|Distance from our house in C'burg to the guest house in Nairobi: 7,760 miles|
Our journey began early Monday morning as we buckled ourselves up in the minivan and headed up the driveway. Looking back at our house the kids said “Goodbye house! Goodbye Buddy!” I noticed the smoke drifting away from our chimney, which seems so surreal now as I hear the rustle of banana leaves outside my window in Ntagatcha.
We were tremendously blessed with happy, energetic children the entire way to Nairobi. Not a whine or whimper, tear or complaint. Someone must be praying, for this is surely a miracle! And many thanks of course, to in-flight entertainment. During our 4 hour layover in London we set out to find the “children's play area” which required a tram ride followed by a bus ride away, in another terminal, which we figured couldn't be too far. An hour later we got to the play area! Just in time to play for a while and make the reverse trip again. The kids were absolutely thrilled and they had the full attention of 2 sweet British Indian girls who like to call me “Mummy” and refer to diapers as “nappies”. I love the British. This was the only little reprieve from fully focused parenting that we had, and it was welcomed. We enjoyed exorbitantly expensive coffee (guilt-free, thank you Barb!) and 3 kinds of croissants while watching the kids play.
Our flight into Nairobi was delayed for a couple hours which caused or arrival to be really late at night. By the time we got our baggage and arrived at the guest house, it was 1:30AM. Thanks to all the good napping W. did on the plane, she was nothing close to ready for sleeping. Around 3AM finally we were all asleep. 3.5 hours later we were up again and headed to Wilson Airport for our charter flight, not without a quick stop to the grocery store for the essentials: coffee, yogurt (to use as a starter) and airtime (cell phone/internet minutes).
|Wilson Airport, boarding the Cessna|
|"Don't forget my booster seat!"|
The 6 seater Cessna 210 flight was smooth and in about an hour we arrived at the border of Kenya and Tanzania, in Migori. The same trip by bus would take 8+ hours so we are really thankful we can take the plane. The rest of the trip is honestly the very hardest part for me. The road is terrible, bumpy, dusty...and everyone is so tired. Once we get to the border we have to be processed through customs and immigration, which requires standing in line, dealing with officials (normally pretty serious business) and keeping the kids from melting down. They don't do well waiting in line in the sun for what appears to them, to be no good reason. Normally by this point they are hot, hungry, over tired and impossible to control—and I have sympathy on them because they have been on such a long journey—but it makes it no easier when they won't stand remotely still in line. But we got through it...and once over the border it's another bumpy journey to the City of Hope.
Along the way we experienced a first for us—large groups of people in the road celebrating the circumcision (female genital mutilation) of individual girls. Although it is illegal in Tanzania, the practice still takes place. There were 4 separate groups in all. Mobs basically, of about 40-50 people all packed in tightly around this highly decorated young girl, while she walks from the place of her circumcision back to her home. Can you imagine walking anywhere after being mutilated in such a way? The girls appeared to be in such pain, and weak from blood loss, in a daze, supported physically on all sides so they could walk. The crowds around them were also decorated and dressed up in their most elaborate and sparkly adornments. I saw lots of Christmas tree tinsel wrapped around hats and draped across shoulders. The atmosphere was very dark. Lots of shouting and chanting--many of them pounding on the van as we slowly made our way through the crowds. I covered T's eyes, worried that he would be afraid.
City of Hope offers refuge for any girl from the community who wishes to resist the ceremony. If she can hide for just this one month (the circumcisions are on a two year cycle according to age) she will be spared for the rest of her life, for if the officially sanctioned window is missed, it will not be done at all. There is one girl from the village taking refuge here at City of Hope in order to escape the ritual for herself. Pray for her, as she is brave and courageous to fight her tradition and culture, and she will be shunned by her community and will be limiting her opportunities for marriage. I wish there were many more like her.
We were greeted at the City of Hope by all the kids from the orphanage singing and clapping their favorite welcome song. It was a joy to be received so lovingly.
The past 5 days have been a blur of unpacking, greeting old friends, sleeping (or not sleeping!) getting our technology figured out (the reason updating the blog is taking a while-please contact me if you want to volunteer to post things for us—email is decent but loading web pages is loathsome), discovering “new” toys (the same old toys that were here before), interviewing new hospital employees, drawing up house plans and making paper airplanes (T's most recent hobby).
A couple days ago the kids discovered a mama hen and her 10 chicks. Only a few days old, these chicks were easy to pick up and lure into places (like our house!). At one point True was standing with one foot one each side of a chick, and the hen decided that she has just had it with him. She flew up into his face and gave him a big peck on the chin! Boy did he wail! “Why did she do that??? Why did she hurt me???” I explained that she was protecting her chick. He cried and asked me, “Why didn't she know I wasn't going to hurt them????” He was heartbroken more than hurt, I think. I haven't seen him go anywhere near this chickens since then.