Saturday, April 29, 2017

Forever A Hillbilly: Conclusion - Africa

Forever A Hillbilly: Conclusion - Africa:      Our last week was a busy one. We went to visit a satellite village, which was just finished, and ready to be turned over to the Africa...

Conclusion - Africa

     Our last week was a busy one. We went to visit a satellite village, which was just finished, and ready to be turned over to the Africans to run. The babies were due shortly. There still seemed to be some reservations about whether they could hack it or not, but high hopes. We shook hands until we were tired.
     We helped the children make cards to mail to their sponsors. Sponsors normally contribute about $25 each month to the child's welfare. We later decided to sponsor two children, and we get these cards and letters from them regularly. We picked a boy and a girl who had impressed us with much potential, but had few sponsors.
     Barbara was helping a little boy color a picture in an American coloring book we had brought. It was a picture of a mailbox, and Barbara told him to color the flag red. While he was coloring it, he stopped, looked at Barbara, and asked, "What IS this?" There are no mailboxes in Africa.
      We visited a Masai Market in Nairobi one day. There were many, many Masai there, all decked out in bright clothes, and lots to sell. But there were no tourists. Barbara and I, and one or two more, were about it. While we looked at one seller's wares, others would gather round, trying to get our attention and steal us away. I finally said, "Look, unless you allow us to look at everyone's stuff, we won't buy from anybody." They eased up a little, and we did find some really special things. Barbara bought a necklace from a man for $12. He held it in her hand, held her eye for a moment, and said, "You have no idea what selling this to you means to us." The violence had dried up their income.
     A few really old, old women were allowed to come in and pick up a very large bundle of twigs, to sell for fire building. We let them look at themselves in a mirror, and they went wild laughing. They seemed to look for twigs an awful lot around the garden, and I suspect there was a cucumber, or a squash maybe, somewhere in the middle of that bundle when they left.
      We met each morning, right after breakfast, with the native workers and a few others , for bible study, led by Yeen Lan. Listening to those Africans sing all the old hymns in Swahili was one of the most beautiful sounds I have ever heard. That gave us a good startoff to the day. Yeen Lan, in our opinion, seemed to be pushing the Africans very hard toward Christianity, and since she litterally held their lives in her hand, with these jobs, we wondered how many of them were as sincere about what they said as they sounded.  But what they said, they said very well. Most Africans speak Swahili, the universal African language,  their tribal language, and a British sounding English.
      The last Sunday, Barbara and I didn't go to church. Barbara wanted to get a photo of the Rafiki gate. All the Rafikis have the same, beautifully designed, steel gate. We got a guard to let us out, and we walked out to the edge of the road. It was a very wide road, with several lanes of reckless traffic, all trying to zag here and there to avoid the many potholes. A man with a child on his shoulders, dressed in his Sunday best, a bible in his hand, worked his way across all that traffic to get to us. He said, "I just want to thank you for coming so far to do what you are doing here. God bless you." It was the first time we had been outside that compound without a car and driver.
      Africa has few opportunities for employment. We had met many Africans who had a college degree, very bright young people, working as a maid. Or a waiter. Or looking for a job.
     Whites are expected to hire many Africans, and are looked down upon if they do not. Thus, everyone had a driver. One young man asked us that last week, "Do you know anyone in America who wants a driver?"  He really didn't understand when we told him, we just don't know many Americans who employ a driver.
     A maid, or a cook, may be keeping many Africans alive with the wages they make. There was a good reason that we had a maid, a person who washes and irons our clothes, and a driver. Rafiki employs 50 nationals, and I am sure, if we knew how many ate each day because of that, the number would be staggering.
     Possibly the only thing we ever said to Yeen Lan that could be considered negative, was said at our departure interview. Barbara mentioned to her that she seemed to be pushing too hard in trying to convert the workers. Yeen Lan started  her reply with, "Well, I'm sorry if I frightened you -"
     Barbara just had to interrupt her there, and tell her, "No, you did not frighten me." Nobody frightens Barbara, and she just wanted that clear on the front end.
     Yeen Lan continued, "This is the only chance those people will have at Christianity. I have to make the most of it."
      I want to give to you the contents of Barbara's last e-mail to America before we left, in her words.
     "Let me close by telling you once again how precious these kids are. I have always had a theory that prejudice is taught. They have confirmed that. They could not love us more! They enjoy every tiny thing about us, and don't miss anything. I was sitting by one little girl one day in the dining hall, when Pat walked in. She looked at him across the room and so casually said, "Uncle Pat has  new glasses!" He had changed his glasses, and the difference was minor.
     We had our meeting with the director about our stay here, and she wanted to know all the good and the bad and ways they could improve. I told her that one thing we have seen first hand, that could never be faked, is how happy these children are. The light is back in their eyes that was not there when they came in. She loved that!
     Our flight leaves at 11:30 PM on Monday night so in typical Nairobi fashion, we will leave here at 6:00 PM to get there on time in case the traffic is snarled. We are dying to see our family and friends! Our love to all of you, Barbara."
      We came to Nairobi just after the President agreed to sign a power sharing agreement with the opposition. While we were preparing to leave, the opposition seemed to be beginning to think he didn't really mean it. It seemed likely the killing was about to resume. Perhaps we chose a wise time to come, and perhaps we are choosing an even wiser time to go home. Africa has a way of getting into one's heart, making one always want to return. Most likely, we will never see our wonderful kids again. Then again, maybe we will. Either way, they will be in our hearts forever.

THE END

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Forever A Hillbilly: 12 Africa

Forever A Hillbilly: 12 Africa:       Deb took us to Moshe, to show us around. The stores were very inexpensive, selling unbelievable things, but carrying th...

12 Africa

 





    Deb took us to Moshe, to show us around. The stores were very inexpensive, selling unbelievable things, but carrying them home is another matter. For lunch, we ate somosas, a triangular shaped meat pie. Very good.
     Native women, hair cut to the scalp, huge earrings hanging far down, in brightly colored wraps walked the streets. They carried large round platters filled with a very large load of bananas. Barbara longed to photograph them, but felt that would be impolite. Kilimanjaro produces a moist micro climate in Moshe, in this dry, arid bushland that is East Africa.
     An old house beside the village housed 15 teenagers who go to school there. They make fantastic crafts to pay the rent. Barbara bought note cards, made from Banana leaves. We can look at them, but never figure out how they did that.
      We went to church on Sunday with Deb. It was different, but we have the same God. A man and three women walked around, singing different parts of Christ's resurrection. It was very powerful.
     We all drank from the large silver cup for communion. That part of the service was identical to that of St. Andrews church in Little Rock. Actually, St. Andrews is a church plant from the African church.
     The Tall blonde German woman who befriended us at the border was there, and she turned out to be a friend of Deb's. She was a missionary, and spoke ten languages.
     Driving out of town, we saw a hospital that was named after Rosemary Jensen's husband, Dr. Bob.
     Yeen Lan called us the last day. We were able to tell her we had seen the top of Kilimanjaro every day, a rare event  She told us she had prayed for us to see the mountain in all its glory. She said some people stay there for weeks without ever seeing the top. Don't doubt that Yeen Lan has those connections. I personally believe Yeen Lan is an African legend in the making. If we live long enough, many people will be enthralled to find we actually know her.
     We got bad news just before heading back to Kenya. Deb told us our visa was a one way thing, and we would have to buy another to cross the border back into Kenya, at $100 each. No way around it, that's just how it's done. We didn't have that much on us, and only cash could be used.
     Deb insisted on cashing a personal check of ours before we left. Barb seemed confident we would never need that money, I wasn't so sure, and I took Deb up on her offer. But, as I well knew, its very easy to underestimate Barbara's abilities, when it comes to public relations.
    On the bus headed out, we saw many small, circular compounds in the bush. Mud and cow manure huts were surrounded by a high fence of thorns. Most were unoccupied. The Masai, with their herds of cattle, mules and goats, just went wherever the grazing was in this dry, arid land, paying no attention to borders. The donkeys were used to haul containers of muddy water from sources that might be many miles away.
     Drinking water was a real problem there. The Masai often had to drink from the same source the cattle had been in, a very bad thing in Africa. Many people die because of the water. Modern water wells and filtering systems could save many lives there.
     Young boys herded the goats. "Isn't that dangerous?" I had asked.
     "Yes, we do lose boys often." Those who survive and become a man are a very formidable force, with only a spear, in protecting their herds.
     Traditionally, a young Masai man has to draw first blood in the killing of a lion to become a man. One young warrior showed me how this was done.
     When a lion stalks their animals, four or five warriors track it down. They surround it, each with a spear and a cowhide shield. The young warrior seeking to become a man confronts it. When the lion charges, he braces the back of the spear with his foot, points the spear at the charging lion. If things go well, the lion will be impaled, and the warrior crouches behind the cowhide shield. Other warriors then move in and help. This is technically not legal now, but many older men show many scars from the day they became a man.
     Masai often open up a vein in a cow's neck, drink the blood, and close it back up.
     When dry times hit, and the grazing dries up, They move the cattle into downtown Moshe, in the moist micro climate. They have been doing this for eons, long before Moshe, and besides, who is going to stand up and tell these warriors no? Since they strongly believe that all the cattle, and all the grazing in the world belong to them, they go where they wish.

    Before we reached the border, a large truck had wrecked, totally blocking the road. A large crowd of very scary people had gathered. The bus driver just hit the ditch, spun, backed up, over and over again, before getting around this. It looked like an impossible thing to do, but even I knew this would not be a good place to stop. When we hit the pavement, I yelled, "Let's hear it for THE MAN!" He got a big hand. CONTINUED



















Sunday, April 23, 2017

Forever A Hillbilly: 11 - Africa!

Forever A Hillbilly: 11 - Africa!:      Deb took us to Moshe, to show us around. The stores were very inexpensive, selling unbelievable things, but carrying them home is anot...

11 - Africa!

     Deb took us to Moshe, to show us around. The stores were very inexpensive, selling unbelievable things, but carrying them home is another matter. For lunch, we ate somosas, a triangular shaped meat pie. Very good.
     Native women, hair cut to the scalp, huge earrings hanging far down, in brightly colored wraps walked the streets. They carried large round platters filled with a very large load of bananas. Barbara longed to photograph them, but felt that would be impolite. Kilimanjaro produces a moist micro climate in Moshe, in this dry, arid bushland that is East Africa.
     An old house beside the village housed 15 teenagers who go to school there. They make fantastic crafts to pay the rent. Barbara bought note cards, made from Banana leaves. We can look at them, but never figure out how they did that.
      We went to church on Sunday with Deb. It was different, but we have the same God. A man and three women walked around, singing different parts of Christ's resurrection. It was very powerful.
     We all drank from the large silver cup for communion. That part of the service was identical to that of St. Andrews church in Little Rock. Actually, St. Andrews is a church plant from the African church.
     The Tall blonde German woman who befriended us at the border was there, and she turned out to be a friend of Deb's. She was a missionary, and spoke ten languages.
     Driving out of town, we saw a hospital that was named after Rosemary Jensen's husband, Dr. Bob.
     Yeen Lan called us the last day. We were able to tell her we had seen the top of Kilimanjaro every day, a rare event  She told us she had prayed for us to see the mountain in all its glory. She said some people stay there for weeks without ever seeing the top. Don't doubt that Yeen Lan has those connections. I personally believe Yeen Lan is an African legend in the making. If we live long enough, many people will be enthralled to find we actually know her.
     We got bad news just before heading back to Kenya. Deb told us our visa was a one way thing, and we would have to buy another to cross the border back into Kenya, at $100 each. No way around it, that's just how it's done. We didn't have that much on us, and only cash could be used.
     Deb insisted on cashing a personal check of ours before we left. Barb seemed confident we would never need that money, I wasn't so sure, and I took Deb up on her offer. But, as I well knew, its very easy to underestimate Barbara's abilities, when it comes to public relations.
    On the bus headed out, we saw many small, circular compounds in the bush. Mud and cow manure huts were surrounded by a high fence of thorns. Most were unoccupied. The Masai, with their herds of cattle, mules and goats, just went wherever the grazing was in this dry, arid land, paying no attention to borders. The donkeys were used to haul containers of muddy water from sources that might be many miles away.
     Drinking water was a real problem there. The Masai often had to drink from the same source the cattle had been in, a very bad thing in Africa. Many people die because of the water. Modern water wells and filtering systems could save many lives there.
     Young boys herded the goats. "Isn't that dangerous?" I had asked.
     "Yes, we do lose boys often." Those who survive and become a man are a very formidable force, with only a spear, in protecting their herds.
     Traditionally, a young Masai man has to draw first blood in the killing of a lion to become a man. One young warrior showed me how this was done.
     When a lion stalks their animals, four or five warriors track it down. They surround it, each with a spear and a cowhide shield. The young warrior seeking to become a man confronts it. When the lion charges, he braces the back of the spear with his foot, points the spear at the charging lion. If things go well, the lion will be impaled, and the warrior crouches behind the cowhide shield. Other warriors then move in and help. This is technically not legal now, but many older men show many scars from the day they became a man.
     Masai often open up a vein in a cow's neck, drink the blood, and close it back up.
     When dry times hit, and the grazing dries up, They move the cattle into downtown Moshe, in the moist micro climate. They have been doing this for eons, long before Moshe, and besides, who is going to stand up and tell these warriors no? Since they strongly believe that all the cattle, and all the grazing in the world belong to them, they go where they wish.

    Before we reached the border, a large truck had wrecked, totally blocking the road. A large crowd of very scary people had gathered. The bus driver just hit the ditch, spun, backed up, over and over again, before getting around this. It looked like an impossible thing to do, but even I knew this would not be a good place to stop. When we hit the pavement, I yelled, "Let's hear it for THE MAN!" He got a big hand. CONTINUED

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Forever A Hillbilly: Africa - 10

Forever A Hillbilly: Africa - 10:      We were contacted  by three women we went on Safari with and invited to dinner at the home of the UN attached lady who lives across to...