September 4, 2010
Karl and I experienced one of the true joys of travel - - delay!
I always think of the many airports around the world I've had the privilege of visiting that boast enjoyable coffee shops, outstanding shopping and clean, comfortable waiting areas and wonder to myself why seven hour delays happen in airports with minimal food options and limited creature comforts. I made the best of it and made some new friends and caught up on computer work until the battery power finally gave out.
We arrived in Mombasa in the early evening and were greeted by Susan & Mary with Maryknoll of Mombasa. They kindly introduced us to the local gelato merchant. A real treat, especially after Karl pointed out we really hadn't had anything to eat since Thursday. We had the opportunity to visit with Susan and Mary at their home and checked into the hotel, looking forward to dinner and some much needed rest.
September 5, 2010
Karl and I used today to recharge our batteries - - both from a sleep deficit standpoint and computer perspective as well. We spent time answering emails, writing blogs and taking a moment to absorb all we've seen and done over the past two weeks.
Mombasa is the 2nd largest city in Kenya. It is next to the Indian Ocean and is a major port city.
Through multiple translations, Mombasa means "Island of War", due to the many changes in its ownership. Mombasa has a warm, tropical climate and we are here at a good time of year - - not too rainy and not to hot. Average temperatures are about 83 degrees in September. There is a spectacular breeze that blows off the water, so though this is one of the hottest locations we've experienced on our journey, the ocean breeze, white sands and beautiful turquoise water makes the afternoon heat and sun agreeable.
September 6, 2010
We began the morning with a trip to the local Star of the Sea School where we participated in the Monday morning meeting for the Maryknoll team. This group does incredible work in the support of the people and their families living with HIV/AIDS. We enjoyed hearing from the Maryknoll teammates about their various projects as they updated the group and made plans for the week ahead. The Bishop, brothers, sisters, nurses, doctors, statisticians and project managers are all part of the Maryknoll team.
We also met with the team that manages the Pepfar work being done - - over 50,000 orphans and vulnerable children receive services as well as more than 13,000 families access homecare services. We met with Sister Pauline and her team. She graciously agreed to travel with us to meet Sister Veronica at the clinic she manages in Mikandani outside of Mombasa. They have a vibrant center where they provide critical services to the community living with HIV/AIDS. After our clinic visit we traveled to an area with over 50,000 low income people. We met with several families who are receiving food by prescription through the clinic. We then shared ideas for possible collaboration and discussed the many challenges that exist for the people in this area.
September 7, 2010
We traveled to Nairobi and boarded an overnight flight to Amsterdam. We are anxiously anticipating our flight home to Chicago. I was reminded of my last travel through this airport with Illinois Soybean Association grower leaders Pat and CW. I missed them on this trip and fondly remembered what a great adventure we had the last time I was here with them. Karl and I finished up some of our remaining plans for follow up after the trip and prepared for the long flight home.
September 8, 2010
We are happy to land in Chicago and make our way back to Champaign. As we drive south on I-57, it is evident harvest has progressed into full swing. It's amazing what three weeks and some hot dry weather can do for moving combines into the field and getting crops out.
As we look back and reflect on our time in Africa, we are pleased with what we accomplished. We presented information on NSRL/WISHH work, provided soy processing and application examples and shared nutrition information. We visited South Africa, Sierra Leone, Kenya and Tanzania. We participated in conferences and workshops in all of these countries. We met with NGO partners, government partners, University colleagues and industry partners. We were able to complete some of our projects and begin new ones that hold great promise - - all focused on promoting the use of U.S. soy products in addressing the challenges of malnutrition in Africa.
We look forward to the work ahead with our current partners and have great expectations for the relationships and collaborations that will unfold in the months ahead with our new partners in Africa.