After being 'out of range' of reliable internet access for a week, Team Twende have sent some updates from their programme last week...
Monday 16th July
Land Rover fully loaded with luggage, provisions, 20 chairs and a wooden clipboard, we set off on the long journey to Oltiaska on roads that were described as the good, the bad and the ugly. Good tarmac roads gave way to graded roads then dirt track roads with some detours through the bush from time to time. There's no doubt that a good vehicle is essential for travel around the Diocese.
A stop at a food market showed the abundance of fresh produce available as we bought some supplies. The particularly long rains earlier in the year have made a big difference to the landscape, the livestock and the food produced.
A brief stop at Imberikani Training Centre and Church was challenging considering the work that needs to be done to make the centre useable. However, with the assistance of grants from Electricaid, it is hoped that these improvements can be made. There is great vision to expand the centre to include accommodation and staff houses so that it may be used as a Diocesan Training Centre for that area.
A highlight of the journey was seeing wildlife along the way including various gazelles and antelope, giraffe, ostrich, wildebeest and zebra. Lunch at Picnic Rock gave us a view of the vast open landscape of the Rift valley with the Chulu Hills in the distance as our destination.
On arrival at Oltiaska and the Osinini Hideaway, once again we received a warm welcome from the staff. A cup of chai on the veranda was also very welcome as we took in the view of the surrounding hills, the plains below and Kilimanjaro in the distance. Surely this must be one of the most beautiful places to be and when you look up at the starry sky at night one can't help but be in awe of the wonder of God's creation.
“I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills whence cometh my help. My help comes from the Lord who has made heaven and earth." (Psalm 121:1,2)
Tuesday 17th July
A tour of Oltiaska MRTC showed us the potential for development at this place. The original school, health clinic and vocational training centre have been taken over by the government. However the vocational training is not going at present.
A herd of 70 special breed Gala goats are used to improve the local herds and along with renting some houses provide valuable income for sustainability of the centre.
Perhaps the most impressive project is the water catchment and water tanks that had been refurbished by Tuam Diocese last year. Here up to 600,000 litres of water can be stored for distribution to the local community. About 300 women draw water four times a week. Each load of about 60 litres, which is very heavy, is carried home and can be used by perhaps 8 or 10 people. One storage tank is now covered and this makes a big difference to the quality of the water. The plan is to cover the other two tanks and eventually build a fourth one.
The only source of water here is from the rain which quickly soaks into the ground. Most buildings will catch rainwater from the roof into a storage tank. The large catchment and storage tanks are of great benefit to the whole community.
Wednesday 18th July
Another safari in the Landrover spotting various wildlife along the way, trying to tell the difference between a Thompson's and a Grant's gazzell. At least we all know a giraffe and a zebra.
At Imberikai Training Centre a classroom was prepared for the Training seminars for Lay Readers and Clergy to be held over the following two days. Walls, floor and windows were cleaned. Tables and chairs were also cleaned and when they were installed among with wooden flipchart holder, it began to look like a classroom. However, there is a lot of work to be done to bring the building up to standard and we pray that the grants applied for will come through.
Outside, trenches were being dug for water and electricity supplies. In the nearby church, repairs to the plaster revealed that it was all in bad shape. So it all has to be stripped off and the walls re-plastered, adding additional cost to the project. Tired and dusty we returned to Oltiaska with a welcome cup of chai waiting for us on the veranda.
As we go we are beginning to realise the various challenges facing the Church in this beautiful but remote area, from training of Church leaders to building up sustainable infrastructure.