Safari day

Safari January 2016

Safari January 2016

By Fred Hegele, Board of Directors
Imara International

Today was safari day for the mission team. Sandy and our driver Peter picked us up at 6:30 a.m. It was still dark—and chilly—-and Sandy brought hot coffee and baked scones that Carol baked last night before going to bed.

Our newly-purchased land for the Imara Village is across the Ewaso Ngiro River from the Ol Pajeta Conservancy. The only three remaining Northern White Rhinos, following the death of Nola at the San Diego Zoo on November 22, 2015, are at this privately-owned wildlife. Today we saw all three of these beautiful specimens inside the 700-acre endangered species enclosure where they are protected.

We saw warthogs by the dozen, giraffes, elands, waterbucks, hartebeests, impalas and gazelles, zebras, elephants, jackals, baboons, secretary birds and others I can’t recall at the moment. I will remember when I look at the hundreds of digital pictures captured today. We also stopped at the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary, founded by Jane Goodall, containing thirty-nine chimps, with whom we share 90% of their DNA.

We spent part of the morning looking for Simba, as our driver learned of a sighting of four lionesses in a particular section of the Conservancy. We looked and we looked and we looked. The grass in the savannah is very long and green due to the extensive rains during the past two months, and the lions are much more secure and difficult to spot. We continued to look until lunch time.

We ate lunch at Morani’s Restaurant inside Ol Pajeta and watched the rains move in from our outside patio table. And it rained incredibly hard for roughly an hour—-a heavy rain that Sandy calls a “potato harvest rain” after the muddy experience she had just before we arrived last week. The roads throughout the Conservancy were now quite difficult to navigate due to the puddles and standing water, but Peter is a skillful driver and he knows the area well.

We soon observed a large integrated herd of zebras, elands, impalas, gazelles, and others. Only this time, the wildlife was stoic, not grazing, seemingly on alert, suggesting that danger may be imminent. We had seen some jackals in the area prior to lunch, perhaps tracking the lions to support their scavenger lifestyle. Peter explained that when the “king” and the “queen” are in the area, instinct takes over and the rest of the population in the area assumes a protective mode.

We returned home at 6 p.m., headed to Cape Chestnut for a Friday night menu of tapas with some of Carol’s and Sandy’s friends from the community. They are saying farewell tonight to friend Tina, who is taking a new job in Nairobi. It was a nice ending to a great day.

A normal day

Sunglasses

Sunglasses

By Fred Hegele, Board of Directors
Imara International

Try to imagine a calm, uneventful day at the Imara House. That was today. No significant, unplanned surprises occurred today. School for the moms and the kids all day, tea and devotions at 11:00 a.m., lunch at 1:00 p.m. exactly as the schedule predicted.

Kristine spent much of the day rinsing and hanging the tie-dyed shirts. Sharon and early childhood teacher Lydia did a rainbow project that might just find its way to Bloom in Minnesota. Celia, Carol’s friend did her normal Thursday morning yoga session with the moms.

Gipson and I repaired the broken door latch with the parts purchased yesterday. We also were on fence repair duty for a while, seeking to keep mother Oscar in the compound and safely away from the father of her five puppies. Barbed wire and cedar boughs will at least give Oscar pause before she crosses the road!

Carol and Sandy had a day of business downtown and around town. We all connected at Cape Chestnut for meetings, dinner, and a wonderful evening with Sophy.

Our hands, God’s plans

Tie Dye

Tie Dye

By Fred Hegele, Board of Directors
Imara Internatonal

Today is the half-way point on this journey. My goodness, have we already achieved half of our mission? God knows more about our calendar than our best-laid plans. Our time in Kenya is an apt reminder that God makes the plans.

Today we had a plan, but this morning on the way to the Imara House, guess what? We had a flat tire, or in Kenyan vernacular, a “puncture.” Frankly, we did not have time for a “puncture.” There was a matatu parked close by, and the driver was quick to offer his assistance in changing our tire. He was so helpful and soon we were on our way.

On with our plans for the day. Shortly after we arrived at Imara House, Carol received a phone call. Within minutes, Carol and Sicily, our staff social worker, headed for the courthouse. The judge had a new case that could be solved, in his point of view, by sending a young teenage pregnant girl to Imara House today (it’s God’s schedule, not ours!).

By noon, Carol and Sicily were waiting outside the courtroom to be summoned before the judge to explain why the girl in this case does not meet the Imara criteria. By some miracle, the head of child services and the judge quickly determined that this case needs to be resolved between the parents and the teenager, rather than an assignment to the Imara House. Clearly, Carol has developed some friendships and established some credibility within the Kenyan authority and that in the final analysis, common sense will prevail some of the time.

Next we had a meeting planned with Brian and Sophy, two of our Kenyan Board members to discuss the Imara Village project. We came to agreement on the process forward for the main building, with construction to start within six months. We discussed the need for a project manager on site and developed a plan for recruiting. As it turns out, a major business nearby announced some cutbacks yesterday and we expect some good people to be in the job market (God will provide).

Pastor Robinson arrived, and we moved into the first board of directors meeting of the new Imara International-Kenya NGO. (Director Beatrice lives in Nairobi, and we hope to connect with her next week.) We have a great board of directors. The discussion included several Imara Village and organization items, and we shared information about Imara history and core values. It was another step forward.

Carol’s friend Claire, from the British military base, trained Rose and Sophie in icing decorating this morning. They are developing some wonderful artistic skills. Thank you, Claire.

Kristine organized a tie-dying project with the Imara family today, as Wednesday is Skills Day. The dyed shirts will incubate overnight, before the big rinse tomorrow. Kristine’s hands look like a permanent rainbow. The moms and kids are excited to see if their shirts look as colorful as Kristine’s hands.

The excitement for the day continued at Imara House this afternoon when one of the doors became bolted accidentally with no one on the bolt side of the door! After a couple of hours of trying unsuccessfully, Carol was summoned with her magical tools from the kitchen to unbolt the door.

Kenyan manicure

Ngina gives manicure to Fred

Ngina gives manicure to Fred

By Fred Hegele, Board of Directors
Imara International

Today was a historic one for Imara International-Kenya. We were summoned to Laikipia County Court as part of the legal process of being a rescue center. Carol and Sandy, and social worker Sicily, took the Imara family to the courthouse at 2:00 p.m. for a legal hearing in front of a judge. Each mom and each child were individually considered by the judge and ultimately confirmed to the care of Imara International. Much documentation on each person has been prepared for submission to the court prior to the hearing. Carol reports that all went smoothly — another step forward for the Imara rescue center.

An interesting side story to the courtroom experience was the presence of a Babies Home group with eight infants and three adults. As you can imagine, three adults, six arms and eight babies create an interesting exercise in coordination, control and simple sanity. So what do you think is about to happen? Our Imara moms stepped in and helped with several of the babies in their laps. Our kids for the most part are old enough to sit beside mom and, in fact, helped entertain their new-found baby friends. Several of our Imara moms instinctively shared some snacks with the babies. Do you think that Carol and Sandy are imparting some good Christian values?

Sharon and Kristine continue their education work with teachers Lydia (children) and Stella (moms). Sharon presented the pictures and letters from Bloom Early Learning & Child Care at Messiah Church back in Plymouth. The kids were excited, and Lydia wants to prepare some pictures for Sharon to deliver to Bloom upon her return.

We had a staff meeting in the afternoon to present Imara International core values and the early history of Carol’s missionary journey leading up to today’s Imara family and home. Afterwards, when the family returned from the courthouse, ice cream with syrup and whipping cream appeared, causing song and dance to break out with kids, moms, staff, and team celebrating a great moment of joy around the great room.

We also made some repairs to a bedroom door latch, fencing around the raised garden beds, and an injured sheep (long ago named Winston Churchill by the moms).

Ngina received the manicure/pedicure chair from Barb Kula and provided Kristine and me with our first manicures.

We are getting ready for our first Board Meeting for Imara International-Kenya tomorrow.

A full day at Imara House

Kids in chairs

Kids in chairs

By Fred Hegele, Board of Directors
Imara International

Today is our first fully-scheduled day in the context of a normal routine at Imara House. Kristine spent the morning in the adult classroom with Teacher Stella. Sharon spent the day with the children and teacher Lydia. I assembled the manicure/pedicure chair for Ngina, a gift from Barb Kula. I don’t believe that Ngina has yet seen it, but it should be a memorable moment when she does.

Gipson, Imara day guard and gardener, needed to take the sheep out to the road up on the road for grazing. I took on the task of repairing the perimeter fence in a few spots near the ground so Oscar’s five puppies could enjoy some freedom outside their small confined area. You can be so proud of me that we turned off the power to the electric fence before I started!

Later I had a new experience: I separated the cream from the whole milk delivered this morning by the farmer down the road. Grace and I made a “Cream Separation Team” and then Sicily our social worker joined us. This wonderful cream separator device from Ukraine was a gift from Darrell Kula. Darrell, to the best of my knowledge, it was still in fine operating condition when I finished. I am hoping that I might be able to help convert the cream into butter on Wednesday or Thursday, depending on Carol’s daily assignments for me.

After lunch, Carol, Sandy and I went downtown to met with a young man who sent us an Imara Enterprise Model for teaching our moms about entrepreneurial skills to enable them to start and run small businesses. We spent about 90 minutes together and agreed on some next steps to determine if there is a mutual opportunity.

One of our babies, Meshach, had a tough day. Since birth on November 15, 2015, life has been challenging. In view of weight loss during the past week, little Meshach needed some medical attention today. By the grace of God, Kristine was here to assess, interpret, and advocate for one of our precious gifts from God. Mother Grace, who is young and on a steep learning curve as a mom, was greatly served today by Kristine and Sandy. We have an action plan with another pediatrician appointment next Monday. Keep Grace and Meshach in your thoughts and prayers through the nights and days to come.