Trip Start Jul 13, 2006
Trip End Jul 06, 2007

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Flag of Kenya  ,
Saturday, October 21, 2006

Our first two weeks in Kenya was spent volunteering with an eye clinic headed up by
Dr. Ciku Mathenge. We met Ciku in Calgary when she was doing a speaking tour for Operation Eyesight, an organization I volunteer with. She has been a gracious host and has included us in many family activities which has been great. We went out to the family coffee plantation which was amazing. On the way we crossed the equator and had a demonstration by 'Professor Moses' who showed us that water does indeed go down a drain counter clock-wise in the southern hemisphere, clock-wise in the northern and straight down on the equator. Just a few metres from the equator is enough to see this effect.
Not having any significant medical skills (OK... none) we helped out the best we could with eye exams and assisted in the operating theatre on a couple of occasions. I watched Ciku perform cataract surgery on a woman who had ben blind for at least a year. The next day when we went back to the hospital she was up walking on her own and reaching out for things. It was thrilling to show her a picture I took of her and have her see it, although we're not sure she really grasped the concept as she was from a very remote village. We also visited a few schools that are integrating blind students. One of the highlights was going out to two very much off the beaten track villages. No electricity or running water and the only vehicle our 4x4. This area was incredibly dry and much of the day for the women is spent finding water. In one dryed up creek bed we saw a woman scooping up water out of a dug out hole with a margarine container. We met a Peace Corp. volunteer here named Rick Taylor who is working with the villagers to improve health conditions. Many of the kids here had never been photograhed and the cheer and laughing that would ring out when they saw their photo was deafening. At one school there was such a crush of kids to be in a picture that I was concerned someone might get hurt. The kids were playing soccer with a ball made up of many plastic bags covered in string. We arranged for a ball that was donated by Juventus in Calgary to be delivered the next day.
We had a taste of a safari here for one morning at the local game park just on the outskirts of town. Lake Nakuru is famous for its flamingos, but we also saw buffalo, zebra, lions, baboons, hyena and jaunty wart hogs. Chevy was thrilled to see a giraffe, her favourite animal.
The people here don't just smile with their face, but use their whole body. We have been fortunate to make some local friends and after a dinner out my face is sore from smiling and laughing. At dinner one night the stories turned to the crime here. They wouldn't believe that we don't sleep with a gun or at least a bat under our bed at home. One of the men always drives up the lane to his house on the outskirts of town with his hand gun drawn. A couple months ago as he pulled up to his gate a group of men with guns ordered him out of the car, but he shot two of them and the rest ran off. On another occasion a mob outside of his gate was trying to break into his yard and he sprayed sulphuric acid onto them sending them off screaming. Their daughters watched from their school as a man was burnt to death by a mob who put car tires over him. The vigilante practice of 'necklacing' is apparently not that uncommon.
Having said that... we are staying in a very safe spot with spacious grounds, security guards, a pool and even a squash court.
We are looking forward to our 12 day safari, the most extravagant portion of our year which will start in a few days.

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