Thursday, October 21, 2010

Mashujaa (Heroes) Day

“How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!” ~Maya Angelou

October 20th is a Kenyan holiday called Mashujaa (Heroes') Day. Before this year, this holiday was known as Kenyatta Day - named for Kenya's first President Jomo Kenyatta until the Constitutional referendum was approved thereby changing Kenyatta Day to Mashujaa Day.

Now typically on a holiday one would expect to be festive – and possibly relax, right? Well I was not very festive (more tired than festive), but I did enjoy a full day of relaxation. For you see, the day before Mashujaa Day, His Excellency Michael E. Ranneberger, the U.S. Ambassador to Kenya, visited my site.

Honorable Ranneberger came to Garissa for the official opening of the Career Resource Center (CRC) at the Kenya National Library Service, Garissa branch. The CRC consists of a Youth Library (including board games and a TV to watch inspirational/educational films), two counseling rooms – one for gents and one for ladies – and a state-of-the-art ICT center for boys and girls.

Picture above shows Hon. Ranneberger listening as the set up of the CRC is explained by a member of USAID Kenya Mission.

Hon. Ranneberger arrived on October 19th, 2010 by plane into Garissa town and he and his convoy made their way to the Kenya National Library Service where we had speeches from several guests including the Deputy Director of USAID Kenya, the Member of Parliament for Dujis Constituency (which Garissa falls into), and of course the Ambassador himself.

Picture above shows Hon. Ranneberger as he prepares to cut the ribbon officially opening the CRC.

Picture below Hon Ranneberger during his speech with a Somali interpreter to his right.

After his speeches and opening of the CRC, the Ambassador was bestowed traditional Mzee (elder) attire by one of our local elders. Picture of Hon. Ranneberger displaying his Somali Mzee outfit.

Following this event, the Ambassador and other VIPs headed to visit Sisters Maternity Home (SIMAHO) a local NGO clinic where Rachel (PCV) works. Note: SIMAHO is receives funding from APHIA II North Eastern – which is run by Pathfinder International with funding from USAID.

After the visit to SIMAHO, the Ambassador headed to a local hotel with conference facilities to have 2 town hall meetings: one with youth representatives of Garissa and a one with the Wazee (elders).

In between various interviews and his Town Hall meetings I had a chance to introduce myself to Honorable Ranneberger.

In the afternoon, after the Ambassador had finished the Town Hall meetings he had a few minutes of time for the press. After which the convoy headed out again, this time back to the airport for departure.
Picture of me greeting and Hon. Ranneberger (left) as he makes his way to a Town Hall meeting.

Back to Mashujaa Day: the day after the ‘big day’ I enjoyed a day of resting and relaxation before going back to my ‘regular’ schedule on Thursday (not that there is much regularity in my schedule though) :-)

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