buildings through London. I caught this wonderful view of the Thames:
And a glimpse of early-ripening blackberries trackside:
Reaching Gatwick I was unfortunately unable to check in my case. Fortunately there was (just!) room to fit it in my cabin at Yotel!
Yotel was a new experience, and one which I really enjoyed. My pod was "small but perfectly formed" and the constant availability of free drinks was brilliant.
My evening meal was spent people watching:
And although the burger was a little dry, the cider went down very well!

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

All my bags are packed....

...and I'm almost ready to go, leaving on a jet plane!
The good news is that my case appears to be under the allowed weight.  Also good is that I can get a direct train to Gatwick airport tomorrow, where I will stay overnight ready to depart on Thursday morning.  I land early on Friday in Mombasa.
Not so good are all the last minute arrangements - including anti- malaria only picked up yesterday (it's OK - I don't need to start taking them till tomorrow!( - and realising I will run out of asthma meds while away (also OK - my GP surgery promosed to get a prescription ready for me to fill before I go).  The return flight from Mombasa to Nairobi is now booked, so Ronnie and I won't be looking at a long train or bus ride.  The safari is also booked and looks like it will be wonderful.  Today I feel a little nervous, but also very excited, and ready for the adventure.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Preparing for a big step

Term ended yesterday, and I have five days until I step onto a plane to go to Kenya. My previous trip was six years ago; since that visit I have wanted to return, but the time has not been right until now.
I'm going to be there for a month. For the first two weeks I will be working alone, meeting women who would like to set up business s and organising the purchasing of the resources to make that happen. For the last two weeks I will be joined by five lovely people and together we will offer some training to the ladies.
Today I have been working my way through a lengthy list of jobs in preparation. Most are complete, thankfully. Tomorrow I have my farewell to Church friends; Monday and Tuesday are a family get together (celebrating the graduations of our daughters) and Wednesday will, I suspect, be spent packing before saying goodbye to my husband (and dog) and heading down to the airport ready for the flight on Thursday morning. My hope is to update this blog on a daily basis while I am out. Please feel free to leave comments - it will encourage me so much!