Feeling at Home

Sorry, at the moment I can’t upload the photo’s for this blog, may be later.

It feels like home at Michael’s and although we are in a mud home with a tin roof, but the sound of the night life and the birds at dawn are what I am used to. Our daily routine has been a walk, breakfast then go a see what the ladies are doing and they are usually digging the ground, planting trees, fetching water or mulch. We have spoken about many things, but usually our conversation relates to God and His/Her garden and the wonders therein.

All the trees that have been planted are in need of lots more mulch and I began the task of barrowing loads to the trees just planted as they seemed to the ones in most need. I got lots of strange looks from the ladies initially, I think in disbelief of a man doing women’s work, although the men here do work hard and with a willing heart.

 As I reflect on what I see some two weeks later I can see the same patterns as in western cultures.  The men have their specific roles, shepherding, organising or working for an employer (ie. school teacher). The women look after the men and children, then go out to work in the fields and around here that is for Michael, to get a little money to buy food and put towards school fees. Michael and I have had many discussions about slavery through the ages and although Kenya is free and independent it feels women are still treated that way by the men and are noticeably subservient to them. In a recent telephone chat with Kerry, she mentioned that when women, who were watching a Jesus Q & A session, sat up and their eyes opened wide when he addressed the subject of women being equal to men.

I went through the procedure of creating a swale together with the benefits of planting in one to Francis. We planted an avocado tree each after preparing the soil for them and then heavily mulched them. The next day after breakfast I went to find Francis and he was showing the ladies of a new way of planting and they asked many questions which I answered through Francis. It is surprising how many trees this team can plant in a day, I think they must be running on Duracell batteries and they seem happy to be working for Michael’s project. It is so good to see them being taught that they can do the same things around their family home.

They work six days and attend church on Sunday and have joy in what they have now (which is very little, but heaps more than before) and how Michael is helping them move forward. Families are now able to begin to grow their own crops, Michael funds a tractor to plough an acre of ground which is then planted by the community and gradually each family will have food rather than trying to find the money to buy some which usually doesn’t happen.

There are orphans here too, but the community look after them within their families and support each other in that vein. Michael has had funds donated to erect a greenhouse and they grow tomatoes which when sold go towards school fees for the community and if any children are without the school fees after that everyone donates a few shillings to ensure they all have education.. He has also attracted funds to have bore water available for the community and what a difference that has made for everyone. John is the valve keeper and book keeper to distributing water, which the women and children do daily, either early morning or late afternoon.

The following day Michael, Francis, Mica and I dug a fertility pit to the depth of the sub soil and I showed them the process of layers. When we are next in Nairobi I shall buy something to house a worm farm, something this soil badly needs, life. They are all beginning to understand the relationship between the life in the soil and what goes on above, they are so eager to learn.

We are on the move again, going to Nairobi to see K&P to organise solar equipment so Michael can charge the computers etc, and then K&P will be able to leave it with him. This time we take the long route, not as interesting, but only 80 kilometres of dirt road. Along the way we stop to talk to a team who are resurfacing and grading the road and Michael arranges for a machine to dig a dam for him when they get closer to the village. These guys live on the job; they dig out huge amounts of soil, rocks, etc., for road base and create mini quarries near the road with them filling with water after the rains, a blessing in disguise for all.

About two hours into our journey we head into the bush for a few kilometres and Michael proudly shows me a bore water collection point powered by solar, which he had raised the funding for after a failed attempt the government had in creating a dam for the local people. The government had spent 10 million kes creating three in the area; one was washed away by the river, the one at the bore site just became a depression in the land and the third had been lined with plastic and was bone dry. Michael said he spent a lot of time trying to persuade officials, who were not engineers, that the bore option was more cost effective and for the money spent could have provided ten bores for ten communities, sad ay!

The next day we met P&K in Nairobi and spent a few days catching up and seeking solar stuff. We also managed to find the Permaculture HQ, it was between a canteen and training school of Wells Fargo, a security company and Hillary, a guy who is employed by them, but looks after the small garden gave us a guided tour. He actually had Comfrey growing and gladly gave me some roots along with a couple of banana suckers and some seeds, a really enthusiastic young man who described everything text book fashion, but loved what he was doing.

The next morning K&P set off for Kissi to meet Vincent and Issac, giving Justus a lift to Narok, he had a two day Safari walk to do for Wildebeest and was glad of the chance to see his family again. Michael and I stayed another nigh. Michael spent the next morning doing something, in the CBD, not sure what though and I looked at more solar stuff. Then we bought two plastic blue drums, one for water and the other they cut in half so we could use them as a worm farms. Loaded up we headed north back towards Samburu and stopped the night at Nanyaki again. In the morning over breakfast I noticed that I could see all of Mount Kenya, last time it was covered in cloud, what a bonus.

Where ever we go there always seems to be a mission that Michael is on and this time it is to get some welding done for the guy who ploughs his ground and on route I spy a saw mill and piles of sawdust and shavings outside for free. We went and bought some sacks and several men appeared from nowhere and wanted to fill them up for us, we left them to it while we sorted out the welding and when we got back six sacks were loaded on the roof rack, too much weight so we put two inside, we had our own top load just like the buses. Six sacks, six guys and 50kes (60 cents) each and big smiles and much gratitude. Good stuff for the fertility pits, ay!

A slower journey now with the extra weight and as we were traveling north and over the equator I reckon we must be going uphill as well. As usual we stopped on route for fruit and veg shopping at a local market, then for a late lunch before turning onto the dirt road some 300k’s from Nairobi. Only two hours to go and over mainly corrugation, we arrived back after dark and then went to bed, stuffed.

The next day after unloading I set about making the worm farm, gathering materials etc., the only thing missing was worms, but Michael said as they find them they will put them in there. Previously both Kerry and Michael have been stung by bees and as they both like and have honey we put it down to that, but today it was my turn. The worm farm was sighted near a shed that also had bees nesting in it and as I was busy with the worm farm I got mobbed, stung three times, left hand, left cheek and my right eye, Michael said they were trying to get to him, but I was in the way and closer.

I have never been allergic any stings or bits so I wasn’t fazed about them, but they did all swell up and my eye was closing. I don’t know what the hand one was, my cheek was anger with women, but what wasn’t I seeing on my father’s side.  That night I began to feel that Michael was reflecting a lot of my injuries and having them himself allowed the spirits with me to be content. Now I was aware and challenging that status quo, I got a headache and began to feel in turmoil and heavy, I tried to explain to Michael, but he was having none of it, he just wanted me to get better, so to speak.


God is Good


One thought on “Feeling at Home

  1. Thanks Denis for your writings and insights. Have enjoyed ‘hearing’ how things are for you and how it meshes with Kerry & Paige’s journeys too. Sounds like you’re enjoying and having success in helping Michael set up some ecosystems ….and for others to learn and do the same in their own gardens. How inspiring! 🙂

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