Follow the on-going journey of Connie Cheren, president of "Partners For Care." A non-profit organization dedicated to serving the people of Kenya. All of her hopes, emotions, and dreams of a better Africa beat through her blackberry, the only source for this blog. In Connie's case, you could say that her heart and her blackberry reside in the same place...Africa.
When I was in Kenya this last trip I saw this poster in a the waiting room of a children's officer.
The Partners for Care team in Kenya work every day to save the lives of the children. And, they have the 2nd Chance School to help people from Marurui slum achieve their primary and secondary education. I knew it was important for people to learn to read and write - but I never connected the two - children dying because their moms can't read. To learn 50% of the children born to illiterate mothers die before age five made me understand how important it is to reach moms who are illiterate and help them learn to read and write. Teaching them to read not only improves their quality of life BUT also helps save the lives of their children.
The Partners for Care team have doubled the size of the 2nd Chance School - reaching more moms. They have now enrolled 10 more students in their literacy program - all moms!
It is a privilege to support the 2nd Chance School as it helps moms learn to read and write.
Cris and I just returned from a mission trip in Kenya. We were visiting several pastors that we support over there through Partners for Care. There mission model is to "Equip Kenyans to help Kenyans."
All 18 of the paid staff are Kenyans. They run a medical clinic, secondary and computer classes, an orphanage for 36 children, AIDS awareness, and hospice care in the Marurui and Mathare slums. We saw some terrible living conditions but some beautiful people. The trip was wonderful, it is amazing how much good they can do with what we send them monthly. We traveled as far north as Marsabit, near the Ethiopia boder, and as far south as Mombassa, on the coast just north of the country of Zanzibar.
The greatest day was spent with the Rendille tribe in Parkashon. These people are nomadic herdsmen living in mud and stick huts just like they have for centuries. Pastor Hirbo is doing remarkable things with these people including medical care and teaching them crafts to sell in the neighboring town's market place.
The most touching moment was visiting a woman named Vanessa in a slum of 800,000 people. She is dying from AIDS and worried about the future of her 4 children and the two orpans of her sister that she also cares for. They all live in a one room shack.
After the 10 day private tour with the staff, we spent a two day vacation at Watamu which is one of the best fishing spots in the world. Our one day out was a success. We caught tuna, wahoo, kingfish, marlin and barracuda. I caught the 8' striped marlin pictured and released one that was 11' long. We had to harvest the 8 footer due to it swallowing the hook and tearing its stomach.
Cris is my new fishing buddy. She had a great time and landed several big fish including this big wahoo. We gave all of the fish to the locals except the tuna that fed 25 people at the Partners for Care house.
I recommend anyone interested in supporting the ministry to let us know. We plan to go back in February of 2014 and would love to take others who want to see the ministry in action and tour the country.
Can a water back pack carrier improve the quality of life for those who carry water? Seems like the answer would be obvious - especially if you are the one who carries 20 liters of water in a heavy, plastic jerry can - on your back or on your head. Try carrying 5 10 pound bags of potatoes and you will know what women carry - many carry this amount of weight for 8 hours. The water back bags are not only much lighter than the jerry cans but they are designed to provide support making carrying the 20 liters of water much, much easier. I have tried the water back pack myself and there is a huge improvement over the jerry can.
But, how will we know the difference a water back pack can make? Answering this question is why Partners for Care is working with Grief (the company that has developed the pack) and Liz Blake, Vice President of Habitat for Humanity and Tony with Back the Pack to conduct a demonstration project studying the implementation of the water back pack. That is why the PFC staff traveled long, difficult roads to take 400 packs to the people of Marsabit.
The first step was to complete a questionnaire asking the people about how they carry their water, how far they go to fetch the water, what ailments they have from carrying water, and if they clean their drinking water. We asked if their children go with them and if they carry water, too. Second, was to train the people how to use the pack - how to fill it with water, how to lift it to put it on their back, how to clean the pack, etc. Then the team got to give each person their own water pack! The photos tell the story.
Pastor Hirbo will go weekly to Parkishon to monitor the the adoption and proper use of the packs. In 6 weeks I get the exciting job of going to Marsabit to see how the project is going. Then in December we will do the post-survey to determine the anticipated benefits of using the water back packs. We will see if they have less neck and back pain, if it takes less time to carry their water home and what they do with that time.
The team on the ground - Sammy, Moses, George and John along with Pastor Hirbo did a great job this week getting the packs to Marsabit, completing the surveys, training on how to use the packs, distributing the packs and taking the photos so they can share the process with all of you. It is a joy to work with thee PFC staff in Kenya who have a passion to help their own people. Enjoy the photos!
Driving to Parkishon
Difficult travel. Truck broke down delaying the team for a while