100 Humanitarians Turned 3 years old in July, after making it through the “Terrible Twos!” Not really, we had an amazing year with three full expeditions and a great deal of love and accomplishments. Some highlights:
Building 3 Water Storage Systems (3000 liter tanks) in three areas of Kenya that have provided rainwater for families in the areas
Donated 5 Water Filters from The Waterbearers organization to provide clean water to families
Built 20 garden boxes and 8 garden towers for families in Bomet and Nkareta, Kenya
Distributed 1000+ Days for Girls Kits sewn by women in the Zariel and Bomet sewing centers
Supported 25 students in school from Kindergarten to Senior year with three graduates and one happening at the end of the year
Donated 3 goats, 5 chickens, and a cow to families in Bomet and Ntulele
Supported our first post-high school student to go to Teacher’s College
Planted 3500 trees
Built the Tabby Training Center in Bomet to serve the community with mentoring classes in economic development
So much more than that happened, but how do you explain all of the emotions and feelings and experiences that happen on these expeditions? You don’t, so we invite you to come with us! Our expeditions are being built out for 2019. There are four opportunities to travel with 100 Humanitarians to Kenya, but these trips are filling up quickly!
February 2019 with Scott and Becky Mackintosh – 2 spots available June 2019 with Heidi Totten – Currently accepting deposits October 2019 with Renae Southworth – Creating the Wait List November 2019 with Heidi Totten – Creating the Wait List
If Kenya is calling, now is the time to let us know what your plans are to join us!
The jeeps rumbled up the mountain, winding on bumpy dirt roads. Out the windows were fields of green interrupted by rectangular dung huts baked hard in the African sun, several of them with brightly colored cloth drying on a fence.
Everything was so new to us. Life is slower there, taken at the same pace as the plants growing in the fields. As always in Suswa, every time we passed someone, they would smile and wave.
It was the Mau. We were on our way to church.
The church stands atop a green hill, surrounded by farms. The building itself is made of wood and corrugated metal. As we entered, we were met by hugs leaning to the left, then to the right, and greetings of “Supa oleng.” We were invited to sit in pastel plastic chairs, and services began in song. Immediately we are invited to take part in dancing with the congregation. Music is a universal language and soon we are a part of a writhing mass of worshipers. We learn the steps quickly and wind around the church.
When the song was over, we sat in our chairs again, a part of something new and different, but ancient. We were introduced one by one and sang for the congregation.
After services, Pastor Ben invited us to walk to the home of a woman with three children. “She has been ill,” he tells us. “She wasn’t at church today.”
We met Emily and her three children outside her dung hut, surrounded by fields of corn. The roof of her home was a sheet of clear plastic held in place by stones and logs. Her children’s faces were surrounded by flies. The children without shoes. Emily with a slight limp.
The depth of what we are trying to do struck us. After the upbeat, faith filled church service, this was a crash back to reality. I think the whole team had the same question, “What are we going to do for this family? How can we teach self-reliance in the face of such poverty?”
We asked Emily if we could enter her home. Three of us stepped into the shadows and had to turn on the flashlights of our phones to see. Smoke hung in the air from the cooking fire in the tiny kitchen. It nearly choked us. Everything was a deep black color from the soot. There was no ventilation.
Heidi turned to me, “Living like this is as bad as smoking.”
Through interpretation from Pastor Ben and Moses, we learned that Emily has access to water. She has experience growing corn, and can use that experience to grow other vegetables. Our decision was that a garden box would be a good start for her.
The weight of this work seems too much to bear sometimes. Self-reliance and success seems so far away for some of the families. So much needs to be done and all we can do is a small part. Our efforts are a drop in the bucket of the need we see as we travel up and down the rough roads of Kenya.
The walk back to the jeeps was far quieter than it had been on the way to Emily’s. All of us lost in the vastness of need.
In my two trips to Kenya, I have learned much about the power of “the start.” I’ve learned to have faith in the waiting and watching of these families. Emily will get a garden box. And like the planting of a seed, through the garden box, we will watch her begin to grow what she can.
After finishing up the garden at Joyce’s house she invited us to learn how to make chapati, something sort of like naan bread. This was just one of the experiences of cultural immersion on the November Trip.
She pulled a table out into her yard and gathered all the ingredients flour, water, salt and oil. Then, started a fire in a small stove to heat a pan.
She showed us how to make the dough, stirring it with her hands. Muneria came to help as well.
Like mothers all over the world, she reminded her child to wash his hands before preparing food, which he did in a large blue bowl sitting next to the table. A special plate served as a platform to roll the chapati into perfect circles. He worked quickly, handing the rolled out flat bread to his mother who cooked them. She turned them with her bare hands, using no instrument to protect them from the heat.
Muneria then offered us a chance to roll out the chapati. We took turns, none of ours turning out as round as his. We laughed, feeling the warmth of home with this family who lives a different culture half a world away.
Sarah’s turn came up. She rolled the dough one way getting it stuck to the plate and stretching the dough as she freed it. She used more flour and rolled it some more. “That’s too big.” Joyce laughed, handing her more dough. “Try again.”
She started again, this time paying careful attention to the size, but not the shape. When she finished, it looked like a map of the United States. She handed it to Joyce with a shrug. Joyce shook her head and it was put onto the pan with a little oil to cook.
When David was finished with the water storage system, he came around the house to join us. We invited him to take his turn rolling chapati.
“Fine.” He said. “But mine is going to be round. Not corner, corner, corner, like Sarah’s.” This was met with kind hearted laughter from our group. Joyce pointed to the bowl of wash water. He obeyed.
Then, while rolling out the dough, David told us about how there are times in their culture when men and women separate and make their own food. He showed us how to roll it out to make it round. “See? Like this. You roll, and then turn it.” He pat the dough down. “Roll. And then turn again.”
He handed the dough to Joyce who watched us all with love, curiosity, and a little disbelief at how nutty this group of Americans is.
We dined together on our unifying chapati, rice, and carrots. It was the end of a full day of work, service, mentoring, and unconditional love.
When I say we experience cultural immersion, these are the types of things I am talking about. We get to be in the homes of the families. We learn from them and love them. We put our hands in their soil, climb onto their roof to put up rain gutters, collect water in rivers, dine with them, and hear their stories from their own lips.
By the time we leave, we have a new name, an expanded family, people who pray for us, and a home to come to when we return.
If you would like to join us for an expedition, learn more here.
Joyce is the mother of one of our Kenya team members, Muneria. During our November expedition we were able to visit her, see how her garden was growing, and build a water containment system. The area had quite a drought in our absence, but she had still made the best of it. Healthy green plants had pushed their way through the soil and were a source of food for her family.
While there, we were able to pull up weeds and replant the parts of the garden boxes that had suffered during the dry spell. While building the water containment system, children from the surrounding area helped us collect rocks for the cement base, their faces shining as they find that they can assist these crazy Americans.
At one point during the building project, we needed water for the cement. The call went out, “Who is willing to walk to the river to collect water?”
Several of us wanted to experience what those we are serving live like on a daily basis. A group of us went. We walked down a hill to a small river of brown, dingy water.
The young boys who showed us the way to the river waded in without their shoes to fill the large water containers we brought with us. Upstream there was a man bathing in the same water. It was humbling to see their only water source. After filling the containers, we carried the sloshing jugs of water up the hill, stopping every once in a while to catch our breath.
The cement was made, the water containment system put into place, and the rains came. The water system is now nearly filled, it is watering the seeds we planted, and they are growing.
This is what we do when we go to Kenya, we plant seeds in the ground, and in the hearts and minds of the people. Then we stand back and we watch both people and plants grow.
This isn’t the end of our time at Joyce’s house. There is more to tell, but on a Friday night shortly before Christmas, I am listening to my child taking a shower and reminded how blessed I am to live here, and how undeniably blessed I am to know the people of Kenya. Travel always opens your eyes, but traveling and spending time with the Maasai people has been one of the greatest blessings of my life. I am so grateful for all they have taught me, and so grateful to everyone who has donated to make these missions possible.
On my first trip to Kenya, we delivered a cow to a family in the Suswa area. One of our team members, Kaci, went above and beyond with her fundraising for lady named Elizabeth. We brought the cow to the local pastor’s house. We call him “Pastor Ben.” He helped us find Elizabeth though our boots-on-the-ground guys, Moses and David. Pastor Ben lives in the same area as Elizabeth, so we thought we’d bring the cow to his house and walk it to Elizabeth’s place.
Elizabeth lives roughly a mile away from Pastor Ben. To the best of my recollection, there was maybe one other house between the pastor and her house. The path we took led us down bumpy dirt roads, recently harvested fields, and ditches. It couldn’t have been a nicer day. Perfect temperature, perfect cloud coverage (very little–blue skies, white puffy clouds dotting the sky) … but that all paled in comparison to the experience itself.
As we walked the cow to Elizabeth’s place, we talked, we laughed, we stumbled, we laughed again, and we had a blast. Here we were, a modge-podge group of crazy Americans and one guy from India, and merrily walked down this dusty dirt path. I’d guess we were maybe the equivalent of roughly 2 blocks from her house when we started hearing something not us. We all kind of stopped in our tracks, wondering what the sound was.
In the distance, we could see a group of people walking toward us. I can’t speak for the rest of the group, but I found myself stepping up my pace to find out who these people were. As we got closer, David and Moses told us that the group coming toward us were the villagers and friends of Elizabeth. See, over there, in Kenya, when there’s cause for a family to celebrate, the whole village celebrates. As we got closer and closer, the noise became much more distinct–so much so that David and Moses identified the song that they were singing FOR US. It was a song of gratitude, prayer, and praise to God for bringing Elizabeth this cow.
The whole point of this cow is to help empower Elizabeth to become more financially independent. No, she’s not going to build herself a mansion on the funds this cow brings in, but she can do a lot of things with this cow: use and/or sell milk, churn butter and possibly sell some, have calves that she can, in turn, sell or use for meat … this cow becomes a source of empowerment for her and her family. It will help put her children through school and possibly on to college!
I don’t care how big or burly you are. I don’t care what your testosterone level is. If that kind of scene does not move you to tears, you have no soul. As one of the photographers, I found it nearly impossible to capture a good shot because my eyes were so blurred from tears cascading down my cheeks and soaking the dry, dusty road. My voice caught in my throat, a lump the size of lower Manhatten prevented me from breathing properly for a good few minutes as I drank in the entire scene.
It was in that moment that I realized that we weren’t really the ones changing lives; it was Kenya changing us–molding us to be better people, to show us a better way of living through giving thanks for all that we have had, currently have, and will ever have. It was so inspiring to walk with these people to their village, deliver the cow to Elizabeth, and drink chai tea with them.
Come with us. Your experiences will vary, but the emotions are the same.
On our first expedition to Kenya, 100 Humanitarians held a Days for Girls workshop at Eselenkai Girls Primary Boarding School in Kenya. The girls in attendance were girls who had run from Female Genital Mutilation and early marriage, and were mostly in Class 7 and 8, which is 7th and 8th grades in the U.S. We had become aware of the issue of feminine hygiene for girls, and contacted the school to talk to them about the Days for Girls Enterprise and program that we were helping to create in Kenya. At the time, we were supporting one Days for Girls Enterprise, run by Christine Sakali, a woman that we helped fundraise for the previous year to attend the Days for Girls University in Uganda.
After our training with Christine, we met with the girls in a large central hall. Part of the training included not just how to use the reusable feminine hygiene kit, but also hand washing and sanitation. Since then, our workshops have included things like self-defense and how to understand the female cycle. This was a very humbling experience for our team, because until we arrived at the school our expedition had mostly been the fun stuff like The Giraffe Centre and Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi. Realizing what these girls were facing, and how they were so brave to run towards a better life, we couldn’t help but experience a huge range of emotions.
As we distributed the kits, we had some time to spend with the girls, getting to know them and their stories. Many members of our team had the same names as the girls in the school. The girls, though in a very challenging situation, were all smiles and hugs and LOVED having their pictures taken with us. Each of us had a small group of girls swarming us, asking questions and playing with our hair. There aren’t the same physical boundaries in Kenya as there are in the U.S. and affection and love is everywhere. Even though we were the ones that showed up to serve them, all of us came away feeling like we were the ones who were served and taught by the girls.
Since then, we have made every effort to host a Days for Girls workshop on every expedition. We fundraise in the U.S. for kits, and then have Christine and her team sew the kits in Kenya. Her enterprise is able to then support many families with basic needs and school fees for their children. If you would like to donate to our Days for Girls program, click here.