29th February – 3rd March 2012

Wesley my son’s birthday today, and I’m not there… Can’t believe he is 32!! Today Lesley and I just tried to sort out the stuff we’d bought along the way to try and make sense of what we’d actually bought and where it all was!! Tried to catch up on emails, etc., then had lunch which was grilled fish with a heavy garlic flavoured sauce. After a couple of tuskers we lay down for a nanna nap and we were awakened to go to the lawyers as the landowners wanted to sign that afternoon and had 2 more lots of people wanting to buy the land. Thank goodness we’d done the handshake the week before, that must hold some credence here, as no deposit or anything had been paid. We were both very hesitant to go as we literally reeked of garlic. Downed some mints, and threw on some clothes as we’d both been asleep.

Arrived in the 40 degree heat at the lawyer’s office where the owners, the old man, his 2 sons and his daughter were present. Picture this – a room 3 metres by 3 metres, 1 huge desk, 1 lawyer, no windows, 7 chairs and 7 people in there on a day of 40 degree heat. There we stayed for approximately 2 hours while interpretation of the process were explained in great detail in Swahili to the landowners. Only 1 speaking English and the others illiterate, it was a lengthy process, as they obviously thought the money would be forthwith immediately and the lawyer had to go to great lengths to explain the legal process!! I thought I would melt. We agreed to come back the next day so the lawyer could do up the contract overnight. Of course they had no money to get back to their home, so I had to fork out money to pay for them to get a taxi home. $4 didn’t kill me. Next day we fronted back up only this time it was a marathon sitting – nearly 4 hours – same situation. One landowner could sign while the rest used their thumbprints. Would be interested to know how that would stand up in a court of law and what process they would check it with here in Kenya! The sweat was dripping down my legs like you wouldn’t believe, were we glad to get out of there and we took the photos after the contract signing and Lesley and I were so happy and it felt so right. No nerves whatsoever, but did think as we looked at each other “How the hell are we going to raise enough money to pay for this land?” We began writing begging letters and just hoped the universe would look after us as we were helping the universe’s children. If worse came to worse I’d get a loan myself, as this project is going to happen no matter what!
We did celebrate by having a few drinkies that night in our room, trying to process that we had now moved up another level for Umoja and it felt good and it felt right.

Back again next day to pay the $500US deposit for the land and to also to do all the paperwork for the NGO. Another marathon sitting of 3 hours, but needed to get everything done as the lawyer wanted to take everything to Nairobi on Tuesday. Nothing happens fast in lawyer’s office’s here. It is a long drawn out process, where forms are printed out in front of you, and the door closed in 40 degree heat, with no windows sitting on plastic chairs. But hey this is Kenya. Got a call from the lawyer next day just when we thought we could have a day off, but alas more paperwork had to be signed. The lawyer has to go to Nairobi with the papers to be presented, not like here where you post them.

After the lawyers we caught a matatu to go home. An almighty argument broke out between matatu drivers as one thought he’d seen us first and we got into another matatu. They began cursing each other profoundly in Swahili as one tried to get us out and into his matatu. All for the sake of a 30 KS fare (3 cents in Australia), but life is so tough here, every cent counts. The heat was horrendous, together with the unbelievable humidity and I can say it was the hottest day I’ve felt here.

They locals kept saying March was the hottest month with the building up of the rains in April and they weren’t wrong. Went home for our nanna nap and ended up not going anywhere for dinner as we were just too full from lunch and just swam in the pool and went to bed. A couple of days before a young well dressed lad about 20 asked us did we want a picky picky ride when we were standing waiting for the matatu to go to lawyers. We told him no it was OK. While we were walking to purchase water after lunch he yelled out my name as he was passing on his motorbike. He stopped and asked how we were and ever dressed so smart. After a bit of conversation he asked did we go to church and we said “NO” but he asked would we like to go to his church on Sunday and see some gospel singing and dancing from his choir as they had just made a CD and the congregation would be honoured if we came. It had been on our list to do, to listen to gospel music at a church ever since we met Father Jim the Irishman at the Kikambala Feeding Station, weeks before and he told us how fantastic it was and showed us on his phone what he had videoed. So us, being us, agreed and he agreed to come and pick us up on his picky picky at 10:00am the next morning. He also said it was being videoed to go with the music. Silly us assumed it was going to be videoed the next day. When Kenyans say something is going to be done, they don’t mean straight away. If in the one sentence I said “Would you like to come to church tomorrow as we are making a video of our gospel music” in Australia we would automatically assume, it was going to be that day. That is the cultural difference and it happens so frequently -misunderstandings.

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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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