Kenya 2017 : Kimana & Moshi, TZ

On this part of my trip I took a break from my albinism project to revisit places that I had seen on my previous trips to Kenya.

Wednesday, September 27th, 2017 (travel day)

Alex, Mama and I left the house around 1:30/2pm to begin our trek to Kimana County to visit friends and places I have worked on my previous trips to Kenya.

It was about 280 km from Kiserian to Kimana.  Along the way, we saw lots of wildlife – giraffes, zebras, and wildebeests; along with a beautiful sunset. 

erinalbinsim17_0862We got to Tyson’s house around 9:30 pm that night.   As we got out of the car, I saw two shooting stars!  Tyson is head of the Oloile Secondary School where I worked in 2011 and 2013.  He is a good friend of mine, as well as Alex and Staff of Hope (the organization I worked with at Oloile).  We all had dinner together and caught up, then went to sleep.

Thursday, September 28th, 2017 (Moshi, Tanzania KiliSun Sunscreen Unit)

We woke around 7am to get to the Kenya/Tanzania border by 9am. Our plan was to get through customs; then once we were officially in Tanzania, get picked up by the driver we had hired for the day, and head to Moshi.  It as about a thirty minute drive from Tyson’s house to the Tanzanian border.  Once we crossed into Tanzania, it was about a three hour drive to the town of Moshi. 

In Moshi, there is a state of the art dermatology training facility at the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre.   Many dermatologists that work in Kenya and East Africa come here for their training.  In fact, Dr. Joash Matonda, who we worked with in Mombasa, trained here.  The center has a whole care unit dedicated to people with albinism. Within this unit, there is a small scale sunscreen production project.  The “factory” produces around 80 containers of sunscreen per day, with a formula specialized for people with albinism.  They distribute this sunscreen to people with albinism throughout Tanzania, while also providing education to those people and the communities about how to apply sunscreen and why it is so important.

This system is and should be a model to other African nations about how to handle sunscreen supply.  Alex and I were so excited for the opportunity to tour such a facility.  We have hopes that one day either the Kenyan government can buy sunscreen from KiliSun, or use a similar model to create a production and distribution center in Kenya.

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After finishing our tour at the factory, we started our journey back to Tyson’s house.  We stopped for lunch – choma (roasted meat) and Ugali and a Tanzanian beer for me.

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Mount Kilimanjaro was visible all day, which is pretty rare.  On our way back to Tyson’s, we saw the sun set behind the mountain, creating a dreamy shade of blue on Kilimanjaro.  We stopped for photos of course.

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Friday, September 29th, 2017 (Kili Springs Camp & Oloile Secondary School)

Today was pretty nostalgic for me.  We visited two of the places where I spent a lot of time on my first two trips to Kenya.  These places are very dear to my heart.  It has been four years since the last time I was at these places, so I was so excited to see the changes and progress being made.

The first place is Kili Springs Camp.  This camp is where our groups stayed for the week we worked at Oloile Secondary School (which is right down the road). We got to see a clear Kili on our walk to the camp.  

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This rustic, glamping style lodging is within walking distance of Tyson’s house.  So, we got up early, and walked over to Kili Springs. Benjamin, the owner of the camp, gave me a tour of the property and told me about all the changes.

(photos from my last trip in 2013)

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I barely recognized it! So much has changed!  When I stayed there last, each unit was an REI tent with a cot inside.  Now, each tent looks like something you would see at a luxury camp inside of a Kenyan National Park.  The tents were huge and had built up structures around them, each with their own bathroom and shower, and view of Kilimanjaro.  It was absolutely unbelievable and amazing.

(photos from this trip, 2017)

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I will definitely be spending some nights there on my next trip to Kenya!  EEEk!

After walking a lap around Kili Springs, we headed to Oloile Secondary School.  The past two times I’ve been to Kenya, I’ve been with the non profit, Staff of Hope, which was co-founded by youth pastor Rev. Jeff Spainhour and Dr. Moses Pulei in 2001.  Note that Moses and Tyson are brothers.  Staff of Hope has three main goals : to help provide clean water, healthcare and education in East Africa.  They started Oloile Secondary School in 2007.  It has now grown to be a boarding school for boys and girls.  The girls dorm was constructed four years ago and the boys dorm was just finished this summer.  Providing a place for students to stay gives many the opportunity to get an education when they might not have otherwise been able to because of the far distance they would have to walk to get to school.  On my past trips, our teams constructed fences around designated areas at the school.  In 2011, we fenced in about 2 acres for the school to irrigate and use as farm land; in 2013, we fenced in about 5 acres to claim the land for the school, and use it as a multipurpose crop/soccer field.

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Since my last visit to Oloile in 2013, there has been change and progress – a new boys dorm was constructed and the gardens continue to yield crops for the school’s consumption.

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After walking a lap around the school, we started our journey home.  Along the way, Kilimanjaro was clear until it was out of our line of sight.

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