Packing supplies for the children in Kenya

So, I guess to best place to start is at the beginning

Hannah decided at the end of this past summer that she wanted to finally go to visit the area in Kenya that she and the income from her charity has sponsored for the past 2 years. The reasons were two fold: First, she wanted to document the story and needs of the people there, especially with the opportunities she will have to spread the word going into the next Olympics. Secondly, she knew that going there and meeting the children and people of this community would change her life and make her more dedicated than ever, to help the people there. This thought process would soon become true for all of us that had the privilege to go on this journey with Hannah. The group consisted of Hannah, and her brothers Elijah and Amen, whom had come to be the videographer, her boyfriend Adam and mother Pat, whom were helping to get photographs, Chris Owen, professional photographer, and fellow snowboarder Gabi. Dave from World Vision also joined us, since we found that we were not allowed in the country without a home country support person. He was a wonderful addition to the group. After 2 ½ days of travel, we took a small plane into Kichwa Tembo and stayed at the Safari Lodge, which was the closest lodging for our group to the areas we were to visit.. From there, we were about a 30 minute drive to the edge of Kirindon ADP (Area Development Project - which ended up covering a huge area). I’ve got to admit, staying at this Safari camp was a huge bonus, since we saw all kinds of African wildlife everyday just walking to and from our tents and driving in the area, without even going on Safari. We were off to a great start. The next morning, we headed to Kirindon to start our first packed full day. After meeting the World Vision staff that worked on different projects in the ADP, and having some singing sessions together (which ended up going on throughout our days together) we were off to visit a school, driving some rough roads about an hour away. While we where still a ways off, we could see hundreds of children coming out to meet us (about 751), They were SINGING AND DANCING as we arrived and as we were asked to join in, we had special colorful cloths and some of their hand made beaded bracelets and necklaces placed on us. We were then lead to places to sit amidst the crowds and introduced to the children, parents and elders of the community. At this point all of us were blown away by the outpouring of warmth and generosity of all the people of this community in Kenya, and would soon be finding out that the beautiful people here would fill our days with welcoming smiles and words everywhere we went. We would learn that these people that had so little material wealth had much to teach us in the most important areas of life……….

giving of their beaded jewelry

Elijah was called the pied piper

Part 2

On day one in the Kirindon ADP, as we were introduced to the children and elders of the school we visited, we met the 6 teachers responsible for instructing the 751 students there. The ratio of teacher per students was pretty insane, considering our ratio here in the states, but that’s what they had to deal with in all the schools we visited. None the less, the kids all seemed excited to be there, since for them school is an honor and privilege. And the teachers (the real stars of the school) where amazingly dedicated to work with these numbers per class. The school building was small per number of students, and much of the walls made of old and rotting wood. While we were there, Hannah had the unexpected honor of cutting the ribbon and dedicating a new school addition they had just finished. It had been built with some of her charity donations. This was the beginning of seeing many wonderful projects that her charity has helped with, and also seeing first hand how incredibly grateful these people were. To show their appreciation, they had slaughtered an animal (? goat) and prepared a meal for us. Next we were shown a small part of the huge water and sanitation project that Hannah’s Gold is helping with. A large water tank had been placed to catch rain water, and this was hooked up to a hand washing station by the new outhouses. Before this, there was no washing of hands or any clean water for the school or in the area. This is the beginning of helping lower the transmission of diseases of many kinds amongst the people. After all the formalities, it was time for fun with the kids and adults. We found that the kids were mesmerized by our white skin and straight soft hair, and enjoyed being given the opportunity to touch us. One of the older boys asked Elijah if there was “sun” (as in sun light) where Elijah lived, which to him would be a logical reason for why our skin was white. One of the elders whom spoke English told me many of the young children thought we where missing the skin layer, since ours had no blackness. It was fun to let them giggle, touch and hold us to know we were whole. While this was going on, Elijah had started blowing bubbles for hundreds of the younger kids, and they loved it. Soon they crowded around him trying to catch the bubbles. This went on for an hour or more and Elijah became the pied piper of bubbles. He was having so much fun blowing bubbles, he missed the soccer game the rest of us had with some of the older kids and adults, which was a blast ( Hannah had brought the schools a bunch of soccer balls among other things). After a fun filled afternoon, we reluctantly had to say goodbye and leave these beautiful people.


Dedicating the school

Water project

checking out the white skin

Bubbles for the kids (click for large)

saying goodbye

Part 3 Day 2: An early start to the Kirindon ADP office to pick up the staff and then head out about an hour in the opposite direction from yesterday, to another large school of about 700. As we drove these long distances, we got to pass the locals, carrying supplies and water, herding their flocks (herders often being children), always waving and smiling. We saw the huts that housed the people here, made from dried branches and small trees for structural support that were then covered with mud, and topped with dried grasses for roofs. Most huts were small and housed many family members and some were deteriorating from the recent rains. Soon would be the start of the dry season, a mixed blessing. As we came closer to the school, we were met by singing and dancing students, encouraging us to join in and follow them up the path going by the rest of the other students whom were singing and clapping as we walked by. They lead us to a table where we sat, and the introductions began. One of the fun parts of this stop was that someone had rigged up an old VCR. We showed the 800 + students and parent’s crowding around the small TV, footage of snowboarding from the movie First Descent that Hannah was in. It was fun to hear the staff try to explain snow and mountains to these people whom had never seen anything like this. They where fascinated and attentive, especially hearing that by being a snowboarder, Hannah was able to help support many important projects in their community. Afterwards, the children put on skits, and then more singing and dancing by the student health club. We were all given beaded gourds that they had grown. These can be used to make goat yogurt, which we were to drink later with some goat stew prepared for us. We now hiked with the school down the hill about 15 minutes to the new shallow well (part of the water/sanitation project) where the school and area residence can now go to get clean water. This was a special time of trying to teach each other songs in our native languages as we walked together. Also time to explore our differences, with the students wanting to touch our skin and hair, which seemed so different from theirs. Such fun giggling and laughing while they found that our skin was real. Who would of though this would be such a great connection. Later, back to the school, we had time for a short soccer game. Just as the day before, no one scored, so we tied again and everyone was happy. Elijah kept all the younger students entertained by blowing bubbles. All too soon, it was time to depart, leaving our new friends with hopes of returning someday. As we headed out across the ADP, we were able to meet with a grandmother whom is raising her 4 grandchildren due to the death of her daughter and son-in-law from AIDS. This is very common in this area, and some of the households that do not have grandparents to help, are headed by the oldest child of the family, no matter what their age. We were saddened to see the effects of AIDS that was so rampit in this country, and how it further burdened these beautiful people. Since meeting this family, I have found out that I can sponsor one of the youngest grandchildren in her family, whom has AIDS as his mother had. By doing so, I can help with his health care, nutrition, schooling, and also help the family get by, and hopefully soon fix their hut which is falling apart. This ability to sponsor children in need in many parts of the world is one of the wonderful projects World Vision has to offer. With World Vision working in Kirindon, many of the children are sponsored there and thus healthier, less likely to have to work to help their families survive and are now in school.

driving by the locals

Ariving at the school

Seeing snowboarding for the first time

meeting Nelson and his grandmother

the face of poverty

I thought it might be a good idea to explain what the Water and Sanitation Project is about since Hannah is now committed to supporting this large project which goes far beyond her yearly support she has been giving to the community of Kirindon each year. I will be adding pictures on the site showing the work we have seen being done as I continue the journey story. The area of Kirindon is a huge rual area in western Kenya of 56,000 + people and comprised of many villages and home of the Maasai and Kikuyu tribes. They did not have access to clean water. When World Vision came to this remote, forgotten area, they started to help and find support for the people here. Clean water was one of the first requests of the inhabitants there, as well as help with their HIV/AIDS epidemic (14%or more of the population) and education. With Hannah’s and other’s support, these wishes are starting to come true, but much more is needed. The vision of the Water and Sanitation Project is to reduce the number of water related diseases, to include typhoid, cholera, and dysentery, as well as numerous parasites. They also hope to improve the communities’ access to clean water with a walking distance of no more that 15 minutes, instead of walking for miles to fetch unclean water from ponds and streams. The project includes drilling deep and shallow wells, building small dams, setting tanks at all the 46 schools for rain catchment, building covered outhouses and hand washing stations, teaching hygiene and starting school health clubs for peer teaching, planting trees and plants around the water catchment areas (we got to help with this one!) and on and on. This next year alone, we need to raise $327,000. To help with this, Hannah will be selling her new “shot” sized Hannah’s Gold, as well as her new “sweat bands”, along with a big Holiday Auction at (check it out for pre Christmas shopping) Hannah is also donating all her winnings from contests she competes in to the project. Be apart of this important undertaking, and check out the products to help support these people. If you want to donate directly to the project, we can give you the address to send checks to. Write us at

we are helping set a water tank

new water tank by school addition

new well by school

new water catchment area

planted trees by the water catchment area

hand pump new shallow well