We passed through Macedonia on our way to a village area about 30 minutes north of Kisumu in Kenya. Well okay it wasn’t ‘that’ Macedonia, but it was an inn by that name where above the registration desk hung this passage:
I will visit you after passing through Macedonia, for I intend to pass through Macedonia and perhaps I will stay with you or even stay the winter, so that you may help me on my journey, wherever I go. (1 Cor 16:5,6)
We flew into Kisumu International Airport, a beautiful new airport about the size of Abbotsford’s airport. To our observation there are no international flights landing here yet but they hope to attract these soon.
Kisumu is a different city from Nairobi. It is beautifully located on Lake Victoria and when you look out onto the water it might well have been an ocean. It is the third largest fresh water lake in the world – just after Lake Superior and Lakes Huron/Michigan in size. This gives Kisumu an ocean side feel to it in an African kind of way. In population, Kisumu at between 350 and 500 thousand is much smaller than Nairobi where they cannot really tell you how many people live there. It is somewhere between four and seven million.
In January of this year I was in Uganda and landed at the airport in Entebbe, also located right on the shores of this great lake. It too had a similar feel to it as a city.
We drove the next morning to Muhanda in a rural village area of this very pretty part of western Kenya. The drive there began to give signs of the poverty among the people and community. Petra and Ruth Anaya from Langley started a small NGO to help address needs in this specific community. It is the community where Petra grew up and it was actually his twin brother Andrew who drove us to see their work. The ministry is called HODI (Hands On Development Initiatives) and they take special effort to ensure that the community is involved with decisions about development in their area.
Everyone we met in the community were also excited about a group of students from Trinity Western University that were about to arrive the following week. So they were feeling blessed by Canadians!
HODI has a stellar example of community based ministry projects in a creative water distribution system where clean water is pumped from an underground stream source to a holding container on the highest point around. From there, gravity takes its course and water flows to schools and houses or near houses throughout an eight square kilometer area.
The water is pumped using electricity so there are some costs to this. The community formed a cooperative where members pay a monthly fee to cover costs and to help build a fund for repairs to the infrastructure.
I had a chance to look over the books and noticed two things. First, there are many people who cannot afford to pay anything, however their water is not cut off – it is simply recorded that they have an unpaid amount. Secondly, even with unpaid balances on the books the water distribution center made money each month. It is a very good example of a sustainable project HODI has undertaken.
We also visited the Mawazo Child Care Centre where HODI have 150 children attending. It is a facility that helps to prepare children for further public schooling. The commitment of the staff and the level of competency was impressive. I personally struggle with children performing for visitors but at the same time realize that it is something for them to have visitors from Canada come to their little centre. The children themselves were great and the singing beautiful.
Then came a little ‘African side trip’ when we drove twenty minutes to attend a meeting of the members of a newly forming business. It was in the village next to Muhanda in a different county or region. We found out that this was only the third time that these folks had met, but they were prepared for us. There was an awkwardness in the air as I felt we were in essence being pitched on the idea of investing in their rabbit business idea.
The chair of the cooperative read to us from the briefing they had put together describing how it was going to work. He placed special emphasis on the fact that rabbit is a white meat and that people are moving away from red meat. Their projections were enthusiastic and so were they.
It is always difficult for people in the developed world visiting in the developing world to understand how important it is not to ‘promise’ anything in meetings. The people here have so much need they cling to words from you long after you will have forgotten. So Bob and I were very careful in choosing my words. I didn’t want to say anything without my lawyer present. Heh, wait a minute! He was present J
Now back at the childcare centre. We were shown new construction taking place of a farming building that was to have a rabbit hutch built into the top of it. Hmmm rabbits coming up twice but I certainly am not able to connect the dots. The rabbit meeting had thrown me off track.
While at the Centre we heard, and saw, children who had not eaten that day. Sometimes the children go two days without anything to eat from home and the Centre is their source of nourishment. Now I didn’t hear anything from the community rabbit group about giving some of the rabbits away to help families feed their children – but maybe that is for later.
So how did it end?
Well we rolled with it and politely took their copy of a printed rabbit business proposal.