January 23-24. Mombasa.

A very fortunate series of hitches takes us to Nairobi and from there to Mombasa, where we arrive very early in the morning, sit on a bench and gaze at the merely male, mostly Indian swimmers. We have a good time in Mombasa, eating out in a phenomenal restaurant and sleeping in a very affordable hotel that features phenomenons of a different kind. I have a déja vu in Mombasa of Panama city. It’s a similar blend of a colonial old town and a busy port city. This one serves most of East Africa.

We watch the televised event for Haiti in our hotel, featuring all those celebrities, and we learn from it. Wycleff Jean does a great performance (something along the lines of “Earth Quake / that makes the earth shake / but the spirit of the Haiti people never gives in”), and even Madonna is there.

Giraffes and baboons flank the Chinese-built highway that takes us back to Nairobi, safely on the back seat of a young couple’s car: hitchhiking never was that easy. We invite them for dinner in Nairobi and arrive home late.

January 23-24. Mombasa.

A very fortunate series of hitches takes us to Nairobi and from there to Mombasa, where we arrive very early in the morning, sit on a bench and gaze at the merely male, mostly Indian swimmers. We have a good time in Mombasa, eating out in a phenomenal restaurant and sleeping in a very affordable hotel that features phenomenons of a different kind. I have a déja vu in Mombasa of Panama city. It’s a similar blend of a colonial old town and a busy port city. This one serves most of East Africa.

We watch the televised event for Haiti in our hotel, featuring all those celebrities, and we learn from it. Wycleff Jean does a great performance (something along the lines of “Earth Quake / that makes the earth shake / but the spirit of the Haiti people never gives in”), and even Madonna is there.

Giraffes and baboons flank the Chinese-built highway that takes us back to Nairobi, safely on the back seat of a young couple’s car: hitchhiking never was that easy. We invite them for dinner in Nairobi and arrive home late.

January 17-22. Finishing the Rainbow.

Those are the days in which we finish the painting of the orphanage and travel back to Nairobi to talk to corporates interested in sponsoring our initiative.

We feel very welcome and are glad to see Philip again. The walls have been plastered but they need some time to dry, so the painting can’t start straight away. We decide to visit Obama’s grandmother first. A matatu ride takes us to the junction, from where three motorcycles bring us to Kogelo, to the estate of Obama’s grandmother. There is a gate and a guard who requests us to write down our names in the guestbook, but it’s not a high security area. We are told that granny complains because they don’t let her go to the market alone, afraid she might be kidnapped by dark forces. They also tell us she has malaria once again so she is not very strong. We have to wait a little because she is taking lunch. We are then seated in a circle, like thousands of visitors before us, and wait for her to arrive. She is so kind! We can feel how much she enjoys all this strange visitors and gives everyone the opportunity to introduce him- or herself. We are even allowed to take pictures, “but not for the magazines”. She is engaged in charity works herself and we instinctively exchange contact information with Obama’s aunt, who seems to be the driving force behind the visitor’s business. As we look around on the estate we see the grave of Obama’s father, a tiled rectangle I see described later in the Kenya chapter of Mr. presidents book “dreams of my father”. Wicked!

The next day Yeon starts painting and she does a great job designing the wall and coordinating all the brushwork, some of which is carried out by the kids. HD, another spontaneous volunteer, also helps us a lot. I give Yeon a hand here and there, but I also have to take care of the volunteers, the fundis, the finances, and my weak stomach. On yellow-duck.tumblr.com you’ll find more on the painting. Let me just mention a short anecdote on the color purple here:

Together with Cleverson, our big Brazilian hero, I go buy two steel windows for our orphanage, and purple paint to finish the rainbow. It is not easy to find affordable purple paint, and mixing is not possible with our pigmentless economy grade red and blue paint. We are waiting in a hardware store, humming a princely “purple paint, purple paint” but it takes too long and we just walk off to try our luck elsewhere. A small job sells us a half dried dusty can of purple paint but it does the job.

On two consecutive nights we show movies in the orphanage, using my good old pocket projector, and the children they love it. Positive associations. I want everybody to have positive associations with the Rainbow Center. What else can I say? The Rainbow Center is something you should see for yourself. Just pass by on your hike from the Maasai Mara and the Kilimanjaro to the pristine nature of upper Uganda.

On January 22th, we leave the village after a photoshooting and a warm goodbye. Yes we will stay in touch. A board will be formed to assist the managing director of the orphanage. The construction work that still has to be completed, I have a good feeling about it. We intentionally have left something to local sponsors as a means to root our project more firmly in the community. We will monitor the situation in Kisumu from abroad, and promised ourselves to go back to the village soon.

January 13-15. To the village.

An Irish priest is not necessarily a Samaritan.
We wake up in Talek and get a ride to Narok. But it is too late to hitch further to Kisumu and we are stuck for the night. A friendly guy, county clerk by profession, brings us to the house of an Irish priest. He is not there and upon hearing that there are strangers in his house he is outraged. “Throw them back on the streets!” we hear him shout through the phone. Long live Jesus Christ, Mr. Prissy Priest.

We make it to the village and spend the night at yet another cheap guesthouse. In the local bar a guy puts his leg in his neck and annoys HD. We know it is time to leave and we finish our beers in front of our room.

The next day we hitchhike to Kisumu and we have a great time. There are so many friendly Kenyans and the experience in the Maasai Mara is quickly forgotten. Philip welcomes us back home and we feel good being back in the village. The walls have been plastered and prepared for painting.

I remember taking the bike to the Kisian market to get some eggs and vegetables. Dirtroad with potholes, no light, no brakes. I am proud I only fall twice. We have omelettes.

Januari 1-11. Kayole. Joy Valley. Safari walk. Cheetah. Narok.

1
We get up early enough to make it to Kisumu town on time.
We have an interview with Mr. Masese for The Standard.
Then we take the bus back to Nairobi.
We arrive in the darkness, we meet some other couchsurfers who are enthousiastic about CT.
We have a chicken meal at Alanya’s place, where we are “invited” for a delicious chicken. We sleep late.

2
Next day is lazy. Catch up with writing. At 20.20 we get Kenya from the airport. The flight is delayed.
We take her to Kayole and spend the next day around the house, while Kenya is getting some rest.

3
We go to town to do some sight-seeing. Being late already, we plan a comprised walk to the Maasai market and the 1998 US embassy bombing memorial park. The park is peaceful, with King and Ghandi quotes and the names of the 200 deceased. There is a sculpture made out of debris and an information center. Violence has never lead to anything good. F.Y.I.

Yet, before reaching the grass covering the former embassy site, I had felt inclined to be violent towards a very annoying vendor of “traditional” African stuff. He followed us and kept asking why we weren’t interested in buying or browsing. Because we cherish our individual culture and just want to be left alone. I actually told him we didn’t like him and that scared him off. On our way back we passed by the Maasai market and, of course, we were surprised by heavy rainfall. Damn!  We should have come here earlier… nothing good comes from violence, see? That is so cheesy, now we are simply associating and applying Ghandis words to whatever we experience, and you know what, in doing so we are goddamn VIOLENT. And besides, the heavy rain was a swell experience. It gave us interesting pictures of running merchants dragging their heavy sacks of merchandise to dryer places under the trees. And I managed to improvise a three-person-raincoat that got us more or less try into a coffee house with wifi. And there I managed to solve my bank problem using a toothpick. I pinched the little machine that generates the code for online banking, hence I was applying some real violence. But I applied it with consideration. The toothpick solved where a lengthy conversation and official letters posted to the bank had failed. The bank didn’t reply anyway and I had to get through to them by contacting the young employee that had served me in Amsterdam via – facebook!

So we feel good and have a delicious welcome dinner for Kenya, over which we discuss our activities in the country. The raingods bless us with a mere drizzle as we stroll along the Moi Avenue towards the Matatu-stage, to write a sentence with the rhythm as if it has been emulsified and flavoured by a professional glossy author who has put off cocain to boost his career. The matatu is quiet and we are safe. Even though we have to walk home alone, no criminal intend we smell on our way home. Tomorrow we will do something.

Waiting for Willis to go to Joy Valley orphanage.

Cybercafe. I upload some photos of our Kisumu-orphanage and attempt to grow the online attention for the project. A few million mouseclicks would do the job. It just depends on who fingers the mouse.

4
Joy Valley. Serious talk with Jared. The first time in my life I get a preacher quiet – it is a personal milestone for my rhetorical skills. At one point I even throw a bible quote at him: those who beg will be cursed. And he gets it.
It is vital he learns not to beg in order to be MUCH more attractive for donors with shorter understanding of his desperation than ourselves. So we say goodbye without a donation, leaving him with the daunting task to explain to his hungry orphans why the white skin has not given money. I explain we are doing what we can making his case known and bringing other travelers. I ask him to be patient.
I have already made up my mind. We will teach him a little lesson. So after we leave, we rush to some stalls to buy well over 90 bananas for the children. We go back and knock on the steel door again to surprise them. Jared seems to understand what we want to say. I hope it will last and he will perform in the best possible way to provide for his orphans.

5
Lazy day. Walk around Kayole.
Waiting to go to Nairobi nat park; a guy had his car coming from Kisumu, too late. So we stay around the house instead and postpone our trip.

6
If you are not daring enough to face the wildlife inside one of Kenya’s great National Reserves, there is the Nairobi Safari Walk, a comfortable wooden overpass. They have a tame cheetah and we could pet it – for a dollar and a sour face because they are used to more than a dollar.

We have a good and very affordable dinner at Greenview, a local restaurant in downtown that I recommend you.

We go out to a club and dance. I don’t really feel like it. It is a bad experience. I end up paying to bail my friend out for eight dollar. Having  money is a curse if you have a heart. Then it does the opposite of giving you power. I yell “here is the white skin / that pays everything”.
I hear later that they are furious about the racist allegation, their minds too blunt to understand the subtle irony.

7
We travel to downtown, Yeon writes in Java. I start visiting some corporates and stay in town where we meet a Koreann volunteer.

8
We get up early. We go to town. We visit corporates together. Barclays, Equity, Kenya Airways, KCB. They ask for a proposal. We have a coffee, and visit more corporates. Kenya comes we dine in Java and get home to Kayole where we have a bad night with insects. Yeon and I sleep on the roof and enjoy the cool air of the night.

9
A quarrel with one of our Kenyan partners on the ground. We hope to sort it out. Professionalism. At the end of the day we value professionalism. I tell that I would sell my stuff before asking a friend, and not drink but work. Unfortunately, the quotation of my rigid moral code can only function as an insult.

10
We stay in bed until after ten thirty. Then we have a sunday breakfast until after two. Afternoon: a couchsurfing meeting that makes the spirit of Charity Travel live up once again. I briefly introduce our project and some local guys seem interested. Unfortunately the adventurous travelers don’t seem to like CT all that much.

11
We decide to travel to Narok today and enter the Maasai Mara National Reserve tomorrow, using a private vehicle. The trip is safe, and in Narok a friedly Maasai chief brings us to an affordable and very comfortable place to sleep. We arrange to be picked up at five sharp to go to the Maasai Mara.

January 1. What exactly is a Community Excellence Center?

The idea is simple. In our information age we can share knowledge and expertise with a relatively low cost of resources. So we should support needy communities to do so. A CEC is a center in a small, mostly rural, community of say 1,000 people that functions as a link to the outside world. A CEC typically has a phone line and an Internet connection and offers the community a range of services, often for free. Education, microcredits, computer use, expertise in the field of cropping, food preservation, manufacturing, art, sport competition, everything that can be shared – you can go to your local CEC to find support if you have an idea and want to realize it.

If an ngo want to work with a community, the CEC will support and coordinate the initiative. A CEC is just the focus of excellence that is gathers from the community and puts together in a high concentration so that it catches fire with the soft flame of worthy creative development.

Our CEC Rainbow is a pilot project of Vision Alive, that will reach out to communities around Kenya. This deserves all the support it can get!

December 25-26. Merry.

If you are a special a Luo host will serve you chicken. On our first night here this happened. A hen walked in and out in the afternoon. We didn’t hear her at night as we tasted the rosy strong flesh of Kenyan chicken. But christmas is something else. We have a goatmeal today, and feel really honored.

Work goes on. Some volunteers insist on a 200 Shillings pay to keep up their drinking habits. What they drink is a very strong alcohol, the local brew made of sugar cane. We have seen the place where it is done, a spot near the narrow river where they are boiling molasses and pour the resulting “rum” in five liter jerrycans. Some local youth organize their lives around this, and we see the sad results: no education, teenage pregnancies, hiv/aids. It’s one of the things Vision Alive will change.

On the second day of christmas there are few volunteers. But Andrew Ogol, Philip’s father is working hard to complete the walls. With his sixtyfour years, he is putting all the young guys to shame. We really admire his spirit and are grateful for everything he has done for the Rainbow Center.

Kenyan sunset

Now we can sit on top of one of the walls of our orphanage, enjoying the most beautiful sunset in the world (that’s what Kisumu is famous for). You  should try it if you get the chance. It’s very romantic.