Kenya Journal – It’s all fun & games till Nyawira loses an eye

August 1, 2011·

Today was a long and very tiring day, but definitely eventful and so fulfilling and FUN! It was our first day officially working in the village helping the Kirians with their projects.

So, after breakfast and devotion we headed to Kiria.

We got to the village and we were instructed with what we would be doing. To give some background, the Kiria primary school hasn’t been around that long. The Kenyan government comes into many of these villages and builds the schools. However, they don’t complete what they start. They basically put up walls and that’s it. No roofs, no flooring, no chalkboards – nothing. They say that it’s either because the government workers who come to build the school either steal the money that’s supposed to be used for the school or the government just doesn’t provide enough. Either way, it’s no good.

Well, since the floors are all mud, they’ve been gradually working on “cementing” them. We are working on two classrooms this week. It’s definitely a process. First step is to dig out the dirt floor. So we spent the first couple hours with pick axes and shovels digging away at the dirt. Let me tell you: this was tiring.

Here’s a shot of Fran and me picking away at the floor:

A lot of villagers came out today to help. It was amazing seeing how strong and incredibly hardworking these men and women were. They were largely my motivation. So many times I wanted to stop and take a break because my hands hurt, my arms were exhausted, and my back was screaming at me – not to mention the mouth full of dirt I kept getting. But then I would stop for a second and see women and men three and four times my age with no gloves, flip flops or sandals, and in dresses working up a sweat and I thought Hey, if they can keep going, so can I. It was so inspiring to watch.

I was breaking a sweat big time. A few of the adults were talking and pointed to me and said – you – your Kenyan name is Nyawira (everyone gets a Kenyan name before they leave – but they have to give it to you – you aren’t to ask for it). I asked what Nyawira meant – and they said “Lady who works very hard.” I felt so honored for them to give me that name – so that made me want to work even harder. Honestly, I had such a blast working with them.

After you break up all the dirt, then you have to get it out of there. So with shovels, we filled wheelbarrows and potato sacks with the dirt and hauled it out of the room. We even just shoveled out the window of the classroom. I had an epic fail with this one because I thought one of the windows was broken when it wasn’t and I basically tossed a huge shovel full of dirt t a window and it flew back at my face – we had a good laugh.

After we finished shoveling the dirt, we were told we then had to pat down the remaining ground to prep it for the rocks. Well, what better way to do that then to get everyone in there jumping and dancing. All of a sudden a huge dance party broke out and all the women sung and danced. It was so much fun! Then women also said they were blessing the ground for the the children to learn on. (Here’s a link to the video of the dance party)

Here’s a shot of me in the middle of the dance party.

After the dance party, it was time to take all the rocks that were in a huge pile outside of the school and lay them on the floor to later be broken up. So, all of us, Kenyans and Newhope team members together formed three human assembly lines from the pile of rocks into the first classroom then lay the rocks down. Now, these are not small rocks. They’re HUGE rocks and boulders. Not light, either. One thing I noticed and loved about the Kirians is no matter how long we had been working, no matter how tired they were, they just kept smiling and laughing. They take such joy and pride in even the most difficult of work – I really wish to emulate that attitude.

Then, there was the slight injury.

As we passed the rocks along, some of the rocks were too heavy to pass, so one of the men would take a sledgehammer and hit the boulders to break it up into smaller pieces to make it easier to pass. Well, as I stood there watching him hit the boulder, I kept seeing smaller pieces flying off and I thought to myself, Man, I hope those don’t hurt anyone. Right as I thought that – BAM! A dime sized shard of rock came rocketing (no pun intended) towards my eye and went straight and hit my eyeball. I immediately hunched over and held my eye – whoaly moly that hurt so bad. Immediately three of the Kirian women and Cathy (a woman from my team who happens t be a nurse) came running over to me. The women pried my eye open and took a blade of grass and went in to basically dig and scrap the pieces of rock and dirt out. I cried – either because it scared me so much or because they were making my eye tear – either way I was embarrassed. The women genuinely wanted to make sure I was okay – and the fact they cared that much meant a lot.

Cathy took me over behind the school and laid me down in the grass to flush the eye out and then she put gauze over it to protect it the rest of the day. Needless to say, many MANY pirate jokes ensued (I’m looking at you, Diana ;)). But all I kept thinking as Cathy was patching me up, was I need to get back to work! There’s so much left to do!

After she was done, I hopped up and got back in the assembly line to haul more rocks. The women said I was living up to my name, Nyawira. I thought no way, but I hope to one day.

We finished the one room of rocks and we will go in tomorrow to break them up and prep the concrete. I have already said that anyone going near the rock breaking needs to wear eye protection.

After a long morning and early afternoon of hard work, we had lunch. Over lunch, Christopher, or “Creeestofer” as he pronounces it, told us the story of “the lion”. Christopher is from a neighboring village and comes to help and hang out with us a lot. He did the same with the group last year and this lion story was famous – so I was excited to hear it. I cant begin to describe it so I will share a link to the video of him telling the story here. Wait till the end, that’s what’s really worth it.


After lunch we went for another round of home visits. We brought provisions with us to make chapati and chai tea. We went to the home of an elderly widowed woman. I would include her name if I knew remotely how to spell it.

This is some of the hosts preparing the cooking station in their kitchen:

I volunteered to make the dough. It’s basically just water, salt, egg, and lots and lots of flour. It was so thick so the dough kept sticking to my hands.

(Please excuse the eye patch in this photo of me stirring the dough):

The finished product:

James, Ros, Delice and I took turns rolling out the dough and putting it on the skillet. Once it was done, we went in the house to enjoy our masterpiece and drink some delicious chai tea.

This is my group with our home visit host:

It was such a blessing to spend time making such a special meal with them. And they were so appreciative. Chapati is usually only made on special occasions – so they were thankful to us for bringing them the provisions.

After some more time just chatting, we loaded the bus and headed back to Lake Naivasha where we are staying.

It’s been a long day and I know my body is going to probably hate me in the morning. But hey, that’s what we are here for and it’s totally worth it.

Heading to sleep now – long day ahead tomorrow.

Oh, and my eye is doing better. I took the patch off to let it air out. Vision is still blurry and my eye itches and burns like crazy – but it’s definitely improving. I know that it will be good as new in the morning.

If you are the praying type – please pray for the general health and safety of my team. Some of us haven’t been feeling so well, so I just ask that you keep them in your thoughts.

Love and miss you all back home.

All for now and much love,
Captain Molly Nyawira