In a recent correspondence from the Kenyan Ambassador to the U.S., Dr. Wenwa Akinyi Odinga Oranga, we received an invitation to attend special events to celebrate the first official visit of their Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Raila Amolo Odinga. Clarice and I were honored by this invitation and readily agreed to attend. We also invited one ASU Engineering student, Susanna Young, who is leading the Container-to-Maternity-Clinic project and will also join us on our trip to Africa this summer.
The events to celebrate Primi Minister Odinga’s visit took place on April 16th and 17th, and, in anticipation of our trip, we contacted a very special person who lives near Los Angles and, together with her high school classmates, has worked hard to gather donations for our Well Repair project in Malawi. I had met Emily in November when she, her mother, brother and grandmother, had stopped to visit on their way to Tucson for Thanksgiving. At that time she had described how she and her classmates, through cooperation with our partner nonprofit, New Global Citizens, had already earned some donations and would be doing more in the coming months. A report on their project was later released on the web at: http://calabasas.patch.com/articles/high-school-musical-star-visits-students-advocating-for-a-better-world#photo-3800696
Emily and her friends have done a great service in support of the Malawi Well Repair project and we felt it would be ideal if we could stop to see them and perhaps have chance to personally thank them all in person. As it turned out, Emily’s parents invited us to stay with them for the weekend and hosted a BBQ so the students could come together and meet us.
We enjoyed the warm hospitality of Emily’s family and were greatly impressed with the eagerness on the part of the students to learn more about the people their efforts would benefit. We are, as well, very appreciative of the warm and generous hospitality on the part of Emily, her father (Frank), mother (Kristi) and brother (Andrew).
On Saturday, we attended the first of two events scheduled for Prime Minister Odinga at a luncheon to celebrate the launching of the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation-USA (JOOF-USA) in named honor of his, and Ambassador Oranga’s, father, who was instrumental in the fight to free Kenya from British colonialism back in the late 1950’s and early ’60’s. Their father had fought alongside Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya’s first President, during the Mau Mau Revolution and he was also became a significant player in the formation of their Government. To this day, their family is highly regarded with a history of true humanitarian concern for Kenyans throughout.
On Sunday, April 17th, we attended anther special event to hear the Prime Minister address Kenyan Diaspora and Friends of Kenya in a ballroom at California State University, Los Angeles. We had asked Emily to join us for this event and she was clearly excited to go. The facility was packed with hundreds of Kenyans and a few dignitaries while they also web-cast his address, live, to many more over the Internet. We were unexpectedly honored when Ambassador Oranga asked us to stand and be recognized before the assembly–indeed a very special honor.
All four of us were excited to be present for the Prime Minister’s address and we made several contacts with people who became interested in our projects designed to promote improved maternal health and birthing facilities for people in rural sections of Malawi and Kenya.
Before our departure for Phoenix on Monday, the 18th, we stopped at the Kenyan Consulate to leave our visa applications and speak with Ambassador Oranga’s Deputy, Jane. During that discussion, we provided plans for the container conversion-to-maternity-clinic and design drawings for maternity beds constructed from bamboo. We hope to start production of these beds during our visit this summer in collaboration with a technology school (St. Joseph’s) for the deaf in western Kenya.