Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Pic of the Week

On safari on the Maasai Mara.

Friday, July 1, 2011

2011 Expedition: Updates

Hello all! I only have a moment at an actual computer with actual Internet access, but I want to let everyone know that the team is safe and doing well on the project here in Nairobi. I do apologize for the lack of updates, but that is just one of the hardships of working on site in a third-world country: electricity is a luxury to come across and Internet outside of downtown is an outright miracle :)

We have been working on three main projects at two schools and one orphanage. At the first school we built up a wall so they can attach a security gate, installed a new roof, and hooked up and installed working flush toilets (such a miracle made possible because the school is only ten meters from the city sewer line). At the second school we also installed working flush toilets, and plastered several classrooms. Plastering is not only important for preserving the integrity of the stone and cement structures, it allows the classrooms to be a lot brighter, which is very important in a school with no lights and small windows (for safety). The work we are doing at the orphanage is relatively small, but important: we are building a library for the children. It is amazing to see the smiles on their little faces when they see the pretty yellow painted walls and shelves and shelves of books: they are outright giddy! I cannot wait to tell you all much more about these projects!

Aside from working so hard on these projects, the team has spent two days on safari on the Masai Mara and two days on the coast in Lamu. These were both beautiful and fantastic experiences that I am sure the team will treasure forever.

As for the request for photos, it is very difficult to transfer here, so it will have to wait until we are back state-side.

Before I sign off and return to hauling cement I want to tell Jamie that Mary says hello and happy birthday! Thank you to everyone for the good wishes, and we will have many more details and photos when we return home.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Recipe: Braised Chicken

Braising in a highly spiced aromatic liquid yields an exceptionally flavorful and tender result. Serve this adaptation of an East African dish with a bowl of plain low-fat yogurt and flatbreads or couscous.
  • 2 chicken breast halves (about 3/4 pound), skinned
  • 2 chicken thighs (about 1/2 pound), skinned
  • 2 chicken drumsticks (about 1/2 pound), skinned
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cups vertically sliced onion
  • 1 tablespoon chopped peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3 tablespoons chopped pitted dates
  • 3 tablespoons golden raisins
Preheat oven to 350°. Sprinkle chicken with salt and black pepper. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 4 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Remove the chicken from pan. Add the onion to pan; reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the ginger and next 5 ingredients (ginger through garlic); cook for 1 minute. Stir in chicken, broth, and the remaining ingredients, and bring to a boil. Cover and bake at 350° for 1 hour.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pic of the Week

Hands down one of the most breath-taking sights you will ever see: a beautiful sunset on the Maasai Mara.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Recipe: Yam Stew

Make this stew with the following recipe:

  • 1 medium yam
  • 4 carrots
  • 1 cup cooked beans
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 2 onion
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Wash peel and cube the yam. Scrape the carrots and cut into thin rounds. Peel and slice the onion and fry for a few minutes. Add curry powder and yams and fry gently then add carrots, beans and water and simmer until cooked.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Pic of the Week

Team member Scott and a Maasai elder.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

2011 Expedition: Updates from Kenya

Some of the team making PB&Js for today's lunch

Jambo marafiki! I have more updates from Kenya for you! Early yesterday morning Team Leader JD and I met a very sleepy but happy team at the airport and brought everyone back to the Amani Center to drop off their bags. To help everyone adjust to Kenya time we forced them to stay awake the whole day - just because we are nice and helpful like that :) We loaded everyone back into the van for a tour of Nairobi. Here in the city ALL of the roads are under construction as they are trying to modernize the transportation system and create freeways. This will be so awesome when they are done in the next few years. However. For now this means a LOT of traffic! As such we took the extreme long way around the city on our adventures yesterday. These included a trip to the giraffe center where the team got to feed giraffes right out of their hands. We traveled next to the crocodile farm located on a beautiful property with a lake and picnic area.

Feeding giraffes

By this time everyone was pretty well traveled out so we headed back to the Amani Center for the night. The Amani Center is a Catholic Church which has a hostel that we stay at every year. Before dinner we all played Frisbee and volleyball and chatted with some locals staying at the center. I was very excited to see that they were serving Ugali and sukuma wiki for dinner last night! These are traditional dishes to the area, and I was glad the team could taste them on their first night here. After dinner we had our first official team meeting where Team Leaders JD and Pauline briefed all of us on what to expect while we are here. By about 8:30 we had to let the team crash back in their rooms for the night - one more minute would have just been too cruel! Most of them could barely keep their eyes open!

The first night in the Amani Center can seem a bit rough for a first timer. They are definitely not fancy accommodations! A typical room is two cots with mosquito nets and a small bathroom, and the entire bathroom is the shower! However, after the team experiences the slums and sees the meager conditions of the people we work with, the Amani Center quickly transforms into luxury suites!

Each morning at breakfast our team leaders brief us on the days schedule, and one team member is invited to share "one good thing" from the day before, that is, a meaningful moment he or she experienced. Today Scott was asked to share his "good thing". This is Scott's third year here in Kenya with World of Difference and he told us that he had been asked by several Kenyans what it is that keeps bringing him back. His reply was that, among other things, it is his personal relationships with the people he has met here that brings him back year after year. He treasures the bonds he has formed with his friends here, and cannot wait to get back and see them and catch up. I definitely relate to what Scott has shared. I keep in touch through email with several of my Kenyan friends, and am so excited to spend time with them while I am here.

This afternoon, as per World of Difference tradition, the team will travel to Shangalia Orphanage. This will be a very powerful experience as the orphanage is the the center of one of the worst slums in the city. For many of the teams it will their first time traveling to a slum and experiencing the conditions there. Click here to read about my personal experience with traveling to a slum for the first time. I anticipate this afternoon's adventure will be a very emotional journey for a lot of the team, and I know that they would appreciate any strength you can send them. One of the greatest experiences about visiting Shangalia is seeing how happy and smiling the children are - despite the conditions that surround them. It is such a powerful lesson for us all.

Tomorrow we will start our first day on the project. In the past few years World of Difference has constructed two different schools for our friends headmistresses Grace and Eunice, and this year we are working on additions at each of their schools. We will begin at Grace's school tomorrow by building bathrooms and desks for the students. The team will rise early, eat a quick breakfast of oatmeal and eggs and then load into the vans for a hard day of work. We will come back each night dirty and exhausted but full of accomplishment and contentment, eat our ugali and sukuma wiki before crashing out for the night.

Before I sign off I have a message for Hopscotch and Crazy Legs: Daddy loves you!!

Good bye for now!