Happy New Year!

IMG_2964

2018 Found the Mixson clan in a hotel room in Kigumba, Uganda. It was a little quieter New Year’s than we are used to in the USA. We heard some ululation from the adjacent houses and maybe a car horn honking, but no fireworks. And no dogs barking at the said fireworks!

We were up early the next day to start our work day at the Kiryandongo Camp. The camp was a beehive of activity before we got there and stayed that way all day. The church had planned a prayer service to begin the new year. They had also butchered a cow and had a big meal planned for midday.

20180101_101634
The guys started work on digging a trench for the water lines for the new cisterns. It was hard digging in the dry ground. Blistered hands ensued.

IMG_2971
Another group started measuring and cutting drip irrigation line. We had 1000 meter rolls that had to be cut into 30 meter lengths. We were able to prep 85 kits with the drip line.

IMG_2979

Did I mention that some of the line was a mangled, tangled mess? No, well it was! Kind of like trying to untangle spaghetti.   The rolls with the silver duct tape at the lower right are the 30 meter lengths that are distributed.  And yes, that is my dirty boy, working hard!

IMG_2981.JPG
Sometimes we had a little more help than we needed and a few of the Sherwood folks helped with some fun diversion.

IMG_2977
Kristin spent some more time with the camp ladies. After lunch, she demonstrated how to make the Luopads that we have been distributing.

20180101_160120
Ben and I also had to sort through the half-acre drip kits that we brought up. Unfortunately, some parts were missing. Neither location is ready to install them right now, so at least we can get the other parts to complete the kits.

Sherwood Baptist Church and With Open Eyes provided funding to put in a rainwater harvesting system on several buildings.  Pastor Sosthen had gotten a contractor (a South Sudanese refugee himself) to start the installation.   This is the system on the large school building.

IMG_3004

Note the gutters on the eave of the building.  At the far end, there are pipes that direct the rainwater into the large 10,000 liter tank.  The Sherwood youth helped dig the trench for the pipe that will take the water from the tank up to the elevated tank at the garden area.

IMG_2989

With the three buildings that we installed the systems on, enough rain can be harvested to provide water to the half acre garden for about a month.  EDEN also supplied a small gasoline pump to move the water from the cistern tanks up to the elevated tank, which is 6 feet off the ground.

A very tired and very dirty group headed out before sunset to rest and clean up.

20180101_140524

 

A Dry and Dusty Land

Hello from Uganda! It is hard to believe that the Mixson clan has been on the ground here for a week now! My apologies for not doing a blog post yet, but time and internet just haven’t been available to get it done. I am in Arua, Uganda staying with our friends, Karl and Rachel Anderson. I originally met them in Yei, South Sudan on our first trip to South Sudan in 2015. Kristin and Ben are back in Entebbe and will fly out for home tonight.

IMG_3060

We started our journey from Entebbe last Friday. Jim was able to meet with several suppliers about future needs. The John Deere dealership is owned by a South African company and it is in the industrial district in Kampala. It was good to meet some folks face to face who I’ve been emailing with.

20171229_121526.jpg
After lunch, we hit the road north to Kigumba. We stayed at the Max Hotel while we were visiting in the Kiryandongo district. The hotel has a very neat compound.

IMG_2913.JPGIMG_2918.JPG

On Saturday, we met with Pastor David Kaya with Empower One. We spent some time on the farm that Empower One has at Kiryandongo. It is about 200 acres and is called Ebenezer Agricultural Farm. They are using the farm to make money for their ministry.

IMG_2920.JPG

It will also have some demonstration areas for the bucket drip irrigation systems to train pastor groups that Empower One is working with. EDEN is supplying them with a half-acre drip irrigation system that they will use to produce vegetables. Empower One is in the process of putting in two wells at the farm and they will be used for irrigation.
Their second maize crop is just being harvested now. It was a very good-looking crop.

IMG_2939.JPG

 

 

They are building a grainary to store their maize in. EDEN is also going to help them with some PICS grain storage bags. These reduce insect and mold damage in stored grain and beans.  David Nekyon is the farm manager for the project. He has a good head for business and for farming and he will be a great asset to the farm.

20171230_105338.jpg

On Sunday, we went to the Kiryandongo Refugee camp where Pastor Sosthen Lahti lives. Each time I return here, I am blown away by how much he has improved things at the church compound. This trip was no different. God is blessing his ministry and his efforts.

IMG_2948.JPG

 

At the camp, we met up with a group from Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga. They brought some sound equipment for the church as well as Bibles. EDEN had also supplied a half-acre drip irrigation system. We were able to pray over all the equipment and Bibles and dedicate it all for use in the camp.

Dedication.png
Three pastors from the Sherwood group preached in three different churches in the camp on Sunday. In our church, we really didn’t get started until about 11 and finished up about 2pm. We then shared a wonderful meal that the ladies had prepared.

20171231_181022.jpg

 

We ate in a newly constructed rest area that they put up to use with the school. It gave a nice respite from the hot sun! It is the dry season now and it is incredibly dusty. Some areas are also doing a lot of burning and it is really hazy. After swallowing so much dust, my voice has left me.

Later in the afternoon, all the kids played a little soccer with their African counterparts.

20171231_183517
After the Sherwood group left for the evening, Ben did a little instruction on Ultimate Frisbee

IMG_2961.JPG
We brought a video of the Singing Christmas Tree that Shandon Baptist performed in December. We were able to use a big outdoor screen to show the video. The folks in camp really enjoyed seeing the video and hearing the music.

IMG_2967.JPG
Three dusty, tired mzungus headed back to the Max hotel to clean up and welcome in the new year.

 

And that’s a wrap!

My apologies for taking so long to post again.  Things got busy over last weekend and with heading to Namanga on Sunday.  The internet also became a little more contentious and then I headed home on Tuesday.  Layovers were short and did not avail time to write.  Once home, I had to get in gear and catch up on a few things.  So here I am!

On Saturday, the 14th, we headed back up to the Kiriko Special School to finish things up.  It had rained more overnight and the ground was in good condition to set out some plants.  The Magruder family, my hosts in Nairobi, brought some supplies up for the school.  They are helping with the construction of a boys dormitory at the school.  They also got their hands dirty and helped set out some plants.

Magruders - PlantDorm

We had lunch at the school and then said our goodbyes and headed back to Nairobi.  I was treated to an Ethiopian dinner with the Magruders.  Yum!  I got things repacked that evening because I had a 7am departure Sunday morning for Namanga.

IMG_2813

Wilson, my driver, was at the door a little before 7 on Sunday.  The Toyota Landcruiser above was my chariot for the next three days.  We headed out for Namanga in the cool Nairobi morning.  Traffic was the lightest I have ever seen it.  We arrived in Namanga in about two and a half hours.  We met Pastor Simon at his house and then went to Namanga Baptist Church for services.   Below is Pastor Simon preaching.

IMG_2768

We had lunch and then spent some time getting a few things prepared for our trip to Meto on Monday.  Meto/Empukani is a Massai village that Robert Dickinson and I visited in February with With Open Eyes.  I was glad to have also have a little time to rest that evening.  The pace of the trip was beginning to catch up to me!

I have been trying since April of 2016 to get an electric fence in place to help keep monkeys out of several garden areas.  I wanted to see how it would work.  We sent parts to South Sudan for this, but with refugees relocating, it did not get installed.  I bought another set for Namanga last October.  It finally made it there a couple months ago.  I was so excited to see that Pastor Simon had installed it!  And it works!  I was hoping to get to see it in action, but the garden didn’t have any monkey attacks while I was there.

IMG_2810

IMG_2811

Early on Monday, we set out for Meto.  We had a 2 hour cross country drive to get there.  Pastor Timothy Moilo had a Mobile Messenger Bible training class going on this week.  It has been incredibly dry in this area for a long, long time.  The first picture below is the schoolyard in February of this year.  The second is the same schoolyard on Monday.  There is just nothing growing.

IMG_2068

IMG_2799

This little goat was trying to find some green leaves on this acacia bush.  There wasn’t much there.  So sad.

IMG_2801

I was able to get some time with the Mobile Messengers before lunch to do some training on conservation agriculture and show them the videos on the drip irrigation system.  It helps having the videos in a language that the folks can understand!  No interpretation needed!  Below, Pastor Timothy is helping interpret my conservation agriculture presentation.

IMG_2830

Nicholas, the trainer doing the Bible teaching is from northern Kenya and has worked with conservation agriculture before.  He was very excited to learn about what we are doing with the irrigation.  It may be a connection for another area for EDEN.

The garden area and a large part of the compound had been fenced since we were there in February.  The garden had also been tilled and they were in the process of putting in beds.

IMG_2782

The engineer from the irrigation company was to be in Meto on Tuesday.  I measured everything off and made sure all of the parts were there.  We needed to get a few more items to connect the tank to the water supply line.  Meto has a deep well that they use for water.  We wrapped things up and headed back to Namanga to catch the hardware store before it closed.

We ran into some complications in getting the engineer to Namanga and in getting all the necessary items.  None of the pipes seem to be standard sizes and everything has to custom fit.  With election protests still a possibility and me having to get to the other side of Nairobi to get packed up to come home, I was not able to return to Meto on Tuesday.  Pastor Simon took the engineer and a plumber up to get the system installed.

IMG_2838

The guys still have to complete the beds in the foreground in the picture above.  The smaller tank on the right is the new one for the irrigation system.  This is a full half acre that will serve the community well.  EDEN is also supplying transplants for them to plant.  Those should get put in the ground this next week.

Wilson and I headed for Nairobi and made it to the Magruder’s house in the early afternoon.  It was good to be able to shower and pack with a little time to spare.  I even got to see Stephen Dinkins again as we were picking the kids up from school.

As always, there is a lot to process and a lot of opportunity.  Stay tuned to see how you can help with some future projects!  Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A tired and dusty Mzungu!

Today has been a long day.  The hotel we are in at Thika does not have air conditioning.  Nor fans.  A window on one end of the room but no way to get a breeze.  Thankfully it has rained both nights and that has cooled things off a bit.  We scrambled last night trying to locate a tank fitting for the water tank that is part of the irrigation system.  The fittings ended up having to come from Nairobi.  We were also meeting an engineer from the irrigation company in Thika this morning and taking him to the Kiriko school with us.  So it was an early start.

IMG_2738

I was a little concerned as it rained for several hours last night.  But the soil had soaked the water up and it was in good shape to be worked.  The workers above were finishing up the beds where the irrigation will go.  The truck in the picture was bringing a load of lumber to the school (they are building a new dorm).  It was a tad overloaded and when it got about half way up the hill (a little past where this picture ends), the front wheels started coming off the ground.  The driver could not stop it and it ran back down the hill and spilled out about half the load of lumber on the road.  It was really something to see.  Wish my camera had been in position!  They took the remaining part of the load up the hill and then came back down for the rest.  Nice little bit of excitement and I’m glad no one was hurt.

IMG_2737.JPG

This is the water tank that we are installing with the irrigation system.  The engineer from the irrigation company, Victor, is in the coveralls and hard hat.  He is putting a bigger hole in the tank to accommodate the new fitting by heating a piece of pipe and melting the tank.  You sometimes have to use what’s available.  We got the tank in place and started putting water in it.  Then we got to run the lines for the drip irrigation.

IMG_2742

Each drip line has a valve so that the lines can be individually controlled.  To get started we partially filled the tank with the municipal water supply from the church.  They will be harvesting rainwater from the church roof to irrigate with.  EDEN is trying to help several groups in other locations with rainwater harvesting as well.

IMG_2752

And the moment of truth:

We finished up after long and dusty day and headed down the mountain to Thika.  I was glad to get a shower!  We will return to the school tomorrow and set out some plants in the garden.  I think kale, cabbage, and onions are on the menu right now!

IMG_2744

The beauty of the sky has taken my breath each day I have been out of Nairobi.  And as I said, the camera simply does not do it justice.

 

 

On to Kiriko Special School

IMG_2700
On Thursday morning, I awoke to the power still being out in our area of Nairobi. Yay for the generator! My driver and friend, Joseph Nganga was at the house at 8am. We loaded these drip irrigation supplies and a few other goodies and set off for the Kiriko Special School which is above Thika, north of Nairobi.
IMG_2708
The drive up through the mountains was really beautiful. I had to make Joseph stop and go back so I could take a picture of this overlook.
IMG_2731
We were greeted at the school by the principal, Peter Muiruri, the teachers, the area chief, and some other community members.
IMG_2715
We talked with Mr. Muiruri for a little while about the order of the program for the next few days. We also took our morning tea. African tea is mixed with milk and served piping hot. I opted for some black tea, which I did sweeten, by the way. We assembled the rest of the folks and I dove right into some training on conservation agriculture. Chief Joseph Munene is seated at the far end of the table in the picture above and is wearing glasses. He also serves as the Representative to the President for the Gituamba area of Kiambu county. I was honored to have him join us.
IMG_2717
IMG_2718
The school is on the property of a large Catholic church. You can see the gutters on the side of the roof. These will be connected to 3 – 5000 liter tanks which they will use to water the garden area. They also have a municipal water source if there isn’t enough rain to keep enough water in the tanks.
IMG_2714
These are some of the beds that are being prepared for the drip irrigation installation.
We are overnighting in Thika. It has been raining steadily for several hours here. I am hoping it has not rained this much up at the school. If it has, it may be a real mess. Tomorrow we will set one of the tanks and get the drip system set up.

Ed. note.  My apologies if the spacing is a little off.  WordPress is not cooperating tonight and I am tired.  So it is what it is at this point!  Thanks for reading!

Finishing up in Kisumu

Today was a bit turned upside down as there were election protests in Kisumu today.  I could hear the protesters in the streets around the hotel.  Pastor John had difficulty getting to the hotel.  I spent most of the morning working on details for the Neema Children’s Home and also coordinating things for the Namanga/Meto leg of the trip.

IMG_2690

Once Pastor John arrived, we talked for a while about some details and then ordered lunch.  Mmmmm – can’t go wrong with bacon wrapped chicken!

We wrapped things up after lunch and then they dropped me at the airport.  Here is a shot of Pastor John and I at the airport.  Don’t know why I look like a possum in all these pictures!

IMG_2696.JPG

A Beautiful Day in Kisumu

 

IMG_2664

My day on Tuesday started out early with a 6:30am departure for the airport.  It took an hour and 40 minutes to get across town, but I made it in time to get checked in.  My driver adeptly stayed off the main roads for the most part and carried me through some of the industrial area of Nairobi.  When I landed at Kisumu, school children were lined up outside the airport looking very smart in their uniforms.  There was a group of about 8 people dressed in native regalia doing a native dance.  I was apprehensive about trying a photo or video as the officials often do not like such around airports.

IMG_2641

This terminal at Kisumu is relatively new and very nicely appointed.  We dropped my bags off at Le Savanna Hotel near Lake Victoria and then drove out to Neema Children’s Home.  It is about 30 minutes outside of Kisumu.

IMG_2674

This is the dormitory where about 60 children are housed.  The solar panels you see on the right of the roof were donated by the family of Jim and Rochelle Starkey from Columbia.  The panels provide light for the kids at night.

IMG_2647

This was my welcoming committee when we arrived!  They have about 115 students in the school that Neema runs.  Pastor John Atieno was taking the picture for me.  He started Neema in the slums of Kisumu about 15 years ago.  They moved to this compound in 2009.

IMG_2680

These are the classrooms that are used for the students.  The one on the right is a temporary one and they are seeking funds to complete a permanent structure.

IMG_2648

This is the well that is used by the home.  It is hand dug and not very deep.  It goes dry when there is no rain.  It has a manual pump that people from the community use to get water.  There is also an electric pump that is used to fill the tank on the stand.  The water gravity feeds to several locations in the compound.  They also have a cistern system on Pastor John’s house and the rainwater is caught, treated, and used for drinking and cooking.  The compound really needs to have a deep well installed to assure a steady supply of good water.

IMG_2659

This is the garden area that they use.  They had some peas still growing and had just planted some cabbage.  Pastor John’s home is on the left and you can see the tank on the stand at the far rear across the compound.  We are looking to help install drip irrigation in this area for the home.

IMG_2651

This is a larger farm area outside the compound fence.  They had sorghum planted here earlier and you can still see the stalks.  We are thinking about using a portion of this area to do more drip irrigation for vegetable crops.

IMG_2661

Pastor John had just let the herd out of their pen and they were headed over to the school yard for a snack!  The home also has done chickens.

IMG_2678

This is the kitchen building where the meals are cooked for the school and orphanage.  It is a pretty inefficient means of cooking.  Pastor John is looking into some improved cookers that will reduce the amount of wood they have to burn.  Can you imagine cooking for over 100 people a day with this equipment?

IMG_2682

As we were getting ready to leave, the clouds started building in.  My penchant for attracting rain in Africa seems to be in tact.  By the time I had been back at the hotel for about 30 minutes, there was a nice thunderstorm.

IMG_2688

And one last shot – this morning looking out on Lake Victoria.  I am wrapping up in Kisumu today and fly back to Nairobi tonight.  Thanks for reading!

IMG_2691