Going home

Sharon with giraffes

By Fred Hegele, Board of Directors
Imara International

On Tuesday morning, Kristine, Sharon and I enjoyed our last breakfast with Sophy on her porch overlooking beautiful gardens and more distant woods. It was cool at 7:30 a.m. The warmth of the morning sun was welcome. We were packed and ready to depart for Nairobi at 9 a.m. when our driver, Stephan, arrived. We returned with several boxes of unused homeschool curriculum, which we plan to resell. We have switched to the Kenyan ACE curriculum, which is working much better for the moms. It is self-paced and allows much flexibility.

We checked into the Amani Gardens Inn (formerly the Mennonite House), had lunch, and headed for the Maasai Market. The beautiful fabric, beaded items, wood carvings, soapstone items, purses, jewelry are simply remarkable. There are no price tags, of course, everything is negotiable. After some gift purchases, we went to the Westgate Mall, which was the site of an Al-Shabaab terrorist attack a few years ago, for our first visit since it was rebuilt by its Israeli owners. An enclosed Mall with limited entrance/exit design, one reflects about the virtual trap facing the unfortunate shoppers that fateful day. Ironically, Carol and Sandy were only a few blocks away at the time of the attack, so their recollection of tear gas odor is a lingering memory. We have an Urban Burger for dinner as we dial up our re-entry plans for home-sweet-home in the U.S.A.

On Wednesday morning, we visit the Maasai shopping area at the Hilton Hotel for more top secret gift buying. The street near the hotel was taken over by several hundred chanting demonstrators, waving tree branches, signs demanding their rights (for what we were not able to determine). Kenya City Hall is a block or two away, so perhaps it is a city issue. Thankfully we were safely inside, but they did capture our attention.

Carol and I had a meeting scheduled at 1 p.m. with Tim Kelly at Bethany International-Kenya. Our purpose was to share the Imara story and learn about Bethany’s missionary and intern programs, to determine possible fit for our short- and long-term staffing needs. The Bethany organization, people, and programs are quite impressive. Tim Kelly is warm, welcoming and very knowledgeable. We agreed on a phase one plan to seek candidates for our new House Manager position. Tim was also incredibly helpful with some practical advice about human resources, security, and networking matters. I think Carol has a new friend in Nairobi.

Kristine, Sharon, and Sandy visited the nearby Giraffe Centre, a non-profit set up to protect the endangered Rothschild Giraffe. Great fun!

Back at Amani Gardens Inn, we said farewell to Carol & Sandy and packed up for our three-hour ride to the Jomo Kenyatta Airport—at least half of which was spent idle in traffic. The Kenyans are quite patient—no horn-blowing or display of extreme impatience while we were deadlocked. Once we were on the move, the aggressive driving, lane changing, squeeze-in and out driving style was both amazing and a bit frightful.