Thursday, March 31, 2011

Day 1 :)

We finally arrived in Nairobi, Kenya after our 18-hour flight! Immediately, we felt the warmth of Kenya and the busyness of the city even at 10:00pm. Heading to the vans that would take us to our hotel for our one night stay, we met the program coordinator, Erin, and other volunteers. It was awesome to see how so many countries can come together to help this cause. Our team is composed of members from Sweden, South Africa, Australia, different parts of the United States, and half of the team is from Kenya.
Still a bit jet lagged, Karina only got 4 hours of sleep and Century got about 6. Breakfast consisted of pancakes, omelets, different Kenyan fruits, and a type of thick mango juice. DELICIOUS! After breakfast, we made our way to Nakuru where we will be spending the next 10 days. On our way we made some scheduled stops while others seemed to be unprecedented.
First we stopped at the local Nairobi hospital to pick up Kenyan volunteers who would be traveling with us to Nakuru. Next, we stopped at the viewpoint for the Great Rift Valley. This was an amazing scene and we took it in with pictures and pushy Kenyan souvenir salesmen.  Some people were stronger willed in the game of negotiating or rejecting the sales of the souvenirs while others were weak and gave in to the “I have to feed my family” stories. Karina was a weak link in the situation while Century stayed strong and did not give into peer pressure. Karina-0 Century-1

As we continued driving down the newly paved road, we saw a few small villages and roaming animals. Suddenly one of the front tires went flat, and our bus rolled along to the side of the road.  One of the locals told us to be cautious of the monkeys and zebras that roamed around. This made us supper curious but unfortunately we didn’t see any. PSYCH! We saw two Baboons when we got on the road again. They were just "chillin' on the side of the road"-Karina.

 Arriving at Hotel Merica in Nakuru we unloaded all of the bags and had a nice buffet lunch.
We then went up to our rooms to unpack and organize all of the donations for tomorrow, which is the first day of Screening. We are so anxious to begin working in the hospital!
Thanks for reading :)
-Karina & Century 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

5 days! :)

Jambo! So, it has been 10 weeks since Mission Training Workshop (where we were assigned our medical mission), and the time has seriously flown by so quickly! We are off in 5 days to Nakuru, Kenya with a team of doctors, nurses, and volunteers from around the world to help transform smiles and impact lives with Operation Smile. These past few weeks have been really busy, filled with last minute preparations for presentations, donations, and packing (…still in the process). This journey has been amazing so far, and we haven’t even stepped on the plane yet. I am so thankful to have the support of family members and friends, as well as local schools and businesses in preparation for this endeavor.

As soon as I returned from MTW I began contacting local dentists and using connections to help collect supplies. Starting off with the Claire Bear and 2 decorated pillows from mission training, I can now barely walk in my room due to the extensive amount of supplies, posters, luggage etc.

First, I created a donation letter and flyer which I sent out to family and close friends (many of whom live in other parts of the country/abroad) and I am very grateful to have received several monetary donations to be used for supplies. Then, I went on an Oriental Trading and Dollar Tree shopping spree!

I also contacted my elementary school, Linkhorn Park, and was able to have their gracious support in allowing me to come and do a presentation about Operation Smile to the 4th and 5th graders. Thanks to everyone that was there and Mrs. Godwin and Mrs. Simmelink for help coordinating everything! I was able to hold a supply drive too, and the elementary students collected over 500 mission and smile bag items!!!!! Thank you!!! They also received a special visit from Nur, a World Care patient, and they participated in Shamrock Final Mile so it was cool to see all of their involvement with Op Smile. These students were so excited to help collect mission supplies! I have also collected over 500 toothbrushes to bring from dentists (Thanks Dr. Sims!) and through the elementary school supply drive.

My high school Operation Smile club helped create get well cards for my mission, and I am fortunate to have the wonderful help of Jenna Fredrickson, Paula Lewis, and Rachel Tucker who have all participated in Op Smile missions from Princess Anne. Hopefully we will be able to get all those supplies into two suitcases under 50lbs each… currently a huge struggle…Here's a sample of some of the supplies:

I have my cargo pants and Op Smile t-shirts ready to pack in my carry on
Making the finishing touches on presentations and practicing!
Brushing up on my Swahili
Getting prepared for 9 days of school make up work, but I know it is definitely worth it!
Loving every minute of this incredible journey!

:) Century

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Less than a week left for Kenya!

AHHH! Only 6 days until the trip that alone, will transform the lives of more than 200 children, one of them being me. My journey began way before the actual trip, all of the preparation leading up to the 12 days on the mission has probably been the most work that I have put into something that I am so passionate about. With the help of family, friends, local schools, and businesses I was able to accomplish everything that needed to be done before my mission in only 2 months.

I began by asking local businesses for monetary donations. I was soon reminded by my lovely parents that its all about CONNECTIONS! I remembered that one of my friends Amy Chung had approached me with a generous offer that her mothers company could possibly be willing to provide for me. With the help of Amy and her mother, I was able to get my $500 team fee covered for the trip!

So, I now had 35 days to figure out how I would fill up 2 duffle bags filled with toys, toothbrushes, books, bubbles,balls, ect...
I brainstormed and came up with four ideas that got me there:
 1. I passed out flyers to my ever so generous neighbors. HUGE success right there. I filled up a box with donations within two weeks! Thank you neighbors you guys are the best. (:

 2. I went to my dentist and orthodontist and asked if they would be so kind and donate toothbrushes and gloves. Their answer..."Yes, ofcourse!". Toothbrushes and gloves...CHECK! Thank you Dr. Brandon and Dr. Johnson ! (:

 3. I went to Vista del Mar elementary school with the Co- president Frannie and future president of the Op Smile club Makena Graves to ask if we could do some crafts with the kids to take to Kenya. This was also a huge success. The 5th graders helped make cards, sock puppets and decorated eco-friendly bags. A huge thanks to those 5th graders who helped along with Mr.Young for helping coordinate everything.

4. Last but not least my mom contacted her co-worker, Kim Kuykendall who owns her own company. Kim donated $200 for me to use on Oriental Trading. This was a huge help for me. I could easily pick out all of the things that I thought would work well with the kids in Kenya. Thank you mami and Kim!! (:

If getting all of the supplies for my mission was hard, filling up the two duffle bags took 3 hours, sweat, and my 3 family members. The bags had to be under 50lbs... we got them to be one or two lbs over...hopefully they will be okay.
I still have to dedicate this weekend to pack up my carry-on filled with my clothes..ahhh!

Last weekend and the weekend before I dedicated to making posters for my presentations that Century and I will have to present in Kenya to the orphanages and pre& post operation patients. I am almost done and we have set up a Skype date this weekend to practice...can't wait (:

Countdown: 6 days

By: Karina Gadea