Letters from Nairobi

(The following are letters received from one of our dear new friends in Kenya, Debbie Nabubwaya. She is a daughter in one of the families that hosted the 2006 team doing service work in Kenya. Trained in social work, she is completing a degree in psychology at Daystar University in Nairobi and will continue to offer help that we find invaluable. We love her and are grateful to her and all those in Kenya who shared so generously with us.)

2/10/07
Dear Keen,

Finally I get to read some update on the Project Harambee site. I have longed to read the stories and see pictures that you took. You should know how much I have smiled since I logged on to the site and read the updates! Great job Keen. Keep it up. Well, I am now working for America Share, just in case you wondered how I got here hehehe. It’s fantastic working with the Mukuru Women Empowerment and Community Health Initiative, Dr. Oyugi, the Children and the Youth soccer teams. As a matter of fact, we had the Sports for Social Change tournament going on since Friday the 9th. I was entertaining a random thought of having the America Share boys and girls team play a friendly match with the Bul Bul soccer team that has been formed. Our teams have been playing well and growing steadily. It would certainly be a wonderful exposure to the Bul Bul team. What are your thoughts on this?

Moreover, I am looking forward to having the medical student team here soon…I can’t believe it's February. It seems like they were here a few weeks ago. I have also read Justin’s article and am very excited that it was a life changing experience to your team. The correspondence between me and the team has been incredible since they left and am grateful to God that He has begun a great relationship among us, besides being able to sustain us and our work. May God bless you as you prepare to serve once again in Kenya. You won’t believe how much my life has changed since I started serving the Mukuru community. I will be starting my Home-based care visits with the MWECHI group from Wed 14th. That will be my gift of love to them, as the rest of the world goes out on dates…yes, I have no date hehehe. I will be caring for our clients who are HIV+. I miss your team so much and it’s certainly a divine relationship that we have. I loved working with you guys and would do it any time, even if America Share has poached me hehehe. Solidarity forever hehehe. Alrighty, kindly let me know what the schedule is and what you would like me to do before the team gets here. Cliff is currently out of town (in Mombasa) but will be jetting in shortly. He is a fantastic boss.

I hope that your work is going well, and your family is fine. Please keep updating the site…I LOVE PROJECT HARAMBEE!
You will always have a special place in my heart. I will be taking a break from my work on the last week of this month so as to work with Andrew and the rest when they come. We will certainly have many stories and pictures for you…see you in March.
Upendo,
Debbie Nabubwaya

2/13/07
Dear Keen,
Thank you for the wonderful picture you have attached here. It brings SO many beautiful memories to my soul. There is something about Andrew that brings great smiles to my face. I am just so happy. As a matter of fact, you have already made my day. Cliff is still not in the office but will certainly share our thoughts with him. It is definitely amazing to see how we are getting connected in so many ways!!! Who thought I would be seeing your name on a daily basis in my masterlists for the America Share children and women’s group? Thank you for supporting the children financially and the women too. They love you so much. Veronica Nthenya, the secretary of the MWECHI group always talks about you and your love for them. You will definitely see more of me when you come to Mukuru since I will be there every week.

Yes, you have my permission to post my letter on the site. You have done so much for us and the people of Mukuru. I am forever grateful, especially now that I am handling very sensitive matters in the organization. Moreover, it would be great communicating with those people who would love to know more about Kenyans.

Thank you for the shoes and socks that you have provided. The guys in Bul Bul will be jubilated. The soccer teams are fantastic and I absolutely cherish them. I love those kids…they are so much fun and most importantly, they are doing their best. You would have loved watching them play over the weekend. I used to play soccer but not as good as them…I miss the good ol’ days.
I wrote to Andrew and attached a list of the current needs of our patients and the women’s group. He needs to share that with you then we shall see how we can help. Dr. Oyugi was so ecstatic when I mentioned that you and the team will be coming back soon. He couldn’t stop smiling hehehe. You should have seen him.

The animal projects are definitely a wonderful addition to the work that you will be doing in Kenya. I have so much to share with you…so much passion, ideas and the zeal to serve.

In conclusion, thank you for the sound advice. You are right! The dates will come some day, and we shall all celebrate with goats, chicken and cows hehehe. We shall lift them in the air and sing songs of joy. That will certainly be the day hehehe. Take care Keen and thank you for simply being who you are. May every single day that we go through hold great blessings and vital lessons of love for everyone who God brings our way. Only God makes every day that we live to be a great joy, despite the challenges that we go through.
Missing you,
Nabubwaya
02/14/07

Habari ya Keen!

Attached is the list that I had sent Andrew on Monday, but I haven’t received a reply from him yet. I have indicated all the vital requirements for our patients and the MWECHI group. If we can be able to meet these needs, we will have greatly improved the current situation of inadequate resources in the project. We have been looking at their prices here in Kenya and most of them are expensive and they can’t afford, especially the medicine, whilst some are not readily available in the country. Furthermore, I had a meeting with Veronica Nthenya, the Organizing Secretary of the MWECHI group and she expressed other needs: They would appreciate more food for the feeding programme and hope that it will be carried out more often than not. Secondly, our sick clients are in dire need of supplements and Pain killers (generally all the drugs that I have indicated in the kit), not forgetting adequate food to go with the drugs they consume. They would also appreciate any clothing donations for the sick women and children who are in our programme. Most of them have basically nothing to wear, therefore the women’s group is forced to give out their own clothes, hence they are left with none or at times have nothing to give out. In addition, they congratulate you for the orders that you have organized for them in the recent past and would LOVE to receive more orders for the women’s group to work on, so as to earn them some income. Any other gifts of your choice are highly appreciated as well.

These are MY needs. The Mukuru community’s needs are far much more important than my own personal needs (like a date heheJ, just kidding) so it will be a great privilege to have them met. We should always remember that those whom we serve and the people that God brings our way are there for a purpose and meeting their needs, as much as possible, is my greatest joyJ

Let me know what your thoughts are. Much love…

Nabubwaya

2/16/07
Keen,
I really appreciate your letters of encouragement to me. They are very timely, especially now that I am working at a very intimate level with the Mukuru community. I need all the support I can get. Memories of Kakuma refugee camp flood my mind every time I am in Mukuru. For some apparent reason, the living conditions there and the wide spread problems are extremely identical. I daily yearn to explore ways in which I can be a positive change agent in the community that I am actively serving.

I pursued a certificate course in social work and community development before enrolling at Daystar University. I am a Psychology major (not Social work) and took a minor in Integrated Community Development. I will be graduating on June 23rd, 2007!!!! I can’t wait. This is the point where EVERYTHING that I have learnt in school is coming in very handy. My professor in most of the Comm. Dev courses that I took at Daystar University always used to encourage us to strive to be positive change agents in the communities that we serve. Effective change does not solely stem from the donations we receive from well wishers and from foreign aid; it certainly comes from the community members that we serve. They are the ones who hold the inner power to rise above their dire situation, to stand up and be counted!!! There is so much potential within us and in Africans too. Why do we have to entertain self-pity and destructive emotions, just because we leave in a society that has extremely limited resources? There is definitely an answer to this rhetorical question. We should not allow anyone to limit our potential, regardless of all the challenges we go through.

Well, before I get all political on you, please rest assured that I am looking forward to dialogue more. I aspire to pursue a Masters degree in Community Development once I have been able to raise all the funds that I need. It is quite a challenge but I believe with God, everything is very possible.

I can’t help but ask myself many questions: Why is it proving to be such a difficult task to ensure appropriate garbage disposal in the slums? The children (including most of the slum dwellers) are prone to falling ill due to lack of sanitation and poor living conditions. Why has it been so difficult for people over the many years, to come up with a clean-up campaign to sort out this issue? Why do we have to sit back and watch the children in the slums walking bare-foot and playing in the sewage that has spread throughout their living area? The roads are impassable when it rains and the worst reality is that the slum dwellers’ lives will constantly be threatened, whether we like it or not. How can we efficiently mobilize and empower the communities that we serve? Are we truly willing to rise above our comfort zones and share our resources with the vulnerable/marginalized and generally underprivileged people in our communities? How easy is it to practice what we preach? What are our motives behind the help that we so desire to give the ones in need? I will try to dialogue with the medical team about all these pending issues and self-reflection that is very vital in the service that we give.

Indeed, we know that people help more when they are made aware of the needs. I will see what pending project needs to be prioritized, besides the ones we are already looking into. There is an incredible service load that needs to be taken care of with extreme caution and wisdom. If we can be able to work together to do our best, I am sure this will certainly result in a milestone.

I have managed to discuss with one of the soccer players concerning their boot sizes:

BOYS:

Size 9…………… 2 Pairs of boots

Size 8…………… 2 Pairs of boots

Size 7…………… 18 Pairs of boots

Size 6…………… 8 Pairs of boots

GIRLS:

Size 5……………. 11 Pairs of boots

Size 6……………. 20 Pairs of boots

Size 7…………….. 7 Pairs of boots

As you can see, the girls’ team has very many players and subs. The junior team comprises of 18 players, while 20 players are in the senior team. Kindly let me know if it will be possible to get any donations for them. If we are planning to organize a match between the Bul Bul team and the America Share team, which proposed days do you have in mind? Which location would be suitable? We need to have these logistics taken care of before the medical team comes, due to the fact that the Mukuru grounds have to be requested for way in advance, like really soon. The other option is to have them play in Bul Bul , which will require us to organize transport for our team and lunch. Will that be feasible? Let me know what you guys think about this as soon as possible. Clearly, the needs are so many but as long as we keep trying our best, we will prosper. Lets dialogue about these issues…

Much love,

Nabubwaya

 

March 5, 2007 (after accompanying the return volunteers on their work in Kenya)

Dear Keen,

Wow!! Simply wow. I am still trying to find the right words to describe the past week and all that happened. Clearly, I am still undergoing a self-debriefing process (if these words make any sense). This will certainly take this entire week when I am in the confines of my thoughts then once I am done, I will share with you and the rest of the medical team. One thing I can say today is that I learnt a lot and underwent an immense humbling experience like never before. Serving the people of Mukuru and Bul Bul is certainly a life changing experience and I am so glad and privileged to be on board. Most importantly, serving with Project Harambee constantly reminds me of how much I need to be a servant leader. I have learnt that it is simply not enough for us to be leaders if we can never be humble enough to serve others. Most people are caught up in the wave of being the great leaders of the world only, yet they forget that being humble servant leaders of the people they serve is the most important role that they can ever assume. This is one of the best things that I have noted with the medical team. There is such an unparalleled level of reality check and humility as servant leaders, and there is NO where else I feel right at home as much as with the Project Harambee team (besides my home in Buru Buru). I can barely recall the last time I laughed as hard as I did throughout last week. If I have to follow that laughter to Chicago, so be it. Chicago here I come because I have definitely made up my mind to follow that direction… (Hey guys, there is supposed to be a smiley face right there).

I will email you later after I finish processing everything. Meanwhile, you should always remember that you have one of the strongest and best team players that anyone can ever pray for. They are very intelligent, humble, extraordinary, hilarious in an unparalleled way (I am sure we unanimously give a consent to that and FYI, they nearly killed me with laughter), diligent, driven, adventurous and ambitious. I believe that we are destined to go far with the Bul Bul project. There is so much to look forward to. Moreover, Daniel, James and I believe that it will be fantastic when we can all be helping out with work and visits to the ‘GoDown’ Art centre, at least every so often and working hand in hand with them in Embul Bul when I have free time, even when the rest of the team is not physically present. There is such a wealth of potential in those amazing people and the children are so beautiful and social. I can’t seem to cease laughing and smiling when I am with them. It was absolutely difficult for me to leave them on the last day. There was this immense, ever present sense of peace that flooded my entire being throughout the week, and also when we parted ways (both with the residents of Bul Bul and with the medical team); the sort of feeling that agreed with every part of me that Project Harambee is my definite ‘cup of tea’ (there goes another Pundalicious smiley face, guys).

Authentic joy, an incredible sense of peace, a wonderful connection, coupled with shared love for social justice among every one in the team…the list is absolutely endless!! I COULD NEVER ASK FOR MORE. See you soon.

Furaha, Amani na Upendo infinity