Sunday morning July 4 began with the packing of the parts and pieces for the long flight to
As usual I started the day with a farm tour. Ronald has broken out perhaps 600 new acres of ground over the past 3 weeks and it is good ground, principally level and easy to prepare for planting, however the massive seed bed in the topsoil makes the first few crops an uphill battle in obtaining good crops. One must however begin! The hundreds of ladies working in the fields waived and smiled as usual. I was beginning to feel really bad. The four guys and Chris left for Siaya to meet around 50 pastors and community leaders to explain the Community farm model to them. By noon I went in to do my presentation, but I was pale as a ghost and just worn out. After my talk I left for Siaya town center to purchase 20 bottles of soda then drive home.
The land clearing has finally taken off as we broke through a tree barrier which has persisted for 2 years. The workers were excited so we all celebrated with a soda. It is a real treat for people of
Friday morning I arose feeling much better but still not 100%. The rest left for Kisumu; they would have to do this presentation on their own again. I got a call around noon and they had probably 120 people, all very enthused over our programs for both the rice and the fish. I spent most the morning with Ronald driving around the farm looking at many of the smaller details. We are actually doing pretty well in some areas but others need much attention. It rained two days ago almost 2 inches and that has severely slowed the harvest but by noon the sun was shining and the machines were going back to work. Our ever faithful ladies working the fields always trudge on rain or shine making sure our fields are weed free so they have money to fill their own stomachs.
Saturday I was feeling much better so all of us left for Kisumu and a good day of planning and encouragement for those interested in helping with the Community Farm Program. Many youth leaders and youth pastors came and began to understand how they can have a dramatic influence on their generation. We are on the way to building a powerful force of active involved leaders.
On Sunday I stayed back at the farm while others went to speak at several churches in the area. When I show up they all want me to speak and after talking 4 hours on Saturday my voice and cold were just not up to it.
The days just fly by over here, with meeting after meeting and so many problems to work through from mechanical breakdowns, to marketing stratgety, and personal reductions. The days begin early and end late each night. By Wednesday it was time for some of the team to start their way back to the
Thusday was a full day, starting at 7:00 am and having meeting after meeting with banks, power companies, the tourism department, package manufacturers, engine rebuilders, andchemical sales people, along with two interviews for possible positions. Soon we will be establishing a small hotel on the property to accommodate our many guests, and hopefully a radio station to spread our message linked in with a chain of Christian Radio stations in the
Finally the meetings were over and I was back at the airport, ticket in hand for the last flight back to Kisumu, then the long drive to the farm. The boarding call was made and I was in line to board when suddenly my phone rang. A sobbing voice cried out, Calvin, this is Anne and I need your help. Please, my sister-in-law is 9 months pregnant and the baby is in trouble. She went to the public hospital but they could not help, then a private hospital but they demand a 10,000 schillings ($125.00) payment up front to do anything. My family has nothing and you are the only one I know to can turn to. “Anne, call me in 5 minutes,” I shouted to her as I bolted from the plane back through security while dialing my driver to get back to the building entrance. He sent one of his girls running to the security entrance where the money was given. I ran, and made it through the door as the last person, and got my airplane seat. My driver made an immediate transfer via his cell phone to the hospital as the plane left the ground.
It rained as I stepped off the plane in Kisumu and ran for the truck and a long drive home. Potholes reined supreme in the black of night, ready to swallow you up while weaving between the wet black bodies dressed in wet dark clothes on unlit bicycles. Then the phone message came. “My sister-in-law is in surgery but it is too late, the baby is dead”; all for the lack of a hospital that cared and for so little money to save an innocent baby. My vision was blurred by both the pounding rain and tears. Somehow missing the potholes was just not as important anymore.
Anne is a Kenyan lady who lives in
Today, Friday is fast coming to an end. It has been busy, working in the fields and in the shop with the mechanics for several hours. Our workers are coming along well but lack so much knowledge we in the west just take for granted. We have not done very well at teaching so many basic things to them, but this is changing. I explained how the radiator systems worked, and how compressors operated, how to keep records. They were so eager to learn and I have promised to do this more often. I had a group of community leaders come to see me and we discussed many issues. I explained how they can make fertilizer and grow better crops, and they listened intently. We will meet again but next time I requested it be in their huts instead of my office. They were stunned that I would come to see them, but it will be done. Time to get back to the house and eat dinner; then another call came in. “Stay away from the town at the bridge on the side of the farm. The police have a robber and killer on the run and expect a gun battle, so lock the gates and stay alert.” Quickly I drove to the workers all over the farm and warned them to stay put and be alert. So here we sit hunkered down again. Goodnight.
On Saturday it was to catch up day getting ready for the trip to
Sunday morning at 10:30 Chris and I left for
Sunday night it was time to get the program underway; we ventured out into unknown territory, and started walking the streets. Quickly we had 2 ladies, Winnie (29) and Gertrude (28), approach us;They tried to get Chris to set up the white guy (me) for them, but that was not to be. Soon we were talking but NOT condeming, and offering them a way out of the problem. They hate their profession but each have two small mouths at home to feed, so they do what they must. We bought them dinner making us subject to controversy among the people around us, but then Jesus himself was seen with the Woman at the Well so we figured we were right on track in reaching out to them. They desperately want to quit the sex trade and within a couple weeks that will now be possible. After they figured out we were serious, not condeming and trustworthy, they opened up with details of their lives and daily struggles. Both were single mothers, abused, and hungry. Both had their bibles with them and Winnie had gone to church that morning and her Bishop knew what she was doing but could not help her get out of her situation. Their next concern was that we would forget them, and asked if we would come to meet their parents.
Next we found ourselves in the midst of some bad ladies, on drugs or drunk and we just could not figure out how to reach a space cadet so they were passed by.
As we started heading back to the hotel we saw a lady standing in the bushes almost out of sight. She was well dressed but still a lady of the night. We talked and she told of praying to God every day to get her out of the mess. Her defenses were high and mistrust of men was obvious. Of course she wanted money which we would not give, but she was really intrigued by what we offered for her. Her Bible was in her purse. There was something special about her which we both felt. We asked for her phone number and said we would call the next day. By Monday night we were having dinner with her and trying to get through to a very broken and ashamed spirit, full of mistrust, and baffled by why I would come down to her level to help. Sandra is 30 years old, single, a mother of 2, with the latest being only 20 months old. Her older son lives with a grandparent. She worked in the
On the walk home two more approached, Jessica (22) and Irene (22). These listened intensely and immediately said they would join the program and leave the streets as quickly as possible. The have no husbands but have 2 children to feed. We got phone numbers and will call as soon as we are ready. It again was midnight and time to get some rest.
Tuesday morning we both had sore muscles from walking the streets, but in our hearts knew we were on the way to making big changes in desperate lives. I called Sandra at 8:00 AM and she answered with a bright, “Hi Calvin” so we were making progress. The day was filled with business meetings but at 2:00 PM she met us at a gas station and we drove to her home. Down a steep washed out ally we went with all the stares of the locals trying to figure out who this white guy was. We parked under a tree and then walked around the back to a small shack about 8 feet wide by 16 feet long. No bathroom, no water, and full of poverty. Sandra knelt at our feet as she talked, a Ugandan tradition in some tribes, but we asked for her to sit. Her feet were beaten from so many years of walking with no shoes. We left rice and introduced her to Dereck, her new boss. She and the neighbors could not believe that we had come, but friendship and trust was being built. As we left she promised to work hard, but I believe she was still in a daze; a smile was beginning to be seen in her nervous but now uplifted face. Next week she will begin. Many more will follow.
The trip back to the farm was slow and at the border the truckers staged a protest so everything just sat for an hour. After 6 hours of bad roads, dust and dirt we made it home. I had several visitors from the
Wednesday just seemed to vanish with things to do at the farm, going over contracts, working on designs, studying financial statements, and the many day to day affairs. Elton from
On Thursday it was time to wrap things up at the farm for this trip. There is never enough time to get everything finished the way I want but that is just the way it is. Problems always need to wait for another time but slowly we are making progress. The fish farm construction is finally doing well since
Friday morning began at 4:45 am with a drive to the
Kibera is perhaps the largest slum in the world with around 750,000 people living in a few square miles of tin shacks with no running water, little electricity, and few toilet facilities. Joy lives on the edge of this slum, so getting there was interesting. It was a traditional meal of fish, skuma wicki, and oguli. We met, and then quickly ate, needing to dash off to the airport for the start of the long trip home. By 10:30 I was on the first plane and tired.
Friday was a very special day for Sandra. Dereck and his wife picked her up and took her to the super markets where she will be working for orientation. Next they took her to clothing stores and purchased her new clothes and shoes and then to the hairdresser. Finally they went looking for apartments to rent and she will leave the slum soon. She is coming out of her shell and for her, the Cinderella story is coming true. Over a period of a week she will change from selling her body for food, to making a life for her children. How many more cinderellas are there out there that just need a break. We will find out.
Right now I am half-way across the Atlantic, headed for
Please pray for Dominion.