Friday was our first day in Meru, and the warm sunshine and lush landscape were a nice change from bustling Nairobi. After a nice breakfast of oranges, bananas, pineapple, pancakes, and eggs, our group met with Dr. K to discuss how IPI began and why she decided to run her program the way she runs it. She told us how before building KACH, she visited other orphanages and realized they depended solely on donations from people in other countries. If the donations stopped, the orphanage would have to close. This is why she decided to create her orphanage (or a home, as she calls it) with the goal that it will be 90% self-sustainable within five years of its creation. She is a very inspirational woman with one of the most interesting backgrounds I’ve ever heard.
We were able to tour the farm today. This farm is an important part of making KACH self-sustainable. We saw kale, papaya, and corn, as well as rabbits, goats, and pigs. Thanks to the drip irrigation system that last year’s SStS group installed, the farm is full of healthy, beautiful food. That afternoon is when the real work began. Dr. K explained her vision of having a guesthouse where visitors can stay. This will help her reach her goal of KACH being self-sustainable. Our group was divided into two, and we each worked diligently all afternoon. Group one (Rose, Chandler, Elise, and me) helped make cement and then handed it up to men who used it to finish the walls of the cottage. Group two (Emily, Mike, Elizabeth, and Taylor) started digging where the fence will be. They had to clear away dirt, rocks, etc. I think we surprised the men with how much we truly wanted to work and help out. In their eyes, we are a group of young girls but I think by the end of the day they realized we are planning on working hard and completing the tasks assigned to us.
We had time to rest up and shower before dinner. We also had a discussion about comfort, challenge, and panic zones. This discussion helped me realize what specific elements of the course I am struggling with, as well as what parts come easier to me. Our group came to the consensus that in order to grow, you need to be close enough to our comfort zone to where you won’t freak out or feel panicked, yet far enough into your challenge zone that you are experiencing some new. Dinner was a nice time to discuss the day, SStS’s goals, tell stories, etc. Afterwards, the children shared a few dances with us, so of course we had to reciprocate. We sang and danced as well as we could, but I’m pretty sure they showed us up. The smiles on their faces are so sweet and inspiring. I am so excited to finally be in Meru, working on our project.