Radio Personality Brings Spirit to Kenya

Seattle radio personality Matt Case is visiting World Concern's humanitarian projects in Kenya.
Seattle radio personality Matt Case is visiting World Concern's humanitarian projects in Kenya.

My friend Matt Case has temporarily left his job behind a microphone to see what life is like in African villages. Matt is the mid-day radio host on Christian radio station Spirit 105.3 in Seattle and has joined World Concern to visit some of our humanitarian aid projects in Kenya. He just arrived on Sunday and has completed his first full day in the field. The goal of this trip is to equip Matt with the truth: Compelled by Christ’s love, we can transform the lives of the poor and offer them hope.

In this first day, Matt has seen World Concern’s Orphan and Vulnerable Children (OVC) program. He’s met widows and boys and girls who have lost their parents because of AIDS. World Concern is helping equip orphans and their new guardians to live healthy and productive lives.

Here’s a cool note I just received from Matt, with explanatiory notations from me:

Here in Narok (small town near a wildlife refuge) at the Chambi Hotel right now sitting with Sakuda (a World Concern staff member) … finished dinner after a long long hot and dusty day in the field! Did an OVC (Orphans and Vulnerable Children) in-home visit…WOW!!! Local church pastor took us there with WC and it was amazing.

Then off to two sites……Empura and then Endoinyio Narasha welcomed by the kids and teachers singing. Kids are amazing and the love that we see there is fantastic! God is at work big time here. Saw clean water well, a bank, and I bought in and became a member of the bank with 3 shares!!! It was a long hot day and seeing the two widows on the OVC was a hard one on the heart. Took some toys to the kids and then we were all invited to join in in a traditional Massai dance…Yeah Dave Eller (World Concern’s president) was getting down!!! (Right on!) I have video to prove it!!!

Big day tomorrow so I must get going…I think its time for a tea (every day, several times a day) and Sakuda is telling the Mizungo (white person) is on the internet!!! Great times and we’ll try to email if we can. Internet has been down in Narok for 2 weeks I guess??? Not like home with wi fi EVERYWHERE…T.I.A (Truth in Action?) …this is Africa!

The internet connection kind of stinks where Matt is right now, but whenever he gets a chance, he’s posting to his Facebook page and shooting me a more detailed message as well. So check in a little later to this blog and get an update on his adventure in Africa!

Join Matt and support the work of World Concern in serving HIV and AIDS orphans.

World Concern provides support for those orphaned or vulnerable because of HIV and AIDS.
World Concern provides support for those orphaned or vulnerable because of HIV and AIDS.


Success with Humanitarian Aid in Kenya

World Concern President Dave Eller spends time reading to Maasai boys in Kenya. World Concern works with the Maasai to provide many aspects of sustainable humanitarian aid.
World Concern President Dave Eller spends time reading to Maasai boys in Kenya. World Concern works with the Maasai to provide many aspects of sustainable humanitarian aid.

Here’s a handy tip for keeping elephants from eating your garden: You should install several low-voltage electric lines close together along your fence. If they are spaced wide, the elephant will rip one out, reach between, and eat your vegetables.

That gardening trip is from World Concern President Dave Eller, who has returned to Kenya to get an update on our projects. Dave and his family lived in Kenya for several years, as Dave served as the country director. It was refreshing for Dave to arrive and see many successes in a variety of areas of Humanitarian Aid. As an executive, he often deals with problems and doesn’t get to relish the victories.

Here is some of what he’s seen:

  • Maasai herders are learning how to farm.  This year they built a one acre farm behind a solar electric fence and the first crop has been harvested. With dwindling availability for open rangeland, it is important for the Maasai to think beyond what they’ve done in the past (herding) and look to new opportunities (agriculture, small business). It was at this pilot project farm that Dave saw the low-voltage electric fence to keep out elephants.
  • Stigma against AIDS orphans is way down. The children are being accepted by the community after World Concern’s educational and support services began five years ago. World Concern has reached 5,000 children and is preparing to turn over this particular orphans project to churches to run indefinitely on their own.  Many of the volunteers providing the Humanitarian Aid are from Christian churches, and the outlook from the orphans has grown much more hopeful.
  • We now have seven Financial Service Associations, also known as village banks. The first five are making a profit and adding services.  Three are doing phone money transfers, all are cashing third party checks and offering over night safe storage. One of them is a post office and they are setting up direct deposit with government agencies.  These are in addition to the basic services of savings and loans.
  • World Concern Kenya’s newest Humanitarian Aid project focuses on water and sanitation, including in a community called Lamu, which is on the Somalia border. After water surveys, five hand-dug wells have begun. Three of them have struck water and are complete.  The other two should be done soon.  Water committees are in training and sanitation training has started.  This is a large scale project meant to provide clean and consistent water to 98,000 people over the next three years.

Dave will soon be joined by Matt Case, a radio host on Spirit 105.3 in Seattle. We want people to know of this fantastic Humanitarian Aid, so we can grow our resources and help more people reach their full God-given potential.

A Maasai herdsman provides water for his goats at a World Concern water pan, a pond dug to retain water even in the dry season.
A Maasai herdsman provides water for his goats at a World Concern water pan, a pond dug to retain water even in the dry season.

Humanitarian Journey to Kenya – Day 2 and 3 – Matatu

humanitarian aid and relief kenya
Kenyans walk great distances. I was amazed to see people walking for miles in dress shoes.

Day 2: Nothing much to say about this day, other than it’s not an overwhelmingly pleasant experience to try to sleep on 10 to 12 hour plane flights.

On the plus side, the airlines still have not cut the meals from these trans-continental flights. If they did, I am sure there would be a revolt.

Day 3: Daylight was just beginning to break when we arrived in Kenya. It was cooler than I expected, but still a little muggy. I was surprised to find the jet didn’t pull up to a gate. It just parked in the vast expanse of tarmac, a stairway was pulled up next to the plane, and everybody walked off onto the concrete.

We soon bought our visas, cleared customs and hooked up with Tracy, the knowledgeable outgoing country director for Kenya. She led us to our waiting white van. We met the Kenyan driver, an affable fellow named Gordon. He seemed to know a little bit about everything, including a complete history of giraffes in Kenya.

Gordon, our driver in Kenya. He could handle the rough streets and impossible Nairobi traffic jams.
Gordon, our driver in Kenya. He could handle the rough streets and impossible Nairobi traffic jams.

Once on the road, we saw the many matatus, small buses about the size of a Volkswagen Vanagon, packed full of people. The average matatu has 14 seats; it costs less than a dollar for a trip across town, about four dollars to cities two hours away. While some matatus are in good condition, others look as if they have been in a demolition derby, it seems that all matatus are driven in a very spirited fashion. I would not dare to drive in Kenya and am thankful we had a local at the wheel.

I was also amazed to see how many people walk in Kenya. And there are no sidewalks. People have just have cut paths through the trees, even along on the road leading up to the airport. They cannot afford vehicles, so they’re off on foot or bicycles. And just about everybody’s dressed up. It looks like they are off to job interviews, with polished shoes and briefcases as they walk through the dirt. Still, the unemployment here is significant. The country is one of the poorest in the world.

As we drove, we occasionally saw glimpses of the extreme poverty: fields covered in garbage, rows and rows of shacks with metal roofs and people cooking over campfires. Vendors walk through traffic and sell trinkets and newspapers. After we navigated through a couple of smoggy traffic jams, we got checked into the hotel, a quaint place with a couple of security guards that caters toward Christian relief workers.

Tracy then guided us to see where World Concern’s offices in Kenya, Africa. We met the staff, got a rundown of what World Concern does in Kenya, as well as an overview of all of the operations across Africa. This field office is for all of World Concern’s projects in the continent.

humanitarians in kenya
The Matatu, a common way to get around Kenya. These minivans take humanitarians across town and across the country.

Humanitarian Journey to Kenya – Day 1 – Airport

Silhouette of Kenya Africa
Silhouette of wildebeest at the Masai Mara, Southeast Kenya.

Over the course of several weeks, I will post journal entries from my recent trip to Kenya.

Here is day 1:

Today I packed up my video camera, digital camera and all of the rest of my gear and headed to the airport for the long couple of flights that will lead me to Kenya. I met the other travelers, the people I will get to know very well over the next couple of weeks. I already know Lisa, the guide of the group and my co-worker. She’s a devoted mother of two middle-school-aged boys who occasionally takes these around-the-world trips to show donors or potential donors World Concern’s projects.

At the airport, I met John and Linda, a couple with a background in commercial fishing. John often travels up to Alaska to check out his fishing boats, but neither he nor his wife have been to Africa. John and Linda knew of another member of the trip through businesses connections. Her name is Kari, a sharply dressed Norwegian-born woman whose late husband also was in the commercial fishing business.

I also met Cari and Todd, who have three younger children and a real estate development business. All of those on the trip obviously have some degree of interest in humanitarian aid, helping those in the developing world. We had dinner together, then we were off to our flight to London’s Heathrow airport.

Before we took off, I called my wife, who is six months pregnant with our first child.

World Concern in Kenya
World Concern supporters walking along a road near Karen, Kenya.