Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Celebrating my birthday with Nuru Farmers in Kuria Kenya.

Wow! March 30th, 2011 will have to go down in history as the most incredible birthday I've had in my life. I wasn't sure what it would be like to be far away from my family and most of my friends, and while my experiences here were no substitue for being back home, the experience was absolutely amazing! (brace yourself, this will be a longer post)

After going through my usual routine in the early morning hours, I set off to walk through the farms with Nuru's Kenyan healthcare team. Each member of that team has an amazing story of overcoming adversity and hardship that most of us will never experience. And we set off to wlk through the area to visit people's homes. Each month, Nuru healthcare workers make their way from house to house to talk about a critical healthcare issue. This month and next month the focus is on educating people about malaria, what the symptoms are, what causes it, how it can be prevented, and where to go if they or a member of their household is demonstrating symptoms. At each home the healthcare worker also reinforced topics from previous months like water purification, hand washing, and nutrition. The healthcare worker also offered tools for sale such as water guard (a water purifier), soap, and bed nets.

As we visited each house I was thoroughly impressed by the gratitude shown to these healthcare workers for training and educating each household. Most families did not have money for purchasing products, but asked the healthcare worker to come back soon when they would have money. In the west we would probably Not be received well going door to door, but here, it is different-these healthcare workers are offering life-saving tools and training that are fri endly and convenient.

I've been learning as much of the local language here KiKuria as I can, and employing it I n conversations. The healthcare program leaders here Nelly, Puce, and Isiri, has been pretty impressed with the speed at which this mazungu has picked up their language. The members of our team from the states told the team that I did not have a Kurian name. And so, On my birthday, I became Billy Wandwii (Lion), which I've got to admit is a pretty rockin name!

As noon approached it was time for me to leave the healthcare team to grab lunch with the economic development team. I met three individuals, Andrew, Peter, and Moses. One thing that impressed me about all of the staff here is a passionate desire to serve, along with a zeal for being the best they can possibly be. These men and women leaders are humble, and they care about their community deeply. Andrew pulled me aside after he learned it was my birthday. He sai d that it was a very big deal that I would choose to work and serve on my birthday, and. It meant a lot to him and the people here. When I think about what problems Andrew and his team face every day and the stories and successes that need to be heard and shared with others, I told him it would be incredibly difficult to NOT work and serve.

And believe it or not, my day kept getting better. After lunch, we traveled to Ngochoni (which was about 45 minutes away by car. We came for a meeting of the Nuru farmers in the area to talk about creating savings clubs. One hundred sixty five people showed up. They showed up for their. 2pm meeting on time (even though many had to walk up to an hour to get there). Moses led the meeting (which was conducted in Kiswahili and KiKuria) he made a brief introduction of me and the other western Nuru staff (and he introduced me as Billy Wandwii) and then proceeded with a meeting that took an hour and twenty minutes. The end result was that every farmer who showed up wanted to learn how to save their money better and take another step toward lifting themselves out of extreme poverty. I had to figh back the tears as I got up off the ground for a second to take a picture--what a significant milestone!

Driving home, we encountered flash floods and we were delayed slightly while we waited for the waters to subside (that might be a separate post at some point-it was pretty crazy to see that much water coming down the road). Also, while we were traveling we received updates via text from Andrew and Peter. They had traveled to two other new areas to conduct a similar meeting and in total FOUR HUNDRED SIXTY SIX people committed to meet monthly and start savings clubs!!!

After an event filled day, I made my way back to the staff house for one more huge surprise. The team here made an incredible birthday dinner and even had a birthday cake and ice cream. By the way there is no refrigeration at the staff house, so they had to bring the ice cream from the market to make this happen, and the market is not incredibly close. I am blown away by the love that was shown to me by friends old and new in Kenya, and I'm incredibly grateful that I cow ld spend my birthday and hopefully the rest of my life serving in this mission with such wonderful people.

I have been thoroughly blown away by all that I have seen and experienced among these beautiful people and in this wonderful place. I thought I was committed to this cause and to these people before I left, but I'm not sure I even fully fathomed what commitment could even look like. I hope you will join with me when I return to the states to make an even greater impact as we work together, to end extreme poverty, one community at a time.

What an incredible way to celebrate a birthday and any day for that matter!!!


Anonymous said...

Wandwii, I'm so glad you could celebrate with us and get a chance to see such change and impact on your special day. I hope it was a prophetic start to your next year and that Stateside you will be the catalyst for great change and impact for the Nuru family. I can't agree more with you about the commitment too. As I said before, Nuru has reached a deeper part of me that I'm not sure I even understand yet, but I know my passion to serve this vision finds it's wellspring there. It's been great to get to know another member of the Nuru Family! God speed and guidance for your next year changing lives!

Charlie said...

Billy incredible story,It's good to see you had a great Birthday and you're enjoying time with your friends. God Bless looking forward to see you soon. Love Dad