The 2018 mission to Kenya was a huge success. This recap will attempt to share our joy and awe of the 2018 mission to Marera, Kenya. Our team consisted of 22 Americans which included two social workers, two dentists, a three man construction crew, 4 student nurses, and 11 RN's from Baylor and UTSW as well as other hospitals. Two of the nurses who were on mission were nurse researchers! We saw over 1000 patients (medical and dental), pulled 151 teeth, built 4 roofs on huts including some wall work I think, and have one hut that has a roof paid for but the villagers will build it, and we plastered one of the elders huts. She had managed to get it built but ran out of money and is elderly.
We distributed around 800 hygiene packs and toothbrushes and did our first clinic during safari on the top of a hill for a Maasai tribe. It was the first time anyone had ever done a clinic there. It was very rustic with no electricity or running water. The livestock are corralled into the middle of the village at night in a thorn corral and the elders guard them all night against predators. There is a second thorn corral around the outer perimeter to discourage large dangerous animals from entering. The elders are armed with spears only. We had lunch sitting on the side of an escarpment or large hill overlooking the Maasai Mara game reserve and surrounded by cattle and goats. It was amazing and an experience we will repeat next year. The villagers were so hospitable and toured us around the village singing to us and selling their beadwork.
Two new potential activities have emerged from this trip. 1. Michael is a "nurse practitioner" (I keep forgetting his title in Kenya but I think it is Chief Officer) we have worked with for 3 years. He wants to open a "hypertension" clinic. His vision is that meds would be received at a subsidized rate which would help with overhead. He believes he can find a building to rent for $50/month which a donor has pledged to support. His homework was to build a budget and find a building and report back to me within a month of mission end. If he has a manageable plan, we'll go forward. He will see patients and give the initial meds free then the patient would report back to the clinic weekly for BP checks. The next month the meds would be "purchased" at the subsidized rate. Michael currently works at a hospital and plans to do 2-3 hours after work in the clinic daily. His vision is to expand the clinic to see other types of patients but because HTN is such a threat there and much education needs to be done, he will address this first. The clinic would be positioned in "Central". This is close to downtown Marera village so it is still rural where help is needed the most.
2. Jonah is a Kenyan who grew up in the village we work primarily in called Marera. He facilitated the building of the church St. James in Marera. He built a home behind the church and invited us to a beautiful dinner one night which we all enjoyed immensely. His home is beautiful. He lived in Ontario California for 28 years before retiring this year back in Marera. He is a social worker. We discussed the possibility of initiating revolving missions for Marera . It would necessitate contacting schools of nursing, dentistry and medical schools to "advertise" the vision. We would apply for CEU's for nurses who would go as teachers/mentors and do the same with dentists and medical students/physicians. Missions would be coordinated from the US and hopefully go every 2-3 months. a BTCAM leader would accompany the team. This is a huge undertaking and a long term goal but if God favors it, it can be accomplished.
The other update is the Girl Child Education Program . This is a program that was started in 2017. As we were having our last dinner in the village on mission, the subject of school for high school girls came up. We were told by our African team that girls were considered part of the workforce of the home and often couldn't go to school due to lack of funds or need for help in the fields. Often young girls were married off at the age of 14-15. We were told that $800 would pay for one year of high school in a Boarding school which is the best education to be had plus room and board, books, uniforms, and a bit of spending money. Out of that discussion the Girl Child Education Program was born. In 2017 when we first asked for support we had 7 donors step up and we only had 6 girls selected. What fun to select the 7th! Then in 2018 we had 10 more donors bringing our total of girls gaining high school educations to 17. We have four pledges for 2019 already and are hoping for more. These girls are a model and an encouragement to other village girls who desire a way to improve their lives. We will profile one of the girls next month and tell their story.
We were blessed to visit Sinyolo Boarding School again this year and got to spend considerable time meeting all 11 girls who are attending that school. It was very emotional for me and certainly the another mission family since we got to meet our sponsored girls. When we visited the second school Ebusakami Boarding School we got to meet the girls sponsored by a family in Indiana. One of the missioners who is related to the donor got to spend time with them individually and they gave her a tour of some of their classrooms. The entire group was taken on a group of the school. Out of these meetings the girls were invited to come to clinic and participate which they did. They had a blast, giggling, interacting, translating. It was really awesome. They came to dinner with us one night. It was truly a huge success. Gifts were given to all of the girls so everyone had a goodie bag. They seemed thrilled with them. They were also given hygiene packs with sanitary supplies donated by Kim B. who is a previous missioner. These were handmade and reusable supplies and the girls knew immediately what they were. Overall there was much celebrating done between the girls and the missioners. I believe it was a win-win. We have since gotten four new pledges for new girls in 2019 which will bring our total girl population up to 21 girls being given a high school education. Talk was going around about how we can support these girls as they graduate and go on to college. Investigation into college cost will be done but it will easily be significantly less that we US citizens would expect.
The other wonderful experience occurred in Kigulu. Kigulu is a very small school in the middle of Africa's largest slum which is located in Nairobi. It is called Kibera. We have been visiting them for years. We have a donor family who gives very generously every month so that the 60 kids who attend there can have two meals a day which is all they get. Prior to the donations, the kids often didn't eat at all on some days. Our construction team of Dan and Sean (father and son) and Fernando filled many holes in the cement floor of the school. They used sticks as trowels and a broken door hinge. The cement was mixed with a stick in a bucket. AWESOME!!!! You could see literally all the way through the floor on the second level to the first floor due to the broken cement. They did a marvelous job and in just an hour or so. The school needs more maintenance work but they have little funding. The teachers get no pay and are all volunteers. Currently they have had a curriculum change and are requesting new textbooks for every grade level from BTCAM. We will need to see if we can generate any funds for Kigulu. As I read over these notes, I am struck with how God works. How marvelous are His workks! Who would have thought that BTCAM would evolve into these things. He is faithful and steadfast and it is apparent to me that He has plans for all who are involved in this work. This is a very small organization but I think we are on task with His plan and we spend every single cent that is donated or paid to make life a bit better for those we serve. It is an amazing thing to be able to watch God do tangible miracles consistently. His presence just shines! I say it many times but again let me tell you how blessed and thankful I am that God put each one of you wonderful people in the path of my life. Thank you is insufficient but you know I mean it with all of my being.
If you are interested in becoming a part of BTCAM either through joining us on mission, supporting a high school girl, offering help to Kigulu School, or other ways, please contact BTCAM@BTCAM.ORG or Nola Schrum at email@example.com or 972 839-3773 or Yen Munoz at firstname.lastname@example.org or 469 288-2600. You do not have to be of a particular profession to be part of BTCAM. All you need is a heart of love and willing hands! Come join this blessing. Be at peace knowing His hand is on you! The Board of BTCAM (Bless the Children African Mission)