Wednesday, 24 January 2007


'Hi Everyone,
this is what is known as just a 'quickie' as I have a rather long shopping list to accomplish this afternoon, including finding some rather illusive maths and English teaching books that seem to have walked their way out of the school resources room!!

I hope everyone is well and for those of you that had hear Kimberley had been in hospital with major shoulder and back pain, she is now back home and relaxing until she is OK to go back to work. I haven't been too good either my stomach, that I was so pleased with has been fighting back, I had four days where I could drink anything, but food just dropped through for a visit. I am nice and slim now though!

Filming has now finished and to all that have asked, NO! I didn't appear in any of it, although we will get information when the screening is taking place and will let you know, they will have their names on the credits, probably with some weirdo woman as the chaperon! The boys at the centre did a fabulous display for the actors and crew who visited on Monday night, it was great, many of them developed a close tie with the boys who were filming and cried when they left.

I was busy today getting to grips with the stores at SCANN which haven't been touched since I was here last time, I have decided that nothing gets done unless I am here, how crazy is that I am still working from stock lists that I put in the last entries!
I started Swahili lessons accompanied by Ailsa, (who is now a good friend from i-2-i), we were talking one day and decided to make arrangements for volunteers to be able to take lessons, our first session was yesterday afternoon, there were 12 volunteers who appeared for lessons, all in their teens!! Oh well, Ailsa and I have won the maturity stakes! It was really good, I have been making quite an effort myself this time, but it is so hard, in the classroom it is so much easier. Will let you know how it turns out. On Saturday, my old homestay, Veronica is having me over to her restaurant kitchen to show me how to do traditional Kenyan cooking, I decided to ask as I have no idea how to start, I look at things in the supermarket and have no idea what they are or how to cook them, wish me luck, it also helps her at her busiest time, I can at least help with preparation. I think she also thinks it will boost her already busy restaurant having a 'white girl' in the open view kitchen!!

Nathalie hopefully by the time you get here, I will be well into cooking goat, live chicken etc etc!! Are you getting excited yet?

OK must head off to the book shop for the school requirements before my time expires and have to get back to SCANN.
Will email again when I can.
Big hugs all round, ( Martyn - not sure you qualify as I don't know you that well !!)
Love all round,

PS. you will be pleased to know the boys found two puppies that the dog had given birth to before she was poisoned, they are about a month old and they have decided that I am their surrogate mother, its all I need!!

Thursday, 18 January 2007


Good day Everyone,

welcome to Doug and Gloria, sorry only just found your email address but sent you catch-ups.

I thought I would email you today as I am in Town and not sure when I will get a chance over the weekend. I have decided to cut down the visits to town as I always manage to spend money.... not a good idea! I also feel very guilty carrying carrier bags of things into SCANN past the boys. Mind you the little ones are still my helpers for a 'bis-quit'.

When I first arrived I think I reported the difficulty in sleeping due to the dogs barking....... um someone must have heard my woes. Today I went into the field opposite to play football with some of the boys and another volunteer. We were greeted with an awful smell wafting on the wind.. One of the boys said it was a dead dog in the wasteland. On returning to SCANN and mentioning it, it was said that the 'council' had been putting down poisoned meat for the packs of dogs in the area, unfortunately, they are not coming back to pick them up. I had mentioned to the teacher that I thought I had managed to sleep better the last few nights. Apparently it is, tongue in cheek, my fault that we only have one dog on site instead of three. I must say it is actually a blessing, none of the dogs have vaccinations or attend the vet, they are all mangy and unhealthy. Nathalie you may get some sleep after all!!

I have spent another day on set with the 12 boys. They have had a fabulous time and the cutlery training really paid off. Now they keep asking to eat their dinner with knife and fork the only problem is how long it takes them to eat with them. I showed all the boys the photos I had taken on Tuesday, they are really fabulous, many of the boys are shown holding props of guns and slung over the shoulders are with bullet holders. The actors are really great with them and played football in the lunch break. We had the filming cut short on Tuesday as it started raining, well actually the Heavens opened and everyone else had gone inside to watch the filming, leaving one small boy who wasn't needed and myself trying to keep warm using my wrap sitting under a pergola. When the rain started we decided to stay put, this proved to be a BIG mistake...... the rain got heavier so we joined the others inside the building where they were shooting the film.

About 10 minutes later I glanced outside to find that the ground was now about 4inches under water, all the boys clothes and shoes were in their ruck sacs under the pergola now in the water. I grabbed my umbrella and dashed out to retrieve them. I got drenched, I had mud all up my legs and my bottom had got soaked whilst trying to carry the bags in. Needless to say no one else came to my rescue, obviously decided one crazy wet woman was quite enough!!

The same 12 boys are off tomorrow for filming so it will be another 5am start, most of the time is taken trying to ensure when the guy shouts 'Q U I T E' that the boys do just that, I am also forever counting to make sure they haven't wandered off, last time I checked some of them they were strung with bullet slings, with their dummy guns wandering off the compound for a stroll, needless to say they were gathered up rather smartish, don't want a gang war on my hands, all that blood!!! Due to the rain we didn't get back to the hotel until 8.30pm exhausted, muddy and very very wet. The boys changed from their 'costumes' and waited in reception, whilst rounding them all up I swung round, hit my bag on a huge metal 'A frame' sign which fell over and crashed onto the tiled floor causing an awful racket, it also caused a lot of pain, it landed on my big toe. I stood hanging onto the arm of the waiter who had come to my rescue, unable to move or breath. I was trying to be very brave in front of everyone in the foyer, I eventually hobbled away muttering. I now have a beautiful black and blue toe and signs that the nail wont be attached for long (Nice).

I must say if this is my only injury of the trip I wont be doing badly, however, I think there will be more to come. Last night I did have a bit of Delhi belly, but think that was over eating, I cooked myself a wicked traditional meal 'bubble and squeak' and fried eggs, yummy but nothing traditional about it, it was great though probably ate too much.

After filming tomorrow night I am trying to arrange a night out to Summit with some of the actors and crew, although they have been told because of insurance they are unable to leave the hotel without it being an organised event.........looks like we will have to do a jail break!! How bad am I. Will keep you posted. Alcohol and dancing here we come, cant do it Saturday night as up 5am Sunday morning for more filming!!

OK well, I am now off to meet one of the volunteers to take him to meet Yasmin.

Hope you are all well and enjoying the lovely weather (kidding).

Today it is overcast but so so hot, I have wandered into town and am sweating buckets, unfortunately I have light trousers on and it looks bad with sweat trickling down my back to the rear of my trousers!!!!!

Take care of yourselves. Love you all.


Monday, 15 January 2007


Hi Everyone,

well you will be pleased to hear that the temperature dropped yesterday and today, it is now comfortable to walk around without sweat pouring down your back....nice!

So what has happened here........ well, last year Kimberley and I got acquainted with the standard 3 class which included Gideon and Moses, they were the top class who attend school at SCANN. I am pleased to say this class has now started 'big' school. I spent last week sorting out their uniforms and trying to ensure they ended up with sets that fitted...... almost managed! We ended up being 5 pairs of shoes short, there seems to be very little planning here for going back to school, so on the day of them starting school I sent Moses (Head Teacher) to market for his sins to buy some shoes for the boys. If they were shoeless they would not be able to start school until they had them. Well, we managed, the boys looked great, I was mother-hen fussing over them ensuring that they were smart.

I later that day went into Nakuru town only to find that there was a q along the High Street of people waiting to get into the uniform shop, permitted only one person at a time in the shop, it was mad, the q was huge.

Obviously it isn't just the guys at SCANN who don't plan ahead, um I think things will change!

The BBC film crew asked for two of the boys to go for filming on Saturday so I went along, we had to be picked up at 6.45, so early a start. It was a fantastic morning for them, but not without some hiccoughs. At SCANN all the boys eat with their hands, or maybe possibly a spoon. The hotel they were filming in and had taken up residence in was a posh one. The boys were taken to the restaurant for a full cooked breakfast, cutlery was nicely laid out on the table along with napkin etc. In order for there to be no overloading of plates, Yasmin and I served the boys with food and then instructed them quickly on the use of cutlery!! They ate a hearty breakfast and managed to complete their acting with no problems.

In view of the problem with the cutlery and that I am accompanying 12 boys tomorrow and Friday for a full days filming, including breakfast and lunch I have taken boys in sets of three (as I only have three sets of cutlery) I have shown them in advance how to use cutlery, use of napkin and table manners. Lets hope they remember, not sure how I will manage 12 boys !!! I am going with drawing books, pencils and colouring pencils in hand to entertain them between filming. Will keep you posted.

I must be a very lucky woman because about half of the filming people are sick with very very bad stomachs........ the actors are trying to work between stops for the toilet!

My lunch with Ruth and her family was lovely, what a spread they put on, I managed to eat everything, although was having difficulty swallowing something that came out of a traditional Masai gourd container. I was told it was yoghurt...... not any yoghurt I have ever had, it was more like thick, sour cream, nearly made me gag...... I managed to pass on the rest to my friend Nick when no one was looking, he seemed to like it..... will stay clear of it in the future!

After lunch Ruth, Nick , myself and her two children went off to the local pool, I was the only adult swimming as no one else was able to swim. I had a good time, playing with the children, although I have to say the pool was freezing cold.

Yesterday, we had a donation of new coats / jackets for all the boys, they look great and are all wearing them as they have decided its VERY COLD!!!! I am still, needless to say in a T-shirt and 3/4 length cotton trousers. I think they are frightened someone will take their coats away from them so they won't take them off. A great deal of things go missing, often appearing at market stalls in town! We are trying to instill a sense of pride in the boys hoping they will keep their new things.

Ok, well I am at a new internet cafe which professed to be quicker than most, I DON'T THINK SO! The speed here is driving me mad and costing me a fortune, so will draw to a close now.

Hope everyone is well and happy. I am getting to grips with shopping and cooking without grill or oven, I stewed some plums which were delicious and wandered how to make crumble under the circumstances, instead I used the sweet bread I had bought and made my version of summer plum pudding, very nice even if I say so myself. Nathalie you will have to bear with the culinary delights when you come, or we must eat out! I have asked for local cooking lessons, think it would be a good idea, as the food in the supermarkets, other than convenience is all alien to me, wouldn't have a clue.

Oh, I had the best night sleep last night, went down at 9pm, slept through till 7am fab!!!!!!!
Love to everyone,

Hope you aren't bored of my rambling.


Wednesday, 10 January 2007

Jambo England

Hi Everyone,

hoping my email finds you all well and life is treating you well too.

You will be pleased to know that I know have a stocked fridge, with minute freezer bit (I have some chicken sausages in it - that makes it full, no room for ice (sorry Nats). I have been cooking and entertaining myself well.

I have so far managed to complete one set of curtains for my bedroom, and all the nets are done. I ran out of curtain material, luckily the fabric that I bought on offer was hiding in a corner of the shop so I managed to get some more. I now have the sewing machine in my room to help me regulate how much sewing the boys give me. As those of you will remember, when I was sewing outside on the verandah I ended up sitting under such a pile of clothes - it would have taken me a year just to get through it all, at least this way I can take in as and when I can.

We have had the BBC at SCANN today. A British Director is making a pilot movie for a series and wanted to incorporate some boys in the movie about Africa, luckily for us one of his staff had been a volunteer last year and suggested they use our boys. They visited us today and did some drama workshops to short list the boys, it was great to watch, improvising is so hard with these boys, they need to see what is there, but they managed well. We have a shortlist of 12 boys and filming will take place next week on Thursday and Friday, so fingers crossed that it doesn't get cut and it reaches the TV screen a some stage. If I hear anything I will let you all know, but these things usually take an age to come about.

Last night I attended the SCANN monthly Board Meeting, lots of interesting plans for the project and although we lost 2 acres of our farmland where crops of produce were grown to help feed the boys, thing still look positive. I have even offered to start my own small kitchen garden!! (Watch out Nathalie I am in competition with you!!)

While I was at the meeting I caused a bit of a stir, you remember when I was awoken in the middle of the night by the water coming back on...... well, it appears that the same thing happened while I was at the meeting, I returned to my accommodation to find a flood, it had poured out of my kitchen door and down the drive into the storm ditch. Someone must have noticed and turned the tap off through the louvre window with a stick but not until my kitchen had been flooded.

I spent ages clearing up and then found a half drowned mouse lying on my draining board watching me. I gave it a prod and it moved but didn't offer to move itself out of the kitchen. I stood thinking OK be the MAN!!!!! I took 5 mins to decide that I had to move it, I found some paper and managed with a spoon to get the mouse, who I may say was not being co operative at all, onto a piece of card and placed him outside the door. I prepared some food and went off to bed, I turned on the light in my bedroom only to find a HUGE HUGE HUGE flying thing bashing itself against the flourescent light tube. It drove me mad, I had to dispose of that too, it took half an hour for the offending creature to get tired enough to land so I could swat it. (I know it was Gods creature but I wouldn't have had any sleep). Needless to say, I got little sleep, my mind was creeping and crawling by the time I hit the pillow, mosi net tucked tight in place all round!!

I don't want to tell you all that the weather is hot hot hot....... he he, I spend a lot of the time out of the sun as I would melt. I have brown arms, face and feet, very interesting, I need to visit the pool at Hotel Merica (prounounced like America with out the initial A). May get there soon, but want to get used to the heat first.

On Sunday I have been invited to visit Ruth (the bead lady) who has moved into a lovely family home, she is so friendly and always greets me like a long lost member of the family. Both Ruth and her friend Milicent have discussed having a surprise 'rooftop' party for me, although I pointed out as they had told me it wouldn't be a surprise...... Milicent runs a big tour business on the top floor of a building that overlooks the tourist market, she has a huge roof patio and has found it great for parties. Any excuse for a party is good for me, she even offered to hold a party to celebrate Kimberley's 21st birthday in February so I could phone her and tell her we are celebrating in her absence!! Love you Kimberley!! XX

If any of you want to send something small (weight limit is a problem) my sister Nathalie is coming out in March and Kimberley will be visiting later in the year (she is busy earning money to visit me!) If any of you want to know what we need here I can start keeping a list of items, just ask.

Love to you all, wish I could share more with you but its time to go get some more fresh food, it doesn't last long here and neither does the large bottles of water!!!

Hugs all round, best wishes to you all.


Saturday, 6 January 2007

Happy Start to Year in Kenya

Introduction: for those of you who are reading this for the first time. This is my second trip to Kenya this time as an independent volunteer. I enjoyed my work with the boys at SCANN so much last year that I returned home and sorted out my affairs enabling me to return. I am now living at the project in a room with seperate shower room, toilet and kitchenette. I am working as before but the project is providing me with subsistance allowance for food and free accommodation. For this I am working in an administration and 'jack of all trades' capacity. Hours - extremely long..............

Hi Everyone,

Well, I have arrived safe and well. My flight was at 10.05 and I was still having a drink and chatting merrily at 09.30, forgot that we left for the airport later as I booked-in on line. We had rushed goodbyes and then I queued for the x-ray, I waited agitated as the q was huge, removed my laptop from the bag as requested, then my camera, then the woman also wanted my belt, my jacket, my zippy and jumper, I asked if she wanted me to strip and she said 'no thank you'.
At 9.45 I was seen running with laptop thrown in bag, belt and clothing over my arm, holding up my jeans - to the gate, there was only a hand full of people in the q and they had called 'last call'. Wont make that mistake again. The flight was rough, major bumpy, we struggled with food and drink was slopped everywhere, an ill timed trip to the loo was a disaster!!!

I was worried about meeting the boys again, unsure of their reaction. It was great, lots of hugs, YES, I cried when I left and cried when I returned. Everyone thinks I am mad, but its OK I know I am!! :-) James Mwangi, the boy who was ill when I left, has grown stronger, he hugged me so hard, it was lovely, he is now training with the big boys when they do their warm-up for acrobatics.

I have been out and bought material for net curtains for my 'new home' at SCANN, as it is ground level and there are so many enquiring eyes around! Yesterday I spent all day sewing the hems by hand as I didnt have the sewing machine returned to me yet. I have a two burner stove with a huge gas bottle, the pipe was missing and so I wasn't able to have anything hot. Yesterday, a 'fundi (repairman)' arrived and fixed it for me, I hunted for my matches only to find that I had left them behind, all I wanted was a cup of tea!!! One of the teachers luckily had a lighter so I had my first cuppa it was fab.

I am sleeping fitfully as there are so many dogs in the area that roam at night, they start the two dogs at SCANN barking and no one else seems to notice. We have the water on rotas in the area and yesterday afternoon I went to use the tap in the sink and it was running dry. Last night at about 11pm when I was fast asleep I was awoken by a sound of crashing pans and water running. I leapt out of bed and found the kitchen tap at full blast, needless to say there are many things for me to get used to here. My shower doesnt work, but I dont mind cold water, it is actually tepid, so not worried, the 'fundi' is coming back to repair it - whenever!!

It is taking some getting used to being at SCANN 24/7 with the boys, I keep having visitors and have to deter them as they are not allowed, they would eat me out of house and home.
We had two acrobats from Nairobi visit us yesterday, they did a demonstration and then did a workshop with the boys and got me to join in, boy am I aching! I have been asked to do some work with music and dance to help with the shows that they put on, think they are asking the wrong person, but when I am all they have, they have to make do!!

This morning I was asked to dig out the hair clippers that were donated (THANKYOU) and clip the boys hair ready for school, they all have a grade 0. I am so worried that I am going to cut them, but no blood so far, phew! One of the small boys wanted his trimmed, so I did a heart shape, he is still running round with it, not sure it went down too well with the 'management' but everyone else thought it was great! I will trim the rest when I get back to them later today.
If anyone should like to write to me, they can get me at:
Susannah Chandler

Please do email although I may not be able to reply to all your messages.

Love to you all, take care. Boy is it hot today!!! he he he he he he