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  • Art Harrington

AZ Interact Ambassadors to Kenya - Day 4

Arizona Interact clubs worked together this past year to collect as many crutches, canes, walkers, wheelchairs and other mobility devices as possible to ship to their international partners in Kenya, as the first phase of their statewide Interact Crutches 4 Africa Project. Phase 2 of the project involved sorting and wrapping these mobility devices for shipment, as the hand-on service project at their annual Interact District Conference, held in Cottonwood on February 25, hosted by the Interact Club of Mingus Union High School. Phase 3 of the project has been the raising of funds to help ship the devices to Kenya, and to underwrite the cost to fly four of Arizona’s top Interactors to Kenya to help distribute them to those most needing them in Kenya’s Great Rift Valley. Phase 4 of the project was the independent selection by a special Rotary Youth Exchange committee of Arizona’s top 4 Interactors to send to Kenya. And Phase 5 has been sending those four, along with two advisors, to Kenya to represent Arizona Interact there from June 16 to July 2.

The Interact Crutches 4 Africa project is a history-making venture, uniting Interact clubs statewide in an international service project, and it is the first time Arizona Interactors have been sent to a foreign country to personally participate in such a project.

Multiple partners in this project have included the Colorado-based Rotarian Crutches 4 Africa nonprofit organization, founded and lead by David & Candice Talbot; American Furniture Warehouse, our corporate partner that has assisted in the drop-off, pick-up and temporary storage of the mobility devices we collected, and the Interact Club of Trinity Mission School in Gilgil, Kenya. It is that remarkable TMS Interact Club, along with their sponsoring Rotary Club of Gilgil, who are hosting our awesome Interact team during the time they are serving in Kenya.

Selected as members of the AZ Interact Ambassadors team were Bridget Mac Donald, a Junior at Mohave High School in Bullhead City; Loralli Johnson, a Sophomore at Perry High School in Gilbert; Dylan Boyd, a Junior at Mohave High School in Bullhead City; and Hazel McGuffin, a Senior at Show Low High School in Show Low. Traveling with the team as Advisors are Rotarian Elizabeth Mahoney, District Rotary Foundation Chair, and Caleb Lowe, former Interact Assistant Governor and former Rotary Youth Exchange Ambassador to Italy, now working with Rotex and studying at Arizona State University. Leading and traveling with the AZ Ambassadors Team in Kenya are David & Candice Talbot, from Crutches 4 Africa.

After landing in Nairobi and spending the night at a bed & breakfast there, the team traveled by van to Gilgil, located 75 miles northwest of the capitol city. There they were warmly welcomed by their Interact hosts at Trinity Mission School, where they are based and will be staying during their time in Kenya. The crutches and other devices that had been shipped to Kenya have been stored in several locations, awaiting their arrival in the country to begin distributing them. After inventorying the devices in each location, and meeting with government officials, each day crutches and other devices are piled high on a pickup that accompanies their van as they travel to remote villages to distribute them to those who need them most in those villages.

Although their itinerary includes visiting and staying overnight in a wildlife park, the team has become aware that they have wildlife all around them wherever they travel in Kenya. Candice reports, “Saw dozens of baboons along the road, impalas, gazelle, zebra, giraffe, hyrax and a herd of elan. Not in a park. Just on our way to Gilgil.”

The team members (as seen in the photo of Hazel and Bridget) have been busy replacing worn-out rubber tips on crutches of these who have been recipients in the past, as well as providing the gift of mobility to those they encounter who need the devices they are carrying with hem so badly. One woman, who had both of her legs broken in a car accident, after having pins inserted at the hospital, had been loaded into her car and sent home, with no mobility devices of any kind. Hearing about our Crutches 4 Africa team in the area, this woman who had been living in her car, because she had to way to get out of it, located our team and Dylan, Candace and Bridget fitted the woman with a wheelchair and crutches. This is the kind of work they have come to Kenya to do, and we are so proud of them as they represent Arizona Interact there in that country!

In addition, they have so far visited the beautiful Lake Elementieta and have participated in classes at Trinity Mission School.

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