Thursday, August 31, 2017

Thursday Travels - Coffee Plantation

Wednesday was a travel day for us and we started late.  A couple of team members started the morning by meeting with their Compassion child.  The rest of us slept in, walked around the hotel property, shopped and ate.  It was finally time to pack up and head out to our next location.  On the way, we stopped at the Fairview Estate Coffee Plantation.
The grounds were just beautiful.

Me and Auntie with team member Autumn...

We toured the coffee fields and learned about the different varieties...the dark red beans are the ones ready to be picked.

Our guide was amazing and so knowledgeable!   Coffee plants can grow and produce for 300 years!  Some of the ones on the plantation were over 100 years old.  They are also working on some hybrid varieties that are more adapted to the current environment.

The coffee plants are trimmed by hand, to keep them a certain height that is easier for harvesting.  The trimmings can be collected by local neighbors for firewood.

The coffee berries are picked and sorted by hand. 

They go through a process and series of machines to wash them and help remove the outer hull to get down to the bean. 
Berries getting a bath!

After the tour we were allowed to taste the coffee!  There were several different roast levels for us to try...light, medium and dark.  Of course, we could purchase coffee to take home as well.  Our bus smelled wonderful!

It was a very welcoming and well run plantation.  The workers are paid a living wage, and day care is provided for the children, so the women can continue to work.  The wood scraps are made available to the locals for free.  There were linen gift bags for the coffee that were made by some local women as well to give them a job.  It was nice to see an organization that cared about its surrounding community. 

After our tour, we were on our way to the Panorama Hotel, which would be our home for the next couple of nights.  Next week, we will be in the village of Kiria, where my sponsor girl lives!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Wednesday Update on Tanner

Tanner came home from the vet yesterday with a steroid to try.  This is hopefully going to reduce inflammation and help him breath better.  He sounded less labored last night a couple of hours after taking the pill.  Fingers crossed this is what he needs!

I went ahead and gave fluids this morning because he is very dehydrated.  He sometimes acts like he wants to eat, but then walks away.  I am continuing to syringe food to him.

He has really taken a hit this time around and has lost 3 pounds in just a couple of weeks.

He is sitting in the corner...purrs he feels better soon!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Tanner Tuesday

UPDATE:  Tanner is having a much harder time breathing, and is heading to the vet.  His eyes are fully dilated, so I think he is scared because he can't get a good breath.  Please send purrs for his comfort and for him to not be afraid.  He needs to be able to get some rest!

Poor Tanner can't catch a break!  He started eating some on his own last week, and we were all so excited for him.  Then he caught a cold and is so stuffy now that he can't breathe and of course, doesn't want to eat again.
Here he is steaming in my bathroom.  The humidifier is on the counter.  He has a litter box, water and food if he wants it.

He drinks quite a bit, which is good, but he has lost a lot of weight over these past two weeks.

Someone needs to develop a Mucinex for cats to help dry up all the mucus and crud.

His vet is being kept informed of how he is doing.  We are to continue supporting him through this.  He is the only one in the house with any signs of a cold, so I am keeping my fingers crossed that the others don't come down with it.  I don't know if I could handle 4 mancats being sick at once!

Does anyone have any suggestions to help him feel better?  Or get some relief from the congestion?

Here are the medicines he is taking now...

Marbofloxin - antibiotic for his UTI
Cyproheptadine - appetite stimulant
Chlorphenaramine - anti histamine
Cerenia - nausea
Pepcid Injection - stomach acid/indigestion

I want to give him some fluids because he's a bit dehydrated, but they seem to make his congestion worse...hard to know what to do!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day

Today, I remember those boys that are waiting at the Bridge.  The three, along with Tanner, that made up the Four Crazy Cats.

Mojo was the first to leave in February 2009.  He was with me for 4 short years, but he made such an impact.  Fly High Superman!

Devon was next and had the most dramatic departure of them all!  He died suddenly in December 2012 from Hemangiosarcoma.  He is forever 11.  I am reminded of him daily through Oliver!

Smokey left last in September 2014.  He was my first cat as an adult and was really something special.  I miss my snuggles everyday.  Gorgeous Goose!

Friday, August 25, 2017

Foster Friday and Tanner Update

This has been a crazy week for sure and I have to say that I am tired!  One kitten, Madeline was having trouble eating and doing something funny with her mouth.  When I looked inside, there was a large off to the shelter she went to be looked at...home with medicine.  After a couple of doses she started eating better again, and has now reached the 1 pound mark!  She was the smallest girl at 8 ounces when we got her, so she has now doubled her weight!!

Later, I was washing the behind of Josie and noticed the water was turning a brownish color...fleas! So that meant every kitten needed a good bath!
Caleb and all the rest were wrapped as burritos when they finished to help them stay warm, and of course for a photo opp!  We combed a few fleas off of each of them, but not too many.

Rusty was not really impressed with the whole bath idea.  He is a cutie and reminds me a lot of a young Tanner. 
Charlie just takes things in stride.
Finally, the whole group was finished and back upstairs we went.  They gathered around on the heating pads in their cage.  We took turns holding them and rubbing their fur dry so they would warm back up.  Most would fall asleep in our arms!

Sunday, Caleb started vomiting some.  We thought, well maybe the food just didn't agree with him.  Then Regina started.  Eventually, we noticed stringy stuff in the vomit...round worms!  A call went in to the shelter...we need de-wormer!  Picked that up on Monday and dosed all the kittens.  Then the excitement really started!  Worms in their vomit, worms in their poop, worms out their bottoms...nasty worms everywhere!

How can something this cute be so gross??

After a day, the worms were all dying and we were seeing fewer of them.  A few good scrubs of litter boxes and carpet and we are back to our normal, fun, sweet and cute selves!

This is the video Auntie sent me one night while I was working.  Tanner eating on his own!!  He still isn't up to a full meal but it is a start.  I called the vet yesterday about him, and we have switched to a different appetite stimulant.  We are to continue supporting him but feel he has turned a corner for the better.  It is so good to see him eating!

So there you have it...a quick happy update on Tanner and the kittens!  Enjoy your weekend!!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Thursday Travels - Street Hope

Monday and Tuesday afternoons were spent at Street Hope.  This is an organization started by the church and run by Pastor Moses, his wife Ruth, and Susan, who is the wife of Pastor Peter.  This group has about 25 women and men that have decided to leave the sex trade and desire to start a business or become an artisan.  Street Hope helps the business owners develop a plan, and grants them the start-up money they need.  It also helps provide food until the business fully takes off.  The artisan group are paid a living wage for their work.  That is roughly $40 every two weeks.
Ruth is demonstrating how to make paper beads.  These beads are then turned into bracelets, necklaces and other jewelry.  The artisans have two sewing machines now and are learning to sew. 
Here is a table full of finished beads...

Street Hope recently acquired a building where the women can work.  It is a lovely space.  It is a house with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, living and dining room.  The property is fenced with a concrete fence for protection, as most homes in Kenya are.  Our team did some work at the house and bought some supplies as well. 
Beautiful and Powerful scriptures were placed on many of the walls.  Reminding the artisans that they are women of God and God has not forgotten about them.

Outside view of the house.

Monday night, we went to Moses and Ruth's home for dinner.  It was a wonderful time and the food was delicious!  They presented each of us with a gift.   
Tuesday afternoon, I was feeling better, so the group came to get me when they finished at the Ark.  We heard the story of Pamela, pictured here.  She told us how she used to live and how she has given her life to God and wants to make a change.  One thing interesting about her story was that she told us how she still struggles sometimes with running out of food.  I spoke with Pastor Peter later about that and asked if they helped provide her with food or what did they do?  He said sometime they offer food, but not always.  They need to be careful to not create a dependency.  He says they then work harder the next few weeks on teaching budgeting, how to spend the money wisely for groceries, etc...

Poverty isn't always just about not having money.  Sometimes it is not having the right skills to manage the money you do have.

Another story was about the business owners.  I have noticed how Kenyans are very hard working people, but some still struggle to get ahead in life.  I asked how the businesses were doing and the staff mentioned some challenges they were facing with the owners.  It isn't that the owners aren't working hard, but the mindset is all about today.  They have never had anything, so they don't plan for the future.  So for example, a business owner opens their shop in the morning.  They sell enough and make enough profit for the days meals/needs by lunch time, so they close.  Repeating the process the next day.  Street Hope is trying to help them break this cycle by teaching about savings, raining day funds, etc...

Again, it isn't just about money...a mindset change is needed to help them break the cycle of poverty.

Tuesday night, we went to Pastor's Gloria and Joshua's home for another meal.  This time we were able to help prepare some of it.  Here is Auntie and another team member learning how to roll out chapati.  A delicious flat bread, sort of like pita or naan. 
Here is part of the group that had gathered for dinner.

We ended up at the hotel rather late, and were thankful the next day was a slow day for us.  We were able to sleep in and then we visited a coffee plantation.  Read about that adventure next week!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Tanner Tuesday

So Tanner has a lot to talk about this week and could use some purrs.
He started vomiting some last week, so I went ahead and added a second dose of pepcid each day to help his stomach.  On Thursday, Auntie came up and said, you have to take Tanner to the vet this morning...he is leaking diarrhea, not eating, and he stinks!  So I got ready, verified his doctor would be in the office, scheduled a drop off appointment and headed out.

I heard from the vet around lunch time and he had done some x-rays or something.  Tan's pancreas was inflamed.  His bowels were full of gas and diarrhea.  He had taken blood work, gave fluids, nausea meds, and we had meds to take home for the diarrhea.

On Friday, the blood results were in and it was confirmed he was having another bout of pancreatitis.  He also had a raging UTI.  His liver values came back elevated as well as his sugar.  The vet was concerned that he was diabetic, so another blood test was ordered.  I swung by the office and picked up an antibiotic for the UTI.

Saturday, Tanner is still not eating, but the diarrhea is getting less.  I'm not sure he realized he was leaking the way he was...he was probably just passing gas because he wasn't trying to get to the box.  The vet called and said the Fructosamine test results were not back yet, so it would be Monday before we learned whether he had diabetes or not.

I continued to give fluids at home.  I was syringe feeding him canned food with water to help keep some strength, and of course doing tons of laundry!

Monday, the vet called with good news.  Tanner is not diabetic!  I mentioned that he still wasn't eating, so we have added an appetite stimulant to the mix.  I am to call back on Thursday with a report.

So how is Tanner doing now?  He has played a little bit with his girl.  He walks to the food bowls, but doesn't eat.  The diarrhea has stopped for the most part.  I am still syringing food and giving fluids.  He isn't washing himself, but seems perky.  I am hoping he will start eating on his own soon!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Foster Friday

We turned in our 4 black and white kittens on August 8th, and picked up three small babies with a mom.  The black and whites have all been adopted now!
This is Madeline, she is the smallest of the three.  She and her sister Zoe appear to be from the same litter.  In looking at their teeth, they should be 4 weeks old...but only weighed 8 and 9 ounces respectively...very underweight! 
This is Monte...he was with the group, but I'm thinking he isn't a biological brother.  He weighs 14 ounces. 
This is the mom Sadie.  She isn't their mom, but was dropped off and seemed to have been nursing so she was put with these kittens.  She has very little, if any, milk, so while the kittens were getting comfort and learning how to be cats, they were not receiving the nourishment they needed.

I worked from home on Thursday and Friday and syringe fed them every three hours to get them going...The small girls gained about an ounce a day.  They started playing more and looking less like pterodactyls and more like kittens!  Their back legs gained strength.

Monte looking proud on himself.  After a couple of days of syringing, the kittens would go to the food on their own and eat...definite progress! 

Zoe is plumping up nicely! 
Wednesday of this week, we got a call about some new kittens that had come in.  They are about the same age as our current crew, so we agreed to take them.  We traded them for Sadie, because if she isn't producing for the kittens, she should go and try to find a home.  She should be spayed today.  There is a large "Clear the Shelter" event going on this weekend at all the local shelters, so lots of people should be out looking! 
We got 5 new babies, which brings our total to 8 kittens.  This is Charlie.

Josie was so tired she was falling asleep while drinking! 
There are three orange and white babies named Regina, Caleb and Rusty.  They loved the heating pad in the cage.  Madeline was NOT happy about them taking over! 
They are all getting along better now.  Everyone enjoys a bowl of milk/food slurry. 
Seeing these new healthy babies really shows how underweight my original three are.   The new 5 are super sweet and social.  They were clearly raised in a home environment.  I hope their former home with spay the mom so more unwanted kittens are born.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Thursday Travels - Ark Children's Home

We spent the next two mornings and afternoons at the Ark Children's Home.  This home is run by Carol and she is the most wonderful woman you will meet.  She started with 4 girls and now there are 41 children at the home.  While we were there, two more were brought in by the police.  The children come from a variety of backgrounds, but receive food and love at the Ark.

Carol - or Mama Carol as she likes to be called!
Some of the kids welcoming us to their home.

I believe this was the dogs house... 
Their water tank...

They grow their own vegetables to provide food for the kids.  One of our projects was helping them fence in a plot of land to be able to move the garden and free up this land so the kids can play.

They have about 100 chickens now that they sell for money.  They also eat a lot of the eggs and sell some of them as well. 

There is a school right down the road from the home that is also run by the Ark.  Soccer is a must!

After playing with the kids for a while, it was time to get to work.  We walked to the new plot of land to help get a fence put up.  There were several men hired as day laborers there already digging the holes for the fence posts.  I believe they were getting $4 a hole.

I didn't mention that the plot of land was down a steep and long hill.  We get down to the bottom and were told we needed to go back to the top and carry down the fence posts!  Sheila and I walked slowly and managed to only have to carry one post!

Here I am with Lucy.  She came to where we were working and I was so happy to see her again.  I first met her in 2014 on my first trip!!

We carried water to the holes so the concrete could be added.

The next day, I was in the room with food poisoning, so I missed out on the activities.  Auntie and the group helped carry more water and started putting up the chain link fence.  Later, they went back to the Ark and put together boxes for each of the children to have when they returned from school.  The boxes contained tooth brushes and tooth paste, feminine products for the older girls, deodorant, and a handmade card and laminated scripture card for each child. I know these items were appreciated!