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The children: Trina in back, Brian in middle left, Faith on middle right, and Julienne in front. Note Faith’s shirt which says “Jayla”; this was given to us by my granddaughter in the US who is three years older than Faith.
Gladys and I are doing very well.
November and December are “summer” vacation here since the children are not in school. It is also the time of holidays – Independence Day (Dec. 12) and Christmas, Boxing Day (the day after Christmas), and New Year’s Day. People go a-visiting. We have had lots of guests. For the month of December our daughter-in-law from Nairobi, Irene, has brought our two granddaughters, Faith 4 ¾ years old, and Julienne, who turned 2 years old while at our house. With Brian and Trina, we had three four-year-olds – they play quite well together. Then we have had a number of shorter term guests for a few days – Anne, Trina’s mother, Elizabeth Cave from England, and Eunice, Trina’s grandmother.
In October, Loreen Imali, Eunice’s daughter who, during her vacations from boarding secondary school and university where she has just graduated, has lived with us most of the time since we moved to Kenya, gave birth to a son, Tristin. He is growing very quickly. It’s great to have a grand-nephew to play with when he is happy, but give to the mother when he needs attention.
On the other hand others go away. Griffin has gone for these two months to stay with his grandparents. Eunice, Trina, Loreen, and Tristin have just left last week to stay at Eunice’s house for Christmas.
The grade cow that we bought earlier in the year was not pregnant as we had been told, but we served it with artificial insemination. Unfortunately after five months she aborted. We inseminated her again as we hope for a better outcome. Our female dog gave birth to six puppies who are just beginning to walk around. Gladys renovated our chicken coop and while this was being done, a hawk captured two of our chicks. An animal got into the hen house and killed one of the hens.
We cultivated an acre of maize (white corn) on a plot that our son, Douglas, bought nearby – in typical fashion for Kenyans who live in Nairobi, over the years he plans on building a house on the plot. We harvested about twenty 200 pound bags of maize. This is more than enough for us to feed our household of usually about ten people for the year. For the short rains we then planted beans in the same field, but it rained so heavily in September and October that the beans were washed out. Our greenhouse started giving us a nice harvest of tomatoes, but then disease struck and we did not react quickly enough so that many of the tomato plants then died. Nonetheless we recovered our costs and learned what we need to do better next time. Selling the tomatoes was no problem. We sold all the tomatoes without leaving our veranda as the women in town who have vegetable kiosks came to buy whatever we harvested.
I resigned as Coordinator of the African Great Lakes Initiative a little over a year ago. I prefer the meaning of the word “shalom” over the word “peace” because shalom includes not only what we mean by peace, but also the right ordering of society so that people can have an abundant life. While I didn’t anticipate this when I resigned, I found that I have been liberated to work not just with the AGLI supported programs, but many other peacebuilding organizations in the eastern Africa region. I am as busy as ever in my peace work.
This last year I have had three “sweetnesses.” First in 1969, I was the founding principal of what is now called the Mua Hills Girls Secondary School in Machakos, Kenya. It now has about 600 students. One of these students is Getry Agizah’s step-daughter. Second as I was cleaning out my house in Gaithersburg, I found an old copy of a music tape by Quaker Susan Stark called Rainbow People. It was a children’s tape which I had helped to distribute. Since I have a tape deck in my vehicle here in Kenya, I brought it back with me. I played it for Brian and Trina and Brian was humming one of the tunes after the first playing and soon singing the words even though his English is rudimentary. Lastly twenty years ago I was the founding clerk of the Friends Meeting School in Ijamsville, Frederick County, Maryland. It too has prospered and a large building has been built including a gym. My grandson, Matias, will be playing indoor soccer in that gym during the winter. So these are all unanticipated blessings from previous endeavors.
Two new kiosks bought by Lumakanda Friends Church.
Lumakanda Friends Church did an interesting activity. They held a harambee (fundraising) day and collected $1060. With this they bought two kiosks which they put at the end of the church plot. They will be renting them out each for $16 to $20 per month. The kiosks will last for decades so this will be a nice constant source of income for the church’s expenses. This is the first time that I have seen metal kiosks like this. The clerk of the meeting has told me that there are lots of people who would like to rent the kiosks. The church has just bought a third kiosk.
Progress in tarmacking the road in Lumakanda.
The other major excitement in town is that Kakamega County is tarmacking (“asphalting” for Americans) the main roads to and in town. While I have only been stuck on the main dirt road once in eleven years, there were many other times I slipped and slided. One of the interesting aspects of this improvement is that it is being financed by Kakamega County. This is devolution which began five years ago when Kenya was divided up in to 47 counties which controlled the local expenditures in the county. If there was still the centralized government in Nairobi making the decisions, I doubt that this would have happened.
Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays (this is one of those issues in the United States that I could never understand here in Kenya) to everyone. Thank you for being a part of my Reports from Kenya.
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From 1998 to 2016, David Zarembka was the Coordinator of the African Great Lakes Initiative of the Friends Peace Teams. He continues his peacemaking work in East Africa with Transforming Communities for Social Change (TCSC) and Friends Church Peace Team (FCPT). He has been involved with East and Central Africa since 1964 when he taught Rwandan refugees in Tanzania. David is married to Gladys Kamonya and lives in western Kenya. David is the author of A Peace of Africa: Reflections on Life in the Great Lakes Region. He is an analyst on eastern Africa issues for TVC News in Lagos, Nigeria.
Transforming Community for Social Change (TCSC)
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Reports from Kenya: www.davidzarembka.com/