Monthly Archives: July 2015

Kijabe Hospital

Kijabe Hospital

Sometimes an event in life will precipitate an action plan. For me, that is exactly what happened when Matanya’s Hope traveled to Kijabe Hospital two days ago. We came for Winnie and Christine. We departed two days later, mission accomplished and enriched beyond measure.

He was being carried up the steep mountainous walkway. A carpet of concrete created the pathway beneath his feet. His daughter and grandson each respectively looped their arms through his, helping him to use whatever futile energy may have been left in his bony legs.

They called Christine’s name and we were ushered into the hallway where she would begin the next process of her “waiting” journey. Seated in a very basic wheelchair immediately in front of us was mzee (our old man). His head flopped from side to side – fairly routinely – just like a baby might flop its head when trying to look up. He looked exhausted – and it was obvious he was overcome by an unwell kind of weakness.

Tianka and I exchanged empathetic glances and concurred that we wished we had the neck pillow to give him for support. Then I had an idea.

I went to the nurse and asked for a towel or blanket. We can use that to drape around his neck and help support his head. The nurse looked but could not find a single item for us to use. She offered to allow mzee to lay on the exam table in a vacant room. I looked around.

She offered. But I think that meant “I move him”. In the USA, this would be highly frowned upon and even worthy of a potential law suit – but I did not see another way. Tianka and I agreed and carefully turned the wheelchair towards the room.

Movement was slow. Mzee’ one leg rested comfortably on the leg rest while the other leg dangled freely – not by plan – but because there was no leg rest to be had for the other side. I lifted the free leg and cradled it into my arm – while squatting to make the level comfortable for him – and just like that, Tianka pushed the chair and I squat-walked to the room.

After adjusting the head rest and with help from mzee’ son, we lifted our new friend onto the table and allowed the exhausted man to lay back and rest. That small exertion was almost too much for him.

He closed his eyes. His son tenderly held his hand. And then came the most amazing – most heartfelt – toothless “thank you” from our dear man. He spoke to us with love. Gosh, we really helped him, I thought. Hearing him warmed me emotionally to the core.

We stood by his side. “Baridi” he said. (Cold). With no blankets on site, his daughter laid her shawl over him and I took my fleece jacket and lay it over mzee’s chest. I just wanted him to get better.

Mzee used what little energy he had to weakly – half eye – glance at his grandson – and again at us. His dry tongue was coated with a film from dehydration. “I am grateful” he managed. Oooh! “No…..we need to do more. I don’t want you to suffer”, I almost cried to myself.

I could not bare the tell tale signs of mzee’s dehydration. “When did he have water?” I asked his daughter; “He is so dry.” “He hasn’t taken anything” she replied. The nurse helped us find a thermos of hot water and we poured mzee a cup. We added a little water from our supply of room temperature Dasani – just to cool it down enough for him to consume comfortably – and then (perhaps wrongfully) I took the spoon intended for hot chocolate and brought it to mzee so we could spoon feed him the water.

He sipped eagerly. His lips sucked in around his gums as he filled himself with life giving fluids. “Pole” (slowly) we encouraged him.

Mzee finished the whole cup. As he did, I was called into the room with Christine. The doctor was ready for her.

When I came out, I learned mzee had been transferred to the ward where he would undergo further treatment. The jacket he returned to Tianka was all that remained. In fact, I am wearing it right now.

I pray for this man.
I pray for his comfort and for his recovery. He touched my soul.

To Mzee with love.

Winnie – My Story

Hi.  I am Winifred Kinya.  By the grace of God, I've been sponsored by the Robinson's through  Matanya's Hope.  Thank you for changing my life!

Hi. I am Winifred Kinya. By the grace of God, I’ve been sponsored by the Robinson’s through Matanya’s Hope. Thank you for changing my life!

My name is Winifred Kinya. Some of you may already recognize me from the video on facebook (though I don’t have internet, Michelle has shared the video with me). I am the elder of the two sisters being interviewed.

For the first few years of my life, until 2010, I lived in a very happy family. But all was to change when alcohol took over my dad’s life. He frequently came home drunk and furious. He would demand his supper. It was only my mom who could face him. On one occasion, she told him: “For some few days now you have not been bringing food into this house. How do you expect the chidlren to survive?” My dad got more furious. He threw everything to the ground and turned to my mom and started yelling at her. He slapped her in front of us. We feared this man who used to be so kind; we did not know why our dad changed.

My elder sister became our protector and took us to her room. At the same time, my mum left the house and walked into the night. We locked ourselves in the room.

Morning brought a new day and my dad followed his usual routine. He left for work around 10. My mum came home and told us to pack; my youngest sister Annita and I would be moving out to my grandparents rural home in Meru. My elder siblings would remain in Nairobi for school.

We could not make it to Meru. My mom did not have enough money to facilitate our travels. We stayed with her aunt for the night and through her goodness, she gave us transport to complete our journey. Although my grandparents were old and no longer worked, they welcomed us with opened hands; I heard my grandmother say to my mum, “these are my kids and nobody will take them away ever, even if it is their father; from today this is their home.” My mom looked for a school and enrolled us in Victory Academy to continue with our education. I was in class 5 while Annita was in day care.

Empty pockets were plentiful; money was tough to get. Mum worked long hours every day, working on other people’s shambas (farms) plucking tea leaves for about $1.50 a day. She raised half of our fees but this was not enough to keep us in school. We were sent home for 3-4 weeks without attending class. The next term was the same. I did not even do my end of term exams because of school fees due.

In 2011, my mom spent some time trying to work on her marriage with my dad. We all dreamed of a family the way it used to be. Soon, mum got a younger child and my dad denied the baby. He refused to give even a single coin for her care. My grandparents paid for everything. First us and now our baby sister. Though they relied on the little they could earn by picking tea, they taught us to give unselfishly and with love.

The years were hard. I could not find peace because every day was a day where the school could send me home for fees. I missed so many lessons. My hopes of finishing primary school or ever going to high school were low. I saw others being sponsored, but my name was not chosen.

Then, in 2014, an angel from above, Michelle Stark, found me crying. I explained to her that I was the only one in my class without a way to go on our class tour. She walked with me and listened to my story. She promised to work hard to find me a sponsor.

Today, I am able to learn well through the support of Matanya’s Hope and my wonderful sponsors Barrie and Gail Robertson. I never leave school for fees.

Thank you for standing by my side. Today I am at Kijabe Hospital with Michelle and the missions team. They brought me here for medical treatment after learning that my voice has been reduced to whispers since last year. Tomorrow I go through a naseo-ensopologial scope. Matanya’s Hope has not left my side.

My dream is to complete my education with a degree in banking or accounting. I want to use my resources to help other children like me, most of all, those who have been orphaned.

Michelle has helped my sister and I. Now my mom never works on other people’s shambas (farms). Though she cleans toilets in the big city far from home, I am very proud of my mom. She stands by our sides with love. She shares every coin she earns with a kind and giving heart. I thank God for such role models in my life!

Thank you Matanya’s Hope.
Thank you Barrie and Gail Robertson.
Thank you Mom.

I thank Bill and Heather Cooper for sponsoring my little sister Annita.  You have been a mighty blessing to her!

I thank Bill and Heather Cooper for sponsoring my little sister Annita. You have been a mighty blessing to her!

You are all a part of my wonderful family!

Winifred Kinya
Standard 8
Matanya’s Hope


Nancy – Reach for the Stars

Standing outside of Matanya Primary School, Nancy is overjoyed with the gift of shoes and a book bag.

Standing outside of Matanya Primary School, Nancy is overjoyed with the gift of shoes and a book bag.

Our tires sputtered over rocks spewing them wildly onto the dust filled road behind us. The sun had set long ago. Our stomaches ached for food – but our day could not yet release us. We navigated through a maze of barbed wire fences and and sagebrush. One direction looked the same as the next. But we were on mission.

Just two weeks earlier we discovered Nancy, a 7th grade orphaned girl who was rejected by her own family and then sent away from an orphanage because it closed. Nancy has courage. She has a dream to learn and to be “someone” (as she puts it) in society. She should know, she is already one exceptional human being! Maybe you read about her on our blog.

Tonight, we were driving to see Nancy. To see where she lives. To bring her food. Earlier today, our car broke down just 500 kilometers from school. We could not give up on visiting Nancy in school. We just couldn’t. With bags in tow, we exited our vehicle. The wind whipped our faces; dust blew everywhere. It was colder than we had anticipated. But we had no choice. If we were to see Nancy, we would have to walk.

Mr. Mugo came to our rescue. His old pick up was a welcome sight! After looking at our car and making arrangements to cure it’s ills, he drove our team to Matanya Primary.

Jumping down from the pick up in front of Matanya Primary School

Jumping down from the pick up in front of Matanya Primary School

A few days back, Quincy’s family eagerly sponsored this brilliant child.

With our car back in working order, I think you could feel the excitement as we rolled to a stop in front of Nancy’s compound. Now, one of 7 other children, Nancy resides with her aunt in a small, wood and mud structure. There is rarely time to study. Nancy must meet the demands of fetching water from a near by river, caring for the younger children and fetching firewood for the family’s warmth and cooking needs. She trades schedules with her cousins, sometimes cooking…sometimes washing dishes, utensils or the old garments we may use for rags, but they use for clothes.

Nancy was adorned in a well worn but still brightly colored fabric. Underneath, her baby cousin Moses slept on her back. He snored rhythmically in the peace of the evening breeze.
Our mission team rushed out of the small doorway of our car – we were all so eager to see Nancy again!


The blackness of night required our unaccustomed eyes to shine our flashlights on the dusty path before us. We walked one by one to Nancy’s home. I don’t know how we managed to hold back tears as we entered the small mud and wood structure. Nancy beamed. “This is my home”, Nancy told us. “Here is where I study”. A small wooden table atop a hard dirt floor was her desk. She sat down and showed us her books – books we’d given her a few weeks ago.

“Do you want to see where I sleep?”, Nancy asked. “Sure! Yes!” We replied. We each followed Nancy through a small opening in the wood and mud hut. What we entered may not be able to be adequately described.

Hanging clothes cluttered several random lines strewn about the low ceiling. Nancy pointed through the darkness to her bed. “Five of us sleep here” she said. We wanted to gasp but held back our shock. Five of them! Five bodies laid in that smal bed? How!? Yet Nancy spoke with joy. She spoke with love. This was her home.

Our cameras clicked. I don’t know about the others, but I felt ashamed. How do I take pictures? Yet how do I explain this without the visual images? We celebrated Nancy and all she showed us with her. Even when we discovered the family of chickens sleeping under her bed, we brought our focus on the joy of being together.

With that, we slipped through the curtain dividing the dirt doorway from the sitting room. There, Quincy sat next to Nancy on the one small couch.

Quincy told Nancy she loved her and confirmed her family's support.  "You won't have to worry about school fees anymore.  Just work hard and reach for your dreams.".

Quincy told Nancy she loved her and confirmed her family’s support. “You won’t have to worry about school fees anymore. Just work hard and reach for your dreams.”.

My mom and baby sister made you a video. We love you and we want to support you through school.” I watched Nancy fight tears. I was fighting then myself.

Jonah followed, “Nancy, I want you to know that if Quincy’s family did not sponsor you, I would have sponsored you myself. I am so proud of you and I know you can make it.”

We took photos and shared stories and dreams. But most of all, we shared hope…hope made possible by saying yes to sponsorship. In this case, by saying yes to Nancy.

Thank you McKown family for this magnanimous gift of love.

Michelle Stark
Matanya’s Hope

Nancy in class at Matanya Primary School. Dream big sweet girl!

Nancy in class at Matanya Primary School.
Dream big sweet girl!

Lawrence and I in Nairobi Kenya

Homelessness and College by Jonah Blumenthal

Hello, my name is Jonah Blumenthal, and for the second time in two weeks, I have come face to face with a story that has hit me hard. I met Lawrence Mutugi on my second day of this mission. At the time, all I knew of Lawrence was that he was a smiley Matanya’s Hope sponsored student. We exchanged pleasantries, and compared and contrasted college life in the United States with that of a Kenyan University student. I discovered truly how blessed I have been throughout my life. I have been given every opportunity, courtesy of my family, and have been coddled by my school system. Lawrence has had a difficult family history, and has managed to find success despite a harsh, unfair, school system. He is someone who is constantly positive and a kind soul. Lawrence is the type of guy you have a conversation with and just feel good afterwards. He is just a good person. He left me thinking, “man that guy was awesome, if he went to school with me, I would be best friends with him.” Quincy is in agreement.

Lawrence has a passion for computer science, and has done everything in his power to attain his goals of becoming a network administrator for a large organization. When Lawrence discusses his schoolwork, it is not just something he is required to do, but something he loves. He is someone who is never satisfied with the knowledge he holds but searches and continuously explores his passion. After a few hours of pleasant conversation with Lawrence, we parted ways. I assumed that this was the last time I would see Lawrence Mutugi.

Fourteen days later, I was back in Nairobi. I had hoped to see Lawrence again, and was fortunate that he didn’t have class. We got together, and again began discussing life. It was only after a considerably long, lovely conversation that I learned of Lawrence’s difficulties.

“My father was someone who was willing to help me achieve my dreams. So luckily for me I was smart and I worked hard to achieve the vision I had. My father, and friends who knew my reputation (based on my exam scores) were willing to lend me a hand. They helped me pay my room and board while in University. Additionally, Matanya’s Hope and my sponsor Doug contributed to my fees. Without these contributions, I wouldn’t be able to attend University and finish up my degree.”

“Unfortunately, this year my father passed away from illness. He had been married three times. After he was buried there were disputes between his three wives. Unluckily for me, since my mother comes from a different tribe, we inherited nothing. At this point, the other two wives claimed the money that was going towards my room and board. Now I had no way to pay the $95 a month to stay in school. Additionally, I have another brother in University, and one back home with my mother. Shortly after my father’s death, my mother was very depressed and suffered from high blood pressure. All the money that she has been able to make has had to go towards her medical bills and taking care of my youngest brother. Thus I have been left with no way to pay for my living expenses. I was faced with the option of either leaving university and going home, or becoming a homeless university student. I sought help from Michael, a friend, and the driver for Matanya’s Hope’s Missions. He was able to accommodate me for several months. Unfortunately, once he married and his wife needed to move in I was no longer able to stay. At this point again I sought refuge in a friend. He has been able to house me for roughly three months. I have turned to every friend, every family member. I am completely out of options. People just do not have the means to support me. I understand that. Now I have no idea where I will be living and have nowhere else to turn. At this point it looks like I will be truly homeless.“

As if getting a degree wasn’t hard enough by itself, Lawrence has been able to maintain extremely high marks despite being “homeless” and suffering a major loss. I admire his courage and determination. As a university student myself, his story has kept me up at night. I have pondered what it would be like to go through Lawrence’s experiences. I decided that I would do whatever I could to help him come up with his room and board. He has 11 months of school left. At $95 a month this is a very possible goal. Please, if you are able, help keep Lawrence in school. He has come so far. I know that if I was suffering the same difficulties, I would feel lost. Help give Lawrence a home, and keep his dream alive.

Naini and Winifred sharing a walk in Kenya's Rift Valley

Sponsorship and Love in the Mara


In 2011, I traveled to Kenya for the first time. I loved the warm and gracious people in Kenya. Everywhere the people were happy despite overwhelming poverty. The magnificence of the landscape and the wildlife soon won my heart. As part of our trip, we visited a school called Matanya Primary. Having been a teacher and having worked in schools and around children for many years, I stood in this school for two hours and cried. The children sang and danced for us in the most miserable classrooms I had ever visited. The floors were a deeply rutted mud/dirt combination. There were high water marks on the slatted walls, which did little to hold the elements out. No electricity, no running water, very few books, pitted blackboards were just some of the issues. I made a vow to try to help this area.

Through our travel guide, I learned of an organization called Matanya’s Hope. Long story short, I was able to meet Michelle Stark, Founder of Matanya’s Hope. I began a fund and resource collection at Decatur Middle School to bring shoes, blankets, school supplies and funds to help her mission in Kenya.

In 2013, I chose to travel and volunteer with M.HG. Again, even though our travel style was very different, I found warmth and graciousness everywhere we went. This time, I was able to visit many schools in rural Kenya. I met several hundred children who needed nourishment, shoes, clothing, school supplies and more. In Kenya, school fees must be paid and many children missed school due to a lack of fees.

At a school in the Mara called Sekanani Primary, I fell in love with a young girl who recited a most beautiful poem called: “Girl Child”. She spoke of and against early marriage, female circumcision, lack of education and freedom for girl children. Michelle and I were both moved to tears. We actually filmed her and had her repeat her performance several times until we had a great video.

During the time we spent with Christine Naini, we learned she had no sponsor and really no hope of attending high school. I quickly stepped up to sponsorship. I saw a young girl (about 12) who could speak passionately about almost taboo subjects for hundreds of girls. Much later, I learned that Naini had also written the poem she recited. What I knew at the time was that she needed to continue her education through high school and hopefully beyond.

The joy on Naini’s face when she learned she had a sponsor was so wonderful to observe. She quickly disappeared and remained away for some time, only to come back with her widowed mother. Her mother and I embraced each other and even through it meant Naini would go to a boarding school and would be away from home, her mother was so happy.

Now Naini goes to one of the best boarding schools in Kenya. She receives a rigorous education without needing to fetch water, collect firewood or do laundry (other than her own). She eats 3 meals a day (in a country where children can go without meals for 2-3 days). She is free to pursue her education and her desire to be a surgeon.

I hear from Naini occasionally through a teacher who gives her computer access and one or two letters each year. I love the days I hear from her and I replay her video of “Girl Child” when I just want to hear her voice.

Sponsorship is amazing.

I get to help in a most amazing way. My heart knows that I am helping a young girl become all she can be. I know she receives enough food every day. I know she has the potential to be very influential in her world. I know that somewhere, way across this world, someone prays for me as I pray for her.

This year, we had our first reunion. I traveled to Kenya for the second time with Matanya’s Hope and traveled many hours to Slopesview Academy. Suddenly, there she was! We both ran to each other and we both began to smile and cry. Later she was able to share how she really likes her school and how her exam grades are improving since moving her from her original school. We were able to have 3 precious days together (due to medical treatment). The first think I notice about Naini is that she has grown a foot and is taller than me. (Nutrition and genetics – I am sure!)

Naini during a tour I shared with her to Lake Naivasha.  We enjoyed the beauty of Kenyan wildlife

Naini during a tour I shared with her to Lake Naivasha. We enjoyed the beauty of Kenyan wildlife

We shared laughter and tears and stories these3 days. She calls me an angel in her blog, but I receive so much more than I give. I get to see the world through Naini’s eyes and know she has hope above all else. I always come home so grateful for the life I have been given.

A sponsorship of a child can enrich both the child and the sponsor. For $125 a month, you can pace a child living in abject poverty into a boarding school with 3 meals daily. Sponsored students also receive 2 school uniforms, shoes, blankets, school supplies, transport, minor medical care and a chest for their belongings. But the best gift of all will be the love and care they receive from you.

Myself (tall one) and Winnie, both Matanya's Hope sponsored students, here at Kijabe Hospital for medical treatment.

From Me, Christine Naini, A Matanya’s Hope Student

When I was a small child of Samburu culture, I had a father and a mother but my father got sick. At the tender age of 4, he passed away. I remained with my mom and started experiencing many challenges. The worst of all was when my father’s brother took everything that ever belonged to my father. Because he could not remove the house, he burned it down. We were left homeless and hopeless.

My mother had two children and not a single coin or crumb of food to raise us. She was very brave and took my brothers and myself to a place 2 days away called Sekanani in the Maasai Mara. We started our education at a rural, impoverished day school, but continued to experience a lot of challenges even in that setting.

It is no wonder that teachers see this young girl’s ability. David Pesi shares with the Matanya’s Hope Mission Team: “As a teacher at Sekanani Primary School, I quickly noticed that Christine Naini had the potential to do well. I knew that when she was sponsored and offered a chance to attend a high performing school, she would surely succeed.” David Pesi

Many were the days that we slept without eating anything or could not go to school because we lacked fees. The balance my mother was required to pay was 3,500 ksh which covered one term of my school fees. This was equal to about $35 US dollars. She was struggling to pay for my brother who was in class 8… I knew that I would have to wait. I wondered if I would even be able to go to school again.

When my brother finished his 8th grade studies, some visitors came and played baseball with him. It was a big number of people but he excelled at the game and managed to win. That visitor took him and sponsored him. Our family was so happy for him. He continued with his studies until Form 4 (senior year of High School). During that time, I myself was in class 7. I managed to attend class here and there but I missed more days than I attended because of fees. I happened to be in school on a day when an angel from heaven came to visit my school with Matanya’s Hope.

Our teacher told us to present songs, poems and dancing for our visitors. I presented my composed poem called GIRL CHILD. Then, my special angel, Ann, told me that she wanted to sponsor me.

“Seeing Christine Naini perform in one of the most impoverished school settings was so powerful. She was like a bright star that moved our team to tears. I could not bear to see her talents go unnoticed and forgotten. I saw her as a voice for her people and to do that, she needed education. I volunteered immediately to become her sponsor.” Ann Thomson, Sponsor

That moment was like a dream. I could not believe I would go to school and my mother would not struggle again because of my school fees. My mom was very, very happy because of the sponsorship as well. I quickly joined boarding school where I was able to focus on my studies. Although I did my national exam, I did not manage to attain the marks which would qualify me for a good school. This is because I did the exam only shortly after I joined boarding school and because I was living in an area where education was not strong.

Matanya’s Hope encouraged me and said that I could repeat my 8th grade year in a top Kenyan school in Nanyuki. Although the idea of repeating was very difficult for me to accept at first, I knew that Matanya’s Hope was offering me a chance to succeed in my life. Without repeating, I would not have that opportunity.

I am preparing to finish my 8th grade year this November and I am more confident that I will succeed since I can see with my own eyes how much my grades have improved.

Me having an EKG at Kijabe Hospital.

Me having an EKG at Kijabe Hospital.

Matanya’s Hope has encouraged me in every way. When they heard that I had been experiencing fainting spells, they came from USA and took me to the hospital for full evaluation. I don’t know what would be if they did not come into my life. Whether it is my health, my emotional well being or my education, they have been by my side through it all.

I want to be a surgeon. I pray that one day I will be able to give back to others the way that Matanya’s Hope and my special angel have given to me.

Myself, Jonah, with Nancy Wangui, Quincy and Lilian after Nancy shared her heartbreaking story

I Don’t Cry Often But I Cried Today

My name is Jonah Blumenthal. The last time that I was in Africa was 10 years ago when I traveled with my family to Kenya on vacation. There, we visited Matanya Primary School, an impoverished community elementary school. Today was the first time that I have been back to Matanya. It is not a coincidence that today was also the first time that I have cried in close to a year.

Early this morning we began our day by serving the students of Matanya Primary School their daily allotment of porridge. Many of these children count on their one cup of porridge (made daily from freshly milled amaranth, sorghum, millet, finger millet and maize) to fill them up enough to stay in school. Without their porridge, many students miss school due to hunger. This was not the reason that I wept.

It was only after meeting Nancy Wangui that I began to become emotional. I was handing out shoes for those students in need, when my Aunt Michelle called me over. I nonchalantly walked over to Michelle to find Nancy quite, and afraid. I was introduced to Nancy because we both wish to become Surgeons. Fortunately, Nancy was willing to open up to me and was brave enough to share with me her difficult history. Nancy explained that when she was seven years old, her mother passed away. Thus, she was left with an infant brother and a father. Unfortunately, her father was (and continues to be) a drug addict who physically abused her and forced her to act as a seven-year-old mother to her infant brother. Nancy had only an aunt (who has five kids of her own) to turn to for help. The rest of her family wanted nothing to do with her. Unfortunately, her aunt could not afford the miniscule payment required to keep Nancy in school. She was sent to an orphanage. It closed. Nancy then found her way back to her aunt’s house where she now lives and attends Matanya Primary School. Unfortunately, due to her aunt’s inability to afford her education, Nancy is constantly sent home due to a growing debt owed to the school.

Now that Nancy resides at her aunt’s house, her afternoon routine is no easier. After walking home from school, she must walk three kilometers to fetch water from the river. Each bucket of river water she collects weighs around 20 Kilograms. After making her journey back home, she must find firewood and help prepare food (if there is to be anything to eat). Only then at dusk, may she begin her homework. Nancy then must struggle to see her schoolwork through dim light off of her Aunts most basic cell phone (if it is working that day).

Now, what makes Nancy special is not just that she has and continues to face difficulty, but that she has the second best grades in her school. Through all of her struggles, her forced absenteeism’s due to lack of school fees, her drive to become educated and to better herself has persevered. Now is when she needs help. Nancy needs support, or she will just be kicked out of school. It was at this point that Lillian, Quincy, and myself decided to pull together enough funds to buy her some time as we search for a sponsor.

She is a very bright and determined girl. You can feel it when she speaks. When she says that she will be a surgeon, so that others will not suffer and die like her mother, you know that if given the opportunity, in 12 years she will be Dr. Wangui.

Unfortunately, right now her education will end in November unless someone intervenes. If you have the means, please help keep Nancy in school and support her goals of becoming a Surgeon. Help us tell her that there are people out there who care about her.

Myself, Jonah, with Nancy Wangui, Quincy and Lilian after Nancy shared her heartbreaking story

Myself, Jonah, with Nancy Wangui, Quincy and Lilian after Nancy shared her heartbreaking story

Solomon Maina receives computer from his sponsors Sue and Jack.  He was speechless!


This is Quincy writing—the seemingly random West Virginian who somehow found herself on a plane to Africa on Tuesday thanks to her friend Jonah (he’s probably writing the other blog… if not, I promise he’s a cool guy).

Some background about me (ew I hate talking about myself): I’m super funny, I’m pretty cool, and my favorite color is yellow. Just kidding. But yellow really is my favorite color. As I already said, I’m from West Virginia, but I met Jonah at Brown University where we’ll be sophomores next year. I play rugby, study mechanical engineering, and love to travel. This is my third time in Africa, my first being two years ago to Kenya and Tanzania, and last year I went to Morocco.

As you’ve probably already learned, I’m a fairly terrible writer, and I feel bad for Michelle who has to fix all my awful grammar mistakes and poor attempts at making jokes.

Now that introductions are finished, let’s talk about this trip! A trip where I’ve learned very quickly that “Anything you want to happen fast, expect to happen slow, and anything you want to happen slow, expect to happen slower” (as said in the wise words of Michelle). Do you want to hear the good news or the bad news first? Well, I choose the bad. (If you want to skip all the details, start reading at **HERE** below).

Kenya seems to have some problems with their delivery companies (UPS or U-haul should look into staking some business here because Kenya is in DESPERATE NEED). Our boxes (well not my boxes per se, I mean the nearly 2000 pounds of donated goods that Michelle and Ann put together) that were sent to Kenya at the end of March are MIA (well, maybe not technically missing but they’re about a month behind schedule). A recipe composed of a dash of ocean storms, a pinch of Kenyan time, 2 tablespoons of promissory notes, and a cup of miscommunication have created a giant headache for everyone on the trip. Our entire mission depends on these donations (we only have about 10% of what we’ve gathered), so we’re searching for solutions.

You need my passport so I can buy a phone from a chemist?

You need my passport so I can buy a phone from a chemist?

Another “small” speed-bump—actually, speaking of speed-bumps, I have yet to see a speed limit sign, but the giant speed-bumps and omnipresent police checks ensure “safe driving”—on our journey is a three-day ongoing process to acquire a working phone. A cash-only phone deal at a sketchy Nairobi gas station and several shop visits in Meru, including an hour spent at the Chemist (which is a pharmacy, but also specializes in phone activation and Trader Joe’s vitamins which should be refrigerated, but are sitting out on the shelf. If you want any, I’m sure I can get a good deal) have produced nothing more than two cell-phone shaped paperweights.

Our car also has a broken alternator. Do I know what that is? No (thanks for teaching me nothing about cars, Dad). Does it sound terrifying and trip-delaying? Absolutely.

**HERE** In short, we have next to no donations, we can’t call home, and our car is about to ready to keel over. Yay!

On a lighter note, some things are looking up. We bought towels yesterday, so I (finally) bucket showered this morning. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s where you boil a bucket full of water and mix this hot water with the freezing cold tap water in a basin. Then you just kind of splash around with soap and water and somehow emerge clean, at least…relatively.

I’ve met some awesome, awesome, awesome people, too. Lillian was the first, a giggly, talkative young girl who’s going to be a high school senior in Albany, Georgia in the fall. She wore a coral pink prom dress this year, has an Instagram account called lillykenya, and wants to be a doctor. Oh and she was born into abject poverty in rural Kenya. When Lillian was 15, Michelle brought her to the United States to live with her sponsors and go to an American high school. I’m struggling to find the words to describe how beautiful, humble, joyful, caring, and thoughtful she is. She’s independent and can be feisty, but maintains an air of strength and modesty that illustrates a maturity and worldly understanding that I’ve never seen before. I’ll meet her grandmother in Karatina (the place of carrot-colored soil) next week and watch her graduate high school in Albany next spring.

The first day, I also met Mercy, Solomon, Lawrence, and Vincent. The four of them are sponsored college students, Jonah’s family being the one to sponsor Mercy for the past 10 Years. She studies food science, while Solomon is studying to become a teacher, Lawrence studies computer science, and Vincent studies economics. It happened to be Vincent’s birthday the day I met him, and I watched him kiss a giraffe for the first time and receive a laptop from his sponsors. I also watched Solomon receive a laptop earlier that day. Their reactions were of such gratitude and speechlessness, that I’m having trouble describing it. You’ll have to see it for yourself because it is beyond humbling.

Jonah took Mercy grocery shopping, while Michelle took Solomon. I write this feeling guilty because food is honestly a struggle for these students. When I go eat at school, it’s a question of where, what, and how much. For them, it’s a question of if. They can’t afford to spend 300 Kenyan Shillings, less than $3.75, to eat dinner some days. Lawrence and Vincent (brothers) lost their dad in January and had to call on friends to find a place to live. Lawrence currently lives with Michael, our guide, because he can’t afford anywhere else. I was complaining I was going to have to live with a roommate in April.

But I never would have known any of this had they not told me. They smile constantly and answer questions honestly. They speak English, Swahili, and a variation of dialects. They’re well versed in math, chemistry, physics, and a slew of other subjects. They don’t want my sympathy or anyone’s for that matter, they want respect. They want to make something of themselves. They don’t want their children to be born into the same situation they were. They work harder than I do because this is probably the only shot they’ve got. If I flunk out, I can go back to West Virginia, fall asleep in my big bed, and work on applying to another college or job. If they fail…well, that’s not even worth mentioning because it’s not going to happen.

These people are amazing. While the pace of this country is frustrating at times, the people are sincere and grateful. While I expected to be sleeping on dirt floors and longing for a shower, we’re sitting at a nice restaurant in the middle of Meru sipping on some vanilla milkshakes surfing the interwebs. I can’t wait to see what the rest of this trip has to offer because I can learn so much from Kenya and its people.

Asanti Sana!

Sijui what I’m saying,