Archive for the ‘Kenya’ Category

Lake Baringo and Kerio Valley

Saturday, April 7th, 2012

We spent a night at Lake Baringo, one of two fresh water lakes in Kenya.  If you look back at the map of our travels in Kenya you will see that it lies in the Rift Valley in northern Kenya.  It is hot and dry in this area and is known to have over 500 bird species.  That is why we wanted to stop here – to see the birds.  We stayed in a small banda at Roberts Camp.  When we stepped outside, we were surrounded by birds and their chatter.  We also heard the grunts of the hippos at the lake shore not far from our door.  Supposedly there were crocodiles in the lake but we didn’t see them.  We were mainly interested in the birds.

We took a guide with us on an early morning walk and within 2 hours he helped us identify more than 50 birds, many for the first time.  The landscape was beautiful with the escarpment on one side of the valley.  Unfortunately, most of the birds were too small or too distant for our camera. But it was easy to get a close-up of the cheeky Superb Starlings who thought they wanted some of our breakfast!

As we left Lake Baringo we climbed an escarpment, down and across the Kerio Valley up the next escarpment.  But the rest of the trip was covered in a previous blog post.

Visiting friends near Nairobi

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

While in Nairobi last week we visited our Kenyan friends.  The family had spent three years in Goshen-Elkhart area while the father attended AMBS and the mother attended GC.  She was a student in two of Ron’s classes.  We attended their church near Brackenhurst Center.  He is pastor of the Baptist Church.  (Brackenhurst is near Limuru and Nairobi.  While we lived in Kenya many years ago, we had our MCC annual retreats at this center so there were many memories of the spot.)  We had lunch and spent the afternoon with family.

On Monday we were invited to Rosslyn Academy where the mother teaches second grade.  She has 17 children with 15 countries represented.  What a fascinating class!  Sally Jo read a book to the class—what fun!  After school we had a tour of the grounds.  Sally Jo’s father was principal here in 1971-73 and her mother taught in the primary grades.  We recognized their home.  However, from a school of only elementary  and middle school grades with about 130 students, there are now over 600 students from kindergarten to 12th grade.  Next year they are expecting 800.  There are many new buildings and construction continues, especially for staff housing.

The school was developed in a coffee plantation in 1967 to serve mainly the children of Mennonite missionaries in East Africa.  The large farm house served early on as a dorm, classroom, dining hall, and more.  The building still stands and now houses the administration plus a few classrooms. The school continues to use an American curriculum and these days has many students from the diplomatic community.

(Some of the following photos are mainly for those of you who know Rosslyn.)

Kenya road trip

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

We made a road trip to Nairobi, Kenya recently to attend EARM (East Africa Rep Meeting).  It was 11 days, 1520 km (950 miles) filled with memories and new experiences.  Our first stop was in Webuye to visit a Kenya MCC couple.  Our previous post described our visit to our former school, Mosoriot Teachers College the next day.   When we lived there during 1967-1970 there was only a very small market across the road.  Now there are many shops and even a 4-story building.

After leaving Mosoriot we drove to Kapsabet, through Nandi Hills (where tea is still a big crop), to Kericho, and finally to Nakuru over a very stony, rough detour road but beautiful scenery.  (All with many memories.)  The next morning we found a flat tire!

On to Nairobi the next day to the Mennonite Guest House.  Here we found the MGH that we remembered but also an expanded version.  It has grown considerably but still has the beautiful lawn with huge trees—and still serves morning and afternoon tea.  There are now tall buildings surrounding the Guest House.  We visited our friends at their church, home, and school, but that’s the next blog.

We had 3 days of meetings.  We took no photos of our fellow East Africa country representatives; we did get one of our area MCC directors.

On the return trip to Kampala we took the old escarpment road from Nairobi to Nakuru and then branched off to Lake Baringo.  The landscape changed to very dry and scrubby, and along the way we saw sisal fields.  Sisal fiber is used to make binder twine.  We spent a glorious afternoon, evening, and morning a Lake Baringo – but again, that’s another blog.

We left the lake and drove up one escarpment, down across the Kerio Valley, and up another escarpment.   Again, many memories of the scenery but the road is now good (tarmac) and there are many more people living in this area.  At the top of the second escarpment is Iten at 8,000 feet—training ground of Kenyan and other Olympic athletes.  On to Eldoret and then to Kampala past tea and sugar cane fields.

Mosoriot Teachers College

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

We have finally returned to Kenya after nearly 39 years!  We taught at Mosoriot Teachers College near Eldoret from 1967-1970 and then made a very brief half day visit there in July 1973.  We have not been back since.  We were unable to contact the school prior to our coming and so just stopped in.  We did not know that we chose their graduation day!  But African hospitality prevailed and we were given tea, shown around the school, and even had a chance to meet the present principal during his busy day.  We were allowed to wandered around the campus.

Many, many things have changed—not surprising!  For one, it is much bigger—more classrooms, more dorms, more housing.  There was even a signpost as we entered as to where to find particular areas.  Mosoriot continues to be an educational institution for future primary school teachers only. There are about 800 students now with 72 teachers.  We had about 300 students with about 15-20 teachers.  Only students who have completed secondary school are now admitted whereas we were teaching students who only had 8th grade education or at most 2 years of secondary.

We did recognize many places.  We saw our house (which has changed a lot on the outside); the chapel which was built while we were there is still being used, though there was a side addition.  We saw the classrooms where we taught.  There is a newer, much larger library but with the same problem found in many African schools of too many old books.  In fact, the most recent encyclopedia set was one which Sally Jo had gotten when she was librarian there.  We met the librarian and a few of the teachers.  The graduation ceremony was being held on the same sports field where we often served as judges during athletic events.

We would like to include some of our old photos for comparison, but they are all in the US. So perhaps that will be another blog after we return home.