Saturday & Sunday 28th & 29th January 2012

Aunty Rachel’s sister came to braid the older girl’s hair today so I got in on the act and got mine done too with extensions. Took Patricia about two and a half hours to do it. $A5.00 It was the first time the girls had gotten extensions or had their hair braided so they felt pretty special. It was Anna’s 6th birthday today so Wade and I facepainted the kids once again and they did us. Kerry and Patrick had to go pump the water down the lines to the village and there is pipe problems bursting again, so they were gone most of the day. Bakari climbed up and cut bunches of coconuts down most of the morning. How he gets up and down the trees is just like a monkey. Wade wanted to go into town and see the Ukunda nightlife, and didn’t want to go on his own, so asked me. I didn’t mind as long as a 27 year old didn’t mind taking a granny with him!

Long hair again!

The boys here told us which nightclub to go to – 2 actually, and told us which was the best usually. We rang the local picky picky driver to send 2 motorbikes to take us to Ukunda. We tried to book 2 rooms at a cottage Kerry had stayed at on the beach but it was booked out, so we took pot luck at trying to find a place when we got there. We had a special dinner of chicken (killed by Wade) and chips (peeled and cut by me for 25 people) and Kerry had bought back a birthday cake for Anna. No wrapping paper here for her gift, just newspaper. It was really special to see a little girl (who had been given this birthdate as she didn’t have one), enjoy like a child at home. The smile on her face as the cake with candles brought out was priceless. George tried to take over and blow them out like all little kids. “Singing Happy Birthday” in Swahili was pretty amazing too. Has a lot more rhythm that our poor song. George turns 2 while I am still here next month so that will be special too, as he didn’t have a birthdate either. Kerry just chose dates for them. The picky picky arrived at 7 as requested (sunset here), and I instructed him under no circumstances to speed and to go slow. Now, I would be SOOOOO wild if any of my children did this. But this is Africa. No helmuts – 1 hour into town in the dark on a horrible dirt road with a stranger, carrying my backpack and bag. I did get edgy when we got into Ukunda and the Saturday night traffic was horrendous, and trying to miss the potholes while oncoming traffic was scary.

The girls getting their hair braided

I closed my eyes most of the time. Went to a place next to where we tried to book and it had vacancies so cost me A$45 for my room. It did have a fan though. Quickly got dressed and stood out on the road to get a matatu to take us to SHAKATTACK. By this time it was about 9:30pm. It was within walking distance but the security guard was adamant we didn’t walk. Wade’s room was around the back of the cottages, and I was edgy as mine was right near the road, but the security guard assured me he would sit and watch my room all night, as it was near his seat. First time for Wade in a matatu. Talk about laugh. About 31 people crammed into an 11 seater mini van. I had an African’s bum in my face and he profusely apologised, but we were all so squashed. 20 cents for our ride and into Shackattack. We were the only ones there!!! And the staff. Nice place. We ordered ourselves some tuskas, and by about 11pm the nightclub part opened. Cost us A$2.00 to get in. All the while we sat and watched young beautiful African women come in, and also old white men, plus a lot of young European holiday makers out for a good night. All sorts of dress from an African man in a suit with a top hat to scantily dressed gorgeous African women. The music was rap mostly which I DETEST!! Makes me want to smash heads in – always has. Never mind, just ordered more gin and tonic. How nice it was to have a g & t. Well there was a lot of bumping and grinding going on I can tell you.. Wade and I just sat and watched.

Me, Hadija, Kijana and Njoki

We never had a dance, or talked to anyone. Interesting watching the old white men move in on the young African girls and vice versa. Made me smile for all sorts of reasons. By 1am I’d had enough and wanted to go home. My braids were killing me as Patricia had tied my hair up in a pony tail and pulled it so tight I felt like I’d had a face-lift!! Our taxi cost us A$1.00 for the two of us, and sleep was easy. Up early on Sunday to go for a walk on the beach. Simply beautiful. Colobus monkeys were everywhere and the beach boys harassed me as usual. Eventually Wade came wandering down the beach. The hotel had no water, so no shower, and no way to flush the toilet!! This is Kenya. Apparently there had been a fire near Ukunda airstrip and they used all the treated water, instead of pumping the water from the sea which is right next to the airstrip!!, so all the hotels along Diani Beach strip were without water. We walked to Forty Thieves restaurant which is situated right on the beach – really lovely to sit there and eat breaky. Bacon, eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms, sausages, black pudding – which I wasn’t touching, 4 pieces of toast, jam, hot brewed coffee, and mangoes, pineapple, melons. It was heaven, but my stomach couldn’t handle it and I couldn’t eat ½ of it. Not used to eating anything but a boiled egg or fruit for breaky here. A$8.00 – couldn’t beat it. Felt bad I couldn’t eat it. Camels strode past with their masters on the beach as many European elderly people had rides.

Bakari and Ali with their coconuts they collected

2 came in and sat next to us and ordered a tusker beer and scotch and water. This was at 8:30 in the morning. I nearly threw up. Anyway apparently Forty Thieves was the place to hang out the night before as it is a nightclub too. They also have a band there every Saturday and Sunday arvo. Beautiful spot.

Anyway we went back to hotel and realised we didn’t have enough Kenya shillings to pay for our rooms. Neither of us! Only the big hotels take credit cards so we thought we’d borrow of Kerry when she came to collect us. She arrived and she had no money either, so we left Wade there and went to the ATM to get some. Met a Dutch lady while we were waiting for Kerry lives at the cottages who has a school here and lives here 6 months a year at the cottage. So off to Mombasa we went for our big day at Fort Jesus.
Fort Jesus I found interesting. We hired a guide as it was a school trip for the older 6 children and we took their teacher Mr Colonzo. It had been built in 1593 by the Portugese to guard the natural harbour of Mombasa (which was un-named then), and then taken by force by the Arabs some years later. Vasco De Gama had originally found the natural harbour and with the natural spices was a perfect place to do trading from Africa.

Kerry and me outside Fort Jesus

The Portugese took back by force the fort again, and then the Arabs again, finally to be taken over by the British to use as a holding point for slaves, before being shipped and sold to other parts of the world. One part which was very sad was 2 of the rooms where they held 60+ slaves in there – all stone. How terrified they must have been. It was down on sea level and carved out of coral and stone. The whole fort was carved out of stone. The kids took notes without even being asked and were so interested in everything. Our guide was very strict – and Bakari and Hadija at home began mimicking his behaviour. Talk about laugh – they had us in stitches laughing and I was crying with their role play of the guide, and in such good English. We had lunch at a small restaurant in the old town, which is made up of Portugese and Arab buildings. Had ‘fillet’ steak and mushroom sauce. No way it was fillet steak, didn’t even taste like steak. I am thinking it was goat. Anyway I was hungry so I ate it, and it was nice with chips. As usual the kids sat quietly waiting to be fed, not asking for anything. Bakari was so quiet the whole trip. He is usually so loud and animated like his sister Hadija, but once home I asked him why he was so quiet. “I had no courage in Mombasa” he said. I asked him to explain and he said “Footprints” (the children’s home) is only where he feels safe and has courage. Can you imagine? Hadija went on to say she has courage everywhere!

Anna’s 7th Birthday

Typical she would be a star in Australia and such a born leader if ever I saw one. All the children (including Mr. Colonzo) had never seen a fish tank which was in the restaurant. I told Hadija that the fish were for our lunch. Her mouth dropped, and said that she would still be hungry. She laughed her head off when I told her I was tricking. They were tropical fish. Then she sat with a puzzled look wanting to know why there were bubbles in there and how the fish got painted, and how come the paint didn’t come off in the water. (They were tropical fish). She also wanted to know what would happen in the tank when they all grew too big, and why the water wasn’t dirty. Mr. Colonzo was fascinated with it. You just don’t realise what children in Africa aren’t exposed to, and these children are seeing things most African children would never get the opportunity to see. Warms your heart so much.

We didn’t have to wait too long to cross on the ferry, and we sang songs and played games in the car on the way home.

Monday 30th and Tuesday 31st January 2012

Tired today as the trip and the heat took it out of us all.

The ants I swept up from my ant attack during the night

Practiced our play after school for Wednesday at the local village school. Played with the little kids most of the morning. Some local guys dug a HUGE hole today next to the septic tank. At least 20 feet + deep. The septic is full so the hole had to be dug to shovel the ‘waste’ into the hole and cover it up. Not the best job, but has to be done. Had some tourist visitors come from Wales, who bought A$300 worth of groceries and the husband was very tearful and is going to be a sponsor of the home. Absolutely wonderful!! More are coming on Friday. By bringing people here it enables them to see the fantastic work that Kerry is doing. It is not a place of sadness, but a place of togetherness and family along with so much happiness. Wade played footy with the boys during their breaks. Water problems with the pipes still exist and no doubt will be ongoing.

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Umoja Orphanage Kenya is a Project of the Sunrise Rotary Club Bundaberg 
RAWCS Project Number 51/2011-12
Umoja's founder Cathy is a member of Fitzroy Rotary Club District 9570

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