This is going to be my last post. I'm flying out of Nairobi on Monday. Wow, a lot has happened in 6 weeks - Bliss has been transformed and I feel like I have too, and Esther is facing a totally different kind of future running Bliss.
Here's a list of the things we achieved (and by we I mean me, Esther and all of you wonderful people who donated and supported me):
Set up of a chicken project including building of a hutch and purchase of chickens and feed for bringing in income from selling eggs.
Building and planting a garden with silverbeet and sukumawiki (similar stuff) for the children and the chickens.
Set up of a sewing project for school uniforms to be made, also bringing in income.
Sewing of uniforms for all the children at Bliss (they won't be completed before I leave, but here's a photo of a few of them).
Purchase of $300 worth of school supplies like books, pencils, clocks.
A swing set and slide for the playground plus some other balls and inside toys.
Purchase of about 3 months worth of food for the school.
Hired and paid 6 months of wages for someone to manage the sustainability projects (chickens and sewing) and raise funds. Plus purchase of a computer for this person and Esther to work on.
About $500 worth of misc expenses like wages and rent which really took the pressure off Esther for a while, a few treats for the children, and a small thank you bonus for the very committed teachers who work for practically nothing.
And six months worth of lectures on business and health advice for Bliss Women. This deserves a special mention. Today I attended the first health lecture and it was amazing. The guy we have doing it is incredibly well educated and experienced, and works at the National level on health issues. The talk he gave today was an overview of all the topics he intends to talk about in the coming weeks: Cholera, TB, HIV, Typhoid, Child birth, Women's health. It turns out those African men are just as useless as I had been told before I got here. He came from such a great perspective, affirming the women and agreeing with them that their men typically came home at night with nothing to show for the day, and that the clothes on their backs, the food on their plates and the blankets they sleep under are all provided by their women's hard work while they usually don't even know where their children go to school and the women have to ask their permission to go to the hospital if they need to! I also learnt that there is only one Doctor in the whole of the Rift Valley (just Nakuru alone is a city of 4 million!), that the water supply in Kaptembwo sometimes has raw sewage in it, and that the women know that if they go outside at night, there is a high likelihood they will be raped - by their own neighbours. Apparently husbands (if they have them) sometimes stand at the door while a woman goes to the shared toilet in the compound to make sure they don't get attacked - maybe they are good for something after all! Anyway, these women were so empowered with the little knowledge they received on each subject, and with being understood by a man and recognised for their hard work. With so many uneducated, a little health and hygiene knowledge gives these women the power to protect their own families and themselves.
As an incredibly special send-off, at the last micro-finance meeting I was surprised by the 'Bliss Choir' which I didn't even know existed! It is a group of ladies who want to be part of Bliss but can't afford to be involved in the micro-finance project, so they get together and sing. They sang and danced and sang and danced and got me singing and dancing, and it was all in appreciation! They were singing that I belonged to them and was one of them. In part of it they wrapped two khangas (like sarongs) around me in the traditional style, one around my waist and one around my head and shoulders. It was so touching and humbling and of course I had to fight back the tears. I have tried to attach a video, don't know if it will work.
So on behalf of Bliss, thank you to all who contributed to this amazing effort. I will be staying in touch with them and supporting where I can, and I hope to generate some ongoing support for them from back home. I will be having a little 'show-and-tell' get together for anyone that is interested and may want to support in some way. Please let me know if you want to come. Otherwise, I can't wait to get back and show everyone the photos - back on 7th Sept!