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TOS Nairobi – famine relief and water project final lap

In the face of the current acute food shortage in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, the TOS in Nairobi started a project last year on behalf of us all.  From the end of August 2011 until February 2012, 55 families in the village of Kaamba in Kitui District, 130 kms east of Nairobi, were given enough staple foods to keep them alive pending the return of the rains.  In the meantime funds were collected by TS and TOS members within Kenya and around the world for the construction of a bore hole and water pump, and for the purchase of seeds, fruit trees and solar lamps.  TOS Convenor, Usha Shah, recounts the day that marked the completion of the project.


August 26th 2012 will be one of the important days in the history of the TOS and TS in Nairobi, Kenya and in the life of the international TOS.

Members of the TS Lodge and TOS Kenya woke up in their own homes to a cool morning and with excitement in their hearts.  An ambitious project undertaken in 2011 was culminating on this day.

Preparations for the trip to Kitui had all been made: hiring a bus, collecting and sorting clothes into 55 equitably-sized packages, ordering 70 seedlings – 20 each of orange, avocado and mango, as well as ten indigenous trees – purchasing maize and bean seeds for planting – 1kg of each for each of our 55 member families – and 55 solar lamps.  All was ready to be loaded onto the bus.

The village children were to be given a party with biscuits, cupcakes, crisps and popcorn to eat and squash to drink – treats that the children barely knew.  They were to be feted with sing-songs and face painting and to receive a party pack that included teddies (knitted by TOS members and friends in Italy), exercise books, pencils, erasers and coloured pencils.

All those who were to come assembled in the Lodge premises and the bus came on time.  Now the process of loading all the cartons and packets on the top of the bus started.  There was a mountain of packages and it took the men some 30 minutes to load and secure them with ropes.

For us females it was fun to watch the whole process.  In my heart I knew this would be an amazing day and it was!  We had also taken our own eats and drinks to keep up our energy and strength.  The journey started with prayers.

The day was cool and the newly built, recently opened road was good to travel on.  I remembered my initial visits to the site and thanked God that the later trips were neither as long nor as full of traffic woes!  All of us were talking, cracking jokes, eating and just in a party mood.  Watching the countryside with different vegetations, green fields giving way to drier and drier land and desolation as the rains have again decided to avoid this part of Kenya was an eye opener for some of us.  All along the road, people were seen going to their churches and, since it was a Sunday, maybe to do some shopping.  We saw some giraffes too in the distance.  Jackson, the gentleman who drove the bus, did a marvellous job over the last 5 km, trying to go up the rough road and balancing the bus so that the packages didn’t fall off!



We arrived at the venue and were welcomed with songs and dancing!  A shady place just next to the bore hole had chairs and we all sat down to enjoy the programme that had been set.  The children sang songs of blessings to the TS, TOS – to the many members around the world who joined this project and made it possible to come so far.  AND I AGREE TOTALLY!  God bless you all.  By the way, it all started at the TS World Congress in Italy when we were given dozens of teddies by the Italian TOS.  One project led to another and on to this major undertaking supported by you all.  Thank you!


After a few formalities, the bore hole was officially handed over to the ‘Tuesday Organisation Society’, the collective of village women who administer the water supply.  I believe they hold their meetings on Tuesdays!  As the pump is manual, the water had to be pumped up.  Lo and behold!  The water started to trickle in and in a few seconds gushed out.  All of us cheered and shouted our heads off! 


We drank the water, splashed it on our heads (by now it was HOT), and sprinkled it all around.  Yes, yes, I know we went a bit overboard but then it was such a magical moment!  Just think of the hours that used to be spent every day by the women and girls fetching water in jerry cans.  The water will be used not just for drinking and washing but for watering the trees and seeds we have provided.  The water tasted cool and sweet as it is a gift from Mother Earth – water in its purest form.  It was hard to get the members out of the enclosure and complete the rest of the programme.

This was followed by tree planting which was done by all TS and TOS members to commemorate the occasion.



We climbed up the hill and organized ourselves with the articles which had to be donated to the 55 members of the Society.  A demonstration of how the solar lamp worked was given and then each member came forward and received their packets of clothes, seeds and their lamp.  An elderly lady who had received a solar lamp said, ''This is the first time in my life that I can see all around me, even though the sun has set.  It is so strange to be able to see my family even when it is dark outside!"  As a friendly gesture toward the TOS, a sister organisation, the Karuna Charitable Trust, paid for 22 out of the 55 lamps, all the seeds, the stationery for the children and the biscuits.



It was already past 4 p.m. and now the children were to be given their party.  We had prepared for 88 children but the number went up to more than 150!  We managed to share the treats around so that no child left empty handed.



We were now ready to begin our journey back to Nairobi.  All the villagers came to hug us and shake hands.  Njoki, the Chair Lady of the Society, said that their village was the only place with water for miles around.  She added that the Kaamba community will soon be self-sufficient and lead a life of dignity and self-respect!  Coming from her, this was a kind of blessing for us all.


When we took our leave of the Kaamba venue, we were escorted by a donkey who pranced along in front of the bus for quite a distance.  The driver could not overtake him as the track was so narrow.  It was as though he was wanting to join in the celebrations!  We took a break to eat along the route, reaching Nairobi at 9 p.m.  We carried in our hearts fond memories of the day: awestruck faces when the solar lamps were turned on, children enjoying their drinks and savouring the cakes, crisps and popcorn, smiling old and young people mingling happily.  Yes, a most magical and happy day.  Light hearts and a very light bus!

That finally is the end of my saga!

A major project like this one is accomplished with the help of many people who gave direct or indirect support:

TOS International and all its members,
Diana, its Secretary,
Nairobi Lodge of the TS in Kenya,
Paulo, my contact and official administrator,
All drivers who made the trips to Kitui for 6 months,
Rameshbhai of Machakos town who facilitated the supply of food for 6 months,
Njoki and all members of the Kitui Tuesday Society
and the Supreme Who brought us all together and enabled us to give service to a few of His children.

- Usha Shah, Convenor, TOS Kenya

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