Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Grand Exposition

Dear soon-to-be Loyal Readers,

We are delighted to invite you along with us on our journey to enjoy traveling the world, meeting new friends, and having great adventures. We are the J Muds: Jacob and Julia. (Sorry for co-opting your name, Jesse Mud)


On Saturday April 28th we will depart from our hometown of Reston, Virginia, the USA to spend the next three months in a town called Vihiga in western Kenya to work on some volunteer projects for an organization called Serve-A-Village (new website coming soon) run by some dedicated family friends in nearby Great Falls, VA.

The closest city is Kisumu, near Lake Victoria.
 (Thanks for the map, CIA World Factbook)


Just graduated this winter with his elementary (primary) school teacher's license and he'll be working in two local schools in Vihiga:

Gisambai Primary School, a government school with 600 students ranging from 3 to 15 years 
Geverstone School, an independent school with 50 students ranging from 3 to 14 years 

Both schools are free to students except for uniforms and supply fees but they vary greatly in the ratio of teachers per student. It will be interesting to see how the different schools operate!


Is an aspiring student/professor of ethnobiology who is currently trying to figure out where to attend graduate school next year. She is interested in traditional agriculture, sustainable land-use practices, communal land rights, and food cultures. Julia will be assisting on a bunch of different projects in Kenya with our local collaborator, Mr. Jackson Ehaji.


For the last six weeks, we have been preparing for our trip. We have gathered together some donated items to bring with us:

Top left-hand corner book is really good. Highly recommended.  And Hatchet, of course. 
A bunch of children's books for the schools donated by the Friends of the Reston Library as well as from some local donors. (Thank you to our wonderful mothers. You are always the first responders.)

This picture really does not express the magnitude of the glasses we received

We are also bringing 1,000 pairs of reading glasses donated by the Northern Virginia Lion's Club. Serve-a-Village (hereafter "SAV") collects eyeglasses from local optometrists' offices which we brought to the Lion's Club and then received cleaned and sorted glasses in return.

Based on our experiences with them, the Northern Virginia Lion's Club seems like an incredible organization. They do such good work and have such dedicated volunteers. Please consider donating your old prescription glasses, reading glasses, sunglasses and/or hearing aids to a local Lion's Club branch.

Lion's Club International

Jacob and I spent a couple Saturdays sorting and labeling reading glasses to bring with us.

Trying on some reading glasses. Jacob looks like a crazy cool wizard, no?

We also met up with our new friends, the incredible Margaret and her wonderful husband Jason, who were inspired by trips to Vihiga to start up a non-profit called the DeCastro Metcalf Foundation

Meeting up with Margaret and Jason at a Starbucks in MD. Tried to bring them some homemade cookies (see the tupperware). Accidentally mixed them with some asphalt in the parking lot...oh well.

Here is Margaret's explanation of the foundation:

The DeCastro Metcalf Foundation a philanthropic organization which maintains a three-fold mission of providing job-creation initiatives, medical assistance, and education to developing areas around the world.

They have also been working with Jackson and local farmers to develop an exciting project to grow sunflowers for oil, livestock feed, etc. We will explain more about the sunflower project and provide a link to their blog soon.

We hope to bring you an exciting, illustrated story of our time in Kenya and beyond. Please feel free to leave comments and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

Peace and Love,

The J Muds

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like an exciting adventure! We wish you well!