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

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 16. Obama’s grandmother.

Later than planned, well, the whole concept of planning erodes like the barren soil of deforestated plains, we leave for Kogelo, the village where Obama’s grandmother and aunt live. I must tell you straight away it’s a publicity thing. Visiting this village, saying hello to the grandmother of the officially most powerful man – i don’t know. Maybe I am wrong. We take a matatu under the hot sun, followed by a ride on three motorbikes that brings us to the gate of the Obama estate. An officer asks us to write our names in a book that we are not allowed to go through. After all, we could identify the names of the visitors and do God knows what. Maximum security. The grandmother is taking lunch and she is not very strong now because she has malaria. Nevertheless, she comes to shake our hands and kindly asks us if we have any questions. I don’t want to bother her introducing to the idea of Charity Travel, and neither do I want to ask to confirm the cliché that she is proud of her grandson. But Phillip tells Obama’s aunt about our movement and they’ll be in touch. After all, there were a couple of Swiss guys installing solar panels here, and our orphanage wants one of those.
Mrs. Obama is very kind and patient, and visibly enjoying her routine job of greeting visitors from around the world. There are a few other visitors around that are seated in a neat circle as Mrs. Obama asks everyone to introduce himself. This cannot capture the experience, which was not surreal but could be seen as surreal because of the bloodties to Mr. president. I fail here to put my emotion to paper and would like to ask you to look at my other venture, Charity Travel, that is equally dilettant, but keeps me going for a couple of years. At least. Just don’t read this blog, read another one.

The visit has a serene atmosphere. We see the graves of Obamas forefathers and take plenty of photos with his grandmother, just like every other visitor. The motorbike has a plug problem so we get a ride back. In the car I tell about Charity Travel again, and harvest the thick grain of praise again. Another matatu brings us to Kisumu where we arrange ourselves with the virtual world and Yeon and I skip a sweaty rave. No words – no air.