Stephie's blog - Days 4 & 5 in Kenya
The alarm went off at 3:45 UK time (5:45 here) for us to have breakfast and then head out to the first church service at Michinda Secondary School in a village 45 minutes drive from Nakuru. We were welcomed as honoured guests and all the girls there wanted to hold my hand and touch my hair! They were very surprised at how tall I was. The children all seem so happy although the conditions were pretty basic. As part of their Sunday service, I had to stand up and make a speech to the whole school about why I had come here and what we have been doing to help disabled people. I also talked about the amazing fundraising that my school has done for Wheels for the World. I was so impressed with their understanding of English - it certainly beats my Swahili! I was speaking into a microphone and Brenda was filming me so I was really scared but was so relieved when it was over. After the service, Pastor Davis wanted to talk to all the children as there is a national teacher's strike and the children were thinking about rioting. This just shows us how much the children appreciate their education because they were going to riot because they wanted their teachers to come back.
After the first service, we then headed for Pastor Davis's church called Hope of Glory in Elburgon. We went down a muddy track into a tin-roofed hut. We were a bit late but they seemed to have waited for us. Once again we were welcomed as special guests and tried to join in but being almost all in Swahili it made it quite difficult. It was lovely to see Grace and other children in their new chairs at church. We also saw Samo who received a wheelchair on another recent distribution and he is doing really well and is so happy and sends his blessings to the UK.
3 hours into the service a group of ladies came up to sing and dance and everyone seemed to find really funny - although we didn't know what was being sung (because it was all in Swahili and Kikuyu) we joined in anyway and had a good time. I thought we were near the end of the service when Pastor Davis announced I was coming up again to make a speech - I had not planned this one and had to learn a new skill of regularly pausing for the Swahili translation. Then he asked me on the spot what was my special advice for any children in the congregation - I quickly said "follow your dream, never give up, always believe in yourself and you'll get there in the end". After nearly 4 hours the service finally drew to a close but we still had tree-planting to do to mark our visit. It was so lovely how they kept wanting to thank us.
We then had a short ride to Pastor Davis's house where we were warmly welcomed by his wife Ruth and many from his village squeezed into his sitting room. Ruth had been been up since 6am preparing the most amazing lunch. We stayed a short while before heading back to Nakuru with many children gathered on the mud track to say goodbye. It was a great day and an amazing experience (but I really hope that my speech giving is now over!!).
I am so tired - today we saw 70 disabled people and we worked from 8.30am Kenyan time til 6pm just stopping to grab a sandwich at lunchtime. I fitted so many pelvic belts I lost count, found pairs of shoes for lots of children who had none, ran in and out of the hall/ store room dozens of times to find the right size wheelchairs (and 'energy' a.k.a sweets!) for all the workers. I am delighted to have acquired a new skill in life- I have become an expert in.........you'll never guess........... cutting 3 inch thick foam with an electric carving knife to any specified size for seat cushions and pads! I hope my skills will be in demand again tomorrow.
We helped so many people but these are a few that stick in my mind:
Sheila received a purple wheelchair and a purple doll and then I found her purple boots (she thought they were fab!), a purple blanket and a purple cloth bag made by my sister Emily which she loved (the bags have been a real hit and people have been asking for them when they have seen others getting them-we are running out rapidly). Sheila put her new Bible in her bag - she had such a big smile!
Emmanuel had really rough thick skin on his knees from where he had been crawling everywhere on the ground as he had no wheelchair- but now he does and is so happy.
Another lovely boy we helped was Collins who had had cerebral palsy and also malaria when he was only one.
We also helped a boy called Joel who said his chair was SO much better than his old one.
And 52 year old Samuel was born with a problem with his legs. In the UK he would have received physiotherapy and probably leant to walk, but because of no physio his legs have withered and he can't use them at all. We had to find a really wide wheelchair for him so he could put his legs up by his side as they were so tight he couldn't put them down. I cut him a foam cushion (putting my new skill to the test) and we covered it in a beautiful crotcheted blanket so he has something soft to sit on.
Clinton was 12 years old and had cerebral palsy and yet he was a really happy boy. It was really lovely to hear him speaking little bits of English- he just kept saying 'Thank You' the whole time. Once he had his chair fitted, I found him some blue shoes and he loved them and showed everyone. He kept giving us high 5s and was so jolly and happy- he had the biggest grin in the whole world- I will never ever forget him.
The end of a busy day and all our kids wheelchairs have gone- I only hope we don't have more children coming for chairs tomorrow and Wednesday - it will be so sad if we can't help them.
Eileen has been off today doing disability training - I look forward to hearing all about it.
You can read all of Stephi's blog entries by following this link.