Many milestones for Sarah this week

It is interesting to raise children in a culture that is so different from what we are used to. There are many things we do as they perceive are very strange and there are many things they do as I respond. Like giving the children water from them is a couple of months old and adding extra salt in the food they make from the baby begins with solid food ... It's not only strange but also dangerous, and I try to educate people. They also use to dress the babies many layers of clothes and preferably wool, even if it's over thirty degrees outside. More than once we have experienced that mothers go to hospital with newborn babies because of fever. They get both two and three types of antibiotics and medication, but then they were not really sick, they were just overheated due to woolen clothes and rugs ... It's amazing how much antibiotics it is here and it's frustrating how difficult it is to get people to change in this area. They, on the other hand, see we are strange as not rusher to the pharmacy or doctor as soon as the cough coughs or shows signs of disease. I can, to some extent, understand this as people die much more often here of simple illnesses than what we do at home in Norway.

They also find it very strange that Sarah uses to lay on the floor of the leak mat. She has been doing since she was a few weeks old and it seems the locals are very unnecessary. They always pick her up, and when the youngsters play with her, they have been trying to put her in a sitting position for months, while I say she can not sit herself and they have to put her down. I have been trying to explain for a long time that she will learn herself, just as she has learned to turn around and to grow backwards. I have explained how it is better for her back that she is doing it at her own pace and that she is going to learn it herself. They have said Okei, but did not really believe me. Here they are used to the kid lying flat on the floor a rarely time, otherwise the kid will be carried all the time. So when he is a few months old, they put him up in a seated position, and then they hold him while standing on the floor until he learns to walk. They learn very rarely to turn around, eel or crab.

Our maid Harusi was completely shocked these last couple of weeks when Sarah has started crabbearing, taking a few steps forward and now getting up. She thought it was so fascinating and had never seen a baby do that before and learn to sit on her own. She told it to some other mothers, but they said they did not think it was true, it could not be annoyed. Babies are not so smart. Quite far from what we are used to!

Sarah is always very proud of her new skills, and gladly shows everyone who comes to see that it's actually true that she can set herself up even from her lying position and crab. She has also got her first tooth this week and is getting big! Next Saturday she is eight months already! She has also said her first word and I am very pleased that it became mom! Both Esther and Leo's first words were dad, but finally it was my turn ;-)

Never more bowed dough

Hi! There has been a long way between updates on the blog lately. There has been a lot of sickness among both young and old, and the surplus to write down has just not been present. But you who follow us on Instagram and Facebook have nevertheless received a little drip.

Dad has been visiting for five weeks already and has a week left. It has been incredibly nice and for great help. He helped to buy welding equipment and welded both the bed and the shelves to us, in addition to helping us in our meetings and in many other ways. The plan was really to use these weeks to start building houses on our site, but unfortunately we have had a couple of steps back and things have not gone as hoped. On our second attempt, water was not found on our site again, and we must now take a little thought to find out.

Meanwhile, we are focusing on making the best of the situation we are in, and we have therefore made some changes to the house we rent. At this time of year, the water is gone weekly, due to drought, and people come daily to get water in the well in our garden. The water tank that stood there was broken and people had to turn the pump on the pump every time they would fill water. This was cumbersome, as well as having to always be present to turn off right when they did not get it.

Now we have amplified this little outing and put a tank of 6000 liter on top and dug down pipes so that there is a crane on the outside of the wall so that the locals can pick up water whenever they want without entering. In addition, we have put in shower in the utoeo directly from the water tank, so now we finally do not have to take a shower but can go outside for a cooling shower. Very pleased with this solution!

In the last ten days, a family from Denmark has been with us with mom and dad, and it has been amazing fun. It's nice to show off the great place we live on. In addition to being on safari and snorkeling and typical tourist activities, we have also been a lot in the village and with the locals. They think it's been amazing to see a different side of the country than they had come to see if they traveled with travel agencies or without knowing anyone living here. Tomorrow they are traveling home, while mom and dad will be six days old.

Closing ceremony for adult education

In November, we started adult education, an offer where illiterate adults, unable to read and write, got the opportunity to learn basic literacy skills, as well as basic math and some English.

Very many women in our village have never gone to school. Many of them because they were told that there was unnecessary knowledge because they should only be at home. They sneaked to school, they were chased home. Some because they could not afford school fees. Some because they already had to look after their little sisters all day as little children.

But now that they are grown up, they see each day how far behind they are because they are illiterate. It's hard to get a job other than being a maid. If they start a vegetable store, customers think they are trying to trick them because they do not return the right money back. They must always rely on the knowledge people tell them, instead of being able to read and acquire knowledge themselves. And they can not even read the messages the teacher sends with the kids home. The list of negative consequences of being illiterate is long and the number of illiterate in Kilifi is many. But the good news is that now there are at least six fewer!

When we started in November we had the first week of 28 students, but as the course went on, more and more fell. Some because they were not allowed by their men, and some because they had work or other obligations. And some because they did not have the motivation to work hard enough.

After the Christmas holidays, they have been a group of less than ten pieces because the school holidays were over and the youth were not at home to help with housework anymore. Six of these have now achieved their goal, thus learning to read and write. Then on Saturday they were celebrated!They had dressed up in their finest clothes, and some had mothers and children to take part in the celebration. And your pleasure blasted the scale! I have almost never seen anyone so proud of their own achievements before. And they jumped and danced and cheered with joy, and their eyes shone! The tears vibrated with me several times. Everybody read a portion of the Bible that they had chosen for themselves and I was really impressed with them! They read so well. It's amazing what they've achieved in six weeks of learning. It's amazing what's going on with hard work and strong will! These six who have shown that it is possible have also sparked a spark in the other ladies in the class and many more in the village, who eagerly await their turn to stand with this diploma!

Honorable assignment

The best thing I know is to demonstrate love for people. Demonstrate friendship, selflessness, charity, treat people better than they deserve, and as family. Action says more than words, and I see more and more how often people around me feel loved because of what I do. Like a house visit, a bag of food, wound care or helping the children with school expenses. Or just that I stop and greet them when I walk by.

One of the young ladies in our church have been very shy and hard to get to know. I don't know much about her past, but I felt she was very closed. She has been in our extended community, but always anonymous and a bit in the background. She has been pregnant for the past eight months, and I have tried to take good care of her. She has gradually opened up for me and come for advice and guidance. I have come to her house just her for a visit, just to measure her blood pressure and give her some juice and food and ask how she is doing. I have urged her to call if she needs help with anything, and to call if she needs to go to hospital when the labour starts.

On Wednesday morning I woke up half past six because of knocking on our gate. I was quick to turn on my phone, as I have started to turn it off at night because people are calling every hour of the day. I was planning to have the phone turned on when she came closer to her due date, but it was still three weeks left. I had gotten a message from this girl at midnight that she had a stomach ache. At six o'clock she wrote that she had delievered very quickly at home, a little girl, and that she wanted me to come. I jumped out of bed, grabbed some baby clothes and diapers that I had bought for her and jumped in the car. When I got to her home, she was in a small room together with her grandma, and she was still shaking and sweaty after the birth, and the baby had blood and fat all over her. Sophia was so happy to see me, she immediately gave me the baby and gave me a big hug. She clearly felt relieved that I was there. We sat for a little while on the bed talking about the birth and how it went before I tried to guide her with breastfeeding. Here it is common not to breastfeed much the first few days because they think they don't have milk anyway. Often they get advice from the elders in the village to give water with salt until the milk comes... I also told her about the importance of skin to skin contact with the baby.

Her grandmother came in with a bowl of hot water and a piece of soap that she washed the baby with before I dressed her. After that we went to the hospital where she had to sit for five hours and wait for a doctor to check her and get BCG and polio vaccine on the baby. They give that immediately after birth here. Her husband eventually came after sending their son to school, and was so grateful that I was there with his wife. They were so incredibly happy for all the help I had given them, and the dad asked me to name the baby. It's an incredibly big honor, and almost a bit scary, because a name is something you will live with for the rest of your life! I thanked them for the honor and said I would go home and pray before I decided.

After that I had to hurry to Mombasa to drive my friend Gerd-Karin to the airport, but in the evening we went back with some friends. I had bought a lot of diapers (it costs more than 80 dollars for 34 pampers here!), Baby oil, baby soap, wet wipes, bread, flour, juice, Norwegian chocolate and more clothes after Sarah. We also had a couple of toys that Leo wanted to give to Yasin. Before we arrived, her son Yasin first came to meet us and threw himself in my arms. He was also very reserved before, but after comforting him and helping him to the doctor after he broke his arm a couple of weeks ago, he has become very generous with hugs;) He ran quickly to tell his mother we were coming. When we arrived at the house, Sophia also gave me a good long hug and was so happy. The neighbors came out of their houses to see who these white guys were who came to their neighborhood.

Look how beautiful the proud big brother and the mom is!

After spending a couple of days deciding about the name, both me and Stig Ove felt that Rakel was the right name for this baby. I wrote a piece of paper that I read and gave to the parents with what the name meant and why we chose this name and ended by saying that we chose the Norwegian version of Rachel to represent that she was given her name by her Norwegian family who loves her very much. Both the mom and dad had tears in their eyes and me most of all. The atmosphere in the room was so thick. So much joy, love and gratitude. What an honor to live life with so many great people and to live like a big family. Seeing that unity, trust and friendship grow in line with every little act of love. Last night Sophia sent me an SMS and thanked me once again for everything I had done for her and for them, and for being so kind to them. I wrote you are welcome and that I loved her, and she replied that she was so happy to hear me say that and that I had changed their lives by being a friend to them.

This is stopping for the one. This is ministry. This is the gospel.

57 children and youths have been helped to school in the last week

So much have happened the last week that I don't even know where to start telling about it! There has been a lot of wound care and house visits, but most of all there has been a lot of organizing to do before school opened. We have been busy getting the kids around us sent to school since the school year here in Kenya starts in January. We have more than 17 families in our sponsorship program now, and all of them needed help to get tuitions paid and to buy uniforms and equipment before school start. In addition to the sponsorship program families, we have also paid tuition fees for a large number of kids, especially more youths who have not been able to afford high school. It is most common to go to boarding school here, but it costs a lot of money and it also costs a lot of money to buy everything that they require the students to bring. However, we have helped more than 10 people go to high school this year, and 47 to elementary school so far, so 57 children and youths in total! Eventually there will be more, as we learn about more situations, and as children are sent home from school because of lack of payment. We also have a family with six children who can not afford schooling that we had conversation with today to find out how we can help them.

There are so many amazing stories, and I'd love to share everyone with you, but at least here is a couple!

This is 17 year old Brian. He has lost count of how many years it has been since his mother died, but his father died last year. After that he has lived with some friendly neighbors while he has finished last year at elementary school. He did quite well on his exam results and got accepted to a good high school. But he has no one who can help him with the almost 5000 dollars it costs for this year and he has just given up and been sitting at home. When I discovered him on Tuesday, I asked why he was not at school, and when I heard why, and learned that he is very motivated to go to school and that he dreams of becoming a doctor, I decided to help him.

Yesterday we made all purchases and preparations, and today he was taken to his boarding school half an hour away. With a big smile on his face, and very motivated for school start!

Janet Kadzo dropped out of Form 2 (2. Of 4 years of secondary education) two years ago due to financial problems, and also due to lack of motivation and willingness to study. In the last six months she has been part of our congregation and has changed a lot. On her own initiative, she has said she wants to begin high school again, to continue her education and to do more with her life. She would start again in the first year because she felt she learned so little lately. This time she stretched out of joy and excitement to sit on the school bench, and we hope it lasts all these four years. The mother is home with Janet's six younger siblings, while his father works as a waiter at a local restaurant. The father managed to pay most of the purchases she had to make while we covered the school money and also drove her to school. What a pleasure to help!

This family is a good example of how well it can be when helping people to start small businesses. This family was very poor and could not afford to send any of the children to school in this new year. In December, we gave the mother 400 kr to buy equipment for roasting fish and selling on. The fish is her husband who is a fisherman caught. This went better than expected, and in a month she managed to earn enough for the man to buy her own fishing boat! It means more income for them. In addition, they were sent all six boys at school with the prize money from January. Now they are going to save money so that the man can buy his own fishing net so that he becomes even more independent. This means that in about half a year they will not need more support. Is not that amazing ?!

We have many more positive stories to tell about people who have managed the help they receive from us in a good way and probably will not need support for more than half a year or years. We have said we are reviewing all fathers families after half a year, to see if they are strong enough to manage themselves. I am encouraged to see that we make people not only become passive recipients, but that they manage to take this as an opportunity to get on the bone and get out of extreme poverty. Several stories will come another day, now my eyes will be shining back soon. But I put a smile around my mouth, proud of all the lives we have helped change the last few days. Thank you very much to all who are involved in this and make it possible!Some of the many grateful kids.