Posts tagged Andy
Andy's Third Blog Post!

Mtwapa is full of surprises.  Yesterday I was minding my own business when I spotted three Maasai warriors resplendent in red and purple lesos and lots of beads, but mercifully devoid of the six foot spears.  These chaps are not your fierce killing machines but pastoral farmers who only need blunt sticks to keep their herds in order.  Still a head-turner in the market place though. You never know what the chap coming towards you might be carrying.  A two foot machete?  I’ve seen four or five being walked around.  But so many people use them for so many things that it’s really just like seeing someone back home with a lunch box.  I’ve also stepped over eight discarded razor blades so far, worrying since hardly any kids have shoes.

Goats are another surprising daily sight here: Herds of up to twenty, all shapes, sizes and colours, freely roam the streets scavenging among the litter.  Chickens with clutches of tiny chicks also scratch around unharmed.

I had always believed that robbers in the U.K. are resourceful, even ingenious; It is comforting to know that we can still lead the world in some things.  However there were new dangers at our last hotel: We had to close the patio door when we went out just in case we were being cased by monkeys.  As we sat in the dining room red squirrels scurried across the floor in search of scraps.  We all know how cute bush babies are, but when one jumps onto an empty chair, reaches onto our table, grabs a bread roll and then hops it he shows nerve!

Exhibit A M'Lud - the fellons planning the raid!

Continuing the theme of hard work, there are little 125cc motor bikes called boda-bodas buzzing round everywhere.  I saw one carrying four passengers: This time the lady perched on the parcel shelf was a local cook who is reassuringly chef-shaped.  Another had two proper pub-sized metal beer barrels strapped on.  One carried a double bed, although it was in MFI-style pieces.  Another carried a double mattress folded in half, perhaps trying to catch the earlier frame.  Today I saw five passengers on one, although the one wedged in the middle was no more than a toddler.  The most heroic load so far was a bookcase with a wooden bed (single but intact) tied on top.

Another transport option which defeats the cissy four-wheel standard is a motor bike with two back wheels and covered over – a tuk-tuk or Piaggio.  These can eclipse the efforts of the boda-boda with their water-carrying capacity (pictured) or carry three passengers behind the driver.

A hard-working TukTuk

TukTuk in the process of loading!

Mr Bosco

Following on from Mme Susan in my last entry I have to tell you that if your faith in human nature is flagging visit Mr Bosco, director of Royal Academy, school for ages 2 – 12.  Not only does he look just like Louis Armstrong (apologies to younger readers – check him out on You Tube) but he runs his Wonderful World on a shoestring.  When food parcels were distributed he asked to keep the empty paper sacks to cover the school books so they would last longer.  Why does he do this?  I can’t tell you, you would have to ask him or one of the many like him out here.  Blessings and thanks to Milele and to you for all your help.

Next time – Mr Softee comes to Mtwapa

Road works in the main street Kenya-style.

"Wilt Thou...?"

Yes I wilt! When even the palm trees are withering, you can imagine what the sun is doing to us! Contrary to the opinion I had before arriving, everybody and everything works hard for a living here, whether it is a two-year-old starting school or a matatu taxi. I experienced my first matatu ride on Sunday the 13th (“black Sunday”!) For the uninitiated, these are Toyota Hiace vans with a driver and two passenger seats up front. Entry is via the sliding side door, there are four rows of three seats inside, very cosy. So, 14 passengers in all plus a conductor, although on Amy’s last trip she had a competition with her friend for the most crowded matatu ride. Amy smugly reported her entry of 32 passengers but was trumped by her friend with 36! In a Toyota Hiace! The truth needs no exaggeration in Kenya.

Matatu - the guys in red are conductors

A matatu loading up (check out "Hi-Viz" Henry doing his preflight safety checks!!)

Now I bet you know some Swahili without realising. “Hakuna matata” (copyright Disney’s Lion King) hakuna = none; matata = worries. This must be where the name comes from, matatu – worry on wheels!

With so many people living in close proximity, one obvious problem is litter. There is no council refuse truck to clear streets so the locals sweep their own patch maybe twice every day and simply set fire to the pile, so the air is thick with the smell of burning, especially plastic. Just remind me of the smell the next time I complain about my council tax.

In spite of the circumstances the vast majority are very cheerful and completely honest. Once in a while you meet an exceptional individual like Madam Susan. She runs Victory Academy a daycare centre at her home for kindergarten aged kids. In theory parents pay and those that can do pay, but many can’t. Madam Susan draws no distinction, they are all loved, fed and taken care of. The parents are all doing their best to support her, as is Milele, thanks to your efforts.

Victory Academy school with the children and Madam Susan

Next time… ‘baby-faced robber’ and goats in the high street… no ‘kidding’!

Andy.

Andy's first web update!

This is only my second trip to Africa; I had a two-week holiday to Morocco in July 1980.  The first thing that strikes you (after the heat) is the friendliness of the people.  Not in a mercenary way – they just don’t seem to be stressed (although they have a right to be!).  The young kids are thrilled to see a white face and yell “Jambo!” with a wave when they see you. Central Mtwapa is full-on noise and bustle everywhere.  The single-carriageway main road is busy with lorries, cars, matatus (minibuses) and boda-bodas (motor bikes) constantly striving to widen it.  The boda-bodas are 125cc motor bikes.  I read the make as Had-jin, and my advice is to take some before getting on!  These little things carry heroic loads.  It is not unusual to see a family of four – mum, dad & two kids – spread from petrol tank to rear parcel rack, more of these sights to follow.

fitting four people on a motorbike!

We have been visiting schools, childrens’ homes, a feeding programme and also individual homes.  These people are cheerful and hard-working.

I have never before seen for myself lives being improved and lives being saved.  Milele is doing fantastic work out here and you should be proud of yourselves for playing your part.

Blackpool to Brighton on a Bike - The Total

Hi All, I'd just like to say a massive thank you for everyone who donated to, advertised and helped with the cycle. It has surpassed all of our wildest expectations and we now had chance to gather most of the money together (if you have any more please contact us to find out how to donate) and wait for the gift aid to trickle in.

We managed to raise more than:

£1850


This means that when we go back to Kenya at the end of this week we will be able to sponsor another child! I cannot thank everyone enough for your generousity.

A special thanks really needs to go to Tomo and Andy for their cycling and fundraising efforts, there is no way I could have ever done it without you! This has been one of our best ever fundraising events and I can only say thanks so, so, so much to every one who helped in any way!

Thanks again,

Rich