Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Sometimes the Hokey Pokey is, What is all about!


I was so impressed with all the donations that the flight attendants managed to bring for the kids. We had shoes in all different sizes, back packs that were loaded with supplies, they had brought and sorted to fill each pack,  toiletry items, a couple of blankets, over 50 soccer balls and even bubbles!
                                           Well someone has to air all the soccer balls up!
                                        Ready to play some soccer!

They spent a lot of time sorting the shoes and then bringing the kids in one at a time to size them and give them their “new” shoes. A lot of these kids didn’t have shoes and if they did there were holes where their toes had sprouted through or they were just worn out. They were over joyed at the new/gently used ones they were given. The sweetest site of the week that summed it all up was the little boy that was in the room with us, the room was on the dark, he started walking and we noticed that he had been given shoes that lit up when he walked, we pointed it out, he proceeded to run around the room stomping his feet in joy.
                                                  Sorting dozens and dozens of shoes
                                                                     New shoes!
                                            Pretty pink ones too!

I walked around the play area watching the kids show each other their new shoes, the little girls with pretty glitter shoes, the boys with the cool action figure tennis shoes, and it surprised me to see several that weren’t wearing their new shoes, they were holding them tightly to their chests, afraid that they were a dream that would fade away. It was happy and sad all in one emotion.

                                      This is the norm.... hanging out and loving on the kids
                                                       Singing with the kids
                                                                 The Hokey Pokey
                                                              Sorting school supplies
                                          I loved working with these girls!

Flight attendants aren’t just pretty faces, they are the most loving, giving and hard working people I have ever met. The amount of supplies they collected and brought was amazing, they brought simple items that made these children feel loved and special. I enjoyed walking around and catching the fa’s holding a sleeping child or playing games, singing silly songs and doing the chicken dance, and there were times that the Hokey Pokey was what it was all about!

If you have a servants heart, or you are just ready to step out of your comfort zone go to www.projecthumanity.com volunteer now, we would love to have you as part of our team.



Friday, October 31, 2014

Loaves and Fishes and feeding the masses

Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, spoke up. "Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will it go among so many?" John 6:8-9

Leo and I had decided to go through all the supplies we had and see what meal planning we could do. We were surprised to find a bag  of popcorn, the kind you cook on the stove. Could we, I bet we could, we would try anyway!

We worked with the kids at Kibosom but because we were there, other kids would show up, mostly older ones. I’m sure seeing white people got their curiosity up as well as the free candy the flight attendants were handing out. While our group handed out the shoes and school supplies we had brought, these children looked on,  hoping that something would come their way. Leo and I decided to make the popcorn for these kids, the ones who had just showed up. Using the butane burner a large stock pot, foil for a lid, a little cooking oil and some salt, we made all the popcorn, enough to fill a paper grocery bag. I grabbed a large plastic spoon and we headed out to feed the masses. I asked Teddy and another helper to keep Leo and I from being trampled……smart move.
                                  A propane burner, a stockpot covered with foil!
                                                        Serving popcorn to the masses

The kids eagerly lined up shoving their way to try to make it to us before we ran out of the popcorn. We kept feeding and as soon as they got their helping they got back in line for seconds. There were dozens of kids, and they had at least 2 if not 3 helping of popcorn, the bag seemed bottomless. I truly believed God multiplied the popcorn that day just to give these kids a new experience and to reassure me that He will always provide more than enough…even simple things like popcorn!

If you would like to experience first how God provides and multiplies, go to www.projecthumanity.com and sign up for a trip.

                                      Trip after trip we never seem to run out!


Friday, October 24, 2014

God, please change my attitude....


Traveling for an extended period of time can get to you after a while, throw in 20 something strangers all with different personalities and lifestyles you are bound to clash eventually. Add losing a camera battery and the battery you do have, won’t charge. By midweek I needed an attitude adjustment. And I got it while working with the kids at the school, their sweet smiles and kind hearts can’t help but change you.  They have so little and yet they are so happy.

I started out the first week with Leo Trey Fetch cooking the lunch meals for our crew. This was a challenge and led to some interesting meals. Some tasty and some, not so much. I can say most of what we used was processed food items that people has packed at Project Humanity’s request. I have since learned that tuna and applesauce packets go a long way! Leo and I were able to figure out what we could add together and get a meal. Note to self -when cooking with someone you don’t know, make sure they read the direction on the soup base can before they add any to the pot……Saying that the meal was salty was an understatement. Leo added the entire contents of the canister when all we needed was a couple of tablespoons…
Most days at lunch  I would eat a cup of rice, or some diced tomatoes,  since I was not eating processed foods. I would like to say I lost a ton of weight.
Leo and I serving up lunch.

The PH crew eating a tasty meal


On day 4 I was able  to teach my art class, well sort of, by the time I had arrived the kids had already pretty much glued the triangles on their pages, I helped them  finish.  I had brought various bright colors of small cut triangles and  black construction paper and glue sticks to make a paper mosaic. There was no pattern to their placement, they just glued the colors they liked onto the page, and smiled while they did. They were so proud of their work you couldn’t help be happy too, their smiles are infectious.

                                                So proud of their artwork

They had a lot of fun making their artwork!


That same afternoon the other members of the team spent their time at Mayor Mike’s garden to help plow for planting. They plowed using hoes, I was impressed. Nano Lo one of our awe fa's wouldn’t give up, she had 80 and 90 year old women out there and she wasn’t about to let them show her up…Mama Esther’s 90 something year old mother was out there helping too, these woman are not afraid of hard labor.  This was the day that my husband Mac and Jeff Jurgis earned the respect of Mayor Mike and the blisters on their hands proved it. Job well done guys…
Kat and one of the local women

Nano knows how to hoe

Tan and Mac working on fencing

Kat, and Rowena working on the farm

Mac playing zombie farmer in a trench they dug


I realize this entry is all over the place, but that is how my journey was at times, all over the place,  doing what needed to be done and having God open my eyes to His plans


Although I am a nurse you can see that Project Humanity uses all types of people on their trips. All you have to have is a willing heart… and a working passport! For more information and to sign up to help go to www.projecthumanity.com




Tuesday, September 9, 2014

I am an idiot!

As I looked at a pale frail sick looking little girl with big brown eyes my heart cried. Her name is Whitney. I knew nothing about malaria or yellow fever, her symptoms look like both. Lillie and her mother told her to allow me to check her over, Molly and I did a quick assessment, but I had no clue, fever, swollen lymph nodes, I did know she was sick and this was WAY out my scope of practice (I deliver babies for a living, from healthy mammas). I told Lillie that I need to go back to the school and get some more information and do some research but before I left I asked Whitney's mother if I could do one more thing, the only thing I knew to do at this point, PRAY. I prayed over Whitney, asking for God's healing, for Him to give her strength.
We left and went back to the school. I visited with Darren and Mame, the other nurse that had come on the trip and described what we found. Mame's response is if she is that bad she could die. Mame asked to go down and take a look at Whitney, so we journeyed back down the road to her home.
Upon arriving back at Whitney's home we found her mother had taken her to a pallet outside the home. She didn't look like the girl I left 45 minutes earlier, the sweat was gone her heart rate was down and she had a smile on her face. Mame did an assessment and looked at me like I was nuts, "she seems fine, I don't think she has malaria even" Those words stung, I knew what I had seen, I was not crazy and I do have good nursing assessment skills. I just new that Mame thought I was a flake, a poor nurse. We told Whitney to continue resting and we journeyed back to the school. I looked around and found some electrolyte replacement powder that people had brought and mixed a couple of water bottles up and walked back to Whitney's home to give them to her mom for Whitney to drink, explaining through Lillie how very important this water was for Whitney.
That night while I did my journaling, still irritated with Mame and everything that had happened, it struck me, actually God knocked me up side the head. What had I prayed before I left Whitney the first time? What had I asked God to do? Didn't He answer my prayer? I am an idiot, okay not really, but I was so concerned about how I looked, I didn't think to Praise God for His answered prayer!  I think we all have a tendency to do that, I still work on it at times.
I went back to Whitney's home the next day  to check on her, by the third day she felt good enough to go back to school, so I checked on her there making sure she was feeling well.
I have learned in my research that malaria is the #1 killer of children in Kenya. I have also learned that you can get it over and over and over again, that it  can make you very anemic. After visiting with Whitney's mother and through Lillie's interpreting, I learned that Whitney had "watery blood, anemia" and was prescribed iron, but they couldn't afford the medication. I gave her mother the money gladly, and told her to get it right away, she did.
Every trip since the first, I check in on Whitney, her mother and brother, to see how they are doing. I have kinda adopted this family.   Lillie is great about giving me updates and letting me know what they need. They are a reminder of  God answering prayers and not letting my pride get in the way.
 Me and Whitney the day I taught an art class at the school
Whitney walking the road to go to school.

You don't have to be a nurse to get involved on a Project Humanity trip, or even travel to Africa, there are ways to help here in the states! 
For more information go to www.prjecthumanity.com

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The sweetest smiles you have ever seen

I don't know that I slept very well that first night on the island, blame it on the lack of airflow in our room, or the anticipation of the visit to the school the next day. We were up and at 'em early and off to breakfast at the hotel. Your first question I know is, "What are the hotels there like?" Well I can answer that, imagine a motel 6 and then whittle that down. We had a room with a queen bed,  and a twin bed, both surrounded with mosquito netting. A tv, that we never turned on, a bench a wardrobe to hang clothes and a bathroom with a sink, shower and a toilette that flushed every other time. We had a door to an outside balcony, that we may have enjoyed a couple of times, but mostly kept doors shut to fend off mosquitos. Our room was larger than most because of the second bed, which we kept or luggage on during the stay. Okay back to breakfast. There was fruit, hard boiled eggs, juice, coffee, you could order an omelet (egg only) and a cereal similar to shredded wheat, but became mush when milk was added (warm milk, they don't have cold milk) I had packed peanut butter so I had that most mornings with a banana and some juice. Oh yes and fried potatoes, those saved me more than once. They have ketchup, more like a tomato sauce, it was decided before the trip to pack our own, and Leo Trey Fetch is a ketchup snob so we had Heinz, he was my hero! He shared his ketchup andI shared my peanut butter. My biggest thank you is to one of the FAs that brought powdered creamer!
After breakfast we gathered and waited for the bus to return, praying that it would and that the driver hadn't headed back to Nairobi as he wanted to the night before! Once loaded we made our way through Mbita and crossed the causeway to Rusinga Island! We had paved roads until the causeway and from there on it was bumpy, rutty, dirt roads. I took in the sites from all the windows, amazed at the beauty I saw in the midst of the poverty. I believe it was Jeff Jurgis that coined the phrase that has stuck, "Paradise in Poverty" There were people walking everywhere, I don't know why that would surprise anyone. Picky Pickys going back and forth carrying people, livestock and furniture wherever they needed to be. (A picky picky is a motorcycle) Little children headed to school, women with jugs on their heads, on their way to gather water or do laundry. They have some major neck strength! We made our last turn and headed up for the last mile of the journey, this road was the ultimate 4 wheeling experience, very narrow with shrubs, and ruts that I am sure were rivers when the rain came!
We turned into the area outside the school and parked, we got off the bus and were greeted immediately by Lillie and a group of preschoolers with wide eyes! Lillie has a million dollar smile and if so good with the kids, what a blessing she was and has continued to be for the PH team.  It didn't take long for all of the FA's to have at least one of those precious kids in their arms, checking out their name badges and smart phones. Every picture taken had to be examined by the kids, they had never seen such magic before! To say they loved having their photos taken is a huge understatement. Lillie gave us a tour of the school and then Leo Trey Fetch and I broke away for the group to start lunch for our group, we volunteered to be the "camp cooks" for the first week. We found the area that we were to build a fire and started gathering wood. What had we volunteered for?? It wasn't long before the women I call "Fire Ester" brought us more wood and showed us how to really get the fire going. (Ester is a popular name in the area, so we specified by what they contributed, Fire Ester also makes all the school uniforms (more about that later)

I am surprised we didn't succumb to smoke inhalation and die. Needless to say all meals after that were cooked on a propane stove!

We FA's were busy playing games and singing songs with the kids. Teaching them the Hokey Pokey and the Chicken dance. The giggles were a joy to hear. Suckers were handed out, but you had to be careful, you could cause a stampede and get injured, the kids love "sweets". I can't remember how many kids attend the school, but by the end f the day the amount had doubled when more kids showed up to see "the white people" they hung around the entire time we were there. I really think it was the "sweets" that brought them, and maybe a little curiosity.

Mame, the other nurse that was there with me and I spent the day examining scraped knees and other boo boos. At one point she left to go visit a man we now call "Jack" and I left to go check on a little girl named Whitney who was very sick.

Lillie asked me to go check on Whitney, so I gathered my supplies and Molly one of the FA's who had taken some nursing classes before changing her career headed down the hill to journey to Whitney's house. Lillie spoke with her mother and told her why we were there, she invited us into her home, a small 2 room house with a couch and a couple of chairs in the main living area. Whitney lay on the couch covered in sweat drops the size of dimes.  Her heart rate was in the 120's and her breathing was rapid. Man I wished I had read up on yellow fever and malaria before leaving the states!
Kat, she always had a little one in her arms, and they were usually asleep!

                                                 Leo Trey Fetch cooking using the butane

                                            Meeting Miss Lillie at the school
Molly having fun with the kids

Jeff and Leo Trey Fetch, usually had one or two kids hanging around their necks!

For more info on how to volunteer for a Project Humanity trip or to make a donation go to
www.projecthumanity.com

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

My first Kenyan Massage

We spent the first full day in Kenya getting to know the others in the group and waiting for one of our member to catch up with us. It seems that if you wash your passport you may not be able to travel with it. You might be able to leave the US but returning with a damaged passport can be difficult to do.  We took the bus from our hotel and went into Nairobi and walked around, did some shopping and saw first hand the amount of political campaigning done before their elections that took place the next week.

We had dinner together that night at the hotel and really got to know each other. We met Momma Esther and she shared with us her story of how the orphanage came to be.  Late that evening our last team member Leo Trey Fetch arrived, we were now a complete team.

We loaded up our bus the next morning and headed to the market to buy supplies and most importantly water.  We all crammed back into the bus, our luggage on top and the aisles filled with 5 gallon water bottles and the back seat filled with food and water as well.

Most of the FAs already knew each other, but we all visited and talked about where we were from and shared stories, and snacks. True friendships are made over food. We spent at least 10 hours traveling that day at times through some of the towns the traffic was horrible, all due to the upcoming elections. Our first stop was along the Rift Valley, it was beautiful.We stopped at another store and bought more water and some food to eat, we were starving.   This stop was our first exposure to going to the bathroom over a hole in the ground, it would be nicer that what we had the rest of the trip, but still disgusting. I do have to admit, you get stronger calves and thighs squatting that much! The was a traffic jam so bad in one town that one of the FAs got to know one of the peddlers selling his wares on a first name basis. Items were passed around the bus in hopes that one of us would buy something from the man and the others that came up to the bus to make some money. That guy made a killing, I'm sure his family was very happy that night. The sights we saw, chickens, goats and sheep riding on top of buses. Twenty or so people crammed in vans with the doors aspen and people hanging out. Piky Piky's (motorcycles) with 5 people on them, or the driver and a couch, or a goat. It was market day so in every town there were open air markets going on, the piles of produce lining the streets, booths with clothes and shoes. tools, you name it, and it was being sold. Trash everywhere, the are no laws against littering there and people don't care.

We knew we were close when the last 30 minutes of the ride we were off road. The roads were dirt and very BuMpY! We laughingly called it our Kenyan massage. Once we finished the bumpy part we had glimpses of Lake Victoria! We crept along the coast line inching our way closer to the island and our beds for the night.

We wondered around lost for a bit, we arrived at the end of dusk so it was hard to see, finally after Teddy (our in country support and Mamma Esther's son) had a few phone calls we found our hotel. We unloaded and found our rooms.





Within minutes it was apparent that our bus driver was leaving and headed back to Nairobi because of the elections, he feared for his life (he supported the candidate not so favored in the area we were in) Teddy was amazing and stepped in and reassured him, disaster averted! Teddy was our hero!

They fed us spaghetti that night and french fries. Basically spaghetti with tomato sauce on it. At the time of this trip Mac and I weren't eating meat or processed food, so we had fries and a coke for dinner, that was okay, I just wanted BED and SLEEP! It was hard to sleep knowing that the next day we would meet the kids at the orphanage and begin the real work!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Getting there is part of the adventure

The month before we left we were informed that a couple that was signed up to go and help with the well drilling had to cancel. Darren asked my husband Mac and I if we were interested in doing both trips ( a total of 18 days rather than the 9) We figured what the heck, the cost wasn't that much more.

Before we left for Africa we were assigned items to collect to take with us, and we were given jobs to do while we were there. The first part of the trip was a large group of flight attendants, mostly from American Airlines. I will add now, that they were a HARD working group of men and women. They got along so well and fell in love with the kids while they were there. Their plans were to work in an orphanage with the kids that were there. It is really  more of a school, the kids come early in the morning and go home in afternoon, most to aunts and uncles or grandmothers. Most of the parents have died from AIDS or other illnesses. These kids are pre K and kindergarten. I signed up that week to reach an art class. I am a mosaic artist as well, so I decided to teach them mosaics with paper.

We also had items to collect that would be handed out while there. I mostly collected medical supplies, since I was going to do medical work, but we also collected shoes. Adults shoes and kids shoes, whatever we could find. The 2 checked bags we had each were filled to the brim, 50 lb limit, they were at their limits! Our personal belongings were kept to our carry on suitcase and backpacks. (I really think they each weighed 50 lbs as well, I over packed)

We left the afternoon of February 27, 2013. We flew out of Houston, we were scheduled to fly to Detroit and meet up with 2 more volunteers, but our flight got changed and they rerouted us through  Atlanta. From there we went to Amsterdam and then Nairobi. The Amsterdam airport was a blur because we had to hurry through to catch our next flight. In Amsterdam you have to go through security again at each gate. It was there they took one of our carry ons and made us check it. At first I was irritated, then I realized that was one less bag to keep up with. We also met our first other Project Humanity volunteer there, a flight attendant names Jeff Jurges, a nice guy, a hard worker and just an awesome person. He was a great add to the team!

After 30 hours in the air via several flights we arrived at the Nairobi airport at around 11pm, tired, stinky and excited! While waiting in line for customs we met the next member of our group, Mame Fancett, an AWESOME nurse from California, she had flown the entire way on her own, she saw the Project Humanity patches on our bags and flagged us down. We spent a better part of the next hour waiting on and getting our bags, well most of them, Mame's were missing. We filed a report and head to meet up with Darren, Kirsten and Teddy, and wait for the remaining flight attendants (FA's) to arrive!

As we came around the corner tired, but filled with excitement our eyes met a cardboard sign with the words Project Humanity on it, my dream was becoming a reality.... I AM IN AFRICA! You can see our arrival video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Kz8QR_ApXs&feature=youtu.be


When Mac and I started traveling abroad we bought a Texas Tech gnome(Little Guy) to go with us and share the adventure. Before leaving for Africa some dear friends, Tim and Jennifer Odom (who happen to be Chic-fil-a operators) gave me a Chic-fil-a cow to travel with us, his name is Raider! Little Guy and Raider had a blast on the trip, you will see more of them later, this was at the Houston airport before leaving.

Well I guess the Purple Slip part will have to wait, there is a lot that happens in between that leads up to the story and makes it that more special. I promise it is worth the wait.

For more information about Project Humanity  and upcoming projects/trips and how YOU can volunteer or donate, go to www.projecthumanity.com