It Takes a Village…

Meet Bernadetta. She is a widow, a mother, and grandmother that lives in a small mud hut in a village near Point of Grace. Her husband died over 20 years ago and left her and his other 12 wives to raise his many children. Since his death, all but 1 of Bernadetta’s children have died from AIDS. She now raises at least 4 of her grandchildren in a small mud hut that is now cracked and crumbling due to termites and old age.

Bernadetta’s grandchildren attend Point of Grace, and when Lorna heard about the unsafe conditions, she asked if our team could mud a new hut for her during our visit. Needless to say she was more than willing, and we were happy to help!

If a new home was not found soon, she and her grandchildren could have been homeless within the next three weeks. The large hole in the picture below is just one example of what happens when termites eat through a mud hut. All the wooden supports were also chewed through, making the home very likely to collapse and unsafe. Cobras have also been known to enter these holes, seeking out the warmth of the home. When we arrived at her home, we were greeted by nearly 20 high school students from Point of Grace and several other members of the community. The new hut was located feet from the old one, and the wooden support structure and roof were already in place. The high school students were in the process of mixing the mud and breaking large rocks in preparation for our arrival. The process of mudding the hut was fairly simple, and reminded me a lot of a traditional Amish barn raising. Rocks were wedged between the wooden braces and mud was applied between like mortar. The more we worked, the messier we got, and the more community members paid attention. Many hands make light work, and the whole hut only took us 2 hours to complete!Now that the hut is mudded, they will wait several days until it dries. They will then fill in the areas that show cracks or holes with new mud and let it dry again. The last stage is to cover the hut with cow manure and let it cure until dried. At that point, the hut is ready to live in and could be around for another 20 years or more! Bernadetta was clearly moved by our help, and we were so happy to be a part of bettering the quality of life for her and her family.After the hut was completed, we headed back for lunch and prepared to head into the city. Kisumu is 30-40 minutes away from Point of Grace and more urbanized than I thought it would be when we first drove through. I would compare it in size to Fort Wayne but with a distinct African flair. Our first stop was the Maasai Market where we practiced our haggling skills and picked up souvenirs. We then treated the Meekers to a nice dinner at Java House, a cafe similar to Starbucks but with a full restaruant and bar.We are now back at the guest house at Point of Grace and chatting together as a group. We have grown together as a family and I am so grateful to these people and the parts they play on this team. I cannot imagine this journey without them!Tomorrow brings more community visits and our last opportunity to finish the chicken coop. I will also be featuring James, our cook, and the amazing meals he’s made for us this week.

Until tomorrow!

-Shannen

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