During this past year, Barb Bodner, of Oak Park, Illinois, experimented with soapmaking, using materials readily available in Kenya. On our first day in Kenya, she was off & running teaching the Mukuru women's group how to make and market the soap, with the help of Carol Flasnick, a volunteer from Helena, Montana. The same program was held in Naivasha at Upendo Village, and in western Kenya in Kitale (after a marvelous singing/dancing greeting by Turkana women). Soapmaking will provide a profitable small business opportunity for these women's groups. Barb is nothing short of a genius for being able to work her chemistry magic under conditions less than ideal and across formidable language barriers.
We have only just returned from our trip and will add photos as time permits. Come back soon to see shots of our team teaching oral rehydration therapy at several clinics (all mothers reported that their babies contracted diarrhhea at least 4-5 times/year, making this training a lifesaver). This was a particularly rewarding part of our work, inspired by the terrible loss of Baby Lorna in Mukuru last year. Our team held her, played with her, during our worktime in May, and she was a happy and healthy baby. By July she was dead, victim of one of the common diarrheal diseases. In interviewing mothers, we found that --among the first five queried-- two had lost babies! Deaths occur more often on Saturdays or Sundays, because clinics are closed on weekends. We know that some of these babies would live if they could be kept from dehydrating, and so we taught a simple recipe that can easily be fed to babies, gaining precious hours for them until medical help is available.
We also had great adventures shopping for high-yield dairy goats and learning about their housing requirements--well worth the effort. We purchased these, and lots of chickens, with donations to our CRITTERS FOR KENYA program--animals donated for Christmas presents, birthdays, anniversaries. Our donors named their gift goats in Kenya.
Barb took the beekeeping course at Baraka (www.sustainableag.org) alongside the 10 sponsored Kenyans. She reports that African bees are called aggressive and "killers" with good reason! The good news is that those Kenyans now have beehives on their land. We expect to sample the honey during next year's trip.
We did have some break time also, and were stopped in our tracks by a 10-foot python crossing the road. We yielded the right-of-way to him; he looked very hungry.