I was reflecting this week that it was almost 6 months ago when this Covid scare began and the business of self-isolating. For the most part I've been okay and have not needed to do more than go out for food and medications. I did not go to the community garden much at all though I had planned to do so. Things may change a bit in the next few months as at some point I'll need to have a doctor's appointment, a dental appointment and perhaps a minor hospital procedure and I really should go and get some lab work done. But have no desire to expose myself to new people and new germs any more than I must The hospital has been calling me to schedule a procedure on a non-urgent basis and I've basically been avoiding the calls. I will try and give them a call next week.
I've been thinking that it will be at least another 6 months before we can really get out and about and or even contemplate travelling. I thought I cannot go an entire year without seeing anyone in my circle so I'm hoping to organize a day here and there to visit with a family member and one or two friends. Of course we will visit and keep our distance for safety reasons.
In some of my more recent posts I said I was going to adopt a (rescue) cat. My application was accepted at one organization and I actually had virtual visits with 3 different cats. Then I began to get cold feet. It thought it would be better if I met the cats close up and personal instead of just virtually. That would mean two trips 1) to see the cat and 2) to pick up said cat. In the end I decided to wait until the 2nd wave of Covid 19 is well behind us. In the meantime I have a lot of jobs that continue to keep me busy.
Over the summer's cooler weather I've been catching up on paperwork and decluttering. In between I read books or I cook and do a bit of cleaning.
I'm reading books 42, Book of Signs by Dr. David Jeremiah and 43, The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey. My goal for 2020 is 45 books which I'll likely reach in August. At that point I hope to redirect my focus to crafting and sewing. I also have more paperwork to get rid of before I can commence some small house projects. I wanted to finish the house projects this summer but now I may not get to them until 2021. The interior light is not good once summer is over and so some things are better left until Spring.
Last week and again this week the summer heat finally arrived. I spent some time doing more intensive cooking than usual. I like easy dishes in general that don't require a lot of standing at the stove but sometimes I feel like trying new things. The rice pilaf and tuna steak were 'new to me' dishes and both were tasty.
Chia seed pudding, fresh blueberries and raspberries with plain yogurt and pumpkin granola for breakfast.
Cheddar Smokies, Greek Salad, Potato and Egg Salad
Grilled tuna steak, rice pilaf, Greek salad
I took the following photos after 9 p.m. Tuesday night. The light was already insufficient. I tend to get better photos around sunrise.
The next set of photos were taken on Thursday evening.
I love the golden colour in the sky. Usually I only see this hue in the very early morning hours.
The Kenyan Missions
Since my last post, I learned that the primary crop we planted (corn/maize) won't be ready until October since we planted several months later than the norm. Those who planted in January have been harvesting over the past few weeks but we did not plant until much later.
In Kenya, the farmers plant and harvest corn and then they dry it in a shed. Preferably a shed on stilts because it helps with air circulation. Corn can get green mold or aflatoxins in the field or in storage and researchers have discovered that these aflatoxins are contributing to male infertility. Throughout the year the people take their dried corn to the posho mill to have it ground for unga (flour or maize meal). This maize flour is then made into ugali, a staple of the Kenyan diet.
Ugali is not really nutritious but it is a common food and it helps to fill the belly. It is eaten virtually every day for the main meal and on a modest diet will be eaten with greens or sukuma wiki (fried collard greens though the Kenyans usually refer to it as spinach). If the budget allows there might be chicken or beef stew as well. For a real treat at Christmas there might be goat meat.
Regardless of the issues with corn or ugali, Kenyans absolutely love ugali and they crave it just like in North America people where people may crave rice or potatoes. If you google the nutritional aspect of corn flour it sounds rather nutritious and perhaps it is relatively nutritious in the scheme of things. But when it becomes your primary source of food and there is little else that goes along with it, I think it leads to a malnourished society. I'm not a scientist but I'm finding that a lot of the adults we've been helping with medical needs are highly malnourished and it leads to challenges in trying to get them healthy again. First they have to have a much more nutritious diet on a consistent basis before they can start to get better. In fact, many Kenyan doctors now recommend their patients to take vitamins or eat a certain array of foods. This is all very challenging if you are a subsistence farmer. There isn't money left over for much else besides one's daily meal.
Photo Credit: Cookpad Ugali and Sukuma Wiki Recipe
Pastor Jonah will be travelling soon to Kericho government offices to check on the status of Eunice's pension application. Eunice applied for the pension for the elderly some years ago but has never received it. She has been in hospital for well over a year so cannot follow up on on a new application. I am hoping and praying that Jonah will be able to straighten this out for her and that she will get her pension soon.
It isn't a lot of money.
It amounts to about $18.00 (US) a month but it is paid every second month at approximately $ 37.00 (US). If you've been to Kenya in recent years you know just how far these funds would go and how little it will buy for a foreigner.
If you are a Kenyan and you are buying food you can make it stretch and you know where to shop. It won't feed you nutritiously but it will help stave off hunger.
If you are in need or medicine it will perhaps cover the cost of one pint of blood or perhaps a month's supply of blood thinner. When Eunice gets here pension we will all rejoice as this is something that has been long awaited and much deserved for Eunice has been a life long community and church worker. She's never expected anything in return and it would be nice if her last years could be made more comfortable.
We have helped a few other elderly to get their pensions. Some have received it quite quickly but some others have not. I would say, more often than not there are hurdles and challenges to any Kenyan getting a document or money from the government in a timely manner. It is always a wait and see what happens next kind of story and people who are entitled give up easily at times believing it will never happen for them. But I am so happy when one of them gets a pension approved and paid or any other kind of government document. When I first started travelling to Kenya and helping the people there was no such thing as a pension for the elderly and the disabled. Over time the government has been trying to improve many things but there always seem to be great setbacks and challenges, some created by thieving politicians.
My young doctor friend, Carolly's grandmother is now out of the hospital and seems to be doing well for a woman of advanced her age (she is over 80 years of age). Carolly is slowly building her a new home to replace the one that was damaged during the floods in March. I do not have an update on the other gentleman and his family (7 members in total) who were flooded out of their home and coffee farm. I was not in a position to offer them any assistance at the time so I have no news. In Kenya when you start asking questions about people's dire circumstances the expectation is that you are planning to help them. It's best not to ask questions then unless you really think you can do something helpful.
In the month of August I have been focussed on providing sheets and duvets to several households. In a few months it will be rainy season in Kenya and it will be cold. In fact, last night I chatted with Sarah from the Kibra slum in Nairobi. She said it was very cold. Sarah has a few children and no husband and not enough blankets or food. We helped to buy her some food and another blanket to try and keep warm. Fortunately she lives very near the Toi Market so she can walk there and find what she needs.
There is no heating in most Nairobi homes that I've had the privilege of visiting and it can get rather chilly during certain times of year. Warm bedding is a luxury in many village and slum homes and food, education, medicine and telephone air time would take priority.
Two gentlemen also received a duvet set (cotton duvet, bed sheet and pillow cases). Basically this involved researching prices and preferences as well as figuring out how to order and get the product to the intended recipients. One of these is Alvin, the Engineering Graduate who was hoping to do a Masters degree in Canada. His application was not accepted but even if it was Covid 19 would have made it a nightmare to travel here and begin studies. He is now considering seminary and if accepted will likely continue studies in East Africa.
The other man who received funds for bedding is Ernest. He is the gentleman with diabetes. Each month we provide him basic food and medicine. If we could provide a more nutritious, consistent diet it would help him so much but we do the best we can. He is the man who was run down over year ago when he was walking to hospital to get his diabetes medicine. It has been a long journey toward healing and I'm not even sure his leg is completely healed. When last I inquired he was still walking with a walking stick and his ability to walk longer distances was slowly improving. I had hoped that if he could stand on both legs he might be able to go back to being a barber and thus be able to help support himself. That is still my hope.
I had an idea to also provide some cooking equipment for Pastor Jonah; either an electric pressure cooker or an electric frying pan. This way he might reduce the cost of buying tanks of cooking gas and it would relieve the pressure on his back of having to bend down. He usually has a large gas tank which sits on the floor and then you put one pan on the top and you have to bend down to cook. The tanks are not even 2 feet high so that is hard on one's back.
It might save some money to cook with electricity but even if it doesn't there will be a much greater ability to eat a variety of nutritious foods using either one of the gadgets. I told Pastor Jonah to research and pick the most suitable cooker for his needs.
Last but not least, we've sent a bit of funds to a young husband and father I met about 12 years ago when he was selling books on the street. After graduating from university he set up a small scale tourist operation. However with the tremendous downtown in tourism he, like many others, is struggling a lot.
Prayers continue for Kenya.
Please contact me if you are able to help any of these individuals with food, clothing, medicines, transport or in any others ways (see side bar for further information).
I'm not sure when I will write again.
It will depend on when I can get some new photos and have something newsworthy to share.
Until then, take good care of yourselves.
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