Dispatch from Kenya: Crutches 4 Africa July 9

The following daily diary is from Cassidy Johnson, a Scottsdale student who is one of six Valley high students visiting Kenya this month to distribute mobility devices as part of Crutches 4 Africa, a service project sponsored by Arizona District 5495 Rotary’s Interact Club. Miss Johnson is a senior at Desert Mountain High School and an assistant governor for the District 5495 Interact Club.

Miss Johnson has agreed to share her journey with the Independent readers via her personally written dispatches.

Visit here to read more about the journey.

Scottsdale student Cassidy Johnson with students from a local girls school in Naivasha. (Special to the Independent)

Crutches 4 Africa Dispatch: July 9

An extremely full schedule awaits us our final day in Naivasha. Both Lauren (Lauren Lukas, chaperone) and I woke up with very sore throats and upon meeting with several others at the DN Handa, we found about five of us were feeling a bit under the weather.

Nonetheless, our hero, John Wintersteen (chaperone) came to the rescue with DayQuil before we set off for the day. Lauren and I were slowly feeling better. I was too emotional (excited and sad) about our last day in Naivasha with all of our new friends to worry about a cold.

After loading the bus with a massive 60-pound suitcase full of medical supplies, mobility devices and all of the passengers, we set off about five minutes down the street to Naivasha’s Disability Resource and Information Center (DRIC).

After taking a tour of the DRIC, which provides therapy, literature and care for individuals with disabilities, we gave the DRIC many mobility devices – including crutches and walkers, as well as little girls’ dresses for the maternal unit that we visited.

At the DRIC, the Navaisha Rotarians surprised us by inviting the dance crew from yesterday to join us on our trips to the Nyamathi School, clinic and flower factory in Naivasha. With the dance troupe, our team of 11 and several Rotaractors, the bus was completely full.

We next drove to the Nyamathi Secondary School where we took a tour of the campus and garden. Near the edge of the garden, each Ambassador planted a tree with several Interact Club members from the school. I was helped by about eight girls, none of whom would tell me their names. Finally, one girl introduced herself as Anne.

I was surprised to find these students very shy, compared to the warm welcome we had at the Naivasha Girls School, where girls elbowed others out of the way just to tell me their names. However, after being served a lunch of githeri and invited to sit with the students, I found they slowly opened up – but still giggled every time I spoke.

Two girls, Margaritte and Sara, invited me into four different classrooms representing the different forms (grades) in the secondary school. A group of girls followed me from class to class and every time I entered a class the students cheered. I gave a brief description of myself and meandered around each room, shaking hands and giving high-fives.

In the Form 1 (ninth grade) classroom, one student asked if I had a phone. I said, “yes,” and suggested we “take a selfie.” All of the sudden a stampede of students swarmed around me, raising their hands, grabbing my shirt, touching my skin and feeling my hair. The selfie looks more like I am in a mosh-pit at a concert than in a high school!

I had so much fun meeting the Interact members and students, so when they asked my phone number, I gave it out openly and at least 20 of the students wrote down my number and promised to share it with friends later on. Well, lesson learned. Tonight, at dinner, I received 15 phone calls and voicemails from different Kenya phone numbers. Oops!

Anyways, after pleading with me to return to the school, the girls let go of my arms and the team boarded the bus to visit Nyamanthi Primary Clinic. We took a brief tour of the small, free-to-use clinic, which had very little in the way of medical supplies and staff. We gave the clinic lots of walkers, crutches and boots, as well as a suitcase full of medical supplies.

Next, to our surprise, we had a small distribution of five canes in the courtyard of the clinic. I worked with a man named Johesephat, who had an injured back. Upon receiving his cane, Johesephat’s smile lit up the courtyard. He loved taking photos and wanted to keep them, so we used Kara’s Polaroid to give Johesephat a reminder of the beautiful day.

After leaving the clinic, we drove back to Naivasha to tour the rose factory where different varieties of roses are bred, tested and sold throughout much of Europe. There must have been over 200 different types of roses, creating a beautiful rainbow of flowers that left me speechless.

We then loaded up the bus with devices, dresses, shirts and medical supplies for the Maasai Mara, where we are planning to distribute 100 pairs of crutches!

For our final dinner in Naivasha, our entire Rotary family came to eat at Java House. The Ambassadors presented a few Rotarians with Arizona souvenirs and said thank you to all. We will surely miss our Naivasha family.

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