Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Day 1

It is hard to believe we have been in Kenya for 24 hours.  We arrived last evening around 9:20 pm.  We didn't get our visas until 10:40.  Fortunately our bags were waiting for us as was our driver from Hekima Place.  We got to Hekima Place a little after midnight.  The city streets of Nairobi seemed so quiet at night, but it was nothing compared to the quiet out here in the hills.  

Kate kindly stayed up to welcome us and showed us to the "Karibu House," where volunteers stay during their visit.  We have lots of room - up to 17 could actually stay here.  It is identical to the three residences were the girls live with  their "mums" who act as total caretakers of the girls. We have a large common area and a kitchen with appliances!  

After 22 hours of travel, Joe and I were pretty quick to call it an evening.  Kate advised that we take our first day easy because we would be exhausted.  I thought she was being over-cautious, but boy was she right.  This morning ans afternoon I was struggling with jet lag that even my Starbucks Via couldn't cure!  I went back to bed while my awesome travel buddy, Joe, went to explore (his jet lag set in while we were in a cab later that day when he fell asleep mid-sentence).

Once I finally got moving, Joe and I toured the grounds and met some of the "mums" and "uncles."  The operation they have here is truly amazing!  The uncles take care of the grounds, the animals and security.  There are goats, cows, chickens (and chicks) and rabbits. They harvest corn, potatoes, tomatoes, and beans.  They collect rain water from the roofs.  Whatever resources they collect, grow or raise, they use and if the don't use it, they sell it.

After meeting and greeting, Joe and I headed to Karen to do some shopping.  The drive through the small towns and markets was eye-opening.  We had passed these towns, Ngong and Kiserian, on our way from the airport, but it was dark and there was almost no activity.  Late afternoon was a different story!  Thousands of people milling about, merchants, markets, goats and donkeys.  I should have been taking pictures, but I was so awestruck and busy giving myself eyestrain.  

In Karen, we bought lots of groceries and a modem so we can get Internet (and I could update all of you!!).   We got back to late to have dinner with the girls, so fortunately we picked up some KFC carry out.

After our lovely home cooked meal, Joe and I settled in to watch "Half the Sky," a documentary about the struggles and abuses of women and girls worldwide.  A timely pick given that Joe and I had the pleasure of meeting Hekima's newest guest, a beautiful ten year old girl named Yvonne who was rescued from Nairobi hospital after being enslaved and then repeatedly sexually and physically abused.  Her attack was so brutal she was in the hospital more than a week.  Rather than cower or hide, the first thing she did when we met was smile ear to ear and give me a HUGE bear hug.  I can't even express in words the feeling.  I don't think I ever can.  Sophia, who works in the office said to me, "Of course Mum (Kate) took her in.  She is a baby who was a slave and who was raped.  She has no parents.  She has no where to go, so she comes here."

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