Day 1 - Discovering Londiani
A World Thinking Day to Remember: 5 World Regions Celebrate in Kenya
Jambo marafiki! (Hello friends!)
Almost the entire Girls for Girls team has finally assembled in Nairobi! After a great breakfast which included talks about the pins and scarves for each WAGGGS country represented, we jumped into two Range Rovers to head off to Londiani! On the way, we stopped at an overlook for the beautiful Great Rift Valley as well as a lodge where we had chai (tea) overlooking flamingos. Breakfast, chai, and the drive gave us the opportunity to bond and learn more about each other and our respective countries.
After some bumpy roads, we arrived at St. Kizitos Catholic Church, our home base in Londiani. Climbing out of our vehicles, we were surprised and honoured with beautiful songs from local Kenyan Girl Guides. The welcome ceremony included talks from the local District Commissioner, members of the Trefoil Guild and local Guides as well as our international team.
After lunch, we hit the road again to take a tour of Londiani. The tour included a visit to Londiani Hospital and the town of Kahurura. Driving along the bumpy roads, children run toward the trucks to see who has come to their town and to wave and say “Jambo” to us.
Londiani Hospital Visit
We arrived at the hospital where Dr. Kigen greeted us. He is the sole doctor charged with giving care to the 200,000 people that live in the Kipkelion District (which includes Londiani). The hospital has a simple set up, with a pharmacy, care area, and biochemistry lab where test results are figured. A list of services, fees, and wait times are painted on a large white sign outside of the main building. The remoteness of the area sets in as we walked towards the maternity ward. An old ambulance denoting the Ministry of Health has been retired and parked near the walk way. A new ambulance, donated by Friends of Londiani, is a stark contrast to the old rusted mobile. We passed the ambulance and arrived at the maternity ward. At this moment, reality set in. The room is basic and the doctor ensured us that it is a good room for giving birth. After all, he was born there as was most of the town.
Afterwards, someone commented that this perspective is from the male view. As females, we find it hard to imagine giving birth to a child in this room. It is small and stocked with two tarp covered beds and basic supplies, but it is lacking in the modern comforts that many countries enjoy. Rather than being pampered and enjoying the special moment of a child’s birth, these women simply give birth.
The next stop is more inspiring. Friends of Londiani (FOL) has raised funds to build an operating theatre in partnership with Irish Aid. It is still under construction and paint fumes fill the air. This room will be handed over to the hospital committee soon, but there is more than just a room here. If an operating theatre exists, then surgeons will come. This means better care and more options for the people of Londiani. It is a great gift that could change the lives of many.
After the tour, we reloaded the trucks to move to the next stop: Kahurura. On the way, we contemplated our learning and reflected on everything that goes into supporting the girl child in these rural areas. Girls hold the family together here, yet opportunities are limited. The work of FOL has started to tip the scales.
The village of Kahurura was hit hardest during the clashes in 2008 and cement slabs lay where homes once stood. We walked through the dusty road to the house where our meeting took place. Children and women greeted us along the way. We arrived to the meeting place – a house where we met with the village elders. They prayed and thanked God for bringing us to Londiani. They are so grateful for the gifts that FOL has given them. The people here are open, friendly and giving. We listened to each person share the meaning of the gifts that FOL brought to their village, we shared a cup of chai and bread that was prepared for us. After our chai, we said goodbye to our new marafiki and departed. The long walk back to the trucks gave us time to play with the children, speak with the people, and reflect on our experience here. We left with a sense that our mission here is much greater than any of us had anticipated.
World Thinking Day
Today is World Thinking Day, the day Girl Scouts and Girl Guides around the world take time to remember and celebrate the birthdays of the Baden-Powells and the birth of the Guiding and Scouting movement. This World Thinking Day is particularly special, many of us celebrated our first World Thinking Day outside of our home countries. Celebrating with girls and women from seven countries and representing all five of the WAGGGS regions is very exciting and memorable. The Kenyan Girl Guides gifted us with songs, we remembered the Baden-Powells, and shared what we love most about scouting and guiding. Turns out, what we love doesn’t vary from country to country! We ended our ceremony in a friendship circle singing “Make New Friends” and “Auld Lang Syne” in three different languages.
After the ceremony and a delicious traditional Kenyan dinner, we sat down for a team meeting and last-minute planning for our first day of training on Wednesday.
Everyone is very excited to get started on the training – an event only two months in the making! We know our participants won’t be the only ones learning.
Ulale salama (good night) from the land of simba!
Joey (GSUSA) and Stephanie (GSUSA) on behalf of the Girls for Girls team