Kenya Trip Report

Over Thanksgiving, I had the opportunity to go to Kenya.  I recently joined the board for Kenya Matters, and we thought it would be good for me to visit the orphanage in Kenya.  Part of what we do at Kenya Matters is help support the orphanage and the community development that they do.  The other part, is building relationships.  We have, what I think, is a great partnership with the Kenyans who live there. They are the ones who do the day to day work of community development and raising, caring for, and educating these wonderful kids.  We raise awareness, and money… which is important, but I think works well because there is a great relationship between the staff (and kids) in Kenya, and those of us who work to support them from afar.

My trip had some ups and downs.  Overall, it was good to see a new continent and to see first hand the work that is happening.  It is good work!  Ultimately, I believe that our work is providing significant hope to the kids and surrounding community.  Many of these kids were malnourished and behind in school before they came to the orphanage.  We provide them with safe housing, a loving environment, nourishment, and education.  All of that adds up to hope:  Hope to be something they dream of.  Hope to contribute.  Hope to give back to their beautiful country.

The downs….  well, I got sick in Kenya.  Not fun.  Not sure if it was food or water, or something I got on the plane.  Either way, three days in, I was in pretty rough shape.  Rough enough, to head to the local Catholic medical center for an IV and some major antibiotics.  Even after the drugs kicked in, I never really felt well in Kenya.  I was down for about three days, and after that felt much better, just never felt better than maybe 70-75% full health. Despite that, I am still grateful for the trip.  The staff and kids welcomed us as family.  The weather was fantastic.  The surrounding countryside and wildlife was amazing.  Most of all, the work we are doing there is making a difference and bringing hope.

If only… Tiny Houses for families.

Well, our house is still up for sale as we anticipate moving into the city.  The housing market in Grand Rapids has been crazy this year.  Nice, finished homes hit the market and are gone in less than a week.  We’ve made attempts at offers on 3 houses, but with no success.  At this point, we are waiting to sell our house before we make any more offers.  In the meantime, I’ve thought about building.  Well, I’ve thought about building for a long time, but this time I actually considered building.

Problem is…  if I were to build, I would want to find a happy medium between the Tiny House movement (which seems to be a great option for warm climates and up to two people), and a standard house.  We’ve all seen the tiny house links on our Facebook timeline.  Many of them really are amazing, with so much utility in less than 500 square feet.  But they are impractical for a family of 5, especially in a northern climate.

I wish… we could take some of the ingenuity from the Tiny House movement, and make small homes (around 1000 square feet) that could fit a family of 5 or 6.  I would use most of the square footage for living area, and get really creative with lofts and fold down beds for the bedrooms.  You should be able to build it incredibly energy efficient, and certainly less expensive than the more common 2000+ square foot houses being built today.

Unfortunately, I assume that the Tiny House movement gets a different set of building regulations –  because they are on wheels.  I’m guessing that local building code would mostly kill any attempt to really pull this off, or at the very least make it very difficult.

It sure would be cool though…