Welcome to our travel stories from Africa page. Founder Jill Carty, and her husband Jim, set out on their second trip to Garissa, Kenya, on November 24, 2008.
The Julia Project Founder, Jill Carty, and husband Jim,
with Health Partners International Canada
medical travel packs and lots of luggage in tow.
Here they share their Kenyan travel experience, which includes their own personal side trip safari at the world renown Masai Mara Park. Enjoy!
We are returning to Garissa with anticipation and excitement. The medical supplies we are carrying will help fill the shelves of the clinic that Jim was project manager for on our first trip in 2007.
It will be wonderful to reconnect with 'my' African students and their school headmistress, Rukia, again. The proceeds from The Julia Project Garden Party Fundraiser this past June will be used to purchase the school a sewing machine and supplies. We will equip them with fabric and sewing supplies in the hopes of setting them up with a small business to earn needed income for the school. We also have funds to purchase more books for the school, and have been gathering toys and games for the children as well.
We are also bringing reports of an HIV/AIDS clinic (the aforementioned building project), and a small Bible School project at IFO Refugee Camp in Dadab. We look forward to seeing our friends at IFO again, after spending a wonderful weekend there during our first trip.
The Dadab trip is truly an African adventure and should prove to be among the best of our travel stories from Africa. Four hours of travel on desert sand roads -- if you can call them roads -- taking turns from the front to the back of the Land Rover so no one is overcome by the sun and high temperatures.
The wind is so warm on your face and there are sightings of camels, wild baboons, cattle and sheep herders, and nomad families traveling with their camels well packed with all their possessions.
We arrived at Amsterdam safe and sound. Jim had left his carry-on bag in
the van, and we had to borrow a pilot's cell phone to call our son Ryan
before he got too far away from the Toronto airport. All worked out
A bit weary but everything is good.
Enjoy the first of our shots of our traveling pig. He's our white ceramic piggy bank that speaks to remind us of how Julia's pennies helped children in need.
We arrived late last night at Nairobi, Kenya. It was a long process getting our travel visa and luggage at the airport, but we finally got through it all.
We priced out some sewing machines this morning and have arranged travel to Garissa tomorrow afternoon. Nairobi is as busy, noisy, and active as we remembered.
This is our very downtown hotel. We hope the name isn't prophetic!
Jim and I managed to find our way back to the sewing machine shop in
Nairobi on our own, but only after much confusion and getting lost for a
while. We knew we were in the right area but just couldn't get our
bearings for a bit.
We bought a sewing machine for Rukia's project, and I'm so excited to present her with this surprise when the time is right.
The shopkeeper was a lovely Indian man who shared photos of his family with us and even made a donation to our "Traveling Piggy Bank" after we took some photos with him and Piggy at the shop.
We barely made it to our bus connection on time. The driver we hired the previous day didn't show up and the new driver said he knew where the bus station was, but he didn't. Our driver called out onto the street for directions, and a nice man said to follow him as he ran along side the car and led us to the terminal.
Eastleigh, Nairobi, where we catch the bus to Garissa. Taken on the sly.
We were warmly greeted by the Bus Station owner, Hussan, a good friend
of our hosts in Garissa. He also knew several other mutual friends, so
that was nice.
The scene at the bus station was hard again. The locals in this very poor district trying to sell anything to you. Two women with their babies were begging at the bus window for money. A young boy, perhaps 14, asking if we were Americans and hailing Obama between his sniffs of glue he had in a bottle up his sleeve.
Downtown Garissa street scenes.
The bus ride to Garissa was long and noisy. We arrived safely and have
been at the local hotel since, trying to get rested. It's nice to have a
clean, air-conditioned room with a working shower and a comfortable
bed. Nothing close to what we had in Nairobi. We will move to our host's
compound for community living tomorrow.
We've had a wonderful time reconnecting with Rukia, the headmistress of
the school we are assisting here in Garissa. Seeing some familiar faces
and of course, those beautiful African children, has warmed our hearts.
They even arranged a special birthday party for me. How sweet is that!
Rukia And I With The New Sewing Machine
We were able to present them with the sewing machine from our fundraiser this past summer much to their surprise and delight.
They are asking for help to build one small classroom which would allow the previous grade-3 students to continue with their education with Rukia and her teachers instead of trying to find a way with the government school system.
Some of these students are showing up at Rukia's school daily because they miss everyone and feel that they don't fit in well in the other system. They also come hoping to be fed. We are pricing out this small building project to help.
Beautiful African Children At Pastor Sammy's Church
The first Sunday after we arrived at Garissa, Jim and I returned to
Pastor Sammy's church where I had preached on our previous trip.
Almost immediately after we were seated, a little boy about 2 years old, came over to look at us as most of the children do.
I reached out to see whether he might shake my hand and much to my surprise he lifted both arms and before I knew it he was on my lap. He looked me full in the face and then snuggled in for a close cuddle.
How good God was to confirm my calling to help these African children.
I was almost overcome with surprise and delight.
My Special Friend Nicholas and I At Lunch - Note My Birthday Gift Of Henna Designs On My Arms Just Like A Somali Bride
Leaving Garissa. Saying goodbye to our African children and friends is
so hard. We have had a good time reconnecting, and it felt so wonderful
to bring them help through the funds we raised at the Garden Party this
We had a chance to arrange a special lunch with Nicolas, one of the young Christian boys in the school who has won a special place in my heart.
He was honored to arrive at our hotel by taxi, enjoy a good meal, gifts, and a note to take to his father with a cash donation from a Canadian friend who wanted to help a family here.
We signed the necessary contracts with Rukia, the school headmistress, and the contractor to build the needed grade-three-and-four classroom. We will leave it in their capable hands and hope to have completed photos of it in January when our friends from Canada return to the area and can hopefully send them along.
A wonderful feeling to know we have accomplished our goals for the Africa school and Africa children while here in Kenya.
We take the early morning bus back to Nairobi tomorrow.
Kenya Coffee Fields
We had a pretty uneventful bus ride back to Nairobi yesterday. Rukia and
her husband were up early to see that we made our bus connection at the
hotel, which was very kind.
The bus stops at various little villages along the way. The locals all run frantically up to the windows trying to sell their wares. The frantic looks speak of their desperation and break our hearts.
Village of Mwingi, half way point on bus ride from Garissa
back to Nairobi.
At one stop the bus driver takes on two live hens that thankfully ride up front beside him.
We could see the dark clouds, feel the cooler air and smell the rain before it came. It hasn't rained here in almost a month, and this is the rainy season. It didn't last long.
We pass the Acacia trees, the red soil, camel herds at watering holes, donkey carts, and so many people struggling to make it through their day.
The African children always tug at our hearts the most.
The bus is noisy while the radio blares so loudly in foreign sounds to our ears. The Somalis talk in the harsh, constant rhythm of their language.
We smell the diesel from the large trucks and buses we share the road with as we move closer to our destination.
We did manage to tip the bus driver enough to get him to stop at the coffee fields for some photos. Jim was even allowed to climb on top of the bus to get some great shots.
The contrast of so much need and heartache amongst the beauty of the landscape is astounding.
Having arrived back at our hotel in Nairobi has given us time to reflect. We've overcome some pretty challenging times so far.
Jim put his back out a few days after we arrived at Garissa. After waiting to see how he would recover, we finally had to opt out of the planned trip to the refugee camp at Dadab to see the newly formed Bible school our church is supporting. From our previous experience, we knew the road to Dadab is barely a road and we just couldn't risk Jim's back any further.
A day or two later, Jim woke up almost completely covered in a rash or insect bites that tormented him with a terrible itch for about 4 days. He did so well not to scratch.
And, as if this wasn't enough, we both came down with a pretty serious bout of travelers' diarrhea. I was confined to bed for two days and poor Jim was trying to look after me between his own issues.
We tried to get a prescription from the local clinic we had brought supplies to, but couldn't get it filled at the pharmacy because everything was closed. The Muslims were celebrating a religious holiday, I think called Idd or Idd-Ul-Adhha, known in English as the Festival of Sacrifice to commemorate the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his only son as an act of obedience to God.
While we're so very grateful to have completed our mission and reconnect with our friends and project work, we are also very grateful to have gotten back to Nairobi in relatively good health.
Mission work is not always easy, but despite the challenges we move forward, trying not to complain and stay thankful.
We will rest and have decided to go ahead with our planned personal holiday side trip. We look forward to a 3-day safari trip to Kenya's Masai Mara Reserve.
It's hard to believe that our time in Africa has come to an end. While
we've had our challenges on this trip, we've also had many blessings as
Despite Jim's sore back, we decided to go ahead with our plan to take some personal time to experience more of the country before we left.
We had a wonderful three-day Safari adventure at the Masai Mara Game Reserve that was incredible.
Our lodge at Masai Mara Game Reserve where
and Prince Charles were previous guests.
We're resting up at a lovely guest house just outside the city limits of Nairobi preparing for our long journey home.
It's a good feeling to have reconnected with our friends in Garissa, to have met new friends in Nairobi and, most of all, to know we've accomplished our mission goals.
Jim and local Masai native.
Our guides looking for hippos near Garissa.
New friends made in Nairobi praying for our project.
Jim getting his boots cleaned at the shoe shine booth
across from our hotel in Nairobi.
A church built in 1945 by Italian Prisoners of War.
Overlooking the Rift Valley just outside of Nairobi.
Travel Piggy At Amsterdam
Our flight from Nairobi was uneventful, and Jim was able to stretch out
across some empty seats to rest his back, which was a huge help. He was
close to tears from the pain when we were boarding.
We've arrived at Amsterdam a little weary after the 8 1/2 hour flight, but grateful to be halfway home. We have a 2-hour layover before the last flight of our trip -- another 8 hours back to Toronto.
This Dutch airport is huge and provides lots of opportunity to walk, which is what helps Jim the most right now.
Everything is decorated for Christmas, so the shops look very festive and inviting. It seems so strange to think of Christmas.
As our thoughts start to focus on home, we're both looking forward to seeing our children. Our daughter Maeghan will be meeting us at the Toronto airport and driving us home to Peterborough.
Julia, and Founder, Jill Carty
Julia, our charity's namesake, and I, extend a warm welcome to you.
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