News From Lemong'o

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In addition to the highlights below, you can access our past newsletters at: Newsletter Archive.

In Memory of Gladys Auma
January 2016

Gladys with her class

I met Gladys on my first visit to Lemong'o and we became instant friends. Her warmth and beautiful spirit were irresistible.  She was the original Lemong'o teacher. She initially held school under a large tree and later in a makeshift shack. I will never forget the first time I visited her classroom. There were more than fifty children ages 3-10 listening quietly as she taught. There were two or three benches for the older children who huddled together to squeeze as many as possible on the benches. The young ones sat on the 2x4s that comprised the structure of the building. Gladys stood before a large flat piece of wood, painted black, and wrote the letters of the alphabet using a stub of chalk. She taught with great enthusiasm, engaging the students with songs. I marveled at her teaching skills. I later learned that she had never received any formal teacher training; she was a natural born teacher. Gladys loved her students as her own. Her care for them went well beyond the classroom. She made home visits when she had concerns about their health and well-being. She listened as parents shared their struggles. She nurtured her students' souls.

Gladys' commitment to others reached beyond the classroom. She volunteered with Christian Children's Fund, participated at her church, and volunteered herself for whatever was needed to assist the Lemong'o Project. On my visits to Lemong'o, she always made herself available and gave of herself completely. Gladys had a heart for all.

Gladys' greatest achievement is her wonderful family. She loved and nurtured three amazing children: Samuel, Rhoda, and Toipan who are in high school and elementary school. When her sister died shortly after giving birth, Gladys adopted her daughter, Victoria, and raised her as her own. Victoria is now 4 years old.

All of the Lemong'o Project's visitors to the village have joined Gladys in her classroom spending hours together team teaching and sharing their love of children. She eagerly welcomed them and loved the collaboration. I'm sure they would all agree that she was an inspiration.

Although Gladys' life ended much too soon, she will live on through the innumerable lives she touched. The hearts of those of us at the Lemong'o Project go out to her family. She will be sorely missed.

Summer 2015

Volunteer Lisa Hubert shares her thoughts after her visit to Lemong'o during the summer of 2015:

Lisa arriving at her hut in the village

I recently had the privilege of visiting the small village of Lemong'o in June of 2015. I had been involved in fund raising activities in the past and admired the idea of a "Grassroots" organization that was doing good things for people in Africa, but what I experienced first-hand was so much more! The Lemong'o Project has far reaching effects on many levels. The first thing I noticed when I arrived was how beautiful Lemong'o is with its rich ocher soil and beautiful acacia trees. As I stepped inside the Manyatta, which is the area surrounding lodging of thatched huts, I noticed a warm personal touch for each of the huts, the cooking area, bathroom and yard thanks to our artist-in-residence, Amadeus, a local Maasai warrior who is part of the Board in Lemong'o. Another group of villagers helped to get the Manyatta ready by adding extra straw/mud to the huts, placing linens on the beds, hanging mosquito netting, setting up kitchen cookware, etc. The emotional clincher of the arrival was the deep connection between Carolyn and the people. There was no loss of tears, laughs, smiles, kisses, hugs, singing and dancing. This experience was an acknowledgement of the impact The Lemong'o Project has on the villagers' quality of life.

Carolyn Tague, Project Director, runs a tight ship as far as being a good steward with the project funds which she oversees on every level: project teachers' salaries, school daily lunches, medical clinics (2x/yearly) and medical referrals. She holds herself and the Lemong'o Board accountable on all expenses. There was always much discussion around the best exchange rate, receipts for past expenses (student tuition/fees, purchases for school lunches, medical referrals, etc.) along with critical assessment of current needs of the village and how we can best meet these needs while keeping these proud African people involved and vested in the project.

I love what the Project is doing for the people of Lemong'o. They are a proud, honest, intelligent and hard working group of people. Here are two stories of many that exemplify this:

1) A young boy in the ninth grade gets up every morning at 4 am to walk approximately 10 miles to school without any breakfast. He arrives at 7:30 am.  He attends school all day with little food.  He then walks back home arriving around 9pm. The boy then receives his first real meal of the day. He will work on homework under a dim oil lamp until he falls asleep. His home has no electricity or plumbing.

2) A young teacher gets up at 4 am and proceeds to gather her goats and cows.  She takes them to the relatives so they can graze the livestock during the day while she teaches.  She arrives back at her home around 6 am, grabs a quick cup of tea, readies herself for the classroom, and arrives at school at 7:30 am.  She teaches until 4 or 5 pm, then goes back to the relatives to herd her animals back to her Manyatta. She has her first substantial meal of the day around 7:30 pm and then gets ready for bed. 

Linda with students

I heard story after story similar to these two and I was so impressed by their hard working ethics and a little embarrassed by my own, yet they inspired me to do better. Some of the mottos I read on the walls of clinics or schools stated: "Laziness does not just affect an individual but eventually works its way into the whole family;" and "Lazy people don't get what they want but riches come to those who work hard." These words and examples just reinforce how hard working and honest these Kenyan people are.

As I return from my journey to Lemong'o, I like to reflect upon these gracious and authentic people and how I learned so much from them. I only hope that I can continue to raise the awareness of the Afrikaners' plight through my work with The Lemong'o Project where our goal is to meet the basic needs of nutrition, education and health. In addition, we would like to increase our ability to sponsor children in their education endeavors for they are the hope and future of tomorrow's Africa. As many have said, "Africa's success is integral to our planet's well-being!"

Summer 2014

Linda in a classroom in Lemong'o

Linda Rinard volunteered for The Lemong'o Project in Kenya during the summer of 2014:

Visiting Lemong'o last summer was an amazing and rewarding experience. Interacting with the school children during art projects and assisting with the two medical clinics were highlights of the month that I was privileged to be there. An MD, an RN and an eye doctor held two separate clinics to attend to people who had walked from afar to receive treatment. Observing people patiently waiting in the sun for hours to be seen made me realize how important the clinics are to the people of Lemong'o. The clinics improve quality of life and, indeed, save lives in some instances. The village is extremely grateful for the clinics and participate by volunteering to help run them.

Summer 2013

Nicole in Lemong'o

Nicole Lamb reports back on her volunteer time in the village of Lemong'o:

Walking up to the school you feel like a celebrity as the students rush up to meet you, touch your hands, and wave hello. Little did I realize they would touch my heart so easily and give me a new perspective on my own teaching. The short time I spent in Lemong’o left me with an everlasting impression of how powerful and life-changing education can be, especially for those who have very little. I share pictures, videos, stories, and songs with my kindergartners hoping they will start to learn the value of education from an early age. I encourage them to one day travel the world and see how different children learn around the world. Maybe some will visit Lemong’o one day.

Summer 2012

Lucy and Faustine Odaba bring solar cookers to Lemong'o:

This summer The Lemong'o Project welcomed Faustine Odaba, and her daughter Lucy, with great excitement. For three days Faustine, better known as Mama Solar, and Lucy taught the women and children of Lemong’o how to cook using simple solar technologies. Mama Solar engaged the children right away starting with a dance and then jumping right into preparing food. As several children cut vegetables and mixed scone dough with Lucy, Mama Solar taught about the benefits of cooking with the sun.

As the food was set aside to cook, Mama Solar showed off her amazing display of bags, mats, hats and toilet paper holders crocheted out of used plastic bags. She shared her motto, “waste no waste” and encouraged the children to be aware of all the waste that can be transformed into useful items. Students were then taught how to cut bags into long strips and crochet needles were passed around to begin creating!

The women of Lemong’o were next to join in the fun and were visibly excited about all the information Mama Solar had to share. The women learned the process of making a solar cooker that can be made out of cardboard and aluminum foil. Regular cooking pots are painted black to absorb heat and then wrapped in special plastic bags to retain the heat absorbed. Mama Solar shared the many benefits of using a solar cooker. Solar cookers free up time so time normally used for cooking can be used to engage in other activities. Women do not need to spend long hours collecting firewood, making a fire or keeping a fire going. There are also health benefits when using a solar cooker. Many women suffer from respiratory problems because they are constantly inhaling smoke from a fire. Women and children also suffer from burns when the traditional method of fire cooking is used in huts.

Mama Solar and Lucy left the community members of Lemong’o feeling excited about the possibilities of using solar cookers. They hope to have the women come back in the hotter months to learn more about solar cooking. The project purchased 10 solar cookers and the Manyata committee will decide how those will be distributed.