Saturday, 10 April 2010

Heading Back to the UK

Hi Everyone,

I know it has been a while but things have been manic here.  My good friend Nick and family have moved into my home ready for me to fly back to UK on the 12th April. It has been an interesting exercise due to mains problems, we have had NO WATER since before they arrived (over a week) and they have two young boys with lots of washing!!!

The weather has been very changeable but that has been good providing us with rainwater at least.

Kim and Paka are getting used to their new roomies........ some have tried their patience but I am sure things will be ok.

I will write again when I get home letting you know what recent events have passed at Scann and how the boys are, at the moment I am struggling with having to go in and say 'bye'. 

Love to you all,
Susannah xx 

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Yesterday's News... Sorry Had No Credit!

Good morning,
today is Tuesday and it isn’t raining, a good day to have the fundi (repair man) to come and fix the ever determined leak in my roof. I have already had 3 try to fix it but guess what, it still leaks.

Ailsa my friend from Scotland arrived on Sunday unfortunately I had had a bad night with terrible diarrhoea but by the time she arrived in Nakuru I was up and about and Nick collected me with his boys and we picked Ailsa up from the Mololine shuttle.  As it was now lunch time we decided that we all needed something to eat so off we went to …..GUAVA café.  Ailsa said she had heard so much about it that it was time she tried it for herself.  The boys eagerly tucked into sausage and chips, Nick had chips, Ailsa had a tortilla wrap and chips and I ate 2 pancakes with maple syrup which was all that was on the menu that my stomach didn’t do a mad flip at the thought of.

Nicks two boys had been to early church service and were in their Sunday best, white shirts and 3 piece suits, they looked lovely and were so cheekie with it.  We chatted and Ailsa re acquainted herself with Dickson who used to serve us at Sweetmart before it closed……. Guava is so much better and we enjoyed our chat and lunch. 

Nick and the boys headed off somewhere and Nick left us with the car to take us home.  The plan was that he would call later in the day to collect it or to get me to pick him up……. Problem……. Shaffer (Nicks youngest) had been playing with my phone and slipped it into his breast pocket to pretend he was cool. Guess who forgot it was there until we got to the house and I had no phone. Ailsa was going to use my spare sim, but we couldn’t get it to work so had to walk to the local duka (shop) to ask the lady to help us get the credit accepted, she did this and we eventually managed to call and tell Nick to retrieve my phone from his son.   Many hours later and still no sign of Nick we called him and he decided to leave us with the car until the next morning.  Suited us nicely, but meant that I had no phone!!!!!

On Monday (yesterday), Ailsa, myself and Henry (my askari/Guard) headed into town, Henry had an interview at a café, he is looking for another job while I am in the UK. Ailsa and I met up with Nick and busied ourselves with tasks around town.   We went to our friends club called Garden Villa to say hi, had some lunch and a ‘couple’of Tuskers…. Well we may have had a few more than a couple.  Veronica who owns Garden Villa was the lady I first stayed with when in Nakuru back in 2006!  We had a lovely catch up and I was still mindful of my grumbling stomach and realised that the Tuskers probably weren’t doing me a lot of good, but by that time it was a little late. We called Nick he collected us and we decided that neither Ailsa or I were in the mind to light the jiko and cook so we phoned Guava and ordered steak and chips for dinner, just before they closed for the night.  Dickson kindly cooked our dinner as the ‘ladies’ had already packed up for the night, it pays to have good friends around town who go the extra mile for your.  We got home, had a warm drink and wandered off to another early night.

So I find myself at home giving the fundi a watchful eye, I think he thought I was joking when I told him I would be on the roof later to check his work…….A woman on the roof is something unheard of here, except me of course!  The crazy lady in Teachers hits the headlines again! Ailsa has gone off in a matatu to visit Mama Sweetie for the day, hopefully to catch up on stories and check things are going Ok with their project.

Yesterday was my uncles funeral and my thoughts were with his family and mine who had travelled to the funeral.  I heard from my brother and my daughter in the evening and know it was not an easy time.  My cousin has since been in touch via Facebook and I look forward to taking time when I return home to the UK to visit my family in the north.

I will be busy tomorrow as The Chairman of Scann has just called to say he has been given many items of clothing and toys and he wishes me to pass by his office tomorrow to sort them out, take them to Scann and distribute (never an easy job).  I also want to pass on some messages to him that I have kindly received from the BBC crew who came over to do the filming of Taking the Flak pilot that the boys were in.  I notified them of Yasmine’s death as I know they spent time with her here and thought a lot of her and the work she was doing. 

I am trying to mentally prepare myself for my return to the UK but it has been hard with everything that has been going on here.  It was nice having the two IKEA friends over to talk to and now my friend Ailsa, it doesn’t lessen the feelings but it is good to share them and the company is good.

Ailsa, unfortunately is only here for a short time, she is leaving on Monday as she has only managed a short time from work.  I know Ailsa will be busy catching up on old friends and acquaintances here in Kenya who will give her such a hard time when they find out she is only here for such a short time.

My love to you all and thanks for the words of support and comfort that you are sending.


Thursday, 18 March 2010

Time Heals All Things

Dear Friends,

Whilst I have devoted a lot of time to Yasmine it would be extremely terrible of me not to share the loss of my Uncle Graham who passed away last week, (brother to my father).  Whilst we saw little of each other in recent years, whenever he was around he used to make me smile.  As a young girl, he often used to chase me to say hi by rubbing his bristly beard on my cheek, it drove me mad.  As I grew older it became an act of endearment between the two of us, instead of a greeting I used to offer my cheek for a bristle kiss.  Crazy the things that change over the years, childish dread that I would be ‘bristled’ by Uncle Graham and now it will be a fond memory of a lovely man.  My love and condolences to my whole family at this sad time and my strength goes out to you all for the funeral on Monday, Farewell Uncle Graham you will be missed.


I remember telling you that I was arranging various things to help the boys come to terms with Yasmine’s death, well this is what I have been up to……

I have been busy running round Nakuru trying to gather materials to decorate one of the large notice boards in the dining hall at SCANN, it will be transformed into Yasmine’s Remembrance Board for the boys. It will be somewhere they can express their thoughts, put letters, pictures, prayers, poems words of songs that will help comfort them.   The notice board that I am using is very old and pitted so I decided that I would need to find some sort of paper to cover it with.  This in itself took a while.  I managed to find lots of flowery metallic birthday wrapping paper but nothing that would be suitable.  I eventually stumbled across some pale purple almost parma violets coloured paper with a very small almost embossed pattern on it, I carried off 8 sheets hoping it would be enough.  I then (when nipping though one of my many short cuts along the back alleys of Nakuru) found a shop that sold artificial flower garlands and arrangements for wedding cars.  I decided that there was one garland that contrasted well with the paper it had deeper purple and white flowers, knowing how much the boys love flowers I bought one.

I had already had enlarged and printed my favourite photo of Yasmine (actually my only photo of Yasmine because she hated to be in any) this was when the BBC were filming Taking the Flak and Yasmine was grabbed for a group photo with the boys dressed in their ‘boy soldier’ outfits, she looked so happy and proud of the boys! I had also been busy cutting out letters from gold metallic paper to make the words, WE REMEMBER MAMA YASMINE.  I typed out a notice for the boys and had put one in the entrance to each of the dormitories, explaining what I had planned and asking them for any words, etc that they may want to put up.

I had received nothing from the boys and was actually told by one older boy who I asked if he had anything that no one had understood what I was planning…… I sent him off with a clearer mind and asked him to spread the information.

Yesterday I went to SCANN with all the items ready to prepare the notice board, teacher Catherine assisted during her free lesson time and we put together the basics for the remembrance board.  The final effect was quite stunning and I really hoped the boys would be pleased, I mounted the items that I had already gathered, one being a letter written that morning by Sammy Mwangi one of the boys who had briefly returned from Tanzania to visit Yasmine’s grave, some were the pictures from the younger boys that I had been given to pass to Yasmine on the Friday that I visited her only to find that after my short visit I still had them in my hand when I left the room mind distracted by how frail Yasmine had looked.  The picture I had enlarged was now mounted in the centre of the notice board, proud of place with some of the flowers from the garland draped over the top and down the sides of the photo like a shroud, it looked very effective.

I had printed some emails that I had received sending support and condolences from friends and relatives, typed up text messages of the same and put these on the board, to let the boys know their loss was shared and love was being sent their way from many directions.
By the time I left SCANN some of the boys who were on the premises had come to see what was going on and they loved the board, I just hope the others will think the same and provide me with additional messages etc to add to it, it is a way for them to say ‘Goodbye’ as they had no time to do so and to celebrate that they had known Yasmine as their Mama for many of them it had been from day one, 9 years ago.  Other things that I have planned are still in early stages so I will inform you when they come about.

Today I didn’t get to SCANN, I was busy preparing the summary for the bike repairs that the ‘fundi’ had given me hand written.  I am hoping to get the green light to get the repairs done before I return home, one less job out of the way and one more thing that the older boys could do with to make their long journey to school easier.

We had quite heavy rain today but having just wandered around outside a couple of hours later you would not have thought a drop had fallen if you didn’t walk on the grass, which would reveal the secret that the dry ground was hiding, that in fact rain had fallen, I even had to check the water butt which collects the roof rain water to double check……. before I walked on the grass that is!

The mosquitos have decided to start nibbling away at me so I am retiring early and hiding under my mosquito net for safety…..
2010, I feel will be a harsh year.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Read When You Are Feeling Strong

Sorry I know this is sad but I can't just share the good times with you all because it would be unrealistic and believe me this is all real and painful.

Sharing the sorrow….

I went into SCANN on Sunday to see how everyone was, the staff were heavy hearted but still watchful of the boys, many of whom were absent attending their own church services within the district.  The only boys I managed to see were the smaller ones who attended devotion on the premises.

The weight of sorrow within SCANN could have crushed anyone who visited that day, boys trying to come to terms with their sudden loss.  I called the small boys to the veranda by the computer room and came out with the pile of board games which were very quickly accepted and eagerly started I presume in an attempt to distract their minds, it appeared to work even for the short time that I was there. 

I had on the Saturday afternoon received various calls from The Chairman, (Moses Kombo was on leave) to put in place arrangements for the funeral on Monday.  I checked with the Housemaster, Patrick, that the details were now in place, all the boys were to practice a Muslim song they knew and the Muslim boys attending SCANN were to recite a prayer.  It had also been requested that 6 older boys were to go to the Mosque on Sunday morning to help erect the marquee and put out chairs as the Mosque itself, whilst large would not be able to accommodate the number of people expected to attend.  I was pleased that the boys had some part to play in the preparations, even if it was only 6 of them.  Many of the other older boys had been taking part in a football challenge and decided to still attend which would also help occupy them.  I wandered round the dormitories checking that there were no boys hiding their sorrows lying in bed, luckily there were none to be found, all had busied themselves, so much washing was being done to make sure that everyone had a clean ‘Sunday best outfit’ for the funeral.

When I had checked all was Ok I headed into town to get a matatu home, I had left the girls packing ready to leave on Monday for their trip to Mombasa.  I had arranged that I would go with them to Nairobi, do a few places of interest, get them to the airport and then return to Nakuru, but with the funeral all the plans had to be changed.  Jenga my Nairobi taxi driver and friend was now my stand-in. It had already been arranged that the excess weight bag that could not go to Mombasa would be left in the luggage room at the hotel where the girls would be staying in on Saturday night before they left Nairobi for the UK on the Sunday. The girls then had time to kill so it was decided that they would take Jenga for lunch, then off to the airport for their flight to Mombasa.

I had promised that I would take the girls to a local club on Saturday night but the plans were postponed after Yasmins death, with view to possibly doing so on Sunday night.  As it happened we had a lovely time with local music and dancing which helped me relax a bit too, Nick came to pick us up (a little later than we had originally planed) but we had had a good evening.  Sleep was a long time coming as I dreaded the arrival of Monday morning.

Everything went as planned though, the girls all packed, Nick arrived to collect us and take us to the Mololine Shuttle for the girls to buy their seats ready for Nairobi, once confirmed we said a tearful goodbye, emotions were high and for me it was only the beginning.  Nick dropped me at SCANN.

SCANN was actually a hive of activity, boys were busy washing themselves after having completed cleaning duties in case visitors decided to come after the funeral.  The place was spotless, Yasmin would have been pleased.  Moses Kombo the Officer in Charge and various members of staff were gathered checking on the days arrangements.  It had been decided that lunch would be served very early as the funeral was at midday. Once lunch was out of the way and everyone was smartly dressed we locked the doors and left SCANN in the care of the guard.  The walk to the Mosque was a long one, not in distance but in thinking time, I had repeated to myself that I had to be strong for the boys and so far it was working, but for how long.

On arriving at the Mosque it was obvious why they needed to carry out the service outside, so many many people had shown up to pay their respects and that was before we all arrived.  I was directed to show the boys to the grass on the left hand side outside the open marquee where we observed the proceedings.

The marquee was rectangular with seats running all round the perimeter, the grass had been covered with many rugs and within the perimeter were knelt many of the relatives and close friends.  At the centre of the marquee lay Yasmin wrapped in decorated shrouds, knelt beside her was her husband Mohib who was seen to be silently mouthing prayers.  Shamsher the Chairman came to speak to me about organising the all boys ready to recite the song as there would be no time to do the prayer also as so many people were arriving.  I had to wait for his signal once everyone had walked up to Yasmin to pay their respects.  On the signal I started the boys off and even though it was not in English I felt the weight of the words in my heart, it was a mournful sound that fitted the ceremony.  Once the boys had finished we were asked to come forward to pay our respects to Yasmin.  I held back having ensured all the boys had slipped off their shoes before entering and squeezing the arms of the boys that I knew would find it hard to see Yasmin which consisted of most of them. 

A deathly hush descended, even the low praying murmurings of the mourners seemed to stop. I was so proud of the boys but I was dreading having to follow them and say my final farewell, one of the older boys broke down and sobbed openly which tore at my heart, unfortunately I was already on my way and had no way of reaching him to offer comfort until I had excited the marquee.  Yasmin looked at peace which helped me keep it together, having seen the pain she had been suffering I focused on the fact that she was in a better place.  I walked round to where the boys had spread themselves out on the grass, the older boys had distanced themselves from the party trying to hide their sorrow.  This was so hard, hearing and seeing so much sobbing and tears from the boys made me cry, I wandered between the boys holding and supporting those that had broken down into desperate sobs, I think that my tears helped them accept that it was OK to show their sorrow, I handed out my tissues to those that needed them finding that I was actually left without I had to beg some from a lady standing nearby.

 After circulating among them I sat on a verge and tried to compose myself, in no time at all I was joined by many boys seeking company, we just consoled each other without words but by just being together.

Many people were still arriving following the procession route that we had taken past Yasmin. When the numbers dwindled some of the women started a chant and then there was some movement, some of the men carried what looked like a coffin but without the base on horizontal poles.  This was lowered over Yasmin secured then lifted, I gathered the boys from their various places of sorrow and we stood in line to watch Yasmin pass us on the way to the hearse.  It became apparent that this was a very male part of the ceremony so I held back and watched from a respectful distance only joining the hearse as it was about to leave for the cemetery. 

I had already been told by the staff at Scann that on the day of burial the coffin is escorted by the males only for internment, no women, including the daughter and family are able to attend.  The younger boys were escorted back to SCANN and the male staff and older boys continued on to the cemetery, leaving myself and the female staff behind with the female attendees.  This was now when we paid our respects to the female family members filing past them as they sat within the marquee, offering our condolences and words of strength. 

When I had completed my round, (which was difficult as I only knew 3 family members, the rest looked at me with questioning eyes but took my hand in friendship anyway) I found Zacharia (one of the older boys) sobbing uncontrollably by a tree.  I sat with him for sometime talking to him about Yasmin and how much pain she had been in when I had seen her on the Friday.  I pointed out to him that to wish her to still be with us as she was would be unthinkable and he needed to be happy that she was now at peace.  I also explained to him, as I had done many of the other boys that Yasmin had entered our hearts and as such she was part of us.  He should take solace in the fact that Yasmin would always give us strength when we needed it, she would always be there when we needed to make decisions, we would always feel her presence and love as she was now part of each and everyone of us.  

In talking to Zacharia we both gained strength from my words, his sobbing subsided, we both took in a deep breath and hugged. We were then joined by a few other boys who could not face going to the cemetery, we walked slowly back to SCANN talking along the way of other things.

When I arrived at SCANN I sat with the smaller boys who appeared to be unaware of what the proceedings meant, those that did know were lying on their bunks sobbing, sleep being their only respite that afternoon. I was informed that the older boys who had travelled back from university and college had to return that day or early the following day as they were sitting exams.  During the course of the day it had not been a fitting time to discuss money to be made available by the Chairman so I was collected by a motorbike and taken home to collect my bank card, driven back to town to withdraw money from the bank and then arranged to meet the boys at Guava Café.  I was supposed to meet up with 9 boys and had decided to provide them with a soda and chips to see them on their way. 

I actually ended up with 14 boys as some of their younger brothers had come to town with them to say ‘goodbye’.  Guava had been empty until the boys arrived and then it was suddenly full.  Dickson my friend at Guava saw my distress standing with all the boys with no where to sit.  He ushered us into the Guava Lounge, the bar side and sat us all in the corner.  I was not comfortable with this as I was now sitting in the bar where I worked with the SCANN boys!!! Dickson was very good he sorted us all out and even managed to help when more boys arrived.  We talked of Yasmin, toasted her with soda, ate the chips, gave out their travelling money, big hugs all round and the boys went on their way…….but not before a group from the funeral arrived in the bar.   I knew this would not look good!  I decided that the first opportunity I got I would explain the reason for me sitting in the bar with boys from SCANN before anyone else reported it incorrectly!  News travels fast in Nakuru!!!!!

I sat at the bar after the boys had left, deep in my own thoughts following their departure, feeling empty and inadequate in my role, nursing a pina colada that I felt was well earned. Between all the above events I had managed to send a text message to Anna and Nicole to check that all was well and they had managed to get to the airport.

I slept badly again as my thoughts were still on how to help the boys deal with their loss.  My ideas will hopefully help them but I will not bore you with them now, you have read enough.

Love to you all,

Saturday, 6 March 2010

A Sad Goodbye...

Dear Friends,

yesterday I went to visit Yasmin, a dear friend, Trustee-in-charge and devoted SCANN founder.  Yasmin as you know has been fighting cancer for a year and after extensive chemo therapy managed to pull through and gain strength enough to attend a clinic in India for the radio therapy following her surgery.  Whilst in India Yasmin was able to have the chance of visiting many sacred places that she had always wanted to reach.

On returning to Nakuru Yasmin's health declined and we were advised that she was weak, expecting her to recover her strength after a rest period, however this was not the case.  Last night I went to visit Yasmin and was shocked to see how frail she was.  I managed to talk to her not really knowing she had heard or understood as she was not up to conversation.  I told her that I was there to pass on the love of the boys, staff and myself and to know we held her dearly in our hearts.  Yasmin held up her hand and acknowledged that she understood.  I left the room feeling that life was truly being cruel to someone who had done so much for so many.  

I returned home knowing that Yasmins time was short and spent a sleepless night thinking of the best way to help the boys deal with the loss of someone they loved so dearly.  Today I went to SCANN to hold the doctors clinic for the boys and made some phone calls to the Chairman suggesting that neither the staff nor the boys were aware of the situation and would need to be prepared.

It was decided that we should arrange for the boys to visit Yasmin to say their farewells in the afternnon.  I busied myself with arranging for boys to be excused from their schools where they were attending their Saturday tuitions.  The boys who were present at SCANN were explained that Yasmins health had declined quickly and they were to prepare themselves to visit her in the afternoon. I talked to the boys to try and ease the shock they would feel on seeing Yasmin but knowing from my own experience the night before. that nothing I said would.  I eventually told them that they were going to say 'goodbye' and to remember try to Yasmin as she was before.

I busily sent text messages to all the university and college boys asking them to return to SCANN as the time to see Yasmin was short.  Many phone calls later we heard that before the boys had a chance to return from the local schools Yasmin had passed on.  I felt guilty as having seen her the night before I had wished her a swift release from the pain and suffering she was in but knowing that the boys had not had the chance to say farewell.  We waited for the majority of the local boys to return from school and made the announcement, so many listened in disbelief and then many broke down and sobbed the realisation had set in that she had gone.

I then spoke to the boys and told them that I had had the chance of seeing Yasmin the night before and had given her the love from all of them and that they should be happy that her suffering was now over and she was at peace, she would always be living within the hearts of each one of them.  I hoped that this would help them a little in the knowledge that someone had passed on their feelings.  After they boys held prayers the hall soon became quiet as the boys left and found solice in their solitude.  I am not sure what was worse the sounds of the boys sobbing or the silence that fell across SCANN as boys disappeared into their own cocoon of thoughts.

I struggled alot with the emotions of dealing with the boys knowing that it was strength that they needed and I was the last person to provide it.  Whilst the staff dealt with the shock of the received news I wandered into the 3 dormitories and checked on the boys,  offering a hand on the shoulder, a ruffle of the hair, or just a look to let them know they weren't alone, actually what I wanted desperately to do was to wrap my arms round the shuddering shoulders of the boys and take away their pain but their grieving process had started and here it appeared to be a solitary one, it would need to run its course, the majority of the boys had experienced loss so many times before and this just opened new wounds.   

I resent messages to all the university and college boys informing them what had happened and that they should continue to return to SCANN to attend the funeral to be held on Monday at midday.  The family of SCANN reuniting under such tragic circumstances.

My two IKEA girls Anna and Nicole have been fabulous, supporting me last night on my return from Yasmins and today doing shopping and preparing dinner in my absence (including managing to light the giko).  I am so glad for the company and support they have given.

Tomorrow I will return to SCANN to finalise arrangements for the boys prayers and attending the funeral on Monday, I will hopefully take time to sit and talk with the older boys on their return.

Yasmin was a formidible woman, quick to rile and with a roar louder than a lion, she worked tirelessly for the boys welfare and often did alot more than people were aware of.  Yasmin's shoes will never be filled. We love her and will miss her terribly.  My one great relief was that I was still in Nakuru to be with the boys to lessen their burdons of grief.

Rest in peace now Yasmin.

Love to you all,

Sunday, 28 February 2010

It's been so long... and so much has happened...

Hi Everyone, 

well relaxing in Mombasa seems like a lifetime ago, I am still holding on to the memories of the sandy beach and lovely blue seas.

Kimberley is now back home in the cold but enjoying the final week of her holiday quota with friends in York.

I picked up two girls that I worked with at Ikea on the day I took Kimberley to the airport (that timing worked very well indeed!).  The two girls, Anna and Nicole arrived and had just enough time to say hi then dropped Kimberley off at departures the worry was that timing wouldnt work but worked like clockwork...until...!

Kimberley had taken her purse into the arrivals building to check that her bank card was active so she could pay for her train ticket on arrival in the UK.  We then sat in the cafe and had a drink at which time she gave me her purse to put in my bag.....
BIG mistake!!!!!  At the time I mentioned that it was a bad move as we would probably forget it..... never a truer word said in jest!

It wasn't until we had left Kimberley at the door to departures, used the facilities and then driven through stand still traffic almost all the way into Nairobi that I received a call on my mobile in the bag, low and behold there was Kimberleys purse........I was struck with the horror of the situation immediately and told Jenga who had been moaning about the traffic that we had to go back to the airport.

I think Jenga thought I was kidding because it took a few minutes for him to understand what I was saying and accept that we did in fact need to go back to the airport where we had just left.

Whilst seeing Kimberley off I had chatted to the security man at the door so I headed straight to him with my passport and her purse in hand.  After a bit of a shakey explanation to him I asked if as I had my passport for ID he would let me into the building to find Kimberley and hand over the purse. He said NO WAY would I be allowed to do that. When I asked if they could tannoy Kimberley to come back to the door he said by now she would have passed immigration and would not be permitted to return.

I was getting more aggitated as I knew all Kimberleys cards and work passes were in her purse........ eventually Jenga joined me to find out what the outcome was (obviously eager to get on our way to Nakuru).   The security man eventually said give me the purse and I will go and find your daughter........ (as you will know some of my experiences in Kenya have left me with an initial distrust of people)!  I clutched the purse and refused to give it to him, Jenga took me aside and said that if I wanted Kimberley to receive the purse I had to hand it over.  The security guard obviously seeing my discomfort said that as I had my phone and she had hers he would get her to call me, but I pointed out I had been calling her since I found the purse and it would not connect, he promised he would get a call to me to confirm that she had received the purse, I reluctantly agreed.

I security guard took the purse and went off to speak to his supervisor to get someone to cover his position checking flight papers at the door.  Not being able to hear the conversation but reading the body language it became apparent that the supervisor was not agreeing to the request.  The security man came back and said he had been refused permission to leave his post.  By now I was getting extremely aggitated, worrying that Kimberley would not realise she had no means of paying to get her home until she arrived in the UK.  The supervisor moved to another post and the security guard called one of his colleagues and quickly asked him to cover his post, he then disappeared.  

Jenga and I stood, (Jengas mind on the delay and mine on the repercussions of Kimberleys oblivious dilema).  During this time Anna and Nicole were sitting in Jengas taxi waiting for our return.  The wait seem so long, but then I heard over the tannoy Kimberleys name being called..... then I remembered her saying she would while away the time listening to her IPOD!!! I just prayed she would hear the announcement over the music playing in her headphones.  More time passed and then the 'stand-in' security man called me and gave me a number to call, after a failed attempt, I got through to Kimberley who was so relieved that we had discovered the purse before she had left that relief was obvious in her voice.  She checked all was present and I asked her to pass on my grateful thank to the security man, we then said our goodbyes and I found I could breath again.

I felt guilty that I struggled to put my trust in the security man but to hand over a purse full of cards etc to a stranger took some convincing, my policy of trusting in people until you are given reason not to has gone here and I hoped that he understood that it wasn't personal.

I sent him a thank you message as I now had his mobile number and he understood the reticience on my part.

By the time we went back to the taxi Nicole was in need of the ladies and Anna was snoring!  The drive to Nakuru after that was most uneventful but that was a nice thing.

Since the girls have arrived we have had big issues with the water supply, not that we havent had any, (the storage tank was full) but the fact that the stop cock on the mains supply spun freely which meant that on the days there was no mains we were unable to use the water in the tank as it freely flowed back down the mains pipe.  The water people kept promising that they would come, but in true services style it was in their own time........ bucket washing and wet wipes ruled this week but the girls managed amazingly, it was a good job we had more than our quota of rain water to flush the toilets with!!!

The weather has become very wet with a day of hot sunshine intersperced. It is quite nice as it is keeping the dust down and giving the crops a chance to grow.

My friend Joe (he had Fatso) says that she is about to have puppies any day now..... rather him than me, I remember the days with Kim and her 10 puppies only too vividly! We went to Joe's for dinner last night but Fatso was hiding out in her dug out den waiting for the delivery day.

The girls and I managed a trip to Mama Sweeties borrowing a taxi from Nick to take the girls clothes donated from Hawes Down school that they had come with in their luggage. Last time I went to see Mama Sweetie I took the boys the small clothes that were donated and too small for the SCANN boys and decided that the girls clothes would be very well received there. We had a lovely time as all but one of the children were at school so we chatted with Mama Sweetie and made a fuss of the boy who was under the weather. We had passed the local school on the way up to the house and after we arrived a group of the girls had appeared to greet us ( it was apparent that the only person to get 'white' visitors was Mama Sweetie so they knew where to head for)  The came in greeted us and sang a welcome song then left.  Later the smaller children came back at lunchtime and that was when the fun started, we had games and singing, Anna and Nicole had come with some glove puppets and bubbles which the children loved.  We then had a clothes fitting session......... fun all round.  We were shown the progress on the orphanage (still slow going but getting there), Mama Sweetie has now an additional 2 children supplied by the children officer so more children sleeping on mattresses on the floor until the building is complete.

We were joined at the house by a visitor who I think Mama Sweetie invited for my benefit, Daniel came to be introduced to me, Mama Sweetie is I think trying to 'matchmake' to help me stay in Kenya, she has decided I need a husband.  We had a good laugh and exchanged stories but not telephone numbers!!!!!!! Daniel, who seemed happy with the visit left us women to our noisey conversations.  When it was time to leave we bundled into the car, Mama Sweetie included, the tradition is to 'give you visitors a push' ie to escort them on their way.  In this case it was to take us to Daniels workshop where she had the men making her double deckers (bunk beds) for the children in antiticpation of the completion of the orphanage.  Part of Daniels business was also a small room with computers for internet, (probably about the size of 2 toilets together) he asked the girls for their memory cards so he could have some of the photos from the visit.  

What I forgot to mention was that on the way from Mama Sweeties the car got stuck in a trench which only looked like a puddle from where I was sitting (in the drivers seat). It wasnt until we drove through the 'puddle' that it became apparent that it was in fact hiding a trench from where the heavy rains had eroded away the dirt road. The car was well and truly wedged in the rut with no grip from the tyres as it was suspended on the lips of the trench.  Driving along the route we had caused a good deal of interest from the villagers and when we ground to a halt a crowd gathered, children were pleased to see us and were chattering, woman watched with babies slung on their hips and the men folk smiled and gathered to watch what would unfold into a comedy.

Anna and Nicole and Mama Sweetie got out of the car to relieve the weight and to observe me trying to spin the wheels to get free, in doing so I was only managing to spray anyone around with red mud.  The men gathered in front of the car and tried to push the car backwards out of the rut, unfortuately they didnt tell me until a bit later not to use the reverse gear and engine to help, I managed to splatter quite a few of the helpers.  After alot of grunting and conversation the men lifted the front just enough to be able to shove the car backwards so I could get the grip on the more solid ground and pull out.  Applause all round and relief that the rains had held off that morning the girls climbed back into the car, mud splatters included.... at that point many hands appeared in the windows for 'payment' of a job well done.  During the scramble we managed to make sure that the 3 men who helped remove the car got a little something for their deeds and I was told that Nicole had actually managed to get some photos to remind us of the little adventure!

Daniel was also happy to see the photos from the adventure and listened with amusement as the story unfolded, he saved those photos as well.  I am sure these will appear at some time in the local press to show that the road needs work as more 'muzungus' would visit but they get stuck in the mud!! Many a laugh will be had at our expense I am sure.

I have managed to find Anna and Nicole a small orphanage where they go to help with the children, SCANN now has few boys there in the week as they are now at school, so the orphanage was a good place for them to go. I think they enjoy their time there and are able to walk from the house........ about 30 /45 mins.

Today is Sunday and we are lazing around, safe in the knowledge that the water tank is full, mains water is restored and at mega pressure, the sun is trying to shine we have all showered with hot showers and life is good, that is if you ignore the results of having mokimo for dinner last night......... a rather windy dish!!!!!

Love to you all,
Susannah, Anna and Nicole.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

A Varied and Interesting Week

This weeks varied update………

Monday, went to SCANN and collected Stephen Kuria to take him to the opticians, I had been wondering how we would get him to read the eye chart as he finds it difficult to recognise the letters…..I spoke to the optician when we arrived and he pointed to an eye chart that I had seen but not understood some trips before.  Basically the shape on the chart is a capital E, if you imagine rotating the E 90 degrees so it faces down, then another 90 degrees so it faces left then another to make it face upwards. The E’s position changes depending on which line it appears and the person is asked to point to which way the E is facing, no need to know the letters!  I was impressed.

Stephen proved to have 20/20 vision so his problem was not his eyes, something that we needed to make sure before we move forward with his schooling.  Whilst there we collected the glasses for Dickson and sent them to him via Mololine shuttle. Stephen was sent back to SCANN via piki piki which he was very pleased about as he enjoyed the ride to town with Kimberley and I.

On Wednesday, Kimberley and I headed to Hotel Merica to swim, actually we needed a shower and as we had received no water at the house for over a week we were worried we would be running out, the showers at Merica are hot and plentiful!  We did also enjoy a swim and sunbathe…….. I burned my belly button which seemed to avoid the suntan lotion that I lavished on the rest of my belly. Even with lotion I managed to burn various areas which made Kimberley laugh later that evening when we were getting ready to go to Guava Lounge to ‘work’, Kimberley on the other hand had very little signs that she had sat in the sun at all! So much for preparing for Mombasa.  Guava that night was quiet and we left by 10.45, Kimberley enjoyed her time behind the bar and even managed to do some serving!!!

On Thursday, we headed to SCANN where I finished the final touches to the bike repair report to be handed in for approval before the repairs can go ahead. It was a rather lengthy report as the bikes have been sitting in disrepair for so long.  [For those of you that haven’t been reading these emails since day 1 (so long ago!) the bikes had been donated for boys who travel a long way to school, they had been stored as no one would sort out giving out the bikes and responsibility for their upkeep. When I arrived many years later I got them sign written and given out, providing a secure place to keep them and a logging in and out system for the boys to take the bikes.]

As time has gone by the bikes have quickly fallen fowl of the bad roads here and needed repair which after my last trip home have not been looked at.  I recommended that either the bikes were either repaired or sold as they were because no one was able to use them as they were and it was a waste of space keeping them. This I think forced the hands of the management and the report will hopefully get them repaired and back in use.

Whilst at SCANN we also got some poi practice out of Davey (the smallest poi boy) he had mastered a new move last time we were there and I wanted to make sure he had been practicing, actually Kimberley had also mastered it but Davey was better!!!!
He seems to pick up things he is shown so quickly, including the computers, which he sat at after he showed us the poi moves.

Francis the acrobat from Tanzania called to say he was visiting Nakuru and could he stay with me, he appeared with a friend (Hussain).  I cooked dinner but asked Francis to cook some ugali as I knew that the boys would not consider what I had cooked as filling enough for them.  We all sat and ate a good meal and Kimberley and I left the boys sitting watching DVD’s whilst we read in bed (not sure French fight movie with subtitles would be our thing!)

I mentioned earlier the lack of water……. Yesterday which was a water day I sent ‘my man’ at the water office a message asking if we were to get water as I was getting very short as we had not received any recently.  He called and said it would be forthcoming and we should have received some on Tuesday.

When Kimberley and I returned from town that day we found that there had in fact been no water all day, it was now 5.30 and I thought there was little chance of me reaching the water man.  He answered and told me that we had had water from midday and was surprised that I had called him.  He immediately sent one of his men to check the pipes and it was found that there is a problem from the mains in the road to my property A G A I N!!!!!!  As it was later he told me that he would send some workmen to the house on Friday, (today) to dig the line!!!  I know what this involves and it is a lot of mess and the hope that I will cook them lunch!

In answer to our prayers it rained last night, actually it was raining at 4am when I woke up and then ran around in the rain positioning basins at strategic points OUTSIDE to collect the rain water, Henry by this time had retreated to his bed.  The smell of the earth with the fresh rain was amazing and I sat outside with Kim for a while just enjoying the sound and the smell of nature. I also remembered to find some buckets to collect the rain in the lounge! 

This morning (Friday) everything looks so green against the black of the soil, it is so fresh and not a bit of dust is in the air. It is still raining but not heavily, there is no sign of the workmen, I am sure they will arrive in their own time!  I was up early preparing a large pan of ugi (Kenyan porridge) not only for the acrobats but also for the workmen who will consider today to be so cold that they will need ‘a little something’ to warm them up.

I will love you and leave you now.  Kimberley and I are heading to SCANN this afternoon for more Poi practice and to decide which one of the boy’s art designs will be chosen for the picture to be painted and given to the sponsors in America. I will be busy at the sewing machine trying to get some more of the poi finished so the boys can practice with one set each instead of queuing.

I hope my email finds you all well and the weather is warming.
Best wishes
Susannah xxxxxx

Hi from Kimberley.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Happy Monday

Happy Monday, sorry I have neglected to send you an email for a while but I have been busy with Kimberley and SCANN, at the moment is taking a lot of my brain and physical presence.

I have been asked to arrange a performance for some visitors who are coming at the end of February, this isn’t too big a problem other than the boys who did poi last time I was here and were left with their poi to practice with have in fact lost the majority of them.  This means that I have to madly produce not only performance poi for the show but also practice ones and the sewing machine has been transferred to Scann for the sewing lady.  I now have to run backwards and forwards to SCANN to do the sewing in sessions. Together with trying to get the boys together for practice which is a nightmare as they are at school all week and Saturday mornings and don’t return until I have left for the day.  At weekends they are all at the moment madly taking part in football as it is the major game of the moment, actually it is so popular here that it is difficult to think of it being any more popular!

Yesterday, (Sunday 31/01/10), Kimberley and I went to SCANN in the afternoon after I put up a notice asking the boys to be present for Poi practice…… only 2 appeared after a lot of searching for them, followed by another one later.  There should have been 10!  I put the instruction DVD on in the computer room and let them coach from that as they were very rusty, I then sent them outside to practice.  Kimberley and I sorted the boy’s medical cards and did a stock take on the meds whilst they practiced.

After we had finished we went out side to watch how the boys were getting on, and it wasn’t bad at all, Pius Tomia was the strongest so I asked him to coach the smallest boy Davey who was struggling a bit but had so much enthusiasm.  Pius is a shy boys who is very self conscious so boosting his ego to get him to help the younger boys really worked to encourage his self-esteem, he actually smiled!

We left SCANN happy that we had accomplished something even if it was the medical things that needed to be completed! The boys had had a good afternoon and it was getting overcast with the threat of rain.  We headed into town on a piki piki (motorbike taxi) both of us on one, quickest way to travel but not always considered to be the safest!  We went to Guava Café for dinner as I had decided not to cook (it was Sunday after all)!  We had a lovely peppered steak and chips with soda a nice treat from spending a long time lighting the jiko and cooking!  Before we left we popped our heads into the Guava Lounge where we had been the night before it was packed as there was a major game of football about to start on the huge projector TV screen!  We decided not to stay as it would have been a crazy football mad night!

On Saturday, I went early to SCANN to do the clinic, leaving Kimberley at home to chill. It was a busy morning as not only was I sorting out the clinic, I was overseeing the sewing lady and the bicycle repair man had come to check over the old bicycles that had been left is such disrepair for a long time now!

I was split in 3 trying to keep everyone happy and sorted but I managed and was exhausted by the end of it. Mid afternoon I headed into town for shopping and to the Opticians with one of the older boys to collect his glasses (which weren’t ready!) I had decided to take Stephen Kuria with me as he is the boy who I feel is dyslexic but I wanted to check his eyes before I go any further.  The optician was absent so it was a wasted trip that requires me to go back this afternoon (joy)!

After my day running around I returned home rested, Kimberley had had a nice day reading and relaxing. We cooked dinner and headed into town to have drinks at Guava Lounge (where I occasionally work for drinks, social life and a free taxi home).  We sat and chatted with Ben who owns the place and had a couple of drinks, the bar became very busy and the staff behind the bar was getting decidedly bogged down so I stepped in, chatting to Kimberley who now sat at the bar.  As the even drew on it became manic and Kimberley stepped behind the bar and helped washing the glasses so that I could concentrate on serving. Kimberley lasted until 2.30am when I decided it was time to go home, Ben called us a taxi and we left, it was a crazy night but we enjoyed it and Ben was so drunk!  Apparently the bar stayed open until 4am, the other staff members were shattered.

The weather is not being kind to us, we haven’t had rain in about 3 weeks (although I am not counting). The crop of maize that was growing nicely and was to be shielded from the birds with my invention of the maize socks is now shrivelled and wasted by the sun, not even the birds would get anything from that.  I am still watering the tomato plants in the morning and evening and my kitchen garden containing courgette, coriander and carrots, although I don’t think they will last much longer with the heat of the sun beating down on them. As for the flowers, they looked so good but are now dry and very sad looking, but I can’t supply water for them when there is no rain as we may end up with more rationing if it continues.

Kimberley and I have a few trips planned and will let you know as they happen, we are going along nicely, not working to a timetable doing what suits us on the day.

This morning my toilet pipe decided to spring another leak and I had to compromise with wrapping plastic tightly round the pipe to keep the seal tight……. Something else to get looked at.  Wouldn’t mind but only just replaced the pipe!!!!

Ok well, will love you all and leave you know as have to get ready to head to SCANN and then the opticians!

Love and hugs.