Ngong Hills

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“I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills.

Quite possibly the most recognizable sentence by ex-pats in Nairobi, these words open Karen Blixen’s memoir “Out of Africa”. Blixen was a Danish Baroness who spent 17 years in Kenya, a British colony at the time. The book and later produced movie chronicle her life in the colony and pay great tribute to the beauty of the land and people of Kenya.

This past Saturday, we hiked the Ngong Hills, peaks in a ridge along the Great Rift Valley that overlook the Nairobi suburb, Karen, named after Karen Blixen. There are four main, knuckle-shaped summits. The rolling hills were a great way to train for Kili. We completed more than 16 kilometers since we covered all the hills and hiked back to the start. It was challenging but enjoyable. The views of Nairobi and the Great Rift Valley make the hike worth the trouble. We even got a glimpse of Mt. Kenya.

Not the best photo of me, but these are my hiking buddies that will attempt to summit Kili with me.

Not the best photo of me, but these are my hiking buddies that will attempt to summit Kili with me.

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Feel Good

For the past several years, New Hope Initiative has provided basic healthcare for the students at New Hope Academy and Penda Project, and the women of Project Biashara. Working with a local nurse, NHI has been providing on-site consultations, giving out needed medicines, and referring special cases to a larger clinic or national hospital. Generous US donors have now provided a new building to house our healthcare services and start the foundation of a community clinic. Two weeks ago, we hired a new nurse, Olive, that is helping us set up the clinic and begin assessing the healthcare needs of the people in our projects.
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Nurse Olive

Due to poor sanitation and lack of clean water, Kibera is riddled with diseases that most developed countries have all but eradicated. Major diseases in Kibera include malaria, tuberculosis, measles, HIV/AIDS and waterborne diseases such as cholera and typhoid. Diarrheal disease represents a huge problem in Kibera as well. There are many clinics in Kibera that provide the necessary care to combat these diseases. Many of these clinics cost money and are accessed too late by the sick individual. Through our on-site clinic, NHI will be able to monitor the overall health of the individuals in our projects and not only handle the day-to-day healthcare needs but also help educate and train individuals on preventive care for themselves.
Nurse Olive has already begun seeing our students and women to care for their immediate needs. Last week, she started individual assessments to gain knowledge and information about particular needs and keep a record of healthcare history. Olive is excited about educating individuals in personal healthcare practices through group trainings, print materials and access to outside resources.
Please pray for Nurse Olive as she gets started in our clinic. Also, pray that we would complete the work on the building and be approved as a registered clinic by the government.
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Nurse Olive consults with one of our academy students.

Look at the View

“Beauty awakens the soul to act.” Dante
As I sat down to write this week’s blog, I didn’t really have much to say. Of course, there are plenty of things going on in my life and limitless stories to tell about the work I do. But, nothing too exciting happened this week, and I was not feeling so creative. I decided to share some of the beauty of Africa that I have experienced.
This past Saturday, I went to one of my favorite places in Nairobi to call one of my best friends – there is good wi-fi there and the view is unbelievable. I found this spot when my parents visited last summer. Hemingways overlooks the Ngong Hills. It is beautiful, and one of the best places to watch the sun set in Nairobi. After the life-giving conversation with my dear friend and a sunset that did not disappoint, I felt my soul was renewed and ready for the week ahead.
Here are some of the views I’ve enjoyed since living and traveling in Africa. I hope the beauty inspires your soul as much as it does mine.
Hemingways Nairobi, overlooking the Ngong Hills.

Hemingways Nairobi, overlooking the Ngong Hills.

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Sunset at Lewa Conservancy

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Sunrise in Massai Mara

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Victoria Falls from the Zimbabwe side

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Indian Ocean from the coast of Zanzibar

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Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

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Land of a Thousand Hills, Rwanda

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Land of a Thousand Hills, Rwanda

Kibera Slum, Nairobi, Kenya

Kibera Slum, Nairobi, Kenya

Tea Farm in Limuru, Kenya

Tea Farm in Limuru, Kenya

The Determination of a Girl

Last week, my niece, Parks, hosted a fundraiser at her school for New Hope Initiative, specifically to support our business co-op, Project Biashara. Parks is 8 years old and in the 3rd grade. She got the idea over Christmas when she attended a party for New Hope at my parents’ home in Georgia where Biashara products were sold. The idea led to a meeting with her Principal, support from her teacher, a couple of mishaps from her adult relatives (including me!), then culminated in an elementary school-wide assembly to highlight New Hope and raise funds.
My friends and family keep saying that she’s just like me. Uh…not quite. I would NEVER have planned and executed a school fundraiser when I was 8 nor given a speech in front of 150 kids at my school. Not. Even. Close. She is one of a kind and I keep telling her parents they have something very special in her.
Parks spoke in front of her elementary school, showed two videos of New Hope's work and sold Biashara products to raise almost $1000 for the people in Kibera. Photo credits to TCS.

Parks spoke in front of her elementary school, showed two videos of New Hope’s work and sold Biashara products to raise almost $1000 for the people in Kibera. Photo credits to TCS.

The ladies of Biashara designed two specialty products for Parks' event - a TCS bracelet in the school colors and a Kenya bookmark made with the colors of the Kenyan flag.

With Parks’ help the ladies of Biashara designed two specialty products for the event – a TCS bracelet in the school colors and a Kenya bookmark made with the colors of the Kenyan flag.

For me, it has been humbling to see someone I love so much be inspired by the work that I do and want to help in any way they can. It truly amazes me that NHI would be used to ignite a spark in a young girl to do good and help others.
Meanwhile in Nairobi, the ladies of Project Biashara have been hard at work making lots of great products to sell in the states! They worked most of the month of January and completed our spring line. We have some new designs coming your way soon! As I look towards my last six months with them, I’m working hard to develop the leaders and train them to operate all the new systems we’ve put in place – payroll, ordering process, quality control and general management of the members of our group. Please pray for them as they learn to fully own and take responsibility for this project.
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