Tuesday in Nairobi

May 2, 2018

There was a plan to visit the giraffe centre first up but the rain and our beds won and we had a slow morning.

Off to Kibera with Sally and (her daughter) Hannah to look over a couple of potential ‘plots’ of land on which to put another Angel Kindergarten. The current kindergarten is at capacity with close to 200 little ones from the Kibera slum. They are educated, fed and clothed via sponsors – and they each have an AMS class each week.

(Along the way I still take photos out of the car window. Every time I do, hubby says ‘you’ve already got that one’ which is probably true but I can’t help it. The ‘Headquarters Inn Hotel’ is my favorite today.)

It’s a public holiday today so the kindergarten is closed and the kids are just kicking about, playing with stray goats and filthy water. They were happy to see us!

It was great to step inside those blue gates of ‘Angel’ that we love so much – the doorway to a bit of paradise in an otherwise unthinkable environment.

We met Farris and Simon there. There’s no point in us Mzungu (white people) trying to enquire or negotiate anything without strong local input.

Land here is unfathomably expensive given where it is and what it looks on to. We don’t quite understand why, but it is a reality that’s reflected in both property rental and land purchase.

There are a couple of options within a short walk of the existing ‘Angel’. One is a big block (3 titles) which could manage a clinic as well as some emergency housing in addition to a whiz bang kindergarten for another 300 children. Another is just about the right size for a kindergarten over a couple of levels.

More info coming tomorrow re pricing and splitting of titles – and hoping to get some architectural advice in the near future.

Back to Sally’s for our farewell lunch, beautifully made by their new house lady Rispa.

Hard to say goodbye this time, we have so loved the company of Sally and her kids. (And Tilly is besotted with the dogs!!)

We’re on our way home.

Advertisements

AMS camp Nairobi day 2

April 30, 2018

AMS camp Nairobi day 2

We’d lost power overnight so woke to no showers, no coffee, no lights etc. Off to a cafe on the way – can’t do camp without coffee!

3 Ubers cancelled on us before we eventually got a car.

Our cafe order took forever and I was sure we were going to be late. I hate late. Then we got a message from teacher Joseph to say that the bus hadn’t left Korogocho yet because the driver was sick and they had to ‘find another one’. Welcome to Kenya.

Our flat whites had more froth than any cappuccino we’ve ever seen and our cappuccino was a flat white. Never mind, we just swapped. But when it happened again on our second round, Bill googled the differences and gently showed our waiter who scribbled some notes and said ‘Ah- I think I need to show this to our barista!!’

By the time Tilly and I threw away our inedible take away tea we were getting the giggles about all our first world problems! We decided maybe it was just Opposite Day…

Happy to report that things improved and we ended up having the best day ever at camp!

50 gorgeous kids and our amazing staff got off the bus. It was forecast storms and the sky went black but it didn’t rain all day!

We swam, sang, swam some more, sang some more. The cup percussion really got going and the keyboard groups conquered all their material.

As always, the food was a big hit. Healthy lunch and snacks and then KFC before home time. We asked teacher Kevin about them taking it home (and if we should enforce anything) and he said ‘they have already eaten today. They want to take it home to share. We should let them.’ And then added – ‘Also, KFC is famous and they will be elevated in the community if people can see that they have had it.’

We FaceTimed Miss Lindi and Mr Jake at lunch – Oh the excitement!!

There was a round of Kenyan songs and games outside in the afternoon sun. We cannot believe how much hilarity can be had by students and teachers alike given an empty space and some sunshine!

These are the poorest of the poor and the most joyous people we’ve ever met.

Let’s just say that farewelling them all on the bus was really really hard. We want to bring everyone home with us.

We are so proud of our Nairobi staff. They are amazing. I’m also so glad we had Tilly helping – she was everywhere!

We’d skipped lunch so we were ready to eat. Went out for a lovely dinner, had a shower – and I was asleep by 8pm!

Day 1

April 28, 2018

Up early and ready to go! Sally kindly drove us to ‘Stepping Stones’ and as expected, 50 excited kids got off the bus ready for a big day!

Some we know from last year, some are new to us – we had left it up to our Kenyan teachers to select 50 from the 90 something they currently teach at St Johns Korogocho – and asked that they bring a mix of first and second timers.

Great to see the ones we know from last time! Our staff this year are Joseph, Eric, Kevin, Martha and Lewinsky! Lewinsky is new to us, the others were all on camp last year.

We had a wonderful day. Lots of singing, keyboards groups, cup games, playground and of course – swimming! Healthy lunch and snacks and then pizza before they went home.

They LOVE their new clothes – thanks everyone!

Looking forward to doing it all again tomorrow…

AMS camp in Nairobi 2018

April 28, 2018

AMS camp Nairobi 2018.

We did this last year and we loved it!

Take 50 kids in who’ve never seen anything but the slum they’ve always known and give them a weekend in paradise across town – with plenty of music thrown in!

We (Mr Bill, Miss Tilly & me) landed in Nairobi this afternoon. We’d come via a little stop in the UK so the time warp wasn’t quite as disgusting as what we’ve experienced before.

Our beautiful friend Sally (Angel Kindergarten) was meeting us at the airport. We were thrilled to emerge through customs unscathed to meet Sally and 2 of her kids Hannah & James! Yay so great to see everyone!

They chauffeured us to the bnb they’ve booked for us on the property they’re living on. It’s just lovely – Quite unlike all of our previous Nairobi lodgings! A little bit of French country in Karen. The red mud and the over the top sudden Down pours certainly make us feel like we’re back…

We showered and shopped for last minute things and organised everything ready for tomorrow. We’re excited!

Just found out they’re waiting to get on the bus- here we go!!

AMS Camp Nairobi 2018.

April 27, 2018

We did this last year and we loved it! Take 50 kids who’ve never seen anything but the slum they’ve always known and give them a weekend in paradise across town – with plenty of music thrown in!

We (Mr Bill, Miss Tilly & me) landed in Nairobi this afternoon. We’d come via a little stop in the UK so the time warp wasn’t quite as disgusting as what we’ve experienced before.

Our beautiful friend Sally (Angel Kindergarten) was meeting us at the airport. We were thrilled to emerge through customs unscathed to meet Sally and 2 of her kids Hannah & James! Yay so great to see everyone!

They chauffeured us to the bnb they’ve booked for us on the property they’re living on. It’s just lovely – Quite unlike all of our previous Nairobi lodgings! A little bit of French country in Karen. The red mud and the over the top sudden Down pours certainly make us feel like we’re back…

We showered and shopped for last minute things and organised everything ready for tomorrow. We’re excited!

Nairobi to Sydney – Joseph and Celine

January 13, 2018

Back in November we brought our 2 main Kenyan teachers, Joseph & Celine, out to Sydney for a whirlwind 2 week visit. Thanks to those who helped make this a success!

It was certainly an eye opener – for them, as expected – but very much for us as well. They (and we!) were busy every day – watching classes, team teaching, staff training… and lots more.

There was far too much going on to report properly, so here are a few highlights / reflections:

1.’Oh everything is so clean’ – this from Joseph, only minutes after arriving. Driving home through Sydney was a big shock – they couldn’t believe that Sydney-siders were well behaved and orderly without being forced to be. ‘Why are people all doing the right thing even though there are not police everywhere?’

2.’How many families live in this building’ – again, Joseph, on arrival at our (modest) 2 storey, 3 bedroom home. We explained & they understood but they did point out that it would be home to 10 families where they come from… Joseph had his very first shower that night – and slept on a proper mattress 😦

3.It was a revelation to them that our friends here are gardeners, builders, lawyers, engineers, teachers and artists. ‘Back at home’ there is a distinct hierarchy – almost ‘caste like’ – with a culture of non association below your pay grade. They couldn’t get their heads around it! ‘Back at home, anyone will do anything for just one small bit of power. If you can, you put down the other person so you feel more important.’ We knew this to a degree, but the full force of it was a bit of a shock in our conversations while they were here.

4.The D E N T I S T… Oh my goodness! First ever dental clean and check up thanks to our gorgeous Errol and the team at Geoffrey Thomas Dental in Manly. To summarise – Joseph’s teeth were filthy (the staff were taking photos!) but once cleaned up were actually in fantastic condition. Incredible as he’s never owned a toothbrush… says something for a very basic diet of maize flower and veggies, doesn’t it? Joseph kept saying ‘Oh my teeth are so many” as he felt them with his tongue. Celine, on the other hand, has grown up with enough money for sugar in her diet – which is used as a treat and a bribe at every turn. Her teeth were cleaner (toothbrush not a foreign idea) but the decay was extensive. She needs lots and lots of work. Lots of good conversation about cutting down on the sugar and fizzy drinks!

5.The idea of authority is very different here. They couldn’t believe that I (as the ‘lady boss’) would walk into a room and the behaviour of the people there would not change. The concept of doing what you are supposed to do when nobody is watching is very new. Apparently, ‘back at home’ people are lazy and if the boss walks into the room everything changes dramatically. Hmmm no wonder there are so many issues….

6.Swimming in the sea. OK this was hilarious. Joseph was sure he was going to drown (in ankle deep water) and swears he drank half the ocean. Not quite true. They did love it and Sydney turned on a beautiful day for a run to the beach.

7. Meet and Greet. We had a beautiful session at AMS Randwick one Sunday afternoon, after they’d been here for a week and had experienced ‘life’ and teaching here. It was incredible to hear them speak about their lives and what they had learned from being here. Incredible for us even thought we already knew! They taught us some Kenyan songs and games. Everyone loved it.

So now they’re back there and have just started classes for the new year! I’ll update again once things are underway. Thank you for reading!

Ready to come home 

May 2, 2017

As we get ready to leave I have a few random observations about Nairobi. 

As a general rule, the showers are awful. Hot water pretends to be available but the large drops of cold water that fall with it make sure you can’t actually get warm. Or wash your hair. (Shower at Sally’s place to the rescue!)

Nairobi’s notorious red dirt is detrimental to clothing and shoes and pretty much everything else. Despite this, floor mats / door mats / helpful mats of any kind have not caught on here. There’s nowhere to wipe the mud off your feet. As a result we leave red footprints everywhere we go and the floors are constantly swept and mopped. And I really do mean constantly. It’s some folks full time employment. 

There is a distinct lack of skilled tiling in bathrooms. The shower doesn’t ever drain to the drain. It drains to wherever like a little river meandering all over the bathroom floor. Mixed with the red mud it is a bit of a sight. 

The wealthy here are very wealthy. Bizarrely so. We went with Sally to collect one of her own kids from a play date. The Kenyan family recently built and moved into their home: Multi story marble, glass, manicured gardens, pool, etc. Think totally over the top hotel. (Not in a good way.) Ostentatious to say the least.

Monkeys playing on the roof are very very noisy. Impossible to sleep through in the early hours of the morning. 

There are no possums in Africa. (You can ask Lindi about that one). There are however massive slugs and the biggest snails we’ve ever seen. (There was also a little snake on our balcony which we managed to hide from Lindi. Jake will probably show her the video now that they’re home.)

The driving here is nuts. I’ve gone on and on about this before and we are sort of used to it now but you do see some amazing things. Today a mzungu (white) lady had driven her car into a ditch and a bunch of guys were pushing and pulling to get the car out. She was still sitting behind the wheel. Nobody seemed to care – just drove around the spectacle. 
There’s not much that can’t be bought through your car window in a traffic jam. From bananas to flotation devices, electronic gadgets, hats and scrabble, it’s all on offer from the little guys who walk the highway. 
I swear half this country is employed in ‘security’ which means someone has given them a uniform along with permission to sit and play on their phone all day. It’s astonishing. 
We love it. 

Monday in Nairobi 

May 2, 2017

Thankfully, a slow morning with lots of Moris’ good coffee. We swapped stories and talked about ‘our’ camp kids. 

We packed and weighed and sorted everything ready to farewell Jake & Lindi, who set off with driver David with just enough time for a quick stop off at Kazuri (Lindi’s fave!) on their way to the airport. 

Off to Kibera with Sally – we had undies to deliver!! AMS families and friends in Sydney were very generous is donating to this project – the final tally was 1002 pairs! These will be kept at the Angel Kindergarten and given out as needed. And they are always needed!
As we whizzed along the bypass in Sally’s land cruiser it was bizarre to see the Kibera slum with the new and ever growing sky scrapers in the distance. 
The Angel Kindergarten was, as always, a sight to behold on the edge of Kibera. I know I take similar photos every time but I’m always astonished by the contrast inside and outside the gate. 

The Kindergarten is closed until Wednesday. During the holidays Sally has organized for the hallway and classrooms to be tiled and it makes a huge difference! ‘Our’ roof is doing well and the tiling under it looks great and will be so much easier to keep clean. 

Bill and Sally discussed future improvements, ways to combat drainage & mud and other essentials. 

There are always kiddies hanging around the kindy and we took the opportunity to show them the donated undies. They were so excited, modeling their chosen pair on their heads. 
One of our little sweethearts, Clarice, was there. What a cutie – posing for photos as always. 
We drove around the local area looking at potential sites for additional Kindergartens. ‘Angel’ currently brings over 200 children ages 2-7 out of the slum each week. They are given a beautiful environment, a uniform, education, breakfast & lunch 5 days a week (and an AMS class!) 

Sally & Stuart’s dream is to establish more kindergartens around the Kibera fringe, bringing more children out of the slum. 

We are constantly involved in conversations calculating the cost of another 200 kids at a second site, another 200 kids at a 3rd site, another 200 kids at a 4th site. 
Lets ‘Evacuate Kibera’!!

AMS CAMP in Kenya!

April 30, 2017

Saturday & Sunday in Nairobi This is what we’re here for – AMS CAMP!

We bussed 50 kids out of the Korogocho slum and across Nairobi to the beautiful ‘Stepping Stones’ Kindergarten. It’s like heaven even for us but for these kids? – they’ve never seen anything like it. 
Most of these kids have never left the Korogocho area. They’ve never had a shower or a bath. They’ve never seen a swimming pool. They are the poorest of the poor. 
I have a million stories to tell and no words to tell them. 

Let’s just say we had to fit in an extra session of swimming and their singing is amazing. The clothing donated from home was happily received – and they all look great!
Our Kenyan staff shine like we can’t believe and we want to bring them all home. The kids are GORGEOUS and it’s heartbreaking to send them back to Korogocho. Really hard to say goodbye. 

Think I’ll let the photos speak for themselves. 

Friday in Nairobi 

April 30, 2017

Haven’t had a second to write so this is a point form update!
Jake survived his night staying with Simon outside korogocho. Simon cooked for him (and he’s still ok!)
We gave a concert at Stepping Stones and it was a huge hit! Lots of happy parents and our Kenyan staff were wonderful. 

Meanwhile Jake and Joseph were over the other side of town giving a demo lesson at a Private School for children with special needs. There are 120 kids there and they are looking for a music program! Yep that’s us! In jakes words the lessons ‘went off like a frog in a sock’ and they were thrilled. They will employ teacher Jospeh from next term! Yay. 
Dropped into a very lovely cafe at the Matt Bronze gallery and caught up with Sally.