This has been an exciting week in the Otieno household, because Wesley has started walking! He's been getting closer and closer for weeks, taking one or two faltering steps between pieces of furniture, but this week he just took off! We'll be celebrating his first birthday in two weeks, so it's fun that he's conquered this development milestone ahead of his birthday.
We have a group of Canadians in Shirati right now, being led by a couple who have come to Shirati every year for several years. The husband has a background in hospital administration in Africa, so he helps out at Shirati Hospital and his wife teaches English classes to the nursing school students and hospital staff. This year they brought a small team with them, and Wednesday night Fred gave a presentation about a pet project: a technical high school. The Bishop and Fred have been working on this for ages, and they've received pledges of support from the Dutch and German Mennonite Churches. They're hoping these Canadians will also pledge some support. It will be a school that teaches mechanical and technological skills in addition to the core subject curriculum, so that students leave with marketable skills.
I've been a bit under the weather this week with especially bad allergies, but I had a visitor on Monday who got me excited about an idea. Our friend Ben and his wife are both living with HIV, and the wife came to greet me and see Wesley while she was picking her medication for the treatment of HIV from the hospital. I was just making Fred's tea when she came, and I noticed her glances at the food on the table, but she left for the hospital before I could offer her anything. Unless one gets there pretty early, the queue gets really long. After leaving home without tea in the morning, walking several miles, waiting in a long line, then returning home to prepare food, anyone would be exhausted and hungry.
The head of the HIV Care and Treatment Center, a man named Peter, has been trying to think of a way to provide some kind of refreshment for the clients when they visit. He's a very busy man, however, and he hasn't been able to coordinate it. These people living with HIV are too poor to afford taking tea, let alone lunch, in a cafe in town. There are several funders interested in Shirati HIV care who would likely be favorable toward this proposal if someone is willing to write it and follow up. I think I might be the person to do that.
My idea is that with the clients' help we could provide tea and bread with peanut butter (a little protein boost) once a week initially, then expanding to offer it every day, possibly even adding fresh fruit and hard-boiled eggs, as funding permits.
There's loads of potential, even to expand to income-generating activities like catering and baking. I really believe that the clients themselves can run the program, so it's just a matter of writing the proposal, getting funding, then doing the reporting as things go on!
Anyway, that's what we're excited about right now. On Sunday, Wesley and I will travel to Shinyanga and Dodoma for a week to visit our Tanzanian partners, while Fred goes up to Kenya to see his grandmother and Innocent, so my next post will likely be from Dodoma!