As I looked out my front door (essentially a gate with mosquito wire and an undersized curtain) I spotted two young women struggling to climb a perimeter wall to a second story installation where sits a large water tank. Their challenge seemed insurmountable but they weren’t giving up. I thought it was an issue with the tank and asked if they needed help. (BTW, BIG UPS to running water! Even without a heater and despite having to plug a cord from outside when there’s power, to pump water once a day for 20 minutes when it runs out, much gratitude for H2O). They pointed to a rigged antenna with two wooden sticks and rope just next to the tank, so absurdly high up no one could reach it, “We AH noT geT-Ting any signaal.”

They explained the antenna had to face the direction of the main gate, “IT is the Onnly place we caan get rreception”. Perhaps it was my need to prove my left wrist was back to normal after my 4th of July weekend fracture, or just daring stupidity, I figured I’d test rock-climbing skills from my ancient past. I managed to climb up, stepping on all loose sticks and bricks, buckets and pipes, keeping my balance, and slowly lowering myself back to the ground safely. “EH! This girl can really CLLIIMB!” As I rotated the antenna a few degrees, TV speakers busted some Kenyan dancehall through their front door. They ran back inside and I lived to tell a tale of helping thy neighbors. And, helping one another may just be what Kenyans do best… well… that and running! World Champions!

On this Thanksgiving, I give thanks for life, as together you and I work to restore the lives of many. Where abundant are the stories of gruesome deaths, the sights of funeral processions, coffins tied on top of public transport (matatus), tents with MCs and DJs raising money for funerals, where everyone you know has incredible stories of death, closer and more plentiful than we could ever imagine, where even my electrician and painter have each lost a son during the process of building this rescue center, life here continues with a resilience unmatched in the west. I think we can learn a lot about gratitude for life from Africa, where death is very much an integral part of life, as it has always been, where EVERYTHING is appreciated and NOTHING is wasted.

Yet life is abundant and Kenya is teeming with it, with even a small lime giving you 30 SEEDS! Seeing goats giving birth just off the pavement of a busy roads, is not a rarity. And where, amongst the gore of blood and the beauty of life, everyone goes about their business as usual, selling fruits and vegetables under little tin roof huts by the side of the road. Chickens, roosters, cows, goats, sheep, cats, dogs, butterflies, countless varieties of birds and all their sounds abound… And of course, kids everywhere! So many kids coming and going! There is no way not to appreciate life and smile when you walk out the door on hot sunny days, to be consistently greeted by little bright smiles and the high pitched, “Hey MUZUNGO! How Ah YOU?!”

And you, muzungo, how are you? I’d love to hear from you. Tonight as you celebrate, a non-existent holiday in Kenya ;) I will be giving thanks for having you in my life, and now in the lives of many Kenyan kids you’ve helped. As you sit at your Thanksgiving table consider sharing this project with those around you. If you feel inspired, pool donations to give on behalf of your Thanksgiving party! Did you know that the same areas in the brain light up when you give as those that do when you receive? The same feel good chemicals are released whether you give or receive… so everyone wins when giving.

World Aids Day Marathon is this Sunday and for the next three days we’ll be serving dinners, dancing and giving medical care to hundreds of orphans. A huge thanks to all who’ve joined my marathon campaign in the month of November, helping build the center and directly saving lives this weekend, we are so grateful for you! And it’s not too late for others to have the same impact, any donation until December 1st will be split between the Kisumu Children’s Rescue Center and the Kisumu World Aids Day Marathon Orphan Dinners by purchasing malaria, typhoid and other life saving medications to be administered at the events. Can you help me spread the word?

Asante Sana. Gracias. Thank you.

Mpaka Sisi Ni Roho Moja. Until We are One Soul.