Wednesday, June 6, 2018

KISII REPORT #3


I have been asking Pastor Joel some more about the food situation for the orphans. These past two weeks, and thanks to Lord speaking to some faithful servants of his who gave some money gifts for the orphans (These were also friends of mine, even going back to someone that I have not seen or even corresponded with for 35 years), I was able to twice send a nice amount to the orphanage. Because of the concern and obedience of these servants of God, these money transfers were $600 each time.

It is a good amount, but when you consider that their food/water
costs amount to about $3.00 per day per child if they were to eat well, and that there are 42 orphans besides others who are in extra need of help, you can see that it does not last that long.

Sometimes I am asked if we are not simply “enabling” these people and causing a dependency. I have been asked that all of my adult life regarding things that I have done in other countries. I have written quite a lot on this in the past so I will not do it again here, but I will very quickly say that I am working very hard to instill in the people that all sufficiency comes only from the Lord.

After all, every one of us is equally dependent on the Lord. Without
God, none of us have anything. It is only our arrogant western culture where we look pridefully at ourselves as being “self-sufficient.” If you feel like this, you have my pity.

Inevitably, the people who ask or accuse me of this are ones who have never lived in a third-world country and probably have never even visited one except to stay in some plush seaside beach resort (the bane of all cross-cultural appreciation). I challenge every one of you who feels this way to live one year in a third-world village. It almost does not matter in what country.

But you must live an entire calendar year with the people to see their struggles in each season of the year, and you must live as their neighbor. (Sorry, but a summer ministry trip capped by a couple of nights in one of the aforementioned beach resorts will not do it).

Now, I will step down off my soapbox and tell you what pastor Joel told me about the food situation there. Because of the recent flooding in the entire country of Kenya, there is a scarcity of virtually every basic food item. The inflation is not super-high, as it presently is in some of the other countries where we have lived (most notably Venezuela), but it still significantly effects the budget.

The orphanage tries to buy their food supplies in large quantities if they have the money, since it makes it less expensive per kilogram. The prices that he gave me was for a 90 kilo sack, which is 198 pounds. I did not ask, but it must come divided into smaller sacks. Who is going to carry a 198 pound sack!

Maize flour purchased in this way, for instance, now costs about $67.00. Before it cost $50.00 (They do not use Dollars there but the conversion is made from Kenyan Shillings).

This works out to about 55¢/kilo or 25¢/pound. For all you millennials, the ¢ sign stands for “cents,” and it is .01 of a dollar. We actually used to use this sign, and there used to be a key for it on the typewriters, but I had to look quite hard on the character map of my laptop to find it.

I was in town today so I went into the Medford County Market to see what maize (corn) flour cost here in Wisconsin. I know nothing about it, but the price range was from about 64¢ to about 96¢/pound.

Thus, 25¢/pound in Kenya sounds like quite a bargain.

But I asked Joel what the daily wage was for a person picking tea, which was about the only work for pay that I knew of in that region. I also asked him if the work was even available and if there were other sources of work that the people could do.

Here is what he wrote to me: “The wage of picking tea is $1 per day. We have other work, eg, cultivating shambas (small fields - it is all hand work) for those who have a larger piece of land but not easily found and its wage depends with the shamba. But in all each person earns about $1 a day.”

So this puts it into perspective. It will take a worker a full day’s work to buy 4 pounds of maize flour. That is like one of those little sacks I saw at the County Market. And that is only if he is able to buy it in 200 pound quantities.
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I was also going to write in this blog about something else that I have been asked. If Kenya is on the equator, how is it possible for the children to be cold? But I will write about that next time.

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