The Giving Tree

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Entry by FK Ambassador Krystal Moon:

As I sat in family meeting, I started getting a little nervous. I was about to stand up in front of a room full of children, who had worked hard all week in school and nightly tutoring, and ask them to wake up on their day off and join me in some hard labor.

Let me back up and explain myself….

Since coming to Flying Kites, I have had the pleasure of participating in the children’s daily lives. I have also had the experience of seeing other Kenyans in their daily lives. And while the children at Flying Kites don’t necessarily have it easy–they certainly have struggles and don’t lead the lives that we’re accustomed to in the States–I can’t help but notice the people here whose lives are even more challenging. I’ve seen children sleeping in a pile of rocks in Nairobi; I’ve watched toddlers who are obviously struck with illness crying on the road; I’ve noticed elderly men and women wince with pain as they struggle to carry heavy supplies down the road on their backs; I’ve seen kids working in shambas during school hours; and I know that for every one of these people I see there are many more out there that are challenged with daily activities that I have taken for granted. So, as much as the Flying Kites kids need our help, I also know they are comparably fortunate. They are well-fed; they are given the proper medicine if they’re sick; they receive an education; and they have a loving family that will always support them.

So, as I sat in Family meeting, clutching a copy of “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein, I knew I was doing the right thing by talking to them about helping others that are less fortunate than them. But, I was still a little anxious to see if they’d be willing to give up their free time that is usually spent playing games and running freely, to labor at the benefit of others.

When I stood up and moved to the front of the room, I told the children that I wanted to read the book to them for two reasons: 1) A special person gave me the book a long time ago, and I have loved it ever since and 2) I wanted to use it to talk about something special I wanted to do with them on the weekends. As I read aloud the book, I realized that their eyes were glued on me. Not one person was fidgeting, or whispering. They were genuinely interested in the book, and what I was about to ask of them. As the book came to a close, we discussed all of the things that the tree had given the boy. We noticed that none of it took any money, and at the end of the story, all the tree gave was it’s time, and it’s self. I asked the kids if they would be willing to do something for others that didn’t cost us any money, and only took our time and effort, “have you heard of community service?”

Almost every head in the room nodded, and the next ten minutes were spent with a flurry of hands being raised, offering past experiences of service, and new ideas of how we could help out our community. I was astounded by the excitement in the room, and at the willingness of these kids to dedicate themselves every Saturday to helping other people. We decided our first project would be to fix the road that leads down to town. The holes in it are created by the rain and make it incredibly hard for people to travel on, and we knew many people would benefit from us filling the large holes with rocks.

The next morning as I drank my coffee and walked into the kids’ rooms to say Good Morning, I wondered if the kids might have lost their enthusiasm for our activity. I crept towards Daniel’s bed and watched as he opened his eyes for the first time that morning. He saw me, grinned, and said “When are we going down to the road for service?!” The other boys heard this, and popped up in their beds. I smiled wide, told them we’d leave soon, and felt my heart swell.

The rest of the day was spent with 20 plus kids and adults working tirelessly on the road. We took as many tools as we could find, and didn’t stop until we were satisfied with our work. The neighborhood kids saw what we were up to and came to help as well.

As we walked back up our hill, tools in hand, the kids were already talking excitedly about what our service project would be next weekend. We decided on helping in Uncle James’ shamba because “he is old, and needs our help.”

I couldn’t be more proud or impressed with the number of helping hands in this house.

~Pamjoja~

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The smell of pine trees and chapati fills the air at Flying Kites. The tree has been decorated with popcorn and calla lilies. Everyone eagerly awaits what Father Christmas will bring tomorrow. This morning, after a delicious family breakfast, the children were told to look under their place mats for the first clue of their Christmas Eve scavenger hunt. Quick off the line, they immediately rushed out of the dining room. The kids ran around the neighborhood, through the shambas, to the river, singing to the guards, to complete the task. It was a close race, but the victors of this year’s hunt were James, DJ Joe, and John Uhuru! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone!

Ambassador Krystal keeps us on our toes!

In the interest of keeping academic spirits alive during Summer Break, each day one ambassador is in charge of conducting an activity with the kids that is fun but also educational. I decided to play Hangman with the kids so that they could practice word identification while they worked in teams. Everyone was so excited when they saw the banner paper hanging up entitled “Hangman Wars.” I split them into two teams and for the next hour the kids were wracking their brains trying to figure out the opposing teams words before reaching a complete hangman. It was an intense battle and all the kids had a blast!

Field Trip

On Monday, Brian brought the kids into Nairobi for a picnic in Uhuru Park and then an afternoon swim at the YMCA. It was a wonderful day and while we’re sad to see them go, we know they’ll be back soon to visit.

Ambassador Krystal on life and learning:

Most nights, the kids gather around as the Ambassadors pick through the “Question Box” that sits on the table in the Sitting Room. The Question Box is something the kids can use to anonymously write down any questions they may have about a topic of their choosing, and put it in the box to be read aloud. Many of the papers in the box contain questions about the solar system, dinosaurs, the English language, American culture, and other academic questions. Sometimes, there are questions about things the children might be too embarrassed to ask otherwise I.e; questions about their bodies, and other things kids may be curious about as they grow.

Usually there is one Ambassador that stands in front of the room and reaches in the box. So far, I’ve managed to avoid heading Question Box until I get fully comfortable here. Frankly, many of the questions are tough to answer on the spot, and take some serious thought on how to explain the answers to 26 curious children sitting in front of you. But as a family, we try to answer the inquiries the best we can and if there’s one that really throws us for a loop we’ll look up the answer later.

I have been so impressed by how eager the children are to learn here. Even though it is technically summer break for the kids, tutors are brought in to help them focus on their studies, and reading and homework are done after dinner. And, even after a day of learning in the classroom, the kids are stillconsistently asking us questions in hopes to learn more each and every day.

For example, yesterday morning I walked in to the Boys’ Room with my coffee in hand to start the day. I like to pop my head into each room and say “Good Morning,” to all the kids. You would think that the kids would be moaning and groaning about getting up, or at least be a little fuzzy so bright and early(I know I was). Instead, I was almost instantly peppered with questions of all sorts. Some of them included: “Do you know who Jet Li is?” “What about Jackie Chan, have you heard of him?” “Have you been to Thailand before?” “Does Thailand have a president?” “Who is the president of the States?” “Did you vote for him?” “Does everyone vote in the States?” “Is a governor more than a president” And my personal favorite: “Arnold Schwarzaneager, is he still the strongest man?”

Now, keep in mind these questions were being fired at me while I was still on my first cup of coffee. So, I did the very best I could in answering their questions, and had to break a couple hearts in the process by revealing that Arnold had recently let himself go a bit and was not currently in his best shape.

One of the boys was particularly interested in Thailand, and I admittedly could not answer all his questions. So, we spent part of the day huddled over my computer looking up facts about the country. Benny was so excited to be able to share his new information with the rest of the family at Family Meeting. He was most interested in the Thai Boxing, and was very impressed when I told him I previously took some lessons in Muay Thai.

Later in the night, Mom(the head Matron of the house) asked us to share what we had learned that day. I shared that I had learned a new word: “Rafiki” (friend). At the end of meeting, Mom reminded us that we are all learners for life; we never stop learning all around us “until we are in the tomb!” This is a lesson that I see lived out every day at Flying Kites, and it made me think of some of the things I have already learned in this very short time that I’ve been here:

  • How to make coffee with a french press (no electricty = no coffee pots)

  • Many new words including the Kiswahili word for peace ( “Imani”)

  • How to weed the shaba (garden) so that the plants don’t compete for nutrients and sun, and we can have lots of fresh veggies for dinner.

  • To never say the phrase “I know,” to a Kenyan. It is considered very rude.

  • That Elephants really love carrots

  • What Arrow Root is (FYI: it’s like a potato, and it’s delicious)

Any questions I have about living here or Kenyan culture in general are always answered so graciously. It’s inspiring to see all of the tenacious learners around me every day, and I know that this list will grow much longer with the help of all my new Rafikis here at Flying Kites. And, pretty soon I’ll get brave enough to tackle Question Box.

~Imani~

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First Aid Training Day

 

 -post by Ambassador Alannah Image

This past weekend, Fred, a representative from the Red Cross, taught first aid and CPR at our site in Kenya. He arrived early the next morning along with the house mothers, security guards, and several teachers from the school. Tea and coffee were served and notebooks were gathered for the detailed note taking that would soon ensue. Fred utilized the Red Cross PowerPoint presentation, taking time in between each slide to review and discuss the information with all of us. He was thorough and thoughtful. Although Fred covered some first aid protocols, including how to assess a situation and guarantee the safety of a scene, most of our time was spent on CPR.

            Fred began the CPR training with a ten-minute video, actors included! He then proceeded to simplify the instructions. He taught us to count “one and two and three…” up until thirty, raising our hands on the word “and” and compressing on the sternum on each number. He demonstrated proper form and explained the circumstances in which you would first give two rescue breaths followed by compressions and vice versa. After miming the actions of CPR in the air, Fred unwrapped some dummies and the room erupted with laughter. The first volunteer was Auntie Grace, our health matron, who I have come to know and love for her sassy personality. She practiced CPR on an adult dummy, while Mom, another matron at FK, demonstrated on the infant. The fellow classmates giggled continuously throughout the volunteer trials, but each was able to try and succeed. From the bright smiles and happiness plastered all over their faces, it was easy to see that the children enjoyed learning how to save a life.

Unwilling to part with the dummies, we asked Fred to go over the proper procedure for choking before packing up. Teacher Robert served as the unlucky volunteer, getting slapped pretty hard five times in the back before being thrust into the air for abdominal compressions. Again, this made the room laugh like crazy, each person thankful they were NOT the one to raise their hands. After Teacher Robert was sufficiently freed of invisible choking matter, the others were able to utilize the dummies once more. Mom was meant to practice the proper emergency choking procedure on the infant, but instead cradled the baby like it was one of her own.

            It was such a joy to see the team enjoy this training day. The children thanked Fred for the opportunity to “save a life”. It was a productive, exciting and all around amazing day at the house and I was so grateful to be a part of it.

Our friends in Uganda

1 click can save thousands in Uganda – please take a moment and vote for KIHEFO – UGANDA in the Steve Aoki Charitable Fund contest – ending tonight 11/20/12 – at midnight!

Started by former child soldier, Dr. Geoffrey Anguyo, KIHEFO is a small organization in Uganda providing healthcare and food to men, women, and children living in poverty with as HIV/AIDS.

Winning the Steve Aoki fund donation would create significant change for our friends!

http://www.steveaokifund.com/

Expanding our Team

Final interviews are being held in Njabini in the search for our newest teacher at our Leadership Academy. We’re excited to be adding a new class!

A new blog in our midst

Our Country Director, Amy and Special Projects Manager, Mat have started a new blog! Check it out –

http://aberdareadventure.wordpress.com/

 

 

Breathe easy, we’re CPR certified!

Tabby and Phil practice during CPR re-certification

Practice, practice, practice

Teacher Robert

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