Once again Lori and Patti are up in time to walk the children to school. They note with sadness that they only have a couple of days left to do so. This time Laurence takes them on a new route and they end up crossing the creek without a bridge. There are two options: crossing over a log or crawling over a tree that had fallen over. Laurence thought it was pretty hilarious to give the girls these options.
Patti and Lori begin working on the brick pile again. Steve and Lathan continue their planting project. Dave focuses his attention on the budget. After a while Dave grabs his camera and heads outside. He grabs a picture of the work that is being done. The girls have their last load and they have had help from the farm workers this morning. Together they have their picture taken – showing off their muscles. The workers ask Dave for a copy of the picture. He isn’t able to do that but Dana has some equipment along. She is willing to make copies for them.
The fundi is here today and begins working on the turkey coop. After the bricks are moved the girls return to the house and begin stringing bottle caps (yes soda comes in glass bottles with caps) so that the children can learn to count up to 100.
Today we have lunch with the children. Lunch is rice, read sauce with meat, and corn porridge (not our favorite). The children sang songs after lunch until it was time to prepare for the award ceremony.
A group of business students from Briar Cliff University has been working with the women in Mbuguni in the past. This year they are beginning a new project. Instead of simply giving out grants, this year they are providing training for 6 women to make a product (baskets or trivets). When the women complete their product, pictures will be taken and sent back to the students. They will then decide how many of each product they would like to order. When the orders are filled, the students will work to market the products here in the States. There were 12 applicants and 6 were selected. Laurence was given the responsibility to contact the women. Most of the phone numbers were no longer working. He announced the time of the meeting in church on Sunday and has tried to contact them in other ways. We are not sure how many will show up.
The meeting is scheduled to begin at 2 pm. About 2:30 there are 8 women present. Laurence is sure at least one more is coming and asks for patience. At 3 pm there are 11 women present. We decide it is time to begin. Tom addresses the group and explains the program once again. Laurence reads off the names of those selected – one by one. After each name is read the person is invited forward to receive a certificate and have her picture taken. Only 3 of the 6 people selected are present. Somehow the math doesn’t add up. There were 12 applicants, 11 people present and 3 people missing. Before the end of our time together another one of the people selected arrives. Tom and Laurence talk with those selected about setting a time and location for the training.
Later in the day another one of the people selected arrives at the gate and receives her certificate. Tom again reviews the program with her and informs her of the training time and location. Laurence is given the responsibility of informing the final person selected. One thing that is so different from the States is that here there are no road signs or names on roads. There is no “grid-work” in terms of laying out the roads. They have simply developed by following the foot paths. So you can’t find someone by using a street address like we do in the States. That also means the government doesn’t have a good system for tracking the people.
After our meeting with the BCU project we have a little time off before Steve, Tom, Laurence and Dave meet with the leaders from the sounding communities. There are 11 men who gather. There seems to be a better appreciation for STEMM. In the past the assumption was that STEMM was simply another foreign organization that came to take resources and make money. They have come to see that STEMM is working to be a positive influence in the community. Steve informs them that we hope to shift from crop sharing to developing the farm according to Western farm practices. We hope that will provide for the orphanage and also provide enough to share with the community leaders. We want to entrust them with some of the proceeds (corn) so that they can develop and run a food bank in their communities. We also stress the importance of maintaining our fence around the property. Much of the barbed-wire has been taken and some of the fence posts are damaged or removed. Ideas are discussed as to how the leaders could help with this issue. We also inform them that we would like to build an interior wall of security for the orphanage. This way they will be able answer questions that may arise in their communities.
At the end of our meeting we take a couple of pictures together and the children come over and sing a few songs for the leaders. We appreciate that the leaders have talked about these as “their” children – children of the community that they also need to be concerned about.