Monday, May 20, 2013

Nutrition Team 2013 Arrives in Kenya!

Megan Ellis, Jennifer Taylor and Sydney Abells begin their Kenyan Adventure 2013!
After a long flight, we were greeted by Henry of Sportsman Safari at the airport. We had a good rest in Nairobi (including a visit to an elephant orphanage and Kazuri Beads and delicious meals at Fairview hotel). We headed to the Meru area on Saturday. When we arrived at Jennifer Murogocho’s guest house (a.k.a. Momma Jen) in Meru late afternoon, we were welcomed into her home with open arms.

First dinner at Mama Jen's in Meru

On Sunday morning, Momma Jen took us to her church in Kinyenjere where we sang, Jen T. danced (rather badly but was helped by the women) and enjoyed the beautiful singing.   We participated in an auction of some goods donated by members, and distributed a box of bananas to all the children and most of the women!  Because Kenyans are so generous, they invited us to stay for tea and lunch. Every Sunday, after the service the community sits down and eats a meal provided by different women from the community. Our jaws dropped when we were each given a MASSIVE bowl of Mukimo (plantain and potato) plus 2 different types of rice. Jen T saved the day and suggested we share one of the bowls…guess this is something we will have to get used to!! This morning (Monday), we were up bright and early to walk Jen T (who wants to be ‘encouraged’ to exercise! Even at 7 in the morning, the roads were packed with school kids and boda bodas (motorcycles) and cars. After our walk, we headed out the highway towards Kirrua where we were lucky enough to cross paths with baboons. So far, we are still dreaming of spotting elephants on the side of the road!  We then braved the bumpy roads to Muchui, which are full of ruts and have the sides washed out by the recent rains. We visited Grace, the Chair of the Muchui Women's Group, and had a great conversation about how we can approach our work. She showed us the maize drying in the sun- see the photo for an action shot!

Grace, Chair of Muchui Women drying maize in the sun at the Barrier market

We at last arrived at the Muchui Business Center, we were greeted 
warmly by Salomi and Festus. They gave us a tour of their screen house and all the plants they are preparing for market. After our tour, we went over to Mama Salomi’s farm (a Champ from previous years, and an amazing farmer and Muchui woman) where she had generously prepared us lunch. Our stomachs are slowly starting to adjust to the Kenyan food and we were able to eat and FINISH their own bowls of Gacere beans and carrots (delish), rice and cabbage.
Since lunch was given to us again on Day 2, our ‘fabulously prepared’ almond butter sandwiches sat in the trunk of the car, yet again. Jen T tells us she will fry them up in the morning with some butter and we can have them for breakfast... Yippee.
Sydney and Megan meet Mama Salome (Rael)- one of the first Muchui Champs!

Tonight we were given an expert chapatti making lesson by Mama Jen. We learned to roll the soft dough according to the highest standards, and swirl the hot chapatti on the pan with our hands without getting burned. And they were delicious with cabbage, and Jen’s coconut chicken. It is great to have the opportunity to learn first hand how to cook Kenyan food before we start our work with the women this summer.  
Sydney and Megan making chapatis with Jennifer M (Mama Jen)
Every day, our hearts melt when we see the beautiful Kenyan children and always shout out “aawwww cute”. They sometimes stare back at us like we are aliens- or celebrities!  Jen T is keeping a close eye on us, and we are all feeling very safe, and adapting very well. The jet lag is subsiding, and we are no longer waking up in the middle of the night.  
Tomorrow morning we are headed to the Ruuju school, where we will meet with the headmaster and Grace where we will go over this summer’s plans to work with the Ruuju champs from 2010 and 2013, and the nursery school champs from 2011. We are putting together binders for the champ teams so that they can carry the nutrition education and healthy family food preparation forward  after we leave. It is going to be an exciting and challenging project- stay tuned!

Kenya is amazing, and far more than we expected. The sun is shining every day, and we are excited to meet with all the women of Ruuju and Muchui and get to work!!

Muzungo’s out-
Megan and Sydney (and Jen T)

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