It has been a week now since I arrived jet lagged and weary in Migori Kenya.  It has all been good so far.  My Rotary friends in Migori have been great hosts. In fact everyone in Kenya has been friendly, helpful and a delight to deal with.

Migori is a small market town about 30 km from the Tanzania border and 50 km from Lake Victoria.  The "downtown" is about 12 city blocks of very intense commercial activity. The Kenyans really hustle when it comes to business.  Beyond the downtown, it is more suburban which merges into small farms.

I get around town by walking or paying for a ride on the back of a motorcycle.  I value my safety so won't ride on a bike with more than three people on it.  For trips out of town, we take a taxi.  These get a little crowded.  Did you know you can carry 11 or 12 people in a small Toyota station wagon?  Easy.  You put 4 in the front, 5 in the back seat and 2 or 3 more in the space behind the back seat.

I flew into Kisumu airport and was met by three Rotarians.  It was great to finally meet Ben Onam after emailing and skyping him for over 18 months.  We took off right away for Kisii, for a Rotary meeting there.  A little confusion as to timing.  It turns out that the Kisii people thought the meeting started at 11:00.  We and the district governor thought 1:00. But it was still fun.  By the time we left about 5:00 it was pouring rain.  This probably was a factor in the truck running into the back of us and going off the road into a creek bed. Nobody was hurt and another car drove us the rest of the way to Migori where I checked into the Bliss Park Hotel.  Not quite the Hilton, but the room was clean, the staff very friendly, and the price was $16 per night including a full breakfast in the dining room.

Tuesday morning, the Rotarians took me on a tour of the four schools and clinic where we are installing the rainwater harvesting systems. We reviewed the work progress and worked out a few unresolved technical issues. The Migori Rotarians have done an amazing job.  The money was approved at the start of August.  Now, two months later, the tanks are in place and partly filled with water and the latrines are about 90% complete.

One of the schools, the Adugo Primary School, was built by the community and just opened.  It has four classes with 120 students in two classrooms.  At the start of August they had no electricity and no water.  When a child was thirsty they walked 1.5 km down the hill to a creek with bad water. Sometimes they just hung out there, sometimes they got diarrhea and stayed home for a couple of days. Now there are three 2,500 gallon tanks with clean rainwater right outside the school door.  Attendance is up, enrollment is up and everyone is very happy.  The people from the community are also coming to the school to get their drinking water. Everyone is getting less diarrhea.  It is hard to express how good this makes me feel.  The photo of the kids at the water tap may help you understand.

Lots of happy kids.  I am the tall guy in the middle of the mob.

We are waiting for the delivery of one more tank this week. Then we will install it, paint the Rotary logo on the tanks and have an official opening ceremony.

I visited a co-operative school/workshop, run by a Rotarian, like nothing I have ever seen before. They train about 20 students at a time in sheet metal work, stove making, car repair, sewing and welding. After they are trained, the graduates get a little workshop where they can have a business plying their trade. It is an incredibly noisy, industrious place.  The students come in with no shoes and leave with a job, a business, a life and a way to buy a house and raise a family.  It is a crazy wonderful place. 

I made what I thought was a social visit to the boys high school where George the Rotary club president is a teacher.  I quickly found myself meeting the principal and making a pitch for forming an Interact club, having email pen pals with kids in LA for the students and a future student exchange. We then went off for lunch and a visit across the border to Tanzania.  I was supposed to talk to a few students about Interact when we go back. The "few" students turned out to be all 600 students. That is a tough audience when you really haven't prepared.  But I went back the next day and met with 25 students and started the process of getting them pen pals.  First they need email addresses, then they must write a paragraph about themselves, then the school has to keep the power on so they can send the emails.  Challenging but fun.

I am taking a few days to visit the Masai Mara game preserve.  This is a northern extension of the Serengeti.  I have seen herds of zebra, giraffes, elands, Cape buffalo and antelope.  And that was in the 3 miles from the lodge to the entry to the park!!!



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