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2009

This was supposed to be a trip for as many Scots interested in all things Nyumbani as possible. We started off with a good team of seven and one by one they dropped out for various reasons until there were just the two of us, Jim Coull from my club and myself.
Nothing daunted off we went and boy was it a good trip.

Because there were just two of us we were able to be housed in Nyumbani Home itself which proved to be a great advantage in that we had no transport problems and we really felt part of the family that is Nyumbani. Noel House is a block kept for volunteers and is basic but adequate and we were very happy there. My quest this time was to finish off the refurb of the gift shop which I couldn’t quite complete last November and to make the tiny guest house which is kept for VIP visitors habitable. Fran and I stayed in it last July and found it badly in need of an upgrade.

We put in a completely new bathroom with a shower instead of the old bath, tiled it all (Jim did), partitioned off the end of the verandah to make a second bedroom, repainted the whole place inside and out, bought new bedding and towels, a fridge, even a microwave oven, put flyscreens on the windows and felt very pleased with ourselves. A job well done.

The Gift Shop which I restocked last November has been making good money at last so we finished off varnishing the new counter and shelving and got a new glass door so that everyone can now see that we have a shop and what is in it. It should now be self-sufficient and raise much-needed revenue from all the many visitors who come along.

Our visit to Nyumbani Village was a real eye opener for Jim. We met the three new families who complete our cluster of four. It was wonderful and quite emotional to think that between Rotary and Inner Wheel and friends we have housed almost forty children and their five Susus (Grannies). These ladies and their grandchildren were so pleased to meet us. I took calendars of Montrose for each house and the children were incredulous when I tried to explain the concept of snow lying on the ground. They just couldn’t get the fact that it came down from the sky and was so cold it lay on the ground. Of course these children don’t even have fridges so they have never come across ice. Each cluster of four houses has a communal washing area in the middle and our Montrose Academy Interact Club along with the Royal High School in Edinburgh funded the one in our cluster (£655) so I was proud to put up a plaque for them. Sadly the village has been suffering from the drought of the last two seasons and much of the maize couldn’t be harvested. The next big project for the Village is the building of a secondary school and four more classrooms for the primary.

Very good news! Having set up the COGRI (Children of God Relief Institute)-Nyumbani (Scotland) Trust last year the monies raised over the year have been specifically targeted towards the purchase of a Genetic Analyser for the laboratory in Nyumbani Home. This machine will tell us when our children are building up resistance to the anti-retroviral drugs they have to take daily to keep them well. It will surely be a life saver. My friend and fellow Rotarian, John Clemence, of the R/C of Uxbridge organised a whopping donation of just over £24,000 to the fund from his club for which I am eternally grateful. I planned to do a Rotary matching grant and to this end Frances Wilson has been doing a grand job with the paperwork (which is extensive incidentally) and we had partnered with the R/C of Karen in Nairobi which was to be our sponsor club but this was to take months to achieve and Rotary has closed the fund early for this year due to the economic downturn. Well, joy of joys, the Irish friends of Nyumbani have said they will match our money (almost £40,000) so that the purchase can go ahead (£78,000) almost immediately.

A couple of days safari to Amboseli National Park was a nice break and Jim vowed to return with Susan to Nyumbani sometime in the near future.

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