Category Archives: Ogembo Kenya

Karibu Kineni

‘Welcome to Kineni!’, the village of Javan & Susan Bokea. They live in the lush sloping hills 20 minutes from Ogembo, and approximately an hour from Kisii Town. The road between Kisii and Ogembo is bitumen, plus a few major pots holes, which Denis has enjoyed navigating- particularly when we all go flying over the speed bumps concealed to the foreigners eye!!!

Sunday morning we awaited the arrival of Javan and Susan, to meet us at the hotel in Kisii, before they escorted us and showed us the way to Kineni Village.
An hour and a half later than expected, we decided to walk down the Main Street of Kisii to check things out whilst we waited, then all of a sudden, they pull up infront of us, 3 on a motor bike. I guess we kinda stood out and were easy to spot amongst the hordes crowding the road!!
It was hugs and laughs, huge smiles and tears (mostly on our behalf) as we finally greeted each other after months of communicating. We walked back to the hotel, and talked while some had a cup of African tea, and chapatti- Kenya’s version of tea and biscuits ( this one was much better than the last- Kerry was the guinea taste tester before Denis and I were game enough to go there again!).

Jarvan and Susan were super keen to take us home, so we decided to head out to their village for the afternoon, to meet everyone and assess where we would be staying and any provisions we may require.

From Ogembo, we turned right, onto a dirt road that became less and less formed, as we discovered the car we were bring was the first car many of the children in the had ever seen, let alone meeting mzunga’s (white people). Transport for these villagers is predominantly by foot, or the occasional motorbike.

At this stage, we are unsure how successful the car will actually be here. As it is quite steep, and a couple of rivers to cross- plus the track from the ‘main’ track, up to Javan, Susan, Charles and Mary (Javan’s parents) and the orphans compound, didn’t exist before yesterday! Many machetes had been busy chopping down a section of sugar cane, alongside their walking track, to enable us to get the car and all the gear up to the huts. As it was a tree or two was removed just ahead of us as we kicked in 4WD to make it up the slope. It would be impossible during the wet- so there are a few things to discuss regarding care and accessibility of the car.

Our journey in was slow, as we met many people who had been waiting for us ‘to bring the good news’, and to welcome us to Kenya. We met Javan’s older sister Scola, and her two children, who were selling grains by the side of the road. Then later a group met us at the bottom of Javan’s ‘new’ driveway. After hugs all round, and the overwhelm beginning to kick in, we jumped back in the car to ascend the slope. Very few people in Kineni speak english, in fact many do not speak Swahili either- they speak Kisii Language. It’s quite surreal to greet so many, when words and language fail us, yet the heart and soul understand each other perfectly. Look into another’s eyes, your hand and theirs linked together held against your chests, between hearts- no words are necessary, although our brains tell us we must try. We actually found the majority of men to be softer in nature, more open and heartfelt in their greeting, than the majority of women. I am still shocked by this, I obviously had a preconceived notion of what to expect! Perhaps the women are wary, or unsure of us? Or perhaps it is part of the culture. As when we first met Javan & Susan, after greeting us, Susan stood back from the three of us andJavan. We had to invite her and encourage her to stand with us, among us. It was really obvious when it was just the 5 of us, perhaps the same thing was occurring in the larger group, only we had so many people around us wanting their attention, and to greet- that upon reflection, we may have missed the subtlety of this gender inequality playing out.
As we settle in, and relax, being ourselves, perhaps they will too.

Now, back to our arrival.

Windows down and a few deep breaths, we then heard from 500m away, although we could not yet see them, the voices of 160 orphans, villagers and families, echoed down to us as they sang our welcome to their home. No words can possibly describe the waves of emotion that flooded through us! The car became surrounded by 100s of beautiful smiling, singing faces- their eyes and hearts out pouring their gratitude for all that we, collectively, have done, all that we bring to share, and their sincere joy in welcoming us to their home. Even now as I write this, the magnitude of their gratitude and joy overwhelms me, and I melt into tears. I know I haven’t fully allowed myself to accept their love and gratitude into my heart, yet, as I knew I would be a blubbering, drooling mess, and didn’t feel that was a good first impression, when there were so many brothers and sisters to meet!! Perhaps I should have dissolved into tears there and then- it was bloody hard to hold back the tidal wave of tears wanting to run down my face. If really let go, I didn’t know when it would cease. And, I felt I needed to honour the people who had come to greet us.

I’m still learning the Truth, in situations like this. Love of Self, Love of Others. So often, I choose to Love Others before I Love myself. Perhaps I did myself a disservice, by not allowing myself to fully feel and experience all that was coursing through me. Perhaps I missed a golden opportunity? Perhaps I could have bawled my eyes out and greeted people at the same time? I am still uncertain about the most loving course of action in a situation like this- all I can do is keep engaging and see what happens.

But I know it is there to be felt and received, the Love and Gratitude being expressed to us – writing this now has shown me that it is still there to be received. I know it probably sounds ridiculous, but it is going to take courage on my behalf to allow myself to receive all this love flowing towards me (us), just as it is requiring courage to accept and allow God’s Love into my soul.

Here is another example of their welcome:

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I have had some issues adding videos to the blogs, however when there is a will, eventually you find the way!
Kineni Village

NB: The original of this post is somewhere out in the ether. This is the portion I salvaged. Another challenge of being in a less technological developed country- when you think it is saved, chances are IT IS NOT!!!

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A ‘Chooks’ Tour

Here’s a sneak peak of where we are staying in Kineni.

Javan’s father Charles owns the land that everyone resides on. When I say everyone, that is the 160 orphans (soon to be 208), Charles and Mary (Javan’s parents), Isaac and his wife (on weekends), one of Javan’s sisters, another brother Daniel, and the family members from Susan’s side that have been taken in by Javan and Susan, niece Lillian (15), Maureen (17) and her gorgeous son Ishmael (~13mths).
Birthdays are not celebrated or noted here, especially if you are not the eldest son. Ages are somewhat of an estimate of years.

Their Compound, is approx an acre of sloping land, bordered by thick hedge and a hand made wooden gate. Above and below this block is the sugar cane, and maize which I believe is their cash crop income for the year. It’s difficult to get a comprehensive answer to questions, as very few speak any english. Communicating is a slow process, as we must choose our words carefully, to be as clear and simple as possible, in order for those who do speak some English to grasp what we are saying. Sentences must be complete and direct with no umm, aghing. If you change what you are saying mid sentence they are lost. So short and sweet is most effective. Pausing often for clarification of understanding. In fact very few speak Swahili either, they speak their mother tongue, Kisii Language.

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There are 9 buildings on this land, houses and kitchen huts, one of which is the orphans new hut- which really is too small for the 160 kids. We hope to be able to fund building another one adjacent, so girls can be in one and boys in the other, as the congestion and damp reed mats they sleep on currently is making many of them unwell. We also hope to build a false floor 1-2ft off the ground that will act as one big bed, then line with foam mattresses if we are able. Currently, many of the kids sleep with a fertilizer bag between them and the ground, which is bed and blanket. Seriously, we take so much for granted everyday in the west.

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The Orphans hut.

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The girls side- 100 girls sleep here.

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Somewhere to store and care for their new clothes is obviously on the list also.

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Reed sleeping mats, that draw the cold and become damp from the ground. Here they are being dried out during the day.

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These blankets ‘cover’ 160 kids.

Susan & Javan have ‘vacated’ their humble abode for us to use whilst we stay. Which we explained was not necessary, but they insisted. We were not to keen to kick them out of their own beds, attempting to address the issues of equality, not subservience- which many whites have instilled in the past. Denis felt it was important for us to stay in their huts, even just for the week. To show that we were prepared to, and that we did not think less of them or that they were somehow inadequate or beneath us. Obviously since many can not understand what we say, our actions speak for us.
The sitting room has been decorated by newspaper on the walls, and the kids have cut out paper decorations from their school books to hang from the rafters. I have made a short video- I hope to post it here soon.

The hut is one room, partitioned into sitting room, and two very small bed rooms. Standing room only. Each room contains a single bed, 3.5ft wide. Denis in one, us two in the other- so as you can imagine there has not been much privacy, sleep or personal space- literally!!! Denis is enjoying his stay- we are a little cramped, to say the least. Plus the days are full on. The work day for the women begins at 4.30am and finishes about 11pm. Once they are up, the whole village is awake. They even rise before the crowing roosters!! Any teacher will tell you, 160 kids voices in a relatively confined area is quite loud- they are in their home, and should be themselves. We are the ones not used to such a big family.
Needless to say sleep deprivation, plus constant background noise is not boding well for us to share Divine Truth effectively, or lovingly. I am willing to admit I become grumpy when sleep is lacking. So we have decided to commute from Kisii each day. We found a guest house run by Catholics, which is very basic, but quiet. I will admit I am not accustomed to the constancy of being surrounded by people, especially when they also desire your attention. In Kenya, all your senses are bombarded constantly. It will take a little while to adjust. So whilst we love them all dearly- we have chosen to take time and space for ourselves each night. Self love, is a truth we will need to embrace if we are to fully embrace our desires here in Kenya. I feel the hens nesting under our bed will be pleased to have the restless sleepers move out also!

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The sitting room

Fetching water: I have a new appreciation for plumbing, pipes and water tanks!!!

If these guys can do it, so can we. No special guests of honour- If we use it, we collect it.
Traditionally girls and women collect water, wash, cook, collect fire wood, clean…mmm basically, in three days we have not seen the girls and women sit down. They work non stop from rising to sleeping. The same can not be said for the males- this is probably the most diplomatic way to make the comparison.
However, as Living in Truth is also about loving your brothers and sisters, a new initiative has begun in this one little area of Kineni. Water collection is now alternating- girls one day, boys the next. Denis is paving the way to set an example for the men in the village, by preparing food, and offering it to the women and men. They see him hand washing his own clothes, and pegging them on the line. And now carrying water. A few of the men said, ‘it never occurred to them, that if their wife was carrying water, and they loved her, they should carry water alongside her’.
Javan is contemplating challenging the humiliation and ridicule he believes he will receive from fellow men if they see him carry water or cook food or wash his own clothes. ‘They will say I am controlled by my wife’. We say- ‘I love my wife, and myself and my children- this is why I am now sharing the load’. Literally!!

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Denis assisting Maureen with hand washing, before taste testing his prepared snack

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The boys today

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Collecting from the spring by the river

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Left arm, right arm- geez, 20Lt of water is heavy!!!

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How on earth do 10yr olds carry this on their head?? A chiropractors nightmare!!

The kitchen:
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The ‘stove’

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The orphans kitchen

Ask Kerry about the drop toilet experience! The blue bucket was the BEST purchase I have made, I’m not hearing the ‘what do we need that for’ cries anymore!!!
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Kazuri Beads & Pottery

“Small and Beautiful” this is the translation for the Swahili word Kazuri.

Today, whilst Denis visited the Revenue Office again in the city to finalize vehicle transfer papers; Kerry and I decided to check out Kazuri- a factory / workshop that makes hand made beads and pottery from clay that is sourced near Mt. Kenya.

Initially we thought it was going to be traditional Maasai bead making. Which was incorrect. The Maasai make their jewelry primarily with coloured plastic beads, however in the past they used wood and bones- not clay. So this is not a traditional Kenyan bead making workshop- but they are still pretty awesome.
The ceramic beads manufacturing business here in Karen, was founded by an English woman, and two local women, about 37yrs ago. Not surprisingly, 90% of the product is for export to western countries.

They employ 350 men and women, the majority of whom live in the Slum area a little ways down the road. They work from 8am- 4.30, five and a half days a week, with a 30 minute lunch break. They average $5 per day in wages.
John spoke of the poor living conditions in the slum, and that many choose to live there, because rent is so cheap. He told us that 60% of the youth residing in the slum area are unemployed. So there is much crime and insecurity- particularly inflicted on those who spend long days walking to work, working and returning home. He told us that sanitation is non existent. The one or two toilets require payment for use- therefore most prefer flying toilets. A flying toilet involved evacuating into a plastic bag, tying up the bag, swinging it around your head and tossing it as far as you can out over the roof tops, with not a care for where or on whom it may land! Oy oy oy!!! Even a hole in the ground is not an option, because there are SO many people living in such close proximity.
We westerners really are ignorant of the way our brothers and sisters here live each day. And what is worse- many choose not to know. I used to be one of those people- blissfully unaware. Well, not any more. Now I actively, want to know. And I want to discover the feelings in me that have contributed to this situation- my ignorance alone, has already contributed to this situation. No human being should have to choose to live like this.

Back to the beads.
In order to earn this 5 dollars, the women, who hand make the beads, dry, fire, paint and construct into complete jewelry pieces, have to roll a minimum of 900 beads per day. No idyll hands in this place!! The men work mainly with the pottery- whilst the women appeared to be the artists.

We spoke to some lovely people as they went about their work and demonstrated their skills. Following are snap shots of our tour, and a couple of short videos.

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The clay press

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Beads drying in the sun

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Mama Elizabeth, the longest employee- 37 years

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The Beading women

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Ceramics

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Baking beads in the Kiln

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Painting Beads


Potters wheel moulding a bowl


Moulding a tea cup from the clay mold

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This lady requested we take a photo and show her what it looks like

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The Room of Beads!!!

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Each person receives a pattern from which to either mould the beads, paint the beads or construct the bracelet, earrings, or necklace.

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And these are the ‘small and beautiful’ results!!

The pieces ranged from 500 KES to 2000 KES, for the more elaborate designs- but seriously, a single bead was a master piece in of itself.

The feeling in some of the rooms was joyous, as the women worked, they laughed and chatted. In other rooms, it was a little oppressive- although I’ll admit they may have been when we entered smaller rooms, and the Tour guide we had was very condescending to these women, he was in their personal space, interrupting their work, grabbing things out of their hands, without even acknowledging them or thanking them. In fact the vibe from him was that he just wanted to get through his spiel and go have his lunch- we were clearly an inconvenience to him. He reluctantly made eye contact with us throughout the tour- but perhaps that was because we were women also??

More emotions to feel.

More snaps

20130507-140742.jpg Our first glimpse at wildlife- apparently according to Denis, goats don’t count.

Roadside shopping:

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Buy a headstone and get a lawn mower for maintenance free!

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20130507-141404.jpg Masala chips and coleslaw seemed like a good idea at the time!

The Car Bazaar

This is cool. It’s a wonder someone in Australia hasn’t cogged in on this idea ( or maybe it’s just that we haven’t experienced so many versions of “boy shopping”!). Once again our guides are pointing us in the right direction. Kyale was supposed to drive us today, however issues with his car meant Innocent was our alternative ‘living yellow pages’. He told us about these events called Sunday car bazaars, which is basically a roped off paddock where private sellers pay a fee to bring their vehicle for the day.
Last night we discovers there was one being held locally near Karen. Denis had a call from a guy yesterday saying he would be taking his Isuzu Trooper there today- so off we trotted in search of this guy and his gold coloured trooper.

Well as it turned out, we didn’t find the guy that rang ( he is a bit if a mystery actually, even how he knew to ring Denis in the first place??), but we did find another gold Isuzu trooper, 1999 for 1 million Kenyan shillings, which was in impeccable condition. It was owned by a man from Kisii, who was the CEO of a coke a cola company in Kenya, but since retired.

So far this is the best value for money, it only requires a roof rack to be fitted and a service- which we discovered today Innocent can do. As well as drive cars/taxi, he is a mechanic for a garage locally. He can weld us up a roof rack, to our specification and service the car. How awesome is that! If Kyale had driven us today, we would not have discovered all these things. Being in the flow of harmony is so cool!
Plus it’s good to have seen as a comparison with the 1994 model Pastor Michael is going to show us this arvo.
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We have just spent an hour or so talking with Pastor Michael which was just awesome! ( I’ve been hanging around Denis to long- awesome is the word of the day!)
Michael is from the Northern Masai Tribe. Before the colonial time, north and south were one tribe- until they were split and separated when the British arrived. Justus (southern masai) and Michael (northern) were very pleased to meet and share their mother tongue. It was beautiful to witness.

We explained to Michael the purpose for buying a vehicle- that we were invited by Javan, to come and share Divine Truth. Which is not religion, rather about connecting direct with God, no matter your background and growing in Love. He was so excited and please to hear that we had come to help his fellow brothers and sisters. He discussed his experience of 2007 elections at length, pausing often, closing his eyes and feeling the sadness this “dark time in Kenyan history” obviously still causes him.
We are unsure as to whether he still is a Pastor, as he spoke honestly about his disillusion that Christians have been anything but loving in this country and with his people- and 2007 was the confirmation of this for him. We chatted with him for sometime, and it was lovely. He is very keen to come and spend time with us on Tuesday and watch some Divine Truth material, so we will see how he responds after checking out the website.

He spoke of the inconsistency of Christians- their actions speaking louder than their words. And the boxes of confinement and separation Christianity has created in Kenya. He mentioned how in his villages and tribes they always had enough- no one went hungry. As everything was shared as a community. Since colonial time, and the imposition of christian ways, the focus shift to the individual, has created great lack for so many, and abundance for the few. And now even the land is ‘groaning’. He said, in the past, the village elders were an equal selection of men and women. Now it is only men that speak and make decisions.

We discussed many things, loving the land, spirits and guides, the importance of faith and prayer, all featured one way or another. We didn’t try to be anyone other than ourselves. We didn’t need to sprout of this and that- truth and love and God were all evident in our conversation. Such a joy, to just be real and say it how it is, for each of us. Just sharing from the heart- and of course it just flowed.

At the conclusion of our discussion he asked if we would come 400km north of Nairobi where he lives, to share with his people what we are learning about God and Love- Love of brothers, and of creation, just the same as we plan to with Javan.
We will need some extra helpers as desire keeps growing like this, so dive on in kids if your passion is blooming, and board a plane!

*****news flash******

Just in at 6pm, we have bought a car!!!! Thanks to the mystery caller, the Trooper at the bazaar is now part of the Divine Truth tool box! We met Moseti at his home, where he shared his story, we shared ours and with team PKD’s negotiation skills well executed, we came to an agreed price quite easily, which means we have enough to service, fit a roof rack, insure and transfer all in our 1 million Kenyan Shillings budget!!! Provided we can get a decent foreign exchange rate when we deposit the dosh, we are kicking goals!
We sign transfer papers tomorrow and the car which apparently is very well known in Kisii Town, will be returning home. We figure it has an inbuilt navigation system and already knows the way!!!

AWESOME DAY AY!

Ogembo Here We Come!

I still don’t believe it has quite sunk in that I am on my way to Africa!!! This is the person who said “I will NEVER, go to Africa, cos there is NO WAY, I’m having that Yellow Fever Vaccination!!!!!!”
Well, I am living proof, that DESIRE, can pull you through ANY fear!

If you are unfamiliar with the Kenya project we are engaged in, rather than me re typing all the details here, take a quick side step to Mary’s Blog and read the goings on so far.

We are rapt to share, that the ‘Press Conference’ on Saturday obviously helped us work through a few fears, and connected us more strongly with our passion and desire to share Divine Truth with Javan, Susan and their 5 parishes. As today, we received a gift of $20,000 to be put towards a second hand vehicle, and much needed Water tanks! This Law of Desire just keeps getting better and better!!

We depart now to spend 3 months in Kenya, then a month in UK and Europe, visiting friends and sharing our experiences with those who invite us to- then 3 weeks in Thailand and maybe Burma (depends on the openness of the border at the time) in September, and returning in October.

It will be an action packed, emotional 5 months- an we cannot wait!!!
We would like to express our gratitude to all those who contributed to the various elements of the project- we wouldn’t be able to fulfill this passion if it weren’t for your time, resources and love.

Thanks for keeping us in your prayers.
Stay tuned for updates!

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