Sunday, August 06, 2006

China

My sixth and last blog entry is different to the others not just from Africa but also India. Africa was very different because it was rural whereas china is very urban. India is also urban but china is not smelly or the people are much different in many ways and the landscape is very different.



We arrived in Hong Kong and we had left our world and entered a whole new one. Hong Kong was cool. It was something every one would like (that’s if you like shopping heaven) . Basically I don’t need to tell you about these first few days because we did the kind of things you do on the weekend…..



The thing about China ( third biggest country in the world) is that a lot of people like drugs - not the ones that make you better, the ones that make you worse.


So about forty years ago twenty year old Jackie Pullinger came to stop that. She went to a place called the wall city where even the police didn’t go because there were drug dealers, triads and many crooks. She went in there and basically twenty years later the smelly, dirty, dangerous place was a beautiful park and all those bad people were new people, good people. Since then Jackie made a home for people who take drugs and they teach them to be a Christians and not to take drugs. We went there and met Jackie and the drug addicts. We watched them get baptised and ate with them we also met a lady called Lina who we really liked.

Finally we took the train to Beijing, which is a journey of about 2000 miles. The train had deluxe rooms but a lot of people smoked in the restaurant. So we got to Beijing and met up with a small group of people and a lady named x (I can’t give her real name) worked secretly in Beijing (they work secretly because China is a communist country and a communist doesn’t allow religion to be free). These people bring beggars and addicts to their homes; then they shower them and give them new clothes and food. This is what they do every week and that’s what church is for them. (Better than boring old going to church on a Sunday.)

Beijing is a massive city where they are building like crazy. They probably want it to look good for the Olympics. A long time ago it was a beautiful place with beautiful buildings like the forbidden city…but since communism it’s become very ugly.

We then went to a place in the middle of china called Henan. We went with some people but I can’t say who they were because of the reasons given above. We went to visit some people who had HIV/AIDS who lived in villages. They had HIV because they sold their blood to the government and they made a mistake because they didn’t screen it before giving to the hospital patients. These villages were very poor – almost like Africa. But the Chinese people we met were very kind and always polite.

The martial arts started in Henan. In fact is the centre of China’s old history. We saw an amazing show given by the Kung Fu monks. They did things like smashing metal on their heads and popping a balloon with a needle through a glass plate without breaking the glass.

After Henan we went North to Inner Mongolia. We passed the Great Wall of China on the route. It was a good job we saw it because when we came back to see it properly – we didn’t see it properly because it was really misty. My Dad made a joke that you can see The Great Wall from space but we couldn’t see it when we were on it.

Our last few days in China were in Beijing. It was my tenth birthday. I got a Nintendo DS (special Chinese price). But the day itself wasn’t the best day ever. I visited a museum and tried to spend my birthday money but I couldn’t choose. It was hot and nothing quite worked out. We tried to see the new Pirates of the Caribbean but it hadn’t opened yet so we saw Superman instead. I still enjoyed my cake and my presents.

We have come to the end of the working trip. I will be back in London in just over 2 weeks! Meanwhile we have been in Tokyo, Japan and today we went on a train that is the fastest in the world – it’s called the bullet train and goes 200mph!
It took half an hour to go 100 miles. We also did Kareoke which they like here. We sang Led Zeppelin ‘s Stairway then Agnes did I’m a Barbie Girl.

Tomorrow we fly to America to see dear old friends. I am looking forward to seeing them and seeing all of you when we are home. This trip has been a very big highlight of my life.

Please look out for my blog in future just in case I do more travelling….

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Zambia-Zimbabwe-South Africa…

After Kithituni we went to Zambia. On the way I got sick again and everyone thought I had malaria. We went for a test (when we arrived in Lusaka the capital) and it was negative. When we left Kenya it was hot. But because we were going South it was getting colder. This is because we were going away from the Equator. Even so, it was still warm.


In Lusaka we met a guy called Kennedy. He was a captain in the Salvation Army. He took us to a place called Chikancata where there is a famous hospital. The hospital is famous because it was the first hospital that dealt with HIV/AIDS in Zambia. It is also famous for people coming to train from many different countries in how to respond to HIV/AIDS.



After a few days, Kennedy came back with his two amusing boys – Chi Chi and Chabo. We took them all to Victoria Falls which is one of the most famous waterfalls in the world.

On the way we had a puncture and some guys helped us swap the wheel.

We arrived at the Falls it was dusk but we really wanted to see the falls. Chabo and Chi Chi were saying let’s go, Papa, let’s go, Papa! We quickly went and on the way we could see the smoke rising from the falls and we got so excited.



The falls before the British came were called ‘the smoke that thunders.’ And that’s exactly what it does. The next day we did it properly.We hired raincoats and went on a bridge right next to the falls! We got absolutely soaked! But it was one of the best experiences ever!



After Zambia we got a bus from Lusaka and went all the way to Zimbabwe. They said the bus would take 6 hours but it took 10! We got there and met up with the Salvation Army and stayed in the compound in the capital city, Harare. The situation in Zimbabwe is very bad. You might have heard some things on the news. The leader of Zimbabwe is a bad man called Robert Mugabe. He hates the whites, especially the British.


The money in Zimbabwe is terrible. Because of inflation, 300,000 Zim dollars equals one pound! This means everyone carries bunches of money around just for a loaf of bread. The people everywhere seem depressed.



The leadership also doesn’t like the BBC. And some of you might know that my Dad does work for the BBC. This means we had to be very secretive and some of the Salvation Army didn’t like us being there. We tried to go to a place in the countryside, right on the border. We got there after a long trip but we had a call from the T.C. (territorial commander) of the Salvation Army that we had to go back. They were worried because of my dad being with the BBC.

Anyway, we did meet people we really liked. Bob and Margarite and Tim and Sam and their children Ben and Kessia. And a couple called John and Rochelle. They made our stay more fun. In the end though we had to leave early. We took a bus to a place called Bulawayo and stayed with my best friend Noah’s Uncle and his family.

After that we got a bus all the way to South Africa…………………………………….

…….We were just thinking how happy we would be to get out of Zimbabwe when the bus broke down at the border! We decided we would get off the bus, get a taxi to the next town, rent a car and go to a safari park called The Kruger.

The Kruger is the same size as Wales! And it’s only one part of South Africa. It’s full of animals and they look more free somehow that they did in the Masai. We saw some great things and one of them was driving past two lionesses who were as shocked to see us as we were them.




There was also a moment when a huge bull elephant stood in the road blocking our way and tried to scare us away. Which it did.

The one animal that we really wanted to see was a leopard. At the very last few minutes where were about to leave the Kruger we stooped and saw people looking into the bush. We thought they were looking at impala or something but they had just seen a leopard. We looked and looked but it was getting dark and they were about to close the gates, so we had to leave. I burst into tears. I so wanted to see a leopard.

Something you should know about South Africa is that the whites ruled over the blacks. They enslaved them and they kept them separate from their properties. If there were any whites on a bus not one black would be allowed on it or else they would be put in jail. This has now changed. South Africa had a new President called Nelson Mandela who changed everything for the blacks. He set them free and made sure they were allowed to go where they wanted. And let then be even with the whites.

After Kruger we went to a big city called Johannesburg and stayed in a famous place called Soweto. This was where all the blacks lived in Soweto were they were not free. We saw some of the slums and met some orphans who had lived completely on their own for six years.

Finally we had a holiday. We flew to Cape Town which at the bottom of the whole of Africa. We stayed in a house by the beach. On the third day we had our camera stolen at the aquarium in Cape Town. Sadly I can’t show you that many pictures of this part of our journey. I was very determined to go down in a cage to see a great white shark but it didn’t happen. In some ways South Africa didn’t feel like Africa ..it felt like Montana or Australia…anyway, we have now left Africa. Africa has been great. Safaris. Friends. Everything. Now we are in Hong Kong, China. It’s a different world.

p.s. we’ve bought exactly the same camera so I will have pictures of China to show you.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Gabriel's 4th Month - Goodbye Goats!

This month we returned to Kithituni.


We got back and I found out that it was my friend Martin’s birthday. I got him a man united football. The football kept on getting punctured by a fence next to our pitch. We took it to the market to get repaired ...but it got punctured again…so we took it back to the market to get repaired again…and guess what happened? When we play football, everyone plays barefoot but they are still excellent.



In the first week my Godfather Adam came with his wife Jules to stay for three days.

Addy brought my Mum and Dad four bottles of wine which they weren’t used to drinking (because it’s hard to find wine around here and they don’t drink in the Salvation Army).




We took Addy and Jules to meet a man who was dying of Aids. His name was Pascal. When we saw him he looked weak and tired and he couldn’t move. We prayed for him. Then he asked us to ask him questions. We helped get to hospital. Because there are no ambulances, we had to get a matatu to take him to the hospital. The day we left Kithituni we learned that Pascal had died.

The following week we took the team to a place called Mombassa. We went to Mombassa to see how the staff at a hotel were dealing with HIV/AIDS. There were a lot of Muslims working in the hotel. The boys had never seen the sea before or swam in it. So we took taught them how to swim. The way they swam was really funny. Agnes learned how to swim a length and I reminded myself how to dive.

In the last week, we gave our goats – Malarone and Larium – to some orphans. We swapped Larium for a girl goat with mama Agnes so that we could give one goat to one family and another goat to another. That meant each family could make baby goats (kids) from their goat and then pass them on to other familes to make more kids.




After this we started preparing for our leaving party. We killed two big male goats and told everyone to bring food. To kill a goat you have to slit its throat and then hang it up on a tree and then take all its skin off.




We built a fire which at the end we used to cook marshmallows on. Lots of people came to the party. They all made speeches about us leaving and gave us presents.

It was hard to leave Kithituni. It was almost like leaving London because it was like our home.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Gabriel's Third Month

I am now going to tell you about our third month {probably our busiest month….}



We started in the Kibera {the biggest slum in Africa} . The Kibera is near Nairobi. They don’t know how many people live there. Some think it has 3 million people.



The houses are all made from corrugated iron. It was hard to walk through because the sight and the smell was not good. The people in the Kibera were still jolly despite how hard it must be to live in such a place.

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We then went to Rwanda. There are a few things you must know about Rwanda. The countryside is really green and beautiful and it’s got lots of hills and volcanoes. It is called the land of a thousand hills. Actually it’s called Les Milles Collines – because they speak French.

The other famous thing about Rwanda is not a very good thing. Twelve years ago they had a genocide (which is when a whole nation almost gets killed). 800, 000 people were killed in 100 days. We saw the memorial to the genocide in Kigali which is the capital. The museum was very moving and sad and also very disgusting showing pictures of bodies scattered all over the floor.

In Rwanda we stayed with some people called Celestine and Beatrice as well as Nicodeme and Janvier. In their house in the countryside they had their own church and school.



In the school I taught a bit. I told them English. And a song. All the kids laughed and looked happy. Where we were was very poor. The people were very amazed by us because they hadn’t seen any white people before. In the countryside most of the kids liked Arsenal and wore Arsenal t shirts. There was even a song about Arsenal playing in the Matatu (a mini bus).


One day we went to a prison. In the prison most of the people were from the genocide. They didn’t seem bad at all. Either they have changed or they were always innocent.



The prisoners wore pink outfits for their uniforms. I think they have pink so they won’t look dangerous. The power in the jail is produced by the prisoner’s waste.

The next day we went to a rainforest. The oldest and biggest mountain rain forest in Africa. It was a rainforest for mostly monkeys but the thing was we didn’t see any monkeys at all. We were going to try and see the famous silverback gorillas but Agnes and me were too young which was a shame.

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After Rwanda we went to Uganda. The thing about Uganda is that there are so many orphans either from HIV Aids or war. In Uganda we were staying in the countryside again. We had no power, and no cooker. In Uganda I had lots boys coming round to play football and Agnes had a little friend too.












We had our own matatu which Daddy drove. He kept on going crazy driving over bumps just like a real matatu driver. We also picked up a lot of people and gave them lifts everywhere.

We saw lots of communities in Uganda which always had about 500 people waiting for hours just to see us. They would sing us songs about ‘dear visitors’ and how they became orphans. One of the songs was saying be careful Mama, be careful Papa…and was warning grown-ups not to get HIV.


So finally after all these three months we had a big rest. We went to a place called the Masai Mara (which is a safari park). The Masai Mara means the spotted lands of the Masai. Spotted because of the bushes and trees and Masai because they are the people who own the land. The Masai are a tribe. They are very tall and like their outfits which are red. They wear red so that their enemies would never see them bleeding.

In the Masai we saw loads of animals including cheetah, lion, elephant, cape buffalo, giraffe, rhino and hippos. My favourite was the cheetah. Dad’s favourite was this big bull elephant which we thought was going to charge at our jeep.





Mum’s favourite was the giraffe.


Agnes’s favourite was the baby lion cub and baby elephant. We stayed in a hotel which had big tents with four poster beds, great food, hot running water and electricity! By the hotel we could see lots of hippos swimming in the chocolate coloured water.

We are now in a place called Lake Nakuru which is the home of thousands of pink flamingos. Tomorrow we are going to see our sponsored child called Patrick Nduwate. In England all I could do was look at a picture of him and write to him but now we are going to see him which I am excited about. After this holiday it is back to Kithituni and our goats Mal and Larry for a whole month.

Are you wondering if I am doing any work? I am not really. But I have got some drawings I have done for you to see. Talk soon.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Gabriel in India

India.



We arrived in Bombay which is called Mumbai.

We stayed in a really posh hotel called the ambassador. In the hotel we had baths , tv, nice beds.

It was more comfy than Africa.

But this was as good as India got for me, i think.



The next day we went to meet the children of the prostitutes who are looked after by the salvation army. When we saw them they all laughed and had big smiles on their faces. They sung us a song which we have learned ourselves.



After Mumbai, we went to a place called Satara to stay with Major Randive and his wife and daughter. Pria. We actually stayed in a really bad hotel called de luxe. In the hotel they kept having to send five people to do one thing. They barely understood anything.


The thing you need to know about India is that it's busier than London - even in the country. It has so many people and the driving is crazy. In each place we go to they have their own distinct taxis. In Satara they have rickshaws which are like huge angry bumblebees.


India absolutley stinks. there is garbage in every direction. There are stray dogs everywhere.

Luckily we ate our meals with the major and his family. It was better service than the de luxe hotel.

India is the home of spice. Which has been a problem for me and Agnes. We have managed to eat dhal, nan bread and rice. Thankfully we have found chips in most places. But each place always does something wrong with the chips.

My Dad thinks the Major Randive is really special. The major does great work for the salvation army.

He helps communities who have no church. He tells people about hiv Aids. He also helps the prostitutes by having a school for their children to go to.

I didn't like it in Satara. It was noisy, busy, smelly. But the major and his family helped make it okay.

After Satara we went on a holiday for two days. We went to a place called Goa. To get to Goa we had to go on a night bus that was definitely not from heaven. On the bus it smelt the worst smell I smelt in India. It was also very bumpy and you could barely get to sleep even though they called it a sleeper.

Then we arrived in Goa and happily got off the Darth Vadar bus. Goa was full of really nice beaches although we were only on one of them. It was really nice to be in Goa becasue of the palm trees, thew white sand and the really warm sea.

After this we went to a place called Mizoram which is where I am writing this now. Mizoram is at the North East of India next to Bangladesh. Although it is part of India the people here come from china
and it is different food to the India food (luckily). I like chow mein.

In mizoram we visited a mizo village. It was on top of a mountain surrounded by a beautiful forest.


Mizoram is also busy becasue the city called Aizwal is on a mountain and there's not much space. The pollution here is bad but not as bad as India. We saw an airforce show done by the Indian Air force.
There were red jets diving and rolling in the sky. They made the colours of the Indian flag with smoke.

I am looking forward to going back to africa as I haven't that much liked India. But before we go back we are going to calcutta which is another busy city but we are going to have fun there.


Finally...we ended our Indian trip in Calcutta. In Calcutta, you get beggars everywhere, asking for money. They carry on following you. It gets really annoying.



A lot of the poor people live in the streets. they sleep on blankets in the roads and they put their clothes up on walls. That's how they make their homes.







In Calcutta, we went to a zoo and a planetarium. In the zoo the animals had a tiny bit of space and looked tired and scruffy. The funny thing was that there was a sign saying that we should protect our animals. They are hardly doing that! Luckily we saw lots of tigers in the zoo including a rare white tiger and the Asian lion. We also saw one horn'ed Indian rhino which didn't have a horn. It looked like a giant armadillo.

We are leaving for Mumbai today and flying back to Kenya tomorrow. I am really excited to be getting back to our home town of Kithituni.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Gabriel’s First Month - Kenya

I’ve, enjoyed my first month Kithituni, 2 hours south east of Nairobi. (That’s the capital of Kenya.} I’ve made lots of friends. My first friend is called marten.He would probably be my favourite.


We go to a church which is like super long and gets very boring except for the dancing. I once got to play the trumpet in front of the church.



Let me tell you some things about living here: the food here is nice except for a few things. The food I like : goat{ as long as it is roasted}, the mangos are lovely, roast potatoes. The things I don’t like: japaties, beef, scoma (like spinach).



The climate : it is really hot here and the climate is stunning. We have red dust and dryed cracked bits of mud .It looks really cool here .



The house we live in : our house is not that diffarant to yours except for the facts like an outside toilet and you cant drink water from the tap , no hot water and only electricity for three hours in the evening.

We have pets too. We have two goats called Malarone and Larium (named after the malaria tablets). They go off with the herd every day until 6 o clock. We bought them from a lady called Agnes! We might get a chicken when we come back from India. We also have a pet lizard called Lizzie.


There are lots of big bugs around. We have seen a queen termite all grubby and slimey. Cockroaches. And at night army ants march in at exactly 7 o’clock.


I go to school with Martin every Monday. (But for the rest of the week mummy teaches me at home). In the school you get bored and hot and the children all stare at me. I am learning Swahili.

Here are some words: Mtu=man. Habiri=how are you? Mtoto=baby. Poa=cool.


Last week I went to see a sick lady. She was very kind and washed my muddy feet. Then I went to a funeral where there was barely any crying. They do their grieving before and they are used to death.


The people are very kind. The hard thing is to get them used to us so they stop giggling at us. Their life is very hard. But they are still happy.


Write to you next month.

Gabriel.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Are we nearly there?


Blog first entry on setup. October 29th 2005 at Simon's house.