Stephanie Wisowaty, Michaella Baker, Ian Spear, Mitchell, Joe, Will, Paul, Charlie.... I need a complete list. Hoping to find them all tomorrow. I am going to Central Park to see the first running event in ages - a Half Marathon where the good Team U chapter have raised about $10,000 that will go ALL to Shoe4Africa's construction of East Africa's first ever public children's hospital. I actually walked ten miles today (five miles to midtown then back home) so I am feeling like a trip out to the running capital of the world will be good, and the fact that I am seeing all my team is even better.
I get really honoured when people I have never met before help this journey... so special. In fact I must take my camera and I do plan on updating this blog with actual pictures. Also we have a Shoe4Africa Runner's Team facebook page along with the Shoe4Africa page as I intend to start building up for the November marathon... Not forgetting the Shoe4Africa September 5k (9/10/14)
Check in, soon! But Yale-rs, thank U!
Update - finishing shot! Thanks to Charlie Fortin for cheering, helping & being a Team U force
The New Year started pretty crazy. I was running round like I usually do in Kenya - going over rough roads, through the hot sun, three hours to a meeting, talking, coming back, lunch to another meeting.. walking etc... all this was going well - In one day I attended three weddings. A lot of community work that is why shoe4africa can work in this community, but also all the other jobs that take hours per day, too much, then on Jan 2nd I suddenly saw black, short of breath the eyes go down and my hands swelled up. I had bad warning signs. I went out for fresh air, tried to start again (was in the middle of a meeting) then boom my legs started to buckle, I couldn't stand. I was actually in Wilson Kipsang's hotel at this stage (having travelled 400-meters from Pieter & Lornah's).
So I have been not moving around so much. Two more days in bed but emailing, phoning (till my phone broke), and computer world. Yesterday I did get to the hospital as I had a finance meeting to sort out, and also meet the head of the bank I use that is giving me a little grief. When I got there and walked through the corridors people kept on coming up to me "You look so sick" -- "You must see a doctor" -- I was telling them actually I am here for work, not as a patient. Unfortunately they were telling others and by the time I had reached the third floor I had a troop of people now coming to 'look' at me from the word of the people I had just met. Nothing better than about sixty people telling you how terrible and ill you look. plus this was not my first visit since the accident, anyway, enough...
The good news is the problems, small issues, are all sorted, the hospital construction is actually on time and schedule. The things are going well, and we are ahead of progress. Shocking. It really looks amazing. In two days I have the next 'big' meeting where many of the interior products are picked - I have to review;
To date I am struggling with updates, so sorry. Another reason why Shoe4Africa needs to buck up for 2014. In fact the newsletter is also broken, so that is another things that needs to be fixed - I don't want to clutter people's mailboxes. I am at the MTRH, 200-meters away from the site of the hospital. We just had an all morning meeting with the project manager, and the contractors, plus the special projects peeps who make sure all the cash transactions are done correctly. This is a journey that started in 2008 remember - we have an amazing amount of loyalty and good will and the goodness of doing a Build to Transfer deal is we are making great progress, keeping everything watertight and are really on target to do this amazing project.
Can you believe, another floor will be added very soon and by March the roof will be there! All things are progressing, as I wrote, nicely.
Someone asked me if I wanted to give a talk recently. This is something I used to do with regularity. It started with running clubs, I would talk as an athlete. Then when I started writing I gave a new set of talks, as an author. I was invited to different countries and had a niche as luckily in those days there was not a phalanx of written materials on Kenyan as there is today. Then I changed again and low and behold I was not giving talks and lectures for being a Coach. This was boosted from first local running clubs and Nike, to then the NYC marathon as I started doing the lectures. Runner's World ran a few articles and boom, I changed, I now was not an athlete, or an author, I was then a coach.
I am not sure where but then I started to get invited to give talks about charity and people wrote a new word, philanthropist. I was now being asked if I could talk about this work. For myself I really did not see the philanthropy part, it was just a continual thread of having a lot of fun with what I was doing that had actually ran from starting running, and competitive running back in Iceland. Like many people in life one thing lead to another. The fact that I was jumping around countries and met a lot of very interesting people in my life really helped in giving me something more to talk about... I have been very fortunate.
Yet when I was asked the other day I came to being stuck; what would I talk about? The stories are now so old that it bores me to talk about them, even the thread. However during our journey we always are learning, so I thought about what exactly am I really learning in a heightened fashion right now. And then it became clear. Something that has been ever present but also something right now is a priority. Especially after this recent episode I had with Brain Surgery Revisited. Like a sturdy oak tree that has sat in an English garden for a 100-years, that began with a humble acorn. That acorn sprouted little green shoots, took root, and grew. The trunk, the branches, and the leaves. And in time that tree was like a rock to a mountain. And as I thought more 'appreciation' became the focus of who I was, what I was thinking, and where I was going. I found myself looking back and pondering about how very grateful I was for all that has happened in my life. Very grateful for all the people who have made me able to have this life.
It has been an experience that has happened twice for me - once on January 8th 2000, (11-days after I was attacked in Zanzibar) and once on November 3rd (3 1/2 weeks after my recent problems getting hit by a car on October 7th). These two days are set apart in terms of my life, these two days are very very different in many ways, yet together in the united fact that I was feeling closer to death than at any other time in my existence. It was not on the day when two men wielded a machete and a baseball hat and made my skull the target of their wrath on December 29th, and it was not on the day when a gentleman sped across Fifth Ave trying to beat traffic and make an illegal turn, his white eyes glued only on the oncoming traffic, his foot hard on the accelerator, headed directly for me... believe you me both those days were very painful days that I can not forget. Days that pretty much tore me up and threw me down but It was other days that I want to write about.
So January 8th: I have survived 11-days of pure hell on earth. Eleven days of critical torture and downward demise to a point where I can not tell the difference between left and right, I can not hold a plate vertical in front of my eyes. But I have to fight with the people around me who can't understand how sick I am. When the extent of my illness was revealed all was plain - I had the largest blood clot right next to the brain that had ever been seen in the center of Europe's brain trauma. I was told I was exaggerating how sick I was and needed to just cheer up "go snorkeling" and enjoy Africa, not take a partner on the "worst holiday of her life". Day by day I struggled as if I was drowning in deep blue water, my lungs finding less breath. I was going down. Each new day found me a little worse. Another body part shutting its door. Imagine my surprise when my left leg that had absolutely nothing to do with the attack began to act up. My left arm, that had not been injured (unlike my right), now had excruciating pain from the shoulder to the wrist. My brain was being pushed very heavily as the...
Introducing Mason, a former Chair of Shoe4Africa, running the NYC marathon on Sunday and he's helped a ton over in Africa for Shoe4Africa. We wish him the very best on his first marathon! I wish I was there to cheer him on to show a little token of support and respect I have for him - Go Mason, and a big thank you - a true helper.
And Sunny - I take my hat off to young Sunny Dharod - he is going far in philanthropy.. this is an email he sent below and check out the picture below:
Thank god I crashed one mile away from an amazing hospital. Thank god when I flew up in the sky and came flying down to land on my head there was a good Samaritan called Dan Dailey who happened to be walking by who actually worked in the local hospitals. He same fly 18-ft up the air, come down on my skull and had presumed me a goner. Then he saw an eye open. He talked to me, kept me in conversation, told me I would not make my next meeting as I was requesting, and gave me good updates giving me hope till the ambulance folks carried me on a stretcher into the car. Thank god for an unknown lady who stood in the rain holding an umbrella, shielding me from the rain. I knew I had to lie still and the rain was annoying me. I saw the driver of the car, he shouted out, "Sorry man I did not see you." I saw him. I saw his illegal cut adjacent across of 5th AVE going back up onto West 115th after he was parked on the left side of the ave supposed to be driving only in the direction of 114th... I was barely moving, it was slowmo. I knew he was going to ram into my leg.
Thank god I had one of the very best surgeons: Dr Rawanduzy who became a rock for me during the ensuing 12-days. He told me I had a two hour window as I had one of the fastest heaviest bleedings they had seen. He said, I recall, "It was all about timing. And you had the good timing." He told me other stories of people less fortunate. All I could think about was how spot on he was; I know my life and all the times I have been in situations when the timing was not so good - 11 years old when I fell out of the back of a theater - that injury nearly killed and I was in and out of hospital for the next six months. Motorcycle crashes and cars too - from 15yrs to 20 I had so many of them; especially on the bikes. I was forever picking myself of the tarmac. In Kenya - wow numerous times, a mob of hundreds trying to attack me, then the stoning in Turkana where one of my helpers (we were about five) had us skull spilt open by a rock as a mob hurled stones at us...
Let me not forget my first brain surgery, the closest I ever came to dying when in Zanzibar where surgeons in Britain and the USA told me I was a miracle; there was no way I should have lived beyond four days. The experiences are so many yet I know I had great luck on October 7th that day. Even the small circle of my friends who somehow found out (I told the staff I did not live in NYC and knew nobody in the city and did not want anyone coming in to see me) despite me spelling my name correctly but a nurse mishearing and writing a 'new spelling' that threw people who called to ask if I had been involved in any accident.... Chelimo, John L, Anthony, George, Diahan, and Mary -- I don't know how you got in but so glad you did.
I mean the bottom line is I was damn lucky. I can not forget the phrase the surgeon told Dan, "It is touch and go..." and then five days later the physiotherapists who were looking at me telling that they were not sure if I would be able to walk or not....
Yes, I was the lucky one. And standing by my side, that has been a constant reminder that I can't forget since Dec 29th 1999 when I had the Zanzibar attack, I know so many haven fallen because they were not blessed with that amazing good luck that somehow keeps on stepping up to assist me. Thanks to the Angels who are looking out for me - God is good.
Failure at updating this blog each week has led me to think maybe I need to link up what I post on Facebook to here as it is 90% S4A related stuff. Then the question is how? I am not the world's most cutting edge techo person although I sometimes feel it when I am out in the bush in Africa. I was just updating the wall of donors with an amazing gift from Edward Stern & his wife Stephanie Rein that actually turned out to be worth double with a match from Kenya and I was staring at the picture on that page - of kids dancing and it brought back memories.
Was that really 2008? Has it really been that long, are those kids still the goofy dancers they were on that day? It was taken on the day I did a program at an IDP camp - Internally displaced person's camp - after the clashes. Kenya has come a long way since then, and so have we. That was the start of the hospital journey, the beginning....
Or was it? More and more in life you find (excuse me for the collective thought press here) that all you do is inter-connected. So much is based on the emotion, the emotion comes from all the pre-years, all the experiences.... that really the hospital begun when I was eleven years old (sadly not five years ago I can tell you). The experiences I had when I was 11 - and when I find myself saying "YES" then I remember an earlier date when something happened in my life, all the way until I trace things back to my first most memories that I started out with.
I remember looking at the Riley Neonatal clinic, built by Indiana University. It is very close to my site and was spearheaded by a man called Dr. Jim Lemons. He told me the first thoughts were back in 1994 to build it (it was opened in 2009) but I wonder when did Jim first get the drive to lead a project like that? I am guessing way way before 1994.
Life truly is a wondrous thing, full of unexpected happenings, balance, dips, curves and lines. So anyway, let me get to facebook to see what is going on with Shoe4Africa, in fact here is my latest posting!
Although our web site is a little slow sometimes I wish more was automated, then I don't. When someone makes a payment on this site it goes to a secured paypal site (same as ebay) and into the Shoe4Africa bank account. So I go the paypal site and look at 'history' then using a word document I type everyone's name and the amount. I can't copy and paste, the format does not work. Then from my word document I come to this site and I paste in the names to the wall of donors.
The good news is what looks like hard work (lots of names) means lots of donations, plus I get to see all the names of the people who donate! I am always humbled and am always thanking - if you look at the wall now it is simply amazing. so so many names of people who have invested in what is now being built - so thank you for putting your money towards this project. Check out the wall - [LINK]
This picture shows the work yesterday -men working in tandem, a pick and a shovel, digging the trenches on the recently leveled ground. The plan calls for three prongs, and the first two are ready but the back one is not yet due to the heavy rains the red soil has not been properly packed into place as yet. Not much you can do with that as August is the 'winter' month in Eldoret. I think in a couple of weeks we will get into drier weather. It is happening!
Meanwhile, in an unrelated story, I went to Tinderet (Nandi) to look at a dilapidated school. We are looking at classroom renovations and since starting 'project reno' I believe that we now have four classrooms now covered. More news on this to come
I recalled the tax exempt letter to be sent to the Ministry; for a a few factual issues. This is an issue I am trying to clear right now - the reason being this hospital is being built by Shoe4Africa, then transferred (when complete), as a 100% gift with no strings attached. The government awards tax exempt status for 'assets' like a hotel that is three star or above rated, but there is not a precedent for this kind of building I am doing as it has not been done before. Most often with a medical institution there will be a connection past the completion date; either as a research center or a training purpose. I will let you know how we go on.
Meanwhile I have been buying useful 'gifts' to hand out at the third Shoe4Africa Maruge School Peace day. I had my ams full at the supermarket with flasks, protractors, calculators, pens, books, toasters, clocks - for the school etc...
And talking schools an idea for development we have is to help a school with a new 'motivational method' way. If we commit to build a classroom can the school use the alumni to make a match? This is a new experiment and it looks like it might just work. Here's a picture of the view the school kids would get out of their school room (if we go ahead)...