I was sad to leave Korr as it marked the end of a rewarding and remarkable experience in the north.
The roads out of Korr through the Kaisut desert towards Logologo are rough to say the least. It is the desert so we are driving on sand through difficult terrain. All I could think of it felt like driving in a real life video game…weaving through acacia trees, through and around dips and ruts, dodging herds of goats, donkeys, cows, dogs, herders and camels(Lia Taylor check out the great photo with the QuestBar!). We pass satellite camps where pastoralists temporarily keep their livestock for weeks or even months.
We come across a pastoralist with his two sons. They are heading back to Korr after spending time in the desert with their herd. He tells Kura they are excited to finally be going home to their family. Kura asks about the roads up ahead as there are dark clouds in the sky. He tells us it is raining.
We continue our journey and it begins to rain. Kura tells me we need to get going because once it starts raining in the desert the roads can become completely impassable very quickly. The rain turns in to a downpour and soon we are driving through a river. I have never seen Kura get rattled but I see the tension on his face as he concentrates on driving through this mess. Kura does a great job driving in this nightmare. He even gets us righted after doing a 360. Eventually we become stuck big time. We are in the middle of the Kaisut desert with no one around and with the current condition of the road(now river) it is unlikely anyone will be able to come help us. We are stranded.
I thank God for the solar panel charger with the USB plugs I decided to purchase before I came. With this device we are able to keep the phones charged so Kura can call for help. Kura is able to mobilize two groups of men from Logologo and surrounding towns to come rescue us.
I decide to make a distress signal in the sand using an assortment of animal poop. I make a little flag out of a stick and paper napkin(you never know?).
Finally after four hours, we hear a vehicle and the sound of men singing. Approximately 15 men arrive and after many discussions of how to proceed, we are finally pulled out of the mud.
I told many of my worried friends before I left for Kenya that I trust Kura with my life. Because of his quick decision making abilities and his network of friends and family, Kura was able to make a very bad situation end safely and happily. The story is still out on the vehicle, however.
To all of you a belated Happy Thanksgiving. We all have a lot to be thankful for. (photos to follow in next posting)
Hadi waati mwingine
The word is out…Kura is in town. I could hear from my hut that Kura was being visited by many individuals. It seemed non stop, one after the other. I asked Sokotey if he knew how many people came to see Kura this morning? He told me twenty.
Kura is a thoughtful listener to the problems of his people. They know they can trust him and he gets things done. It is a tremendous burden for him as so many are suffering especially after the recent three month drought. He patiently listens to each of them and gives money to many. As he says, “How can I turn away someone who tells me they have no food to feed their children?”
Kura takes me to visit some of his relatives in Logologo and Korr. I especially like his uncle, Apti ilo and his family. They are a joyful group and glad to see Kura and very interested in me. We are invited to sit with them and talk. They speak Rendille as does everyone in this region so Kura does some translating for me. We learn Kura’s nephew was recently bitten by a cobra while tending the livestock. He is the boy with the crutch. However, Kura tells me it may be a blessing in disguise as now he hopes to convince his father to send him to school which this boy has never had the opportunity to do before.
While in Korr we visit an uncle and go to the home Kura grew up in.
Kura has come a long way from his humble beginnings but he has never forgotten where he came from and how important it is to stay connected and available to his people. This fine man is going straight to heaven.
Hadi wakati mwingine
This afternoon Kura took me to the outskirts of Korr to meet with the nomadic women at their village to discuss their challenges with menstruation and to distribute reusable menstrual pad kits and underwear.
This is a very primitive village with most of the men being pastoralists who leave home with their livestock for weeks on end. Kura tells me this village will not be here the next time I come, hence, nomadic.
Kura did not tell the women why we were meeting, just that we were meeting. He was instrumental in setting the stage for this sensitive topic. This is Kura’s home and it is clear he is loved and respected. Soon Kura had everyone laughing and feeling comfortable. These women have never owned a reusable pad, a disposable pad or a pair of underwear before. Skins and rags, if they have them, are what have been used. They expressed difficulties such as beginning their flow while shopping and being laughed at. This results in having other women do their shopping for them and they standing against a wall feeling humiliated.
Kura translated to them The KURA Project’s belief that every woman should have the right to go through her monthly cycle with dignity and we are here to help with this struggle. The women were amazed and extremely grateful with the gift of AFRIpads and underwear and demonstration of its use. This will be life changing for them.
In my mind these beautiful, friendly Rendille people have nothing but in many ways have everything.
Hadi wakati mwingine
Today I met with the women from the Village of Korr to discuss the challenges they face with menstruation and keeping their daughters in school.
The lack of pads, underwear and detergent to clean them properly remains the biggest obstacle. It is clear that underwear is just as important as the pads as they cannot be used as intended without them. For these women 300 shillings($4) a month for pads and 100-200 shillings($1-$2)for underwear is completely unaffordable. The priority is food, especially now, after 3 months of drought.
We spoke about the importance of keeping their daughters in school. Most of these mothers never attended school themselves so this will be a work in progress. Now that they have the reusable kits for their daughters and themselves(we provide every mother and daughter with a kit), they promise to try their best to send their daughters to school without excuses for their menstrual cycles.
Hadi wakati mwingine
Today I had the privilege of spending an afternoon with Gumatho Dokhle, one of the students I sponsor through The KURA Project Sponsorship Program. Gumatho is a lovely 16 year old girl from Korr. She comes from a family of four children, two brothers, one sister and herself. She has a very hardworking mother but a father who is struggling which has resulted in her family being one of the poorest in the village.
Gumatho walked to our camp on a day that reached 110 degrees and took me on a hike up a small mountain. From the white rock at the top of the mountain I could see a beautiful panoramic view of Korr. On the way she spoke to me about her education. She wanted me to understand how appreciative she is for providing her with this opportunity. She tells me she is taking full advantage of her schooling and is working to the best of her ability. She dreams of becoming a doctor. She tells me when she mentions her dream to others, they laugh as they don’t believe this will ever be possible for her. I see the determination in her face and also hear it in her voice. I share with her my feelings that with hard work everything is possible.
We walked to her village where I was invited into her home and introduced to her mother, father, sister and one of her brothers. They were warm and friendly and shared with me a photo album of family and friends. They too expressed sincere thanks for the support their daughter receives for her schooling.
It was a pleasure and an honor to spend time with one of my students and her family face to face at their home in Korr, northern Kenya.
I am proud to provide the resources to invest in this young woman’s education.
Hadi wakati mwingine
AFRIpads(reusable menstrual pad kits), underwear and school supplies such as pens, paper and printers were distributed to Logologo and Kamboe Primary Schools in Marsabit County. A large group of 70 students in Logologo and a smaller group of 20 in Kamboe gathered to receive kits, learn about the proper care and use of the pads and to discuss obstacles they encounter with managing their menstrual cycles.
The shame of staining clothes, the inability to play and lack of concentration in class were a few of the things they shared.
When I arrived at Kamboe Primary, one young lady asked, “How many days?” She was used to donations of disposable pads and was unaware of this product. I was happy to report the AFRIpads kit would give her 365 days plus as they are reusable. This is the first time students here have received this type of pad.
Tremendous appreciation was shown through song, giving of beaded jewelry and many, many hand shakes.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Deputy headmistress, Rose Dabalen, from Korr Primary School the next day. She shared with me, “Before the girls had access to reusable menstrual pad kits, 50% of the girls were missing up to a week of school each month. Now with the reusable kits, we are down to only 10%.”
Hadi wakati mwingine