Michael Kimpur at Daylight, Pokot, Kenya

Friday, July 20, 2012

Education and Health -- Inseparable

Last week, I had the opportunity to travel to Daylight for a second time. This was my first time visiting the school since the kids started attending classes at the new property, but I also did something else for the first time: traveled with Michael into the nomadic lowlands.

Nothing could quite prepare my wife and I for our experience in Alale, even having lived in Uganda for most of the past year. We've seen poverty, shoddy infrastructure and plenty of other material deprivations, but I don't think I'd ever experienced anything like the geographical isolation of Alale. The nearest paved road was about six hours behind us by the time we arrived.

And this meant we were very far from the nearest hospital, as well. On our first attempt to drive to Alale, we came upon a family with a sick child; they had already been walking for two days in an attempt to get the child medical care. But that's a whole story unto itself (Read it here)...

There is no shortage of needs in Alale, but the two that kept coming up, both in conversations with people and the situations in which we found ourselves, were education and healthcare. We saw several people who were lying on the ground -- they lacked the energy to do much else -- who were suffering most likely from malaria, a preventable disease. When one boy fell sick by the huts where we were staying, several of the local people brought a goat to sacrifice, in order to appease whatever was causing the sickness.

A local pastor measures children to determine
whether any are malnourished following Amos' talk
It's easy to dismiss such responses to physical sickness as "primitive" or "superstitious." But when there are few, if any medicines available, and the nearest health centre is a day's walk away, it's not hard to understand why people feel their only recourse is to traditional rituals.

Thankfully, Michael was able to send someone in a vehicle to fetch Amos, a man who works at a clinic that isn't too far by automobile, but is very far by foot. Amos came with what few medicines he had and  begged the people to start walking toward a clinic whenever one of their children fell sick. He was very respectful of culture, telling people that if they wanted to sacrifice an animal, they still could, but only after seeking proper medical treatment.

Having made this plea, he then turned to us. He asked us to tell our people about what we had witnessed, and to do whatever they could to help these people get reliable access to healthcare. Consider this your notice, dear reader.

So improving access to healthcare was a big focus of our trip. But equally huge was increasing access to education.

Us teaching the kids about mosquitoes at Daylight
Of course, we spent time at Daylight in Kapenguria, teaching the kids about malaria, and even singing our national anthem upon request.  But it was when we got into the bush that we saw how much the Pokot really want better opportunities for their kids to go to school.

Many vulnerable children (like Pembe) have already been able to come to Daylight, and Michael has done such a good job of convincing the elders in Alale of the value of formal education, that they want literacy classes for adults, and a nursery school to be built in their village.

Education and healthcare aren't just two separate issues facing the Pokot; they're incredibly linked. Of course, kids need to be healthy in order to do well in school -- if they're too sick, they'll miss class and fall behind and miss out on many of the benefits of education.

But the connection also goes the other way: education is necessary for good health. After Amos passed out some medicine to families of sick children in Alale, we took a look. They all had dosages and instructions printed on the packaging, but very few people in Alale are literate, making it very hard for them to know how to use the medicine correctly.

As Daylight continues to grow it's important that we continue to reach deeper and deeper into these far-flung communities that are beyond the reach of most public services. And while Daylight is, and will remain primarily, a school, it's important that we maintain a holistic focus on the children and communities we serve.

Us with Michael, at a borehole in Alale

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Here at Daylight, Pokot, Kenya, we are saddened to announce the death of one Pokot man that we have come to know and interact with for a long time. The man goes by the name of  Apa Ikong ( the second from the left in the following pictures). He was shot two days ago by the Ugandan Army together with three others following a cattle raid 150 kilometers into Uganda. Apa Ikong, a leader Pokot warrior, took his group, about 200 strong, to carry out a raid in Karamojong, Uganda.

Cattle-rustling continue to be a big challenge among the nomad communities of Northern Kenya and Northeastern Uganda. Incidences of members from neighboring tribe attacking another happen with alarming frequency. We at Daylight try to help the children left behind by victims of cattle-rustling.Let us pray for the family and the children he has left behind. Daylight staff will be visiting the village this week to assess the situation. Pray with us.

Apa Ikong on the second left being handed his walking stick back by Mihael McCranie sometime August last year, 2011


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Pictorial Updates from Daylight, Kenya

Lots of good stuff are happening at Daylight - and we give thanks to God. Take a look at the following pictures and see for yourself the exciting activities taking place.

It is all smiles with a whole new sets of teeth
The Semi-temporary classrooms got a new coat of paint to keep rusts away and also make it look sharp
Our family's house construction is on course and just about to get on roofing Iron-sheets
Fundi Maina and his construction crew starting off the maiden dormitory work at Daylight

Eric, a student from Bethel University, MN. - a long time prayer partner for Daylight, showed up last week.

Up close and candid
Candy time
Pempe takes a close look at his piece
It's fun time at the play ground
Getting onto the big circle of friends
It is meal time....at the lunch hour
Class in session
Taking  notes...
Eric mingling with the locals in the surrounding vilages

Time to try to do the way the locals do - blowing out the traditional trumpet
Alale, Pokot - Eric teaming up with the villagers in plowing up a plot of land readying it for planting.