30 November 2009

End of Year Celebration

The year is nearly over and the SND’s were kind enough to have a celebration in our honor.  We ate a filling meal, relaxed and danced.  Here are pictures to prove it all.

28 November 2009

Sharing Susan’s Shots

Sue just put an album from today, parents meeting last week and the staff outing to Kitale.  She includes some pictures where you can actually see me (yes I know it is a shock) and different shots from today.  Thanks to Sue in advance.  As a bonus, some pictures of our dogs from today.


A Fresh Thanksgiving Day Feast

Awake at 6AM, I began the preparations for the turkey.  With pots borrowed from father, I boiled water to be poured on the freshly killed turkey.  It helps get the feathers off.  Ready to get going by 7, I waited until 8:30 for Neto and his friend to come.

As I said a few days ago, the rumor was that there needed to be a specific way that a turkey is to be slaughtered.  Michael and I had our doubts that there was truth to the claim, but with no knowledge we decided to bring in help.  Unfortunately (but really fortunately), it was as easy as we thought.  He slaughtered it the same way that a chicken is done; by pinning the wings down underneath a foot then slitting the neck.  Being a larger bird, it put up a much greater fight after the neck was cut.  The man did fine by himself and I know that with one cutting and the other holding, we could have done it with no problems.

After the slaughter, the hot water was poured over the bird and it was de-feathered.  A searing completed the process to get off all feathers and then it was time to cut it up.  Neto, the man and I worked together to cut, gut and clean the turkey.  After they were done and left, I boiled it for two hours and the finished it with a quick fry.

All the while, Michael whipped up his mashed potatoes.  Three different kinds to be exact.  With stuffing and green bean casserole from Sue we had a Thanksgiving feast.  Our guests arrived, we ate and enjoyed.

To finish, we had ice cream, Jell-O made by yours truly, rice krispy treats by me as well, apple and peach cobbler by sue, and pumpkin pie by Sue.  All in all it was a nice meal and an easy day.  The work proved to be much easier than I expected.  The whole Turkey work took about five hours from alive to human stomach.  We had no injuries or any mishaps. 

A great Thanksgiving was had by all.  There was something more enjoyable about making the meal from the very beginning.  Sue’s stuffing did not come from a box, the turkey at our house the night before I was able to handle it through the entire process, and Michael used fresh cows milk and vegetables make mashed potatoes that he finally mashed with his hands and a wooden stick.  It was not the easiest Thanksgiving meal, but it was right up there at the top in my mind.

The pictures include most of the turkey process.  There are also pictures after the turkey from the meal itself.  Sorry if it is a bit gory, but I do not think they are all that bad. I turned off auto-play so nobody has to see anything they do not want to.

26 November 2009

Live From New York…

it’s Thanksgiving.

Thanks Dad.


Happy Thanksgiving

Ours will be on Saturday, so my wishes extend to the United States but will not be put to use for two more days.  A bit of a snag has arisen concerning our turkey.  Neto and Angela have informed me that the slaughter of it will not be as simple as I thought.  I never thought it would be easy, but they claim that if it is threatened it will seize up and render the meat tough.

I have my doubts, but they say it must be slaughtered by surprise.  My research on the internet has shown them to be wrong, but any search for turkey slaughter ends up with mostly videos and articles about the Palin press conference from last year. 

I feel confident in our abilities, but the plan now looks like it will be a surprise attack with our machete.  I do not like this idea and I hope to avoid it.  More to come as I try to learn about it.  Anyone with experience, any help is more than welcome.  I want to do it in the most humane manner possible (yes killing is killing, but it is nice being at the top of the food chain).

The turkey arrives tomorrow and the preparations begin immediately.

23 November 2009

24 Days Old

I Wish I Thought of This

From Bill Easterly over at Aid Watch.  It is not even worth putting a simple link.  The whole thing is worth posting here.  So here is his reversal of Bono and Africa:

African leaders advise Bono on reform of U2

By William Easterly | Published November 23, 2009

An expert commission of African leaders today announced their plan for comprehensive reform of music band U2. Saying that U2’s rock had lost touch with its African roots, the commission called for urgent measures to halt U2’s slide towards impending crisis.

“Our youth today are imperiled by low quality music,” said Commission chairman Nelson Mandela. “We will be lending African musicians to U2 to try to refurbish their sound to satisfy the urgent and growing needs for diversionary entertainment at a time of crisis in the global music and financial sectors.”

Concerns about U2 have been growing in Africa for a while. One Western aid blogger testified to the Commission that his teenage kids found U2’s music “cheesy.” The Mandela Commission proposed that U2 follow a series of steps to recover its Edge:

1) Hire African consultants to analyze U2’s “poverty of music trap”

2) Prepare a Band-owned and Commission-approved Comprehensive U2 Reform Strategy Design (CURSD)

3) Undertake a rehabilitation tour of African capitals to field-test and ground-truth proposed reforms

4) Subject all songs to randomized experiments in which the effect on wellbeing of control and treatment groups is rigorously assessed.

Mandela expressed optimism that the Commission’s report and proposed reforms had come in time to stave off terminal crisis in U2, and restore its effectiveness in the 80s arena rock field.

You can see it on his blog here.

22 November 2009

Turkey Day Prep

Yesterday, Neto was kind enough to give me a chicken slaughtering and preparing lesson.  He took me through the process and pointed out what each part was.  Alas, it was not a simple biology lesson.  With Thanksgiving arriving this weekend (Saturday for us in Kenya), I will have to prepare a Turkey for the meal.  It has been ordered through Angela, but the work will be left to Michael and I to get it ready. 

Having only killed a chicken once, I needed to hone my skills and learn what to do after killing it.  I thought of taking some pictures as I worked, but I did not want to spoil all the fun that the pictures from Saturday will provide.

This week we continue to prepare for World Day for Disabled and wind down the last three weeks of the year for the SJC and my time in Malava.  The end is now under twenty days and I still do not feel like I am going home quite yet.  Maybe it will change over the next few days, but I think it is going to take a plane to make it a reality for me.

20 November 2009

Parents’ Day of Play

We had our last parent meeting of the year today.  The parents had the chance to play some games after the meeting before buying toys at a dramatically reduced price.  I had to guide a bit in using some of the toys.  In between giving instructions, I took some pictures.


19 November 2009

Famine Determinants

Bill Easterly’ Aid Watch blog featured a post about determining famines.  There have been cases where they have been over and under stated when there is a gain for the government (under) or a NGO (over).

Here is an excerpt:

In his classic book “Famine Crimes” Alex De Waal observes that NGOs make “habitual inflation of estimates of expected deaths.” De Waal notes that during the pre-Christmas prime fundraising season, ‘One million dead by Christmas’… has been heard every year since 1968 and has never been remotely close to the truth.”

Put into the current mix a credulous Western media that is happy to check the box “Ethiopia = famine,” and is unable to handle subtleties like chronic food insecurity and chronic malnutrition vs. emergency famine. Between unreliable media, NGOs, and government, it is tragically difficult to know when tragedy is happening.

Read the whole post here.

18 November 2009


I have had ever intention to write and have continued to neglect my goals.  Tonight I will catch up a bit with some quick hitters:

  • It has rained for two days straight.  El Nino was supposed to come and it seems that this may be it.  I cannot say for sure, but there have been three rainy days since I have been in Malava and two were the Tuesday and today.  It looks like we will have plenty of rain for awhile, but the weather here is all over the place.
  • World Day for Disabled is on December 3 and we have begun preparations.  These next few weeks are going to be very hectic trying to get everything in order.
  • Neto and Sue were both out today doing various work.  That left me to deal with the children as they waited for therapy.  It could not have been a better day.  When there are a lot of us, it can be hard to have the chance to work/play with the kids.  Today I was free to spend the day out of the back office and with the kids as long as I wanted.  Time has been kind and my rapport with the kids has improved immensely.  This means that they are far more receptive to not only me being around, but working with them.
  • School is out for most kids as exams have begun.  I thought of being stuck in the Twilight Zone as the town has shifted from adult to child oriented.  There seem to be almost no people over the age of fifteen.  For some reason this was not as striking during the April or August breaks.  Now, I feel as if the kids have taken over town.  If I had a Child Greeting Index, it would be at its highest point of the year right now with a strong upward trend
  • To practice and prepare for our Thanksgiving feast next Saturday, I will slaughter and cook a chicken on Friday.  Neto is going to help me out.  The goal is to get a bit of practice on the smaller bird before doing it on the turkey.  There is a good chance that a video will be made for the turkey and maybe even for the chicken.

No Surprises

Transparency International released their annual corruption perceptions index.  Not quite the worst of the worst, Kenya does a good job at ranking towards the bottom of the world when it comes to corruption.  The graphic is interesting and a bit fun to play around with.

As a new constitution draft is on the table, maybe Kenya can reverse their status and move out of corruption.

16 November 2009

Goodbye Katie!

Katie is on her way back home to rest up before heading back to Nigeria in January.

14 November 2009

SJC Staff Outing 2009

Kitale Disabled Animal Orphanage

For our annual staff outing, the SJC staff went to an orphanage for disabled animals just outside of Kitale.  Yes it was fitting and not really a day off when working with the disabled, but it was a nice day walking around with everyone.  Since Kenyans love pictures, there were a lot taken.  Being behind the camera, none involve me.  However, there is a group picture on Sr. Judi’s camera that I will steal and post ASAP.

Most of all, it was nice to spend time with everyone outside of the center.  We have had some gatherings, but this trip was a good experience.  Everyone seemed to be happy and enjoy their time at the animal center.  Lunch at the Kitale Golf Club finished the day with a small hitch in the delivery of my meal, but in Kenya all things must come in time.

Pictures are uploading this minute and will be posted shortly.

13 November 2009

Because He is My Favorite Footballer

…and he sets an example for most athletes.  Chelsea’s Didier Drogba has decided to take his £3m bonus from Pepsi and build a hospital in his home country, the Ivory Coast.  Despite being a bit of a hothead (see UEFA Champions League ‘loss’ to Barca in May), he is a UN ambassador. 

Maybe a few more athletes can reach down their deep pockets and come up with a little bit to lend a hand to a cause like the Didier Drogba Foundation.

12 November 2009

Forgot the Article

Here is the link to the article about the Archdiocese of Washington DC.

DC Archdiocese To Pull Programs So It Can Continue to Discriminate

With DC working towards same-sex marriage rights, the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington has said that it will no longer be able to provide its social service programs.  Basically, it does not want to be told that it cannot discriminate based upon sexual orientation.  Therefore, the only way to not comply is to pull out.  How is that at all in the spirit of Catholic service? 

I can understand on principle why the stand has to be made, but members of the archdiocese should be ashamed that people have to suffer for it.  Is it justifiable to remove programs that reach many people who need them in the city in order to maintain a policy of discrimination?  If same-sex marriages are allowed throughout the US, will the entire church have to pull its social programs?

Rwanda (the log)

I intended on a great piece of visual literature that would transform my prose into some sort of grand picture that manifested itself as the reader continued.  Unfortunately, my grand ideas remained as such and I will just transcribe my notes as I went along the trip.  Not quite as lyrical at all, but maybe more honest to what I noticed/thought as we went along in Rwanda.


  • K’LA to KIG
  • Leave 9 AM
  • Uganda = bananas
  • Boarder 4:30 PM
  • No dark plastic bags allowed into Rwanda – Border inspector “won’t like it”  *note* Rwandans fear black plastic bags
  • Inspector confused by neck pillow, had to demonstrate to prove its reason for being in my bad and show that it is not a black bag
  • Nearly no whites entering Rwanda (there were a lot going into Uganda from Kenya)
  • Valley of Tea
  • Double Dubbed Jackie Chan Film (English then dubbed again in Swahili)
  • Valley turns like once great bobsled course cut by a grand glacier
  • Mist hangs in valley like schoolgirl’s mobile presentation
  • Kid A (album) written with Rwandan bus ride in mind


  • Day bus only out of Rwanda due to daytime border hours
  • BHS basketball hoodie in red with Johnson on back – Bernardsville?
  • Great bank search (no ATM’s work)
  • Access bank gives cash advance so I can stay another night and actually leave
  • Bonjour – exit hotel and man greets me as such – gave lost look and believed that I was French for a moment
  • Motorcycle taxis with men in green uniforms, matching helmets, and helmets for the passenger!  A first in East Africa!  Safety!
  • Kigali Memorial Centre
    • Fire lit 100 days each year to coincide with genocide
    • Fire=death
    • Water=life
    • Elephants=Memory
    • Mass Graves
      • over 300,000 people
      • giant slabs of stones like Egyptian king’s tomb
    • 1932
      • Tutsi = 10+ cows
      • Hutu= 9 or less cows
    • Catholic church spread ideas of group superiority
    • Delineation based upon socio-economic status not clan/tribe
    • By 1957 almost all Tutsi leadership
    • Gov’t jobs and Edu spots determined by percentage of groups (T-H 14-86)
    • Decent to Genocide
      • world choose not to go up path
    • 70 yr old woman hides 15 by playing up town belief that she housed evil spirits
    • 500,000 women raped – most by men HIV+
    • Children and women targeted to end line of Tutsis
    • Children’s section most upsetting part
      • Forced self to read information blow wall size portraits of murdered children

With history of genocides (ie. Germany, Rwanda, Namibia, Serbia, Turkey, etc.) how do we ignore Darfur?

11 November 2009

Sad News

For anyone (like myself) news of the execution of the DC sniper is sad news.  In a modern society that prides itself on rights, the execution of prisoners continues (with strong support).  To me, there is no way to justify the murder of another person no matter how grave his or her crime.  We can call it an execution, but it is government condoned murder.

08 November 2009


I have a lot to say about Rwanda and the travel there, but will wait for tomorrow to do it.  I am far too tired to put in a legitimate effort and one that is reasonable for the city.  For now, pictures will do.  I fooled around with my camera a bit at the end on the last night and they are more for the fun of it.



  • Left Malava at about 9:30AM
  • Dropped off in Kakamega to take matatu to Mumias then Busia.
  • Arrive Busia at 12:30PM and wait for 2:30PM Akamba bus
  • Lunch
  • Watch Nigerian films in office until bus arrived at 4PM
  • Depart border at 4:15PM
  • Jinja at 6:15PM to pass over the source of the Nile River (yup, its where it all begins)
  • 8:30PM arrive in Kampala take taxi to Backpackers hostel for the night.


  • Awake at 6:45AM for quick shower and foray into Kampala.
  • Shot around the city on motorcycle taxis, check on bus tickets to Kigali for Thursday, have breakfast at 1000 Cups Coffee House.
  • Noon shoot over to Entebee to have lunch and see Lake Victoria from a different point.
  • Back to Kampala for the afternoon to buy tickets and return to the hostel to relax before taking the bus the next morning to Rwanda.


  • Awake at 7AM for shower and getting ready.
  • Tea for breakfast
  • Bus at 9AM
  • Arrive Rwanda border at 3PM (Rwanda to be continued in the Rwanda post to follow)


  • Cross boarder at 1PM
  • Arrive in Kampala at 6:30PM
  • Motorcycle taxi to Backpackers Hostel
  • Dinner and conversation with Union College fellows before early bed time


  • Awake 5:45AM
  • Bus 7:15AM
  • Arrive in Kabale Noon
  • Malaba before 1PM then cross back into Kenya
  • Hitch a ride with an Austrian man and a Slovokian woman to Webuye
  • Matatu Webuye to Malava
  • Home at 3:30


Alive and back in Malava

06 November 2009


The most beautiful city I have ever been to. Sadly only here a day because the border is closed at night. Pictures all the whole story to come soon.
In short, Kigali is best taken in from the back of a motorcycle. I did it all day.

04 November 2009

Kampala -> Kigali

Kampala is a beautiful city but not enough time. Off to Kigali this morning for two days then back to Malava via Kampala.

02 November 2009

Power/Internet Out

Last night, we had no power or internet.  Power is out due to what I can only guess is a spent fuse and the internet was out for reasons I do not know. 

More importantly, Sue and I are traveling around starting today through Sunday/Monday.  A lot depends on visas, but it looks as if we will be in Kampala, Uganda for tonight and tomorrow then off to Kigali, Rwanda for two nights.  If we have to pay to re-enter Uganda, we will shoot around the southern half of Lake Victoria through Tanzania.  If we do not, then it is back home through Uganda.

I will have no computer, but will try to toss out an “I am safe” update along the way.  Most likely, I will be back in action next Monday with tales of rapid travels and volcanoes.

01 November 2009

You Move Back, We Keep the Course

November begins and the rest of the world observes daylight savings.  We have not.  So now the time difference between Nairobi and New York is back to eight (8) hours.