From Kaimosi, We Head North

Thursday, October 4.

Phillip, an FTC staffer drove us away from the Friends Theological College in Kaimosi. In a subsequent post, I’ll share about our time there. On the road north, we passed Lugulu, where Debbie, Paul and I had spent time in 2009, along with others from George Fox. We passed through Kakemega and eventually, on the main road to Uganda, past the derelict paper pulp plant at Webuye. We entered into an area that had quite a bit of sugar cane. We kept climbing, getting closer to Mount Elgon. Finally, about 10:30 in the morning we arrived at Kaptama Secondary School. There were several school buses in the yard, the big highway buses common here. We were greeted by Jacob, the principal.  This Friends school was the host of the workshop that Eloise and Linda and Andrea were leading. After transferring our luggage into John’s truck, we entered the computer lab which was the site of the workshop.  The women were setting up, they had a projector on, showing slides that they had prepared for the event.

John Muhanji, the director for African Ministries for Friends United Meeting (FUM), our friend and host, gave the introduction.  As usual, John gave a passionate speech, speaking of how important it was that the Friends schools in the Mount Elgon region were joining together in this event.  John is a wonderful speaker and I usually get encouraged or inspired when he speaks, this was no exception.  I listened for his strategy in uniting educators as a means of uniting the church.  He has been consistent in this since the first time I met him. He conveys respect and hope along with a challenge. Zadock Malesi was introduced in his first official event as the new FUM educator secretary.

I participated in a small group while Eloise Hockett, Linda Samek and Andrea Nelson led the workshop.  Tom Samek served as the photographer. During tea time, I spoke with several of the school principals while enjoying African tea and Mandezi, a Kenyan donut. After tea, John, Tom and I left.  He wanted to show us his maize farm and also needed to get us to a hotel in Kitale since the whole group would not fit in the truck on one trip.

We began our visit at the Kaptama clinic.  John shared how isolated this region has been from the rest of the Quakers in Kenya and how much ethnic violence has been in play since the 2007 election.  The clinic was busy, with many people on the grounds.  Several small buildings housed treatment rooms, administrative offices, the lab, a pharmacy and the patient ward.  We toured a maternity ward and an operating theater.  The theater had never been used for surgery and was now storing medicines.  There was a morgue on the grounds, as well as an unfinished building.  John has a vision to make this clinic a major focus of ministry.  He views it as a great community asset which must be invested in.  He contrasted the work here with that of Kaimosi hospital and offered that this clinic was very busy, vital to the region and vastly under-resourced.  I practically wept as I walked around.  Our tour guide was the laboratory technicia, a joy-filled young man who I had great admiration for. We visited the patient wards and that is when I began praying.  A very sick man with malaria was there, now calmed and receiving an IV.  Several other patients were receiving care.  “They come in bad shape and leave walking”‘ John told us.

From Kaptama, we drove to John’s SEEDS farm.  We heard the story of how the idea came into being and of how Iowan farmers made investments and how Eloise and also Ginny and Carl Birky contributed to the formation of the project with their ideas at a planning meeting.  We also learned a little about the history of this rich farming area near Kitale and how British colonial farmers had pioneered the large farms in the region.  After independence, few of the British stayed on, they either sold out or were compensated by the Kenyan government and left their farms. The SEEDS project is a seed corn operation, and a large one at 100 acres.  The project is managed by a board and is under contract with the Kenyan Seed Company to grow seed maize (corn).  Harvest will begin in a few days and the crop looks great.  John shared with us about how the profits will be used to repay investors and to fund Zadock’s position and other school support projects.  John hopes to make this a demonstration that will be picked up by other Friends groups to support various ministries in Kenya and East Africa. Tom had farmed corn before and I believe he was impressed as I was with the quality of this crop.

We left the farm and drove to Kitale where John put us up in the Mid Africa Hotel, which I describe briefly in my previous post.  We met the others for dinner, having had a full day.  We are blessed to be in this region amongst Friends who are working hard to advance the kingdom by bringing literacy, equality and justice and health to very poor people.

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