Eating Stone update – January 2019

Greetings from all the Eating Stone Family!

On behalf of Dr Cyprian, Jackie, Agnes, all the children and myself we wish you a Happy New Year and hope this brand-new year of 2019 will bring new opportunities, good health, contentment and most of all peace in this complicated world of ours.

Eating Stone has just celebrated the first full year in their new home and the children have flourished in their new environment. The rural setting means clean air and a healthy environment. Because of the high elevation the climate is cool to cold, especially after the sun sets. Even this hottest time of the year you need a warm jacket after dark!  We had to spray again to eradicate the “Nairobi Fly.” On the positive side the type of mosquito in Kikuyu is not malaria bearing.

The new community has accepted and embraced the home, its inhabitants and the on-site school which is now government registered and named “Wisdom Academy.”

The biggest news is that thanks to funding by the Rotary Club of Grande Prairie the drilling of a borehole for water will begin as soon as all the government regulations have been met.  This process is likely to take about two months. The borehole will be drilled by the neighbour who has provided water to Eating Stone from the beginning of construction up to now.  He and his wife also provide fresh vegetables from their irrigated plot at very low cost.  Sometimes they just tell the children to take their bags and pick. Once the borehole is completed, we hope to be able to sell water to others in the area.

Thanks to two donors, one from Alberta and one from Arizona, four solar panels for heating water were installed early in August 2018. No longer must the children bathe in freezing cold water! We are hoping now for funding from the Rotary Club of South Calgary for the last three panels so hot water will be available in the kitchen and there will be sufficient hot water for everyone.

The next wish will be to install solar panels to generate electricity which will further reduce running costs. Two donors have provided 18 solar lanterns which have been installed in two classrooms. Nairobi being close to the equator means about equal dark and light each day. The solar lanterns are used by the Eating Stone children for studying at night. Each light illuminates a desk and seats for four children.

Also, last August Dr Cyprian’s doctors and one other donor enabled the tiling and painting of the girls’ and boys’ dorms. Staff picked the tiles, but the children picked the wall colours. I thought it would take at least 30 minutes for each group decision to be made.  The decisions were both made within two or three minutes! True Blue for the girls and Mistletoe Green for the boys.

Another blessing for Eating Stone has been the generosity and support of Civilized Adventures Travel in Calgary. Eating Stone was one of two recipients of the raffle held at the 25th anniversary birthday party in October. Tiling of all the classrooms was accomplished early in December after the end of the school year. Due to poor cement work during construction the floors were rapidly deteriorating.  The tiling will ensure the building stays strong for many years to come.

Visitors!!  The children (and adults) of Eating Stone love to have visitors!  At the end of July, Lea Price, Andrew Willis and their two children, travelling with Civilized Adventures, came to meet the Eating Stone family. The girls took Jamie under their wing and the boys the same with Michael.  A great time was had by all including dancing on the roof! Asante sana for the bags of goodies and the school supplies!

At the beginning of August, Rod Bahnson from Arizona came to visit again. It was good to see him again and we thank him and Carolynn Landis for their unwavering support for the Eating Stone children.

At the end of August, Donna Stimson, Eating Stone board member from Sydney, Australia, arrived. Donna brought a wealth of supplies and teaching aids for Wisdom Academy and continues raising funds in Australia. We all hope the application for Eating Stone as an Australian NGO will be approved.

Sharon Small, from New York City, USA, joined us mid-September. Sharon travelled with Donna Stimson and Sandi on part of the trans-Africa expedition in 1994. Donna had not seen Sharon since 1994 and the last time for me was in San Francisco in 1996!

At the beginning of December, the Eating Stone Family welcomed John Forsythe and Tracey Farleigh from the UK. For a number of years, these wonderful people have supported another orphanage in Kenya. Because of internal problems with that organisation and at the suggestion of an Eating Stone supporter they came to check us out. They brought clothing for each and every child, many games, and above all their enthusiasm and love of Kenya and its children. We will welcome them back again next December! We welcome and value their support.

Also in early December, Elizabeth Safari, Kenya  ground operator for Civilized Adventures, paid a visit to meet the children and staff of Eating Stone. We hope she will visit often!

Star Chorale is a Kenyatta University men’s acapella choir. Hearing them perform in Nairobi Christmas of 2017 inspired us to ask them to come to entertain the children. They arrived the morning of September 15 to welcoming songs by the Eating Stone children. Some of the choir are orphans themselves, and give so freely of their time, wonderful talent, and enthusiasm.  They played with the children, shared a meal, sang, and danced away the afternoon. It was a joyous day repeated mid-December. Some of their music is on YouTube. Do give a listen!

Christmas Day is always a special day for Eating Stone children. Again, they opted to be at home with just family and close friends of Eating Stone. Two friends from the church came to help cook but much of the work was done by the older kids, Aunty Mary and Maureen (who works part time doing the heavy work at Willow Court for me.) A big thank you to those who gave donations for chicken and other rare and special treats.  Midway through the afternoon, a family from Kikuyu came to bring food stuffs, balloons and a cake. They had called Jackie to ask if there were children at Eating Stone and to ask for directions. It is a tradition in Kenya for those who can afford it to give to those less fortunate on Christmas Day.  We were told that they had been to two other orphanages in the Kikuyu area and neither of them had any children there. They were told at each place that the children had been sent to their extended families in their tribal regions.  In Kenya these places are called “briefcase orphanages.” They collect money from well-wishers abroad, but don’t actually exist.

Schools officially opened throughout Kenya January 3. Beginning a school year immediately on the heels of a new year is always problematic for the majority of families in this country who have problems raising enough money for school fees, books, school supplies, uniforms. This is doubly true for Eating Stone children. We were disappointed this year to not receive funding for nine secondary boarding students as the foundation made a decision to only fund groups within Canada. We hope that will change but it has meant scrambling to find alternate funds. We are indebted to one donor and to Dr Cyprian’s doctors group who have made it possible for the students to continue their secondary education. We are also grateful for continued Swedish support for four students.

Sincere thanks to the three families who agreed to sponsor university-bound Eating Stone young men who all began their studies in August or September 2018. They are bright, determined, self-disciplined individuals who are the future of Kenya. They bring the values taught by Dr Cyprian to their brothers and sisters at Eating Stone and to the broader community:

  • Calvins Owino Lumumba graduated with a Bachelor of Education from Rongo University December 14, 2018. “Daddy” and Rosemary (now alumni and teaching in Western Kenya) attended the graduation on behalf of Dr Cyprian.
  • ​Jeremiah Chillion Otieno, better known as “Daddy” has finished university with Bachelor of Education. His official graduation ceremony will be in September 2019.
  • Harriet Loice Aoko finished her certificate in Primary Education in 2018.
  • Imeldah Jane Auma will finish her teaching degree this year.
  • Peter Mito, teaches IT and maths.

These young people have all been raised at Eating Stone and are now all teaching at Wisdom Academy, the on-site primary school.

Fabian Okero is another Eating Stone graduate who is teaching in Mombasa. I want to share with you the message he sent to Dr Cyprian in December: 

“Dad, I have really watched the videos and sincerely speaking am from afar… thanks to the Almighty that brought me this long in your support.  It’s with great pleasure that I met someone who cares to young ones like you did to me and to so many who have left Eating Stone… have seen a real me when I watch the two documentaries of Eating Stone… May Good Lord blesses the work of your hand… long live Father Cyprian Lumumba… you depict a true image of humane that is seen in your findings… I really love the family of Eating Stone Organisation… I love to see my brothers and sisters doing their best to overpower their life’s challenges.  Good work.”

Wisdom Academy. At the end of the school year 108 there were 168 children attending the on-site school: all the Eating Stone primary children, the non-resident children from the old area, and the balance from the new area called Gikambura. Registration for the new school year has been ongoing since January 3 thus I don’t have a final number as yet.  However, there are many parents who wish to send their child or children to Wisdom. Cyprian and I met a father with his young daughter who told us that he would find the necessary fees so that “my child can attend your beautiful school.” Now that the school is formally registered, Standard 8 class must be available. Three Eating Stone children are now in that class. The problem has been a lack of space for Class 8 and for the burgeoning number of very young children. Local support has been overwhelming.  In particular structural engineer Morris Omondi, personally, and his company H Young, have provided funds to build an mbati structure of two classrooms and a computer lab on the rooftop. They are also paying for the labour. H Young last week brought five truckloads of gravel to improve the almost impassable road down to Eating Stone. As well, they donated two truckloads of muram (small gravel) for the compound.

Furnishings for the new classrooms are being donated by Dr Cyprian’s former doctor colleagues.  They have also donated textbooks and school supplies. John Forsythe has donated a white board for one of the classrooms.

New Kenyan government rules require all vehicles carrying school children to be painted school bus yellow, have the name of the school and contact numbers printed on the sides, install speed governors, be mechanically sound, and then be inspected at official sites.  The Wisdom bus plus the two vans given to us by a neighbour had to be taken to Nakuru for inspection which was a two-day process.  No vehicle can move without the required sticker. Labour was gifted by mechanics and all other costs borne by friends who Cyprian approached.

Finally, on behalf of all the Eating Stone Family I want to thank you for your continued financial support. Always the most pressing and ongoing need is for food, clothing and schooling. No matter the amount we are always grateful to you and feel very blessed.

As always with a grateful heart,

Sandi Carlile
Eating Stone Organisation Kenya 2008 – Board Member & Trustee