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:

The Rainbow Center, almost finished

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 17-22. Finishing the Rainbow. was originally published on Meandering home

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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.

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.

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.

January 13-15. To the village. was originally published on Meandering home

December 31. Happy.

Churchill is one of the community elders. We have our first press conference today. Unfortunately, the M.P. and the deputy mayor don’t show up. We have put a tent in front of our orphanage and sit there on the couches we have taken from the house to answer questions.

A pastor has come to pray for us, and we gathered inside our building where he spoke and explained the meaning of the colors on the roof. Red of course is the blood of Jesus, and white depicts the Enlightenment we are about to reach. We like this. The colors on the roof can be interpreted in so many ways. Actually, “Rainbow” is also the name of a coalition in Kenya, an attempt to overcome the differences between the two major political parties. And for us, rainbow means openness to everyone and all good ideas.

At night there is not much of a party. We sit down and watch a movie. After that, lights go out and cellphones die. We don’t know the time and hence start the new decade in ignorance about the exact moment. We might have opened our bottle of sparking wine at around eleven, or one.

December 31. Happy.

Churchill is one of the community elders. We have our first press conference today. Unfortunately, the M.P. and the deputy mayor don’t show up. We have put a tent in front of our orphanage and sit there on the couches we have taken from the house to answer questions.

A pastor has come to pray for us, and we gathered inside our building where he spoke and explained the meaning of the colors on the roof. Red of course is the blood of Jesus, and white depicts the Enlightenment we are about to reach. We like this. The colors on the roof can be interpreted in so many ways. Actually, “Rainbow” is also the name of a coalition in Kenya, an attempt to overcome the differences between the two major political parties. And for us, rainbow means openness to everyone and all good ideas.

At night there is not much of a party. We sit down and watch a movie. After that, lights go out and cellphones die. We don’t know the time and hence start the new decade in ignorance about the exact moment. We might have opened our bottle of sparking wine at around eleven, or one.

December 31. Happy. was originally published on Meandering home

December 27-30. Those days before newyear.

At 7:30 we start working with five people to complete the wallframes and prepare for the concrete foundation of the brick wall. We need more cement and metal rods. Perhaps the “big guy” in the village can chip in with a little donation. Until then, I have to play the big guy myself.

We get ten wheelbarrows of Maram for the third layer of the walls. Philip gets them on his own.

Yeon starts painting the ironsheets in the colors of the rainbow. They are laid on the grass to dry.

There is a taboo in the village: if a son moves out, his house cannot be used for another family. Someone can live there temporarily, but eventually the house should be destructed. The materials can’t even be reused within the same family. Sometimes they are sold to a different community. The younger generation fights those taboos, and I see them disappearing in a few decades. Until then, initiatives like ours have to buy all the materials in warehouses.

The bricking is underway. We have changed the shape to a rectangular office with two round corners. There will be an extra space for the cabinet where donations like a computer can be stored safely.

On December 30th we rush to Kisumu to buy some sparkling wine and flour for Mandazi (doughnuts, oliebollen!) tomorrow. The Luo traditional doughnuts taste just like our Dutch version, the things we feast on on New Year’s eve. We also fetch some sparkling wine to assure we got what we are used to tomorrow.

We expect some high people tomorrow.