Eating Stone update – July 2019

On behalf of all the Eating Stone Family: Dr Cyprian, Jackie, Agnes, and all the children, I bring greetings.

All the Eating Stone Family are grieving at the passing of our long-time supporter, Carolynn Landis, 15 July 2019 in Arizona.  Since 2012 when Carolynn visited Eating Stone she told me, “This is why I came to Kenya. This is God’s project” From that time until now she inspired others to help the children in a variety of ways from mosquito nets to new mattresses to large water tanks, to rent and always for much needed food. When she became too ill to continue, she turned over the responsibility to her dear and close friend, Rod Bahnson. Carolynn, may you now rest in peace.

I know I have said this before, but I think it bears repeating: Kenyans are well known for their good manners. Greetings are an important part of daily life. Always when entering a home or even meeting someone on the street there are handshakes (or hugs if appropriate) and warm greetings even down to the smallest child. It is also most appropriate to offer refreshment to guests in the home even if it is only a glass of water.  To not offer is considered bad manners.

The children and young adults of Eating Stone are all doing well and are healthy and happy and well-grounded in their new home the past year and a half. Thirty seven Eating Stone primary children began the new class year at the on-site school, Wisdom Academy, January 7, together with some of the 200 children from the old area of Kabiria and the majority from the new community. The majority of the children are in Play Group through Grade Two. In November, the 13 Standard 8 students including three Eating Stone children will write their all-important national exams which determine their futures. Those with the best marks are invited to the best secondary schools. For most who fail their schooling is finished. It is a harsh system.

Aunty Mary, who has lived and worked at Eating Stone since the post-election violence in 2007/8, has taken a break from cooking, keeping track of the stores, and raising the chickens. She has been very much missed and we will welcome her home next week. In her stead, two women from the new community came to be volunteer cooks. They are single women who have been unable to find employment.  They love Eating Stone, and by preparing mid-morning uji (porridge) and lunch, they are also able to have their meals which is all they ask. 

Many of the children who attend school at Wisdom Academy live in extreme poverty in the old area of Kabiria.  We cannot turn them away for lack of school fees, so they are amongst the students bussed each weekday. The cooks noticed that some of the children are dirty and unwashed and smell bad due to lack of water. They have taken it upon themselves to quietly draw buckets of warm water so the children can bathe and wash their underclothing.  They also wash their uniforms for them. They will continue volunteering when Aunty Mary returns, in order to lighten the load.  Win win for all!!

One Sunday in mid-April, a few of the members of the Star Chorale came to share a day with the Eating Stone children. Lots of play, games, snacks and laughter! We hope they will come back again during the second and third term break early August.

The “Secondarians” all came home from their far-flung schools for mid-term break, more or less a week. They are always so happy to be home with their many siblings… and they study too. Collecting the students then booking transport and taking them to their buses in the wee morning hours is always a stress for Cyprian… and he never complains!

Mid-term break for Wisdom Academy came a week later. The younger children of Eating Stone had essentially not been outside their new home since moving January 2018. Almost all venues in the Nairobi area are prohibitively expensive for us. The alternative? A bus trip to see some parts of Nairobi including the back of the international airport to watch some of the planes landing and taking off. The airport is off limits to anyone other than passengers. We ended the day with time for play at a public park and milk packets and sweet buns provided by some Kenyan well-wishers. We hope to be able to provide more outings more often now that we have two school buses… but just filling the gas tanks is a financial challenge!

And speaking of school busses… A doctor colleague of Cyprian’s left the country and donated his bus to Eating Stone. We are so grateful to this group of doctors who support us in so many ways. They will soon provide school uniforms for the ES children, the first in three years.

As always, our most pressing and ongoing need is for donations for food and school fees. As the children grow so do their appetites! Our numbers have also crept up to 60 as the Children’s Department sees fit to bring needy children to us.

Wishing you the best this summer,

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