Monday, January 7, 2013

Scrivner Update #3

Hello all! Time for another update. Things are finally beginning to settle down a bit for us, and I think we are all finally fully adjusted to the Kenyan time zone. While the first few days of the trip were chalk full of business, these last few days we’ve had the chance to rest and spend more one on one time with the kids here at the children’s home. I think it’s probably important that I make a correction that should have been made last week- we’re not actually in Kapsabet! We all thought Kapsabet and Kaptagat were the same area (that Kaptagat was the county). We were mistaken. The city that GOGCH is in, is actually called Kaptagat.
            KAPTAGAT is twenty-something kilometers away from Eldoret. Small blurb  here—Eldoret is awful. Like…worse than Detroit! Worse than bee-stings! Worse than the feeling you get while you’re scraping the bottom of a jar of peanut-butter! The speed limit in Kenya is 80kph (which is pretty fast), and there are no rules of the road here. No stop signs or lights. We asked our driver what the rules of the road are, and he responded: “No rules, just negotiation”. What this equates to is just one big GIANT MESS. As of this morning, there have already been 85 people killed in car accidents here since new years. 85 people in 4 days.  Walking through Eldoret is comparable to playing Frogger (people still know what that is, right?)…but in real life. Also, there are hardly any trash cans in Eldoret, so people just throw their trash on the street, and every now and then someone sweeps it up. Whenever you need to go into a supermarket, you have to surrender any bags to a “luggage check” counter, then they wand you down to make sure you’re not carrying anything dangerous. It is illegal for motorcyclists to carry passengers, but it isn’t against the law to have people in the bed of a truck. Today we saw a truck with over 10 people in the bed, and a full cab. If a motorcyclist is pulled over with a passenger, they can just bribe the police officer, and get off the hook. The police force is unfortunately very corrupt. It’s ridiculous—the whole city—but that’s enough about it.
            Yesterday, we sent Nick on his way, because his classes start soon and he had to be back in Michigan for practice this week. The kids surprised us all with an unbelievable good-bye ceremony. They all danced around Nick, walking in a circle around him and singing. Also in the circle was a table with something covered with a cloth. They uncovered it to reveal a cake—shaped and decorated to look like the children’s home. They had Nick cut the cake into small pieces, then they started to sing again while he had to go around and feed each person a chunk of cake. Afterwards, the older boys fed cake to him, and the singing and dancing continued. Then, 4 or 5 kids gave him different necklaces and pendants, each symbolizing something different. He was taken aback, and we ended the ceremony by all laying hands on him and praying for him and his journey home. They never cease to amaze us here at the home.
            Today, we got to experience the coolest cross-country meet I have ever been to in my life. Nothing like this exists in the States, I’m sure. We arrived early to the Eldoret Polytechnic campus for the meet, and were surprised to see very few people there. Regardless, we started our hour-fourty long run, while Luke got himself ready to race. We ran the course, which was on a 2k loop (the race is 8k, 4 loops) and were absolutely shocked. The entire course was marked by tape on both sides. There are about 5 huge cliff-like dips that the runners would have to negotiate. Also, there was a fallen post that they would have to hurdle. The grass was knee high, and there were holes in the ground that would twist an ankle instantly. The race was supposed to start at 9 (so we thought) and ended up starting just after 10:00. We are learning that Kenyan time is it’s own beast, and you can’t trust what anyone says when they give you a time schedule. The race finally went off, and the “Junior” athletes dominated the 8k course. The winner finished in a scorching time of 23:19. For those of you who aren’t so great with math, that comes out at an average of 4:40/mi. over 5 miles. Dakin ran tough, and can gladly say he beat a couple of Kenyans!
            Now, the real exciting stuff- the Seniors 12k. This race was packed with celebrity runners that some among you may find familiar. Geoffrey Mutai, Asbel Kiprop, Boaz Lalang, even the man who holds the world best time in 12k, Lineth Chepkurui. Boaz and Asbel planned to drop out early on, as they were only trying to get a workout in.  It was a wild race, but everyone there seemed so nonchalant about the whole thing. These Olympians and world champs are just like normal dudes to the natives. They see these guys in town and on the roads training every day. Apparently most of them even come to the track on workout days and encourage the younger athletes. We were honored to meet Boaz before the race, and Asbel afterwards, and they were both so humble and considerate. They may be super-human athletes, but they are also down to earth, genuine people as well.

            {Hey it’s Luke, just thought I would say a few words about the race. First of all, a major theme throughout our trip has been what we like to call “Kenyan time”. Kenyans do not feel the need to deal with the stress of being on time so they just pick a time to meet and arrive whenever they so choose. An example of Kenyan time was the manager of our camp took our coach to a ceremony and then to pick up a cow that we had donated to the children’s home. The manager said they would be home by 1 in the afternoon. They arrived at 11:30 at night. In my case, I was told the race would start at 9 so I warmed up at 8 and when I got to the starting line I was the only one there! Nobody showed for two hours until we finally started the race. When the race started though it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Even though I did not do very well in the race it was such an incredible experience racing alongside over 100 Kenyans. The race went out much faster than it usually does back at home. Many of the Kenyans have a very risky strategy where they go out very hard knowing that they will either drop out or do something phenomenal. And that is what happened. Many people dropped out but many people ran faster then I thought was humanly possible. Many of these racers were even running barefoot! I thought I would be the only Muzungu (what the locals call white people) in the race but was surprised to meet a diverse group from Canada, France and England. I had an amazing experience and it was so much fun to be a part of that race.}

            The children begin school again on Monday morning, so there will be more down time for us ahead. In the coming days we have plans to visit Iten, the home of many MANY Olympians, and also to tour a nature reserve. Until then—Harambee. (See below for an update from Nick upon arriving back in the US).

Scrivner now wears a hood everywhere he goes. 
This is David Lagat's home that was mentioned in a previous post. (graduation present)

The children just love to follow us and play with us wherever we go.

The gang with Asbel Kiprop after the xc meet.

The man 3rd from right is the head coach of Kenyan Athletics (Track and Field). He came to the home just to meet us.

Harambee the cow, our gift to the children's home. 

January 6th, 2013:

Hello! I'm writing this from my home in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Today is Sunday, it is 34˚F and my front lawn is snow covered. I left Kaptagat on Friday, and got into Detroit Metro last night, Saturday, around 5:00PM; I was traveling for about 24 hours. 
On the day of my departure everyone was extremely helpful and nice. Our hosts, Uncle David and Auntie Sarah along with the kids, did a departure ceremony with a cake and gifts and singing and dancing, it was a lot of fun and it was a great way to say bye to the people I had lived with and gotten to know for the past week. 

In reflection on this experience that has truly augmented my worldview, I can say that it will continue to have an impact in the way I think and act, and hopefully bring me back to Kenya and the people of Kaptagat in the future. I urge anyone who can and is willing to, to check out their website at

Asante-sana to all the people at the Children Centre and to the crew from UCCS, I hope you continue to have a great experience! Hopefully the Michigan and UCCS crew can meet again, perhaps on a trip to visit the Davids next year!  Good luck to you guys in your Track season, and good luck to David Kibet and David Lagat and Paul Maiyo in your future running endeavors, hopefully I'll see all of you guys in the future. Thanks again!

Nick Kern

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for keeping us updated! Everytime you all write we feel like we are seeing it also. We love the detail and your point of view. May the Lord continually bless you all as you serve Him in Kenya! What an experience the Lord has given each one of you! David and Laurel Cheromei