Dan Grays log from his trip to Kenya and Indonesia in September and October of 2006

9-28-06
Un-believable!
I remember the looting at the Rodney king trial and 'Katrina', it seems when all authority is removed, the worst and best in humanity comes out.  Remember the looting that took place, ok, now you can steal and you know you won't get caught!  Remember the news clips where even police officers were stealing from Wallmart stores!

Well, I guess this is part of being human, cultivated from years of evolution.  The Christians call it the depravity of man, but it's not in all humans, I see both very strongly here.

When I first was doing research on IHF in late 2005, I found some references on the Internet to a Kenyan paper where supposedly some scammers stole money from IHF.   Well, it's true, and unbelievable.  It happens all the time here, other charities are used to it, and chalk it up as a "cost of doing business".  It looks really bad to financial supporters to know that THEIR money has been stolen, so it's just hushed up.

Carol will not let that happen here.  The way it's supposed to work, is the investigation department of the police force is supposed to gather all data regarding the case, then the prosecutor is supposed to use this information in court.  After the investigators have done all their work, there is a pre-trial meeting, where the prosecutor looks at the data to see where the strength and weaknesses of the case is.  Well, the court date is set for today.  Yesterday was the 1st day we met with the prosecutor, and we find that the investigators have not done their job at all.

Ok, more info.... What I learn is tribes are everything here, and we find that most of the police force on the investigating force is from the same tribe as the defendant, and so it's no wonder that they are impeding the investigation to protect their tribe member, but it gets worse.  We find that the banker president is actually a relative of the defendant, and has absolutely been un-believable in obstruction of justice.

Yesterday as a last resort, after meeting with the prosecutor, we all went to the bank.  We had two police officers from investigations, and we had Juma, the pro-bona lawyer here, (he as evolved above the corruption and is wonderful), and Yumas, a Pokot Chief who is the primary signer on the bank account, (two others in the CON were the other two signers on the account) along with Carol and myself.  The police had earlier obtained a court order to get all the info from the account, which shows the withdrawals.  The bank president had intentional left out all the withdrawals over the time period of the theft, because it's too much of a coincidence that all the checks they listed were there from the times where there wasn't any theft, and the checks were missing over the period of time which the thefts occurred.  So, it's the day before the court date, we're in this meeting with the banker president, and it's completely obvious that this person is obstructing the justice.  Even thought we had the primary signer (the Pokot Chief), Carol, who was wiring the money to the account, the investigating lawyers, Juma, our lawyer, he would not give us any more information.  This is with the previous court order in place.  Unbelievable!  Also, since we don't have enough info for the case, we're going to try to get a delay in the case today.  It's the only chance we have to win this thing.  Both Juma and the prosecuting attorney think this will happen in any case, but we asked the bank president for a simple 1 sentence letter, explaining that he wasn't able to get the information in time, so we could show this to the judge, and get a delay, and he refused to even do that!  His excuse: "It doesn't go like that".  

Well, I have my predictions, here they are.  We will get a delay.  The prosecutor is another man that I find has evolved beyond the selfishness we see, and wants justice.  He is almost ready to retire, but is a well respected prosecutor.  He has clout with the police department and I believe he will get the information we need.  Since then the case is cut and dry, I believe we will win this case, and justice will prevail.  But it won't come for lack of trying, only because of Carols insistence that the women and children will not be stolen from, and beware of any others that try.  I believe that after these cases are tried, and justice prevails that no one will ever try to scam IHF in Kenya again, so it will be worth it when it is all done.

Ok, well, we've been so busy with the case, I haven't had any time to email, I suspect I will be emailing this out after the court case today, as there is no time before.  But last night was soooo unbelievable!  The children from the Pokot orphanage were driven down from Pokot to Nakuru where the case is being tried.  They stayed for the first time at the new orphanage that the volunteer chiefs and others are getting ready for them.  They were brought down so they (along with several other chiefs as witnesses) could show up in court, and the oldest of them could actually be witnesses to the fact that the famine feeds were NOT happening, that the scammers were pocketing the money.  This happened for 5 months I think.  The scammers stopped the famine feeds and reported that they were doing them.  They pocketed the money that IHF was sending them for these months.  They did more too, too much to explain here.  But the point is, We had one last meeting with the lawyer and the prosecutor.  We decided to have it at the orphanage.  We arrived first, and the children were all dressed in their uniforms, and they ran out to meet us, and they all wanted to get really close to me, hug me and shake my hand.  I started balling (those of you that know me well, know that this was totally predictable).   Then what really blew my mind was that these kids started to sing.  No instruments. You could have set a clock by the rhythm.  Their feet were tapping, and their bodies were moving, and there was the soloist which would sing the first line, then the rest of the children would echo, in absolute perfect pitch and rhythm, like nothing I've ever heard.  Roberta I wish so much you could have been there, but next time you may.  They all called carol Mommy and they called me Daddy in the song.  After that we gave them the toys that Roberta packed in my suitcase.  They had so much fun, they have never had toys before, and it was unbelievable.  Well, we had our meeting with the prosecutor, and then we finally left and I was exhausted and fell into my bed (btw, they don't put chocolate mints on the pillows here).  We pay $8 a night for my room!

Today is the trial, which we expect to be very short with a delay until more fact finding.  This afternoon I hope to have time to email etc.  On Friday (tomorrow)we head out to Pokot (I think it's about a 4 or 6 hour drive).  

So this is my life here so far!


9-29
One thing I noticed while at the court and police station, there are no computers!  In America, there's a computer on every desk!, I don't believe I've seen one computer!


Well with the court temporarily behind us, we're free to do other funner things!  It's 5:30 am, they are supposed to wake me at 5, so we can go pick up the things for the famine feed.  I'm all packed up, but no one else seems to be awake.  Last night I was able to do Internet, but I forgot something important for Collette, and I think I won't have another chance 'till next week sometime.

I thought a lot last night, I woke up at midnight, couldn't go back to sleep.  It's like I've forgotten all about my telescope control software I'm working on, etc.  All I think of is the kids, the chiefs, etc.

Carol has started a program under the IHF umbrella that keeps the Pokot college students together, in some sort of an organization that does projects to mostly help the Pokot at home, such as encouraging girls to attend college, not do mutilation, and many other projects.  They met with Carol for their 2nd meeting yesterday at the Nakuru center.  The Pokot are really the lowest of the low socially, and discrimination is brutal.  They are thought as the scum of Kenya by most Kenyans, according to carol, but gosh, these kids are NOT the scum of anything, they're really intelligent, verbal, have wonderful ideas, articulate beautifully.  Many of them are going with student loans, and several families pitching in to pay for one kids college.  Most of these kids come from "rich" families, which means they have a couple of cows instead of just one goat.  Now these kids have such a heart for helping their own people it's wonderful to see!  This program is called SAPTOP, Students ?? Pokot ?? ?? ?? I can't remember.  There were about 20 kids, 3 of them girls, attending 3 different colleges.

When I heard Carol talking about the "chiefs", I had a certain picture in my mind.  You think of painted faces, spears, feathers.  Well, I've met 6 or so chiefs, and my stereotype was all wrong.  These are wonderful folk as far as I can tell.  One is the pastor of a church (practically everyone here is a Christian) named Yusuf.  Then there's Moses, Amos, Joshua, and others.  They all like me a lot, and are really helpful.  They mostly dress in suits, or otherwise very nicely.  Most carry cell phones!

One problem is power.  They don't need much, just enough to charge their radios, cell phones, and now the two laptops they're going to have.  We're going to tally up the power, and try to put in 3 solar panel stations.  Power is miles away, and this will help them a lot.  Communication among them is a big problem, and this may help solve that problem.  

I wanted to talk about Dr. Timothy Kipkopus.  Out of all the people I met, there are only 2 drivers, one chief and then this 20 or 24 year old named Frederick.  He's the official driver and drives everyone around!  Well, he and Tim picked me up at the airport.  I've had a lot of communication with Tim before I got here.  When I was first emailing him, I thought that I was talking to an American.  The emails had absolutely perfect tenses, were very eloquent.  Well, Tim is the only Pokot medical Dr.  He told me that he did well in school and kept getting scholarships.  Now he could have a really high paying job, but instead he works at a pharmacy, and is the IHF director.  He's about 26 or 27.  His heart is with his people.  He loves the children and is always looking out for them.  He is such a wonderful person, and IHF is so lucky to have him.  Muhia was the former director, and Tim is taking his place.  Muhia is the one that stole thousands of dollars. Now IHF is really lucky to have Tim!

9-30, 5:30am, well after writing the above (in the early morning of the 29th), we left for the Pokot.   I'm thinking that moses was thinking we didn't have too much money, they didn't fill the car with gas, and we didn't have enough water, more later.   We arrived at the Pokot orphanage at I think about 10 or so.  Now much more singing and dancing.  

You have to realize that the famine feed got really messed up.  We had it scheduled for the 30th, but then for some reason it was rescheduled for the 29th.   So we emailed all the Pokot people to let them know, right?  Just kidding, and that is the problem, many of them didn't get the message, so not enough folks showed up.  They were all out at the main road, waiting for us, who knows how long!  

The singing and dancing lasts forever, and I'm starting to sweat!  Finally it's stopped, it's funny to see them, they love to look at me, but then when I meet their eyes and smile, they turn away.  It's kind of hard for me, to be singled out, and the complete center (well Carol too).  You know to be in a sea of blacks, and I'm the only white male (I've seen two others since I've been here!  So, now I am the minority, but instead of the dirt minority, I'm the lofty white male!  Everyone wants to shake my hand and hugs, but then they sort of shrink away.  It's kind of draining!  Those of you that know me well know that I'm not a flashy, business man, I'm down at the lowest level, and here I'm this amazing white male, sure is different.

So Carol insisted I do part of the famine feed, and I'm putting flour in their bags.  Two scoops, each bag.  They tell me they boil water, then make a paste out of it, the consistency depending on how many people they need to feed.

Ok, now the famine feed is going on more, on its own, the chiefs, etc. are now taking over, and we head for the watering hole a few K's away.  On the way, Carol was feeling manipulated by one of the chiefs, who is a really great person, but always has to be in the limelight, and wants to get his church involved (He's a pastor).  Carol is very tired of his "politics" and is disgusted that even here, while people are starving, politics is involved!).  

The water hole is a man made lake that was carved out of the landscape with caterpillars etc.  There are many animals that drink this water (it's only fed by rainwater during the rainy season).  We are at the end of the rainy season, so it's full.  There are many animals. Goats, donkeys, camels, cows, and many others.  The people drink this water too, and that is one reason there are many health problems.  There is a community of folk that live around the water hole.  Unfortunately, during the dry season, it drys up completely, then the animals can die, which make the people die.  So now they take off looking for other water, and don't use the only "bore hole" (well) that is for miles around (the only clean water).  

We arrive at the water hole, and now I'm seeing a lot more people here, but Carol is concerned, 'cuz she's thinking there's way too few people.  Carol started talking to them about IHF.  There were several communities there, and she had the women break down into their local groups, and each group selected a representative.  Then Carol addressed each group (I think there were about 5).  They presented their selected group rep, and then Carol told that group rep they they were now her sister, that they had equal vote on the board, equal say as she has, 1 vote each.  These people here are really grateful for IHF, the only organization helping them, including their own government.

Well, I forgot to mention that there was much singing and dancing when we arrived.  Now I'm starting to get gifts.  There were many guys there, some old, some young, but each guy holds a staff and then this little thing that looks like an anvil, however, it's made out of wood.  I was curious and asked.  They use it to sit on!  They also use it for a pillow!  During the dancing, some women put a beaded leather belt around me (two of them), then a bracelet.  The beaded belts signify bravery, and the bracelet if I remember correctly, signifies a friendship or something.   Then they gave me one of the wooden anvils, now I'm a true brave warrior I guess.

Also, soon after we got there, we decided to look at the "bore hole".  They said there's plenty of water there, and the well is 110 meters deep (hard to believe).  There is a pump at the bore hole, with two large flywheels (one on each side), with a handle sticking out like a crank.  There were two young girls cranking this, and capturing precious water in a plastic jug.  So I must try it.   The reason it's a fly wheel, is the inertia is used to suddenly pump another squirt of water up from the depths.  The pump must be at the bottom, so there must be a mechanical linkage from the top down to the bottom.  Well, I tried to pump, and it's amazing how much energy it takes.  If I arrive from the city, and I must get some water, it would just break me into a sweat, and I'd be out of breath, but I'd get my water.  If I've been walking several K's, and I'm sick and weak from starvation, it's just not fair to have to put the amount of energy into this pump.  So now I'm thinking what kind of energy we can use.  Wind?  No wind in the dry season.  Gas or diesel is very expensive and must be brought in.  Solar cells?  Well, it would work, but it would take a lot of them.  I'm thinking this may be the best way, but something has to be done.  I can't stop thinking about this and I want to be the solution....

During the hours we were there, Carol pointed out the signs of malnutrition and starvation in some of the children.  Bloated stomachs, hair falling out in clumps, red areas in the hair too.  This is the rainy season, and so this is the time where the folks have the most food, so it's really sad to see.

So the famine feed was finally started, there were now more people, as people were arriving during the time we were there.

They had called from the orphanage, that they wanted us to come back.  We had thought we were done with that, but they were insistent, so we promised we'd return to the watering hole, and headed back to the orphanage.  After arriving, it's now understood why we were brought back.  There were many more people there, and they made us get out of the car and they "danced" us up the long driveway, and into the orphanage area.  Now everyone is singing and dancing, and I get another anvil, a beaded bracelet for Roberta, a necklace, and much singing and dancing.  It is really cool there this time of year they tell me, but I don't agree!  Cool is relative!  I'm sweating like a pig, and no chance for water, because it would be extremely impolite to drink water in front of the people.  Now since we were there in the morning, they had set two chairs out and they had actually made a canopy of leaves for us.  But as soon as we (Carol and I) sat down, we had to get up again, because something Carol had never seen was happening.  The males had gathered and were doing a dance.  They came at me with there staffs in hand like spears, all the while chanting.  I felt in no way intimidated, it was part of a dance.  One of the teachers translated:
We need water, help us get water!
We need medicine, help us get medicine,
We need food, help us get food.

This was a cry for help to the white male god, and Carol has never seen the men sing and dance before.

Now we sit in the chairs again, and someone brings us bottled water, and we refuse for politeness, just wanting it soo bad!  Now several of the locals talk directly to us, via translator, and they are pretty much the same.  "Thank you so much for the food, and thanks you so much for the orphanage, but please help us get water, and a medical clinic, and could you increase the food?" .  Now there is one of the oldest of the orphans, that has written a poem, it's about the child slavery that takes place for especially orphans, that get water for other people, so they can get a meager bite of food.  Apparently she has some experience with this, and it was a wonderful song/poem, so beautiful and sad, (she sang in English).  Later she copied it down for us, and I'll send it to you next time..  (Note, it's at the end of this log)

Ok, now there are two bags of flour left, and we start the final famine feed for the day.  It was absolutely incredible, they were fighting to get in line, and the guys had their bags, and carol insisted that women and children first.  She ended up sitting on the flour bag until they settled down and got the women in line.  Now it's two scoops per person, I'm taking my turn, now it's one scoop per person, the second bag is getting empty, now it runs out, and people are still in line, Carol asks around for anybody with shillings (we're both out of shillings) to give to the last people so they can buy food, there are only a few shillings collected.  It's over, and folks start to leave again.  I'm drained.  We go in the male orphanage section, and some of the orphans make food for us, and we get water.  The water is now gone.  We (Carol and I) can't drink the local water, we're not immune as most are.  We're out of bottled water, and we're out of shillings.  The closest town is three hours away.  We promised we were going to get the telescope out at the watering hole, so we had to head back there to tell them we had to go to town to get water.  It was cloudy anyway.  There were a lot of folks that had stayed because of the telescope, which was explained to them, but they still have no idea about.  Now plans had changed, and we had to drive back to tell them, then backtrack and a three hour drive to the city (where I'm writing this from).  The first ATM didn't work, we're panicking.  There's one more in town.  It works!  Ok, now water, finally,  Here I am, 3 hours without water, and I'm in a panic.  It's a way of life for them!

Ok, now shower time, it's time to get started on the next day!

9-30-06, This section is about Saturday, the 30th, it's Sunday morning.  One thing I've learned, nothing goes according to plan!  Plan: Eat, do some shopping, Gas, and then head straight to Riongo to do a famine feed.  Well, we did the breakfast, and the shopping part, but that's where it ended.  On our way, just to the Pokot area, and rock through the tire.  The jack didn't work properly, so, we flagged down an English tourist who was nice enough to loan us a jack.  Finally changed it, and then thought it better to head back into town and get it fixed which we did.  Now we have a spare again, and then Kachaya gets a call that some orphans are sick, so we need to go there first.  We stopped by the orphanage (not really close to it so the children wouldn't see us), and found out that they would be OK for a while, so we start heading for Riongo.  Riongo is in the northeast area, closest to the Turkona tribe.  It is the farthest we drive for the famine feeds   When about 3/4 of the way there, another flat.  We had to be creative with the jack.  Then we finally make it to Riongo.  We were expecting Yusof to be there with the van.  No van, Carols upset, ok, now it's kind of a repeat of what we did at the watering hole, with one main difference, Carol pointed out signs of advanced malnutrition in many children.  These people have been waiting for hours for us, literally hours, because of the two flat tires. Ok, more singing, tons of it, then another necklace and a beautiful headband around my forehead (too tight).  Then Carol gave her speech, and then Carol wanted to take the sickest to the clinic, but our vehicle was too full. I offered to stay with my luggage, but then Kachaya said it may be dangerous, so we promised to return, and to make sure the sickest were still there.  Then we took off to find Yusuf.  About a 2 hour drive, we find a Pokot village where there were many buildings, a store or two, two churches, etc.  We find Yusuf there with the van, building a community center.  Carol hardly said any words, but I could tell was furious.  Remember Yusuf is the pastor of the church, and is always bringing politics and religion to the IHF community.  Many of the volunteers go to his church, and he has a lot of clout with all the people, but he brings politics to IHF, and is totally against the rules.  He has a great heart, even takes orphans into his own house, but carol is completely frustrated in him!  Anyway I think this is the last straw.  Well we decide to drive both vehicles to the orphanage, then we decide to take the van to the Riongo, and others take the jeep to the clinic with the sick orphans,  Ok, we get there about 8 something, already dark, and there they are waiting for us, have been waiting all day!  We pack up these children (and some mothers), and head to the clinic.  One baby is having a hard time breathing, another is vomiting out the window.  The Pokot women smell like goats, it's not bad, I can't explain it, but it was a bit nauseating to me, and one time I lost it.  I find if I breathe through my mouth, I can control my nausea.  Two hours of bumps and we arrive.  We are absolutely beat.  We drop them off, then we head back into the village to find a "hotel"  It's full 'cuz of some political event.  No food all day.  I gave carol a power bar, only food for either of us since breakfast.  We decide to drive to lake Baringo and they were full too.  It's after midnight.  Carol is nervous, this is Njagga's safari stomping grounds.  One time, several people were paid to surround Carol to instill fear. They finally find some rooms, a double room for Kachaya and two singles for Carol and myself.  There are cockroaches running around on the floor.  I don't feel like eating, I go straight to bed, I don't wake up 'till 7:00.

This doesn't even feel real to me, it is reality, but by the end of the day I had a screeching headache, from the stress and the realities.  I find these people are desperate, and they are literally dieing.  My mind is reeling, I can't even think and I feel numb.  Today, Carol told me about a letter that the young girl who wrote the poem gave here while we were briefly at the orphanage.  She quietly slipped the letter in her hand.  Her brother has died, and her parents died.  She still has a younger sister .  The letter was a plea for help for her sister who is bleeding, probably in her poop.  Carol says this is Dunges fever, and she will go insane or die if untreated.  So part of the plan today is to try to find her and bring her to the clinic.  So our plan is to go to town, get the flat fixed, go to the orphanage and pick up the van, then head back to the clinic, pick up the Pokot folks, bring them back to Rionga.  Then back to the orphanage, bring back more children including the singers younger sister to the clinic, now I have no idea what we'll do after this, but one thing is for sure, this plan will be changed!

10-1-06  This section is about Sunday the 1st, it's the morning of the 2nd.
Carol is a bit (and understandably) freaked.  This little town is where she and Danny took a taxi, and the driver left them in the middle of nowhere (Njagga's paid the driver to do this).  Then one other time, several men surrounded and threatened her here.  Well, she had reason to be freaked, the lady serving her in the morning said "you're from the watering hole, aren't you?".  Then another lady came to her later and said "you should not be here!".  Also, she recognized one of the men that surrounded her, at another table, then he came and sat down at are table.  We think somebody called Njagga, and told him to come and spy, so this is a reality, I believe this is actually serious, and she may be in danger, particularly when the court case comes around.  If we were to loose Carol, things would never be the same.  I've seen her in action now, and I believe she belongs to the great people of history, Mother Teresa, and many others.  Carol knows what she is doing, and knows what works and what doesn't and communicates this to people firmly, and with great understanding.  Carol has tried to make this so it will work without her, but I know of no one else that can pass this along with a strong hand as she does.  Also, the love she has for her children is equal to that of any I've read about.  She's also very humble, I was going to tell her what I was thinking, and she saw the conversation headed that way, and completely blocked it.  I believe she's just doing what she is compelled to do because of her love.

Ok, well, We ran out of money, and there was no ATM in town, we're out of gas.  They will simply not take American money.  We have enough for some soda's and to fix the flat.  Frederick pointlessly but wonderfully washes the car while we're waiting.  Some folks help him.  I take pictures of children, then show the picture to them on the screen, they absolutely laugh and laugh every time!  We decide to go back to the safari (we stayed close to it last night, at a dive), but there is a real safari place nearby.  Maybe they can change some of my American money.  We walk in, what a contrast!  All enclosed in gates with guards.  Beautiful lawns, a truly beautiful place, and such a contrast to anything I've seen here so far, I'll bet there are chocolate mints on the pillows!  Yes, they can rip us off with a bad exchange rate, and change some money.  I did $100, thinking this would be enough.  We go back to town, fill up the car, buy some water, and then head back to the orphanage.  By now it's noon.  We find that Frederick has already taken the Pokot sick back to Riongo, I'm really glad.  We play with the orphans, and have fun.  Then I'm discussing the water situation with the Riongo chief.  He tells me each family uses about 30 liters of water per day, and there are about 500 families.  This is distressing to me.  I think I need a second opinion.  That's 15,000 liters per day.  If I use solar, that would be 1500 per hour for 10 hours, or 25 liters per minute.  I'm pretty sure the pump capacity will not do this, but the big problem is that is only one community, what about the other by the watering hole?  Double it?  Not gonna happen.  

After this, I joined a meeting with several people from the orphanage, and IHF.  Here there is a serious problem, Yusuf has been "running" IHF, even though he had resigned the last time Carol was here.  Yusuf is a good man, and would never steal, but he's a "politician", and uses his power with the church, to position people in IHF from his church, completely against IHF rules.  So now there is a bunch of people (really great people) that are on the board, but have basically been appointed by Yusuf.  So Carol has had enough, and uses the fact that Yusuf resigned last time, and then just appointed himself secretary again, and started running IHF, to say that really he is not on the board because nobody voted him back on.  She was fearing mutiny because many  (maybe all) of the people are going to his church.  So now that Carol is insisting that Yusuf not run IHF, she is afraid other people will get mad and quit.  Carol did a great job in discussing this, and I believe that she has the support she needs, and man if Yusuf starts running IHF again, this will truly be incredible.  I'm still not sure it will not happen when Carol leaves again, but who knows.  Christians rule here, and gives political power under the name of Jesus (more about this later).  Now there is a danger that these people will "missionaryize" (Is that a new word?) the children.  I expect they will, and this is truly one fear of the Pokot folks, who have really been mistreated by "Christians".  The Pokot folk have their own traditional religious rituals, I'm not sure what they are, but I hate to see people tell other people that their spirituality isn't real because they aren't Christian (or whatever).  Well, Carol couldn't have been more clear, and I hope things are better.  Also, what I've heard Carol say is she hates politics that hurt the hungry children. It couldn't be more true.

Next, I want to go back to the well, and collect some data about volume of water.  Frederick and Kachaya take me there.  There are about 30 people waiting around for their turn to use the pump.  There are two women "manning" the pump.  I take a video of them.  The are filling a 20 liter jug.  They can't fill it so some boys take over.  Now that is a laugh, the girls completely outdid the boys, wow!  Anyway, they were able to fill the 20 liter bucket in 2.5 minutes, with some stopping in between.  I'm encouraged with this volume, maybe I will be able to get enough for at least one community.

There is one person here, who is now a volunteer (I think they're going to vote him on staff today).  His name is Kachaya.  He was a Pokot orphan, and told me his story, how he worked so hard at school to get good grades, now he wants to help his people.  Kachaya is a wonderful person, with great understanding and spirituality.  He is a Christian, but a true "Christlike" Christian.  We've both shared a lot of our stories, and he's a true friend now, with a lot of respect between us.

Now we try one last time to set up the scope for the kids.  I can see the moon between the clouds, so I have hope.  I put the scope together, and align it.  Now I'm looking through clouds at the moon.  Very disappointing, the clouds seem to be "distorting" clouds.  Well, now the clouds completely block the moon.  The children have been watching me and are very anxious to see.  Finally we can see the moon again.  I race over, get the 1st child in the line, and she's too short.  By the time we come up with a stool, the clouds are back, but this time, they're really back, it's hopeless.  We explain to the disappointed children, and I start putting the scope away.  Now it starts raining, so we move all the parts inside, where I continue putting it away.  Maybe better luck in Asia!  While I'm putting it away, I feel very faint, and I think it's because I'm tired, and no food all day since breakfast.  I find another power bar and share it with Carol, and I feel a bit better.  We're almost out of water again, but we're on our way back to Nakuru, and we stop at the first town.  I gave the rest of my money to Moses, because he had to take more children to the clinic.  Kevin is one of them.  He's the one that can name the 8 planets plus Pluto.  He is sooo hot, must have malaria.  It seems like an epidemic here.  Anyway, we didn't have enough for a meal we bought soda and bread at the first town.  I drank two large soda's just like that.  I realize I must be dehydrated.  We had given the water we purchased to the children earlier in the day for another reason, too long to write here, so we were skimping on water to make it through the day.  Now I can make it to Nakuru.  I slept like a log.

10-2-06  This section is about Monday the 2nd, it's the morning of the 3nd.
Yesterday was extremely busy.  We had a meeting that was supposed to last 1 or 2 hours, which lasted about 12 altogether!  I barely had 1 hour to make it to the Internet cafe!  Anyway, I'm not going to bore you with details, it was about the Muhia case, and for the first time, there is some kind of a defense put together.  All I can say is it's a good thing we didn't go through with this case last week.  Many new things came out of our discussion, and it's now easy to see how Muhia planned this from the beginning!

There was also an IHF training meeting that I didn't attend (That's when I went to the I-Net cafe.

Wow a long day, but a short section!

10-3-06  This section is about Tuesday the 3rd, it's the morning of the 4th.
We had more meetings, today, then we went to the police station to do statements, then took pictures at the center.  Then tried to buy an inverter for charging cell phones, that took an hour and then they didn't have it.  "In Stock" means at another store, and then they don't have it anyway!
Then off to Nairobi, a 3 hour drive, got here at 9 or so, man, this place is loud and tons of people, traffic was a constant jam, even at 9:30 pm!  We found 3 cheap hotels, but they were all full, then Tim thought of the YMCA, not far away.  We went in and it was so peaceful, cheaper than the dives in downtown, and it's beautiful here, birds and mosquito's singing, large pool, outdoor or indoor dining, I will stay here for the rest of the time!  

For the 1st time, I see a fair amount of us minorities here at the YMCA, I think about half of us are white.  Of course the staff is all local.

I've been talking to Tim about the salaries of folks here, it's pretty low, a skilled worker like a carpenter makes about $5000usd a year.  Fortunately everything is a lot cheaper, except for gas, which is a huge expense.  If you are having a menial job, you may make about $3000usd per year.

Some folks get high on drugs or alcohol, some folks get high on adrenalin rush, some folks (like me) get high on learning new things, and creating new things, Carol gets high on kids.  Last night we're wandering around downtown and we can't find a hotel, but kids are constantly coming up to us saying "I'm hungry", wanting money.  One 7 or 8 year old girl came up to Carol, and she smiles at her and tells her she doesn't have money but does she want to dance?  and the literally start dancing in the street!  I also notice that when she sees the children from the orphanage, her whole countenance changes, and when we leave, she has to "unwind" from seeing the children!

10-3-06  This section is about Wednesday the 4th, it's the morning of the 5th.
Yesterday was another very crazy day.  !st we met with two doctors one of them the head director for a research center.  We are trying to brainstorm with them about getting a program started to get statistics for the folks in East Pokot.  Right now, there are no statistic, born, die, diseases, nobody in the world knows.  They seem like they really want to help, and ask us to write a proposal.  Well, That would be up to Tim and I, mostly Tim, being the doctor, but we have to have it done by Friday.  Well, late last night, one of them (the one that isn't the director) was so excited about it, he decided to write it himself, and he called Tim to tell us.  Tim and I were really relieved, and happy, one less thing to do today!  Plus, he knows better what to write!  We are meeting one last time with him on Friday....  After this, we had to cancel one of our meetings because of time.  So then we met with Juma (who drove down from Nakuru for this), and another prestigious lawyer to make a corporation for the ownership of the 15 acre land.  She also wants to start a worldwide group of international lawyers that learn about the laws so it's easier to do this.  We want protection in case something happens to the local NGO of IHF, normally, the land would go to the government, and that would NOT be good, instead with this in place, the land will be owned by the corporation, and it's sole purpose cannot be changed from the goals of helping the tribal people.  

Ok, now we're late for the airport, so we jump in the car and race to the airport to drop Carol off.  Well, guess what!, Her ticket has been canceled, and the flight was delayed.  We ended up finally leaving her at 5:30.  She finally had it all straightened out, so she should be back on her way to the states.  

Ok, now there's a SAPTOP (Students Of Pokot Think Tank on Poverty) student that came from the university to talk to me, his name is James Tikonin.  He arrived at 10:00am, and had to wait until 6:00pm to talk to us.  We had dinner, then went to the I-Net cafe,  We talked a lot, his major is computer science, he's the only Pokot student with this major.  He will do well here.  It's nice to have this group of students, we are going to use them for research.  Today we're supposed to hook up with another student who will help us with water.  The SAPTOP is a group that Carol started, and she's hoping to take the extremely few kids that are lucky enough to find a college education to return some of their knowledge and help to their community.  This group is under the umbrella of IHF.

Well, after the I-Net, we took Bill home (We're borrowing Bills car).  By the time we got back it was 11:00, I had to fix the mirror on my telescope, and then we went to bed.  Tonight we hope to have a look at the moon with the scope.  We are also going to do research on Solar Panels today.  

10-3-06  This section is about Thursday the 5th, it's the morning of the 6th.
Now it's my last day here.  We had a fun day yesterday.  Before I forget, about the night before last when we took Bill home (it's about 20 km from town), we had a great time.  I met his wife, and then we could see stars (as apposed to in the city), so I was showing everyone the constellations, etc.  Especially Timothy was extremely interested.  Then on the way home, it was hard to shut me up.  You know I don't talk too much, but when I get going about astronomy, it's hard to shut me up.  I was explaining about emission nebula and how it worked.  Timothy, who's a doctor (the only Pokot doctor so far), had studied electron shell theory, and basically explained it back to me perfectly.  He is extremely interested in astronomy.  I have to remember to give him some books.  I did give him my Sky and Telescope magazine (yeah Roberta, I really did).

Ok, now about yesterday.  We went solar cell hunting.  We found a store that Timothy knew about, and we purchased a 40 watt panel, and 3 battery packs with built in inverters.  These are much more expensive than in the US, but it is necessary.  Just recently, some company installed some cell phone antennas, and their cell phones started working at the 1st two communities.  Also Carol had purchased two way radio's, but the batteries run down, then they have to spend a lot of gas to drive several km's over really bad roads to communicate, or folks from the farther communities have to walk all the way to the orphanage where the IHF van is kept.  These solar cells and battery/inverter kits will help them keep their cell phones and radios charged, it will save money in the long run.  They could use another solar cell or two, but these are hugely expensive.  I spent $780 USD on what we purchase.  Also, while we were there, I gathered information about larger solar panels I'm going to need when I put a motor on the pump at the watering hole.  I plan to do this in January (the hottest time of the year).  This will literally save lives!  I'm going to be spending $8000 on just the solar panels.  If any of you are interested in helping, please let me know, you're donation will be fully tax deductable!  This is going to be only a beginning though, and we need a grant to put more wells in.  

After we were done here, we took the car to the garage people, to have it serviced before we returned it to Bill, and then I had some Internet time.  We then took a nap, and had dinner at a nice place in town.  It is now just Timothy, Frederick and I.  Well, we finally had a semi clear night, and the mirror glue had cured enough, we were able to get some really nice views of the nearly full moon.  Frederick was the biggest "photon hog"  He absolutely loved it!  Several of the staff here at the YMCA stopped to see as well.  The telescope worked really well, and we zoomed in to fairly high power to examine some of the canyons etc.  

Ok, today I leave for Jakarta at 9:45PM.  We have a meeting with the doctors who might help us in Pokot today at 10:00 am.  We need to get checked out and have our baggage stored.  I hope to have Internet time this afternoon.


10-8-06  This section is about Saturday the 7th, it's the morning of the 8th.

Hi all:

"Only when we learn to live from the heart and to feel the suffering of others as if it were our own do we become truly human."

These words are from the book 'Buddha', by Karen Armstrong that I'm in the midst of reading.

I'm in Bangkok, I couldn't get a flight to Medan last night after arriving.  I'm staying at a really nice hotel, in stark contrast to my other nights, especially in Pokot.  It seems like my experiences with the Pokot people are already fading into a dream, but I must somehow cling to my experiences, as they are a serious reality.  I'm in the midst of luxury, while there is much suffering in the world.

Before I forget, on my first arrival, I was picked up by Dr. Timothy Kipkopus, and Frederick, at Nairobi airport.  On our drive to Nakuru, I told them about my daughter Malaika, and how we arrived at her name, as there was a song that Kathie knew, named "Malaika".  Timothy said he knew the song, and we started singing it together in the car!  It was really cool! Well, on one of our days in Nairobi, Tim went to a music store, and found the original CD that had this song on it, and gave it to me for a going away present!  It really is cool, and I can't wait to give it to Malaika!  There is much wonderful music on this CD.



10-9-06  This section is about Sunday and Monday the 8th, and the 9th it's the afternoon of the 9th.
I arrived to a small scam, an official looking gentleman looked like he wanted to look through my bags or something, so I'm tensing up, he took me through customs, so I was surprised we didn't stop, he was simply trying to carry my bags for a tip!  Oh, another thing, when I went to purchase a visa, I found my American money was all missing, almost $1,000!   Then I remembered I left it in the hotel room in Bangkok!  (I called them, they're going to keep it for me)!

Ok, I hooked up with Faisal, Danny, and their sister (I already forgot her name).  They took me to the center.  It's a beautiful house, with lots of Indonesian art.  I hadn't eaten all day, they fed me, wonderful spicy things on rice, we chatted and then it was bed.   It is Moslem Ramadhan holiday all this month.  It's a beautiful idea.  Nobody eats or drinks from early in the morning until late in the evening.  It is in memory of people that don't have enough to eat.  I made it through mostly on the eating part of it, but it's hot and humid, and I'm sweating a lot, and the no drinking just wasn't my cup of tea, however, I decided to remember my new Pokot friends during my fast.  Anyway, because of this, they woke me up at 4:00 am so I could eat before the day started, then I slept again until 8:00.

First arrivals were a dance class, and the morning class.  The morning class is quiet.  The dancers danced for me, and then they made Danny and I dance with them.  It was really beautiful.  After this, I took a ride on the back of the IHF motor scooter, with Danny driving!  Woe!  Absolutely incredible.  We had so many close calls, but they weren't close calls to Danny, just normal navigation!  We did have one head on collision with another motor cycle (we were practically stopped)!  After getting some Indonesian cash from the ATM, we went to buy my airline ticked from Aceh to Jakarta on Wednesday.  Their computers were down though, but we finally left to go visit some of the T.E.P. (The education program) children.  After this, Faisal joined us with his motorcycle.  His driving is just one notch "saner" than Danny's, but his scooter wasn't big enough to hold my weight!

It was heart wrenching and sad.  Fortunately, these folks have enough to eat, but to get money, they take the copper wires from the insides of old glass light bulbs, and remove all the glass from them, and then make jars of the little copper wires that holds the filaments.  Then they sell the copper for a very small amount.  This is one of the way that they make meager money.  As I understand it, the schools are supposedly free, however, you have to have uniforms, and you have to pay fees for this and that, so it excludes the poorest of the poor.  The TEP program provides them with enough money to buy their uniforms and pay their school fees so the children can attend regular school.  To learn more about the TEP program, visit the ihfonline.org website!

One of the TEP children we visited lived across a large river, with no bridge, however, there were several boys swimming in the river.  There was a large inner tube that they use to cross the river.  Yes, I got on the 'tube, and was ferried across!  Now we're in the most beautiful part I've seen so far!  There were so many fruit trees of all different types. Coconut, Banana, Papaya, Pineapple, and many others I've already forgotten.  This is really a blessing to these people.  We sat in the shade at the TEP child's front porch, and talked to them for a long while.  This was where I first broke my Ramadhan.  The TEP child went to a store on foot, and came back with a large bottle of water which I drank in front of them, but nobody seemed to mind!  I also had two miniature bananas (they come very small here, but they're delicious!), and they gave me (they made me pick it) a very large Papaya which we're going to have later after Ramadhan is over.  

On our way back home, we stopped at the travel place, and they finally got my ticket, so I'm all set for the rest of my trip here.  Then we stopped one more time and purchased some

Now we stopped in at the afternoon English class, and compared to the morning class, they are on fire!  They had a lot of questions for me, one girl wanted to know if I was married, so I drew a heart on the blackboard, and wrote Dan and Roberta in it!  I explained about the seasons where I live, and they were really interested.  Faisal interpreted for me, it was really fun.

I've learned a lot about how IHF works, and I'm glad it is here doing the work!

Ok, tonight, it looks partly clear, so we're gonna try the telescope.  Then Danny and I are going to take an all night bus to Aceh (Pronounced Och-Eh), and visit the orphanage there. Please look up the children's area of the website, and select the Banda Aceh section.  Start reading the children's stories, and you'll see that many of the orphans lost their parents in the Tsunami!  It's a heart wrenching story told all too often there.  I'm looking forward to my visit there.


It's the evening of 10-10-2006.  I'm in Banda Aceh, at the orphanage.

Last night we set up the telescope amidst the clouds.  We were able to get a pretty good look at Jupiter, and there were tons of children, and neighbors too.  After Jupiter set the clouds were just to thick to get my bearings, so no deep sky.

After this, We packed everything up, said goodbye to Faisal and Mynee (spelling?) and Danny and I set off for the bus station.  It was supposed to leave at 9pm, it left about 10:30 I think.  We drove all night until 8 or 9 am, when we finally arrived.  We stopped at about 4:00 for breakfast (Remember Ramadhan?), and later about 5 or 6 for prayers, at a small Mosk.

Once we arrived, there was some more incredible dancing by the children, all choreographed wonderfully, in full costumes!  I hope you can see the video's I took!  We then chatted a while, they all want to know how old I am, am I married, etc.  Danny translated.  Then, Danny, the director, Irna, and the driver, took off in the IHF car to see the sites.  I cried when I went into the grave yard.  Thousands of people are buried here, there is grass on a small hilly area with different sections for the children, etc.  It felt as if I was among them, I told them I was sorry for what happened, and then told them goodbye.

There is a huge power barge, that was moored a few kilo's from the coast.  This barge was born inland with a wave, causing mass destruction, but finally settled inland.  It is a site to see, a totally landlocked barge.  The guard was up on board, and because Danny called to him and said he had a special visitor from the USA, We were aloud on board!  I felt right at home, due to my vocation.  We saw the huge diesel and generator, all just sitting now, because there is no way to provide cooling water!  

One of my favorite sites was a large tree, near the ocean.  Danny told me that this tree saved about 50 people who clung to it.  There are stories of people holding there kids and also to the branches, but the water was too powerful, and they had to let their kids go.  But I think it was a good thing, and I gave the tree a blessing because of what it provided.

Now back to the center, and a much needed nap!  After this, we all piled into the car, and went to a kids play center, where there is a lot of video games, etc.  The kids are now starting to warm up to me.  After we get back, we are finally able to eat, then it is prayer time.  After prayer time, Jupiter is too low, and behind clouds, however, now the Teapot in Sagittarius is plainly visible.  It's darker here than in Medan.  We are able to look at M22, M8, M17, M11, and Alberio (those of you that aren't astronomers, can look these up on the I-Net if you wish, but the children, really enjoyed the views, It was sure they hadn't seen them before.  Ok, now the biggest photon hog was the director!

After this we had a play time, and the kids are really warming up now.  We did "Thumb wars", a new game for them, and other games.  

Tomorrow I hop on a plane for Jakarta, my last center to visit.

10-12-2006
Now I'm in Jakarta, at the orphanage and education center of the place I feel I had a hand in saving.  I'm happy to be here, everyone treats me with so much respect I feel I don't deserve.  No one will serve there own food until I get my own.  etc.  It's a beautiful place.

Bagus is the director DJoko's son, and his title is Coordinating Director.  He and a volunteer named Aryo picked me up at the airport.

I love Djoko, the director here.  He's incredibly busy, but has a great heart for human rights and the children.  

Today I just returned with DJokos son Bagus and another from the slum areas.  I had already seen pictures, but to be there with the smells was quite another thing. It seems they really could use a lot of help, and we're only able to help in the smallest!

I am soooo lame, I left my flash disk in Medan in Faisals computer, along with the book about Budda Carol gave me.  My plane went from Aceh, stopped at Medan, then continued on to Jakarta, so Faisal made arrangements to have security deliver it to the plane!  This was really a blessing, because all the pictures and movies from Kenya were on this flash disk, along with this log!

But that's not all I'm afraid.  I had to do a layover in Thailand if you remember, and my wallet was too fat with receipts and American money which I didn't need, so I took them out of my wallet and set them on the table before I went for a walk.  Then when I left in the morning, I simply forgot them.  I think there was at least 8 or $900 I left!  So when I went to purchase a visa in Medan, I realized I didn't have any money!  Well, when I arrived at the center, Faisal helped me dial the hotel, and they have my money!  I think they found part of my brain there too!  Now I am forced to stay at the same hotel, even though it is 45 minutes from the airport (remember it's a new airport now)!  Roberta will not be a bit surprised at my forgetfulness.

So now I'm in Jakarta, and having a good time, I already have a wonderful friend who is about 7 or 8.  His name is Dio.  He helped me put the telescope together, and always runs to get me water or whatever, so now his label is "Assistant to Mr. Dan Gray"!  He's not here right now, something about school or something....

We were able to look at the Moon and the Orion Nebula this morning, right after Ramadhan breakfast.  Most children were still asleep as they are not doing Ramadhan, but others were including Ade (pronounced Oday).  It is not very clear here, there's a lot of smog, and it's hard to find things, because the reference stars are obscured by smog, so we're lucky to view the moon and the orion nebula.  

Since it is Ramadhan, attendance to the classes is low.  There was a computer class in the afternoon, and there were 4 girls in attendance.  They were all about 14-16 years old.  The teacher, Aryo stopped teaching them computers when I came in, and instead we had a long conversation.  Aryo is a translator by trade, and knows English very well.  He was encouraging the students to ask me questions.  They are Sooo shy, I tried to convince them I was simply just another person like them, nobody special, it did seem to help some, and we ended up making new friends.  I showed them my telescope, and they decided to come the next morning to view the moon!  Yeah, I'll believe it when I see it!

Later in the afternoon, I wanted to play their guitar.  It was in very sad shape, really, it was un-playable.  I talked Bagus into taking me to a music store, and we purchased a new guitar, a really nice Yamaha acoustic.  It played really nicely, and it was only about $100 USD. Well, I say "only", but you have to realize that if you have a good job there, then that is about 1 months wages!  Ok, I was happy, it was much cheaper than I could have purchased it in the states, but then when I think about what kind of guitar 1 months of U.S. wages could buy, the difference is mind boggling.  In a way I feel guilty about buying the guitar, as the $100 could have been use for other things, but oh well, the oldest orphan there plays the guitar really well, and he had been trying to play the old guitar.  He's really happy about the new guitar, and I made him promise to "pass it on" by teaching the other children to play!

After this, we broke our fast with dinner, then after dinner we sat around and sang songs.  Old Beatle songs turned out to be a real hit.   Then DJoko wanted to talk about what could be done in the slum areas.  He really has a heart for these people, and wants to help.  I believe finances will be the limiting factor with what he wants to do....

We then went to bed, and woke up as usual for Ramadhan breakfast.  We took the scope out for the last time, and the clouds were so bad, all we could see was the moon.  The good thing was, all the orphans had gotten up this time, and so everyone got a chance to see the moon!  Well, guess what, one of the computer class students did show up, and she brought two friends!  The two friends were so shy, they wouldn't look through the telescope!  I had to practically beg them!  Anyway, they finally did, and it's really amazing to see their faces, and they have never had a chance to see these sights, and probably, never will again!  After this, I went back to bed!

In the morning, I said my goodbye's and Bagus and Aryo took me to the airport, and I started the long boring trip home.

As I finish writing this, I'm already at home, and everything already seems so far away and unreal to me, but I know this is all someones reality.

Was this a fun trip?  Well, many times it was really fun, mostly when we were with the kids.  Being with my new friends was fun.  Overall it was not a "fun" trip.  To look the people in the eye that really need help is not really fun.  What it means to me to see this first hand is I know I can't just walk away from this need, I need to take advantage of what the Universe has given me, and use this to help these people.

How I found out about IHF:
In early 2005, Roberta and I went on a vacation in La Jolla California, by San Diego.  We were walking down the street doing some window shopping, and we happened to walk into the IHF World Store.  I believe (but I'm not sure) that Tish was at the store at this time.  When she told me what the store was, and what the profits from the sales went to, it really touched my heart, and I started crying like a little baby, I couldn't stop.   During the rest of this year, I was thinking about IHF a lot.  I found that their website was just sitting there, no changes at all.  Then, in September, we had some extra cash, and I was wondering some more about IHF.  I called a number that I found on the website, and it happened to be the mother of one of the volunteers.  I talked to her quite some time, and after this, I determined that this was a good cause, and I decided to send my money to them.

I then happened to be working in San Diego on a job, so I called, and talked to Carol.  After I told her who I was, she called me her angel!  Apparently the Universe had touched my heart at the time that IHF really needed the money.  I was able to spend about an hour with Carol, at the world store.  

Carol told me she was going to have to fly home early to deal with the money situation, when out of the blue, they received this money.  She was then able to finish what she was doing.  Now I certainly don't claim to understand how the Universe works, but sometimes I do see evidence of 'Universe nudges'.  Being sort of a scientist, this goes against everything I believe, so I'm just throwing up my hands about this!  It's sort of like the Universe wants things to happen, and sometimes, due to people somehow "listening", hearts are moved, and action takes place.  It's not my intention to discuss how I think this works here, maybe someday I will, but for now, it was just wonderful to feel that I was somehow used by the Universe, as a tool to help people in the world that I didn't even know.

I want to write why I support IHF with my time and also financially, as opposed to other charitable organizations.  There are 3 main reasons that sets IHF apart.  The first two, I found out on my first visit to the store, and the 3rd reason I found out over time.

1. IHF has no religious or political agenda.  I come from a very right wing fundamentalist Christian background.  I was taught that my dads beliefs were the only way to get to heaven.  I bought into this for many years.  I had been set free from this during the last 10 years of my life.  Now I believe IN all religions, but I don't believe any of them!  Does that make sense? If not, think about it some more!  Well it doesn't seem right to me to tell someone else that their belief system is all wrong, and you've got to believe like this or you're going to hell.   So the IHF way is to NOT change anyones political or spiritual system, just to help people learn to help themselves.  There are other organizations with this policy too, so this is not completely unique.

2. IHF overhead is extremely low.  When you send money in to sponsor a child, all of the money goes for food, clothes, shelter, love and caring for that child.  There is no middle organization sucking up resources.  Everyone in the U.S. is a volunteer, there are no salaries.  The only salaries are the small salaries of the orphanage or education center directors, cooks, etc.

3. This concept took a while longer for me to understand, and I don't believe I understood it fully until I saw Carol working with the council members while in Kenya.  Each center has a council.  Included on this council is women and even children.  Each person on the council has a vote, and the child's vote has the same weight as a "chief".   Thus IHF is owned not by an organization in the states, who is issuing orders, but is owned by the center and its council.  The people who are on this council are people from the area, who understand the people they're helping, because they ARE the people!

I've been asked by many people "Why IHF?  Why not the Red Cross?".  Well, I'm very thankful for all charities, and I believe the world is a better place because of them.  But find an organization that works like IHF, and I'll be extremely surprised (happily so)!  So I'm not here to tell you not to support your charity, there are many good ones, but for these 3 reasons, and also many others such as the "pass it on" philosophy, my heart is with IHF and the people they (well really "we") are helping.

I will end with a poem that was written and sung to us by an orphan from the Pokot orphanage:

Name:  Chemariach Lomertelo
School:  Chesirimion Pry Orphanage
Class:  STO (8)
Title:  Lost Childhood

My heart bleeds
For all the children
Who toil day and night
They will never experience
The joy of being children.

Many of those are my brothers
Who work in horrible conditions
In the quarries, in the salt mines
Breaking, smashing and carrying
And all for a pittance.

Others wake up before the sun rises
Into the coffee, tea, sisal plantations
They troop to become harvesters
In fair weather and bad weather
While their earnings go into their
Parents’ pockets.

And there are those of my sisters who
Are forced to abandon school to help
Bring up other people’s children.  They cook, and scrub, and clean
So their charges can acquire the education their
Minders cannot even dream of.

Worst off are my sisters
Who are forced to auction their young bodies
To the merchants of flesh, defilers of angels
Who will never appreciate their humanity
These girls will never enjoy their own
Blossoming growth.

Ho! Mumy and Dady, strengthen your hands
And deliver your children from this prison
Of captivity.  Bless us to go to school,
Be educated and get to know our rights
For knowledge is power and power is from
You.