2011 BPC/Kibwezi Partnership Workcamp Summary
A fairly equal mix of veterans, rookies, actual youth and “young in spirit”, our Kibwezi Work Team was on the go from the time of wheels down to the time of wheels up during July 7 to August 2, 2011 in Kibwezi, Kenya.
On the campus of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA) Educational Centre (formerly know as the Kibwezi Educational Centre), the Team’s first work task was to be a part of the “Burke/Kibwezi brick passer team” assisting in the construction of the upper floor of the Tumaini Orphan Care home. The entire needy interior of the Home was painted over the course of many ensuing days, and broken toilet tanks were replaced.
The Dining Hall walls and table tops were also painted, and colorful paintings were added or freshened around the windows and doors. Also in the Dining Hall, the Team (assisted by staff and students) installed a 42” flat screen television and DVD player to play automotive, sewing and tailoring videos brought from America, as well as other educational (and some entertainment) videos. We have excited requests for additional videos on welding, masonry, electrical and construction.
We also purchased masonry equipment and distributed school supplies. The new pencil or boxes of 24 crayons for the students was a special treat in Kibwezi. Each Polytechnic student received a pen and a composition book.
In the library, books were delivered to Faith (the librarian), and the addition of electrical outlets completed delivery and installation of a computer resource center. The Library now has four working laptops, and an additional laptop is in the teacher’s office. Each contains more educational content than a typical US elementary school. Want to learn how to add or to perform calculus? Go to Kibwezi! Thanks to our generous donors who donated time, laptops and educational content to ensure that this dream could be realized!
The Team killed more viruses (in staff computers) than a bottle of Lysol, and also encouraged protocols to avoid further infestations. In the Library and elsewhere on campus, our accounting talent developed QuickBooks and Excel solutions to enhance the “business” of the school and microfinance programs.
In the Nendeni area, the sturdy new vehicle purchased with your generous donations was a lifeline of travel on the challenging Kibwezi roads.
We visited some 14 different Nendeni churches and preached and enjoyed Christian fellowship at each. As there is currently no pastor assigned to the Nendeni area, we were assisted by three stalwart and faithful evangelists, Stephen, David and Thomson.
Rev. Beth baptized babies, children and adults, and celebrated communion. Our common faith bridges language and cultural differences in remarkable ways. Bwana Asifiwe. Praise God.
Our chief construction project was the Preschool at nearby Misuuni. It had recently been decertified because of the building‘s condition, leaving the 18 or so enthusiastic preschoolers at risk of no school. When we arrived, the new school consisted of a foundation of lava rock barely at grade and a floor that was not even fully earthen. Each day, four to seven Team members drove 45 minutes to work on the school, also providing meals for the co-worker parents and a small group of paid help assisting in the construction. When we left, the three rooms and exterior walls were nearly complete. The new building will be “certifiable” when completed in October. We are also building a preschool at Kilema which is at a slower construction pace; and construction-related donations were made for the churches at Mt. Moriah, Usalama and Mbui-nzau.
Our orphan care visits “in the bush” were lifech anging in and of themselves. Being witness to the faith and strength of these families devastated by deaths of moms and dads, and recognizing that our food and monetary support is what keeps them alive, in school and in reasonably good health is powerful testimony to the value of our partnership.
This trip, we added ceramic water filters to our distribution, so that each orphan family and preschool can have clean drinking water from a simple, inexpensive ($20 USD) filter. Imagine the gratitude of these Kenyans to receive the gift of clean water!
We distributed magnifier glasses to elderly orphan family members, as well as to the Education Center staff and elderly Nendeni Church members. The gift of these glasses can restore sewing, reading or cooking to a household.
It didn’t matter if it was a fleeting encounter or a multi-day working relationship. Throughout all the “projects”, the daily devotions, the multiple evening interactions (dance, crafts, discussion, drama, computers and word games), the prayer circles, the classroom and playground time, the meals at welcoming homes, “reading time” at the gate, or “hanging around together time”, we simply and strongly c o n n e c t e d with all our K e n y a n partners. Is it any wonder, then, that there were tears of sadness on our departure day, amidst the joy of acknowledging our connection through Christ and our common humanity?
From Kibwezi, throughout the Nendeni, and all the way to Nairobi, our partnership was heralded and cherished. One trip does not a partnership make, but this trip forged another strong link in the chain that connects us. Each one of you supports this trip and our partnership in so many different ways. On behalf of those who witnessed why we need Africa, we say asante sana (thank you very much).
Rick and Carol Bryan
BPC/Kibwezi Partnership Team Chairs