Carroll family shares story of adjusting to Kenyan life


October 05, 1998|By Lisa Breslin | Lisa Breslin,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

MORE HOMEWORK, no television, high prices and American news told from a Kenyan perspective -- these are some of the changes Jerry, Lillie, Jill, Heather and Leah Rebert have experienced since they arrived in Kijabe as missionaries for Africa Inland Mission International.

The girls attend Rift Valley Academy, a boarding school for missionary children where Jerry and Lillie work.

Throughout their stay, family members have kept in touch by e-mail.

Jerry recently wrote: "Greetings from Kijabe. Life here in Kenya brings many changes to the Rebert family. The weather here is beginning to warm up a bit. Very different to us.

"We miss the cool crisp mornings of fall in Maryland with multicolored leaves on the trees. The trees stay green this time of the year in Kenya. They only change when it's so dry from no rain that they wither up.

"Food is a new experience as well. You can use all your favorite recipes but everything usually turns out different tasting. Not necessarily bad, just different. Transportation brings changes as well. The prices of cars are very high. For a 10-year-old car here you pay what you would pay for a new one in the U.S.

"The roads are a new challenge as well. No lines to guide you from passing. Potholes are expected frequently. Everyone drives the wrong side of the road. School has been challenging for the girls. More homework here than in the U.S.; but this could be a good thing as there is no TV to sidetrack you.

"Lillie has found things to be different in nursing care as well here. A school nurse in the states may deal with colds, flu, stomachaches, fevers, sprains and bruises. Here, Lillie has dealt with malaria, appendicitis, schistosomiasis, brucellosis, and amebiasis -- mostly all tropical illnesses.

"I have found changes as well working with Kikuyu people and Asian people. Most have treated me very well. I am enjoying getting to know them. The culture is very different: the terminology, measuring systems. Most things imported here come from China. This is a very different quality to work with.

"Another difference here is the way we receive news from the U.S. We get a newspaper called the Daily Nation. This is Kenya's newspaper. It covers all the news in Kenya and most news in Africa. There is a section for U.S. news. It has been quite different reading all the same recent news here that Americans are reading there, only we read it through the eyes of Kenyans.

"Their perspective is very different than Americans'. Many changes to digest and we have only been here about two months. It will be an adventure to see what God has for us in the XTC coming months. I'm sure He will give us the ability to adjust to the new things He brings our way. In His care -- the Reberts."

Community spirit

Historic East Baltimore will soon get a new image thanks to Gooseneck Designs, a Westminster custom tile company, more than 150 students from Baltimore, and Historic East Baltimore Community Action Coalition.

Their efforts led to the creation of 10 community markers that will be placed along the boundaries of a neighborhood that struggles to change its negative image.

"Even though there is a lot more good than bad happening in East Baltimore, people wouldn't know it," said Scott Spencer, coalition director. "The positives take a back seat to the crimes and the drug activities. That 10 percent of the population brings down the 90 percent who are law-abiding people who want to protect their neighborhoods."

Student drawings of the Blacks In Wax Museum, Shot Tower, schools and playgrounds, the National Aquarium and places in the community were replicated on tiles glazed in primary colors.

The children's images are the background for two styles of community markers. One is a triangular pillar -- 8 inches tall and 2 inches wide. The other is a horizontal marker that is 4 inches by 8 inches with the children's images on both sides. Each marker also includes a 24-by-24-inch single-piece tile of the coalition's logo.

"The children's drawings showed a lot of imagination," said Jackie Smith, owner and lead ceramicist of Gooseneck Designs. "They were strong in composition and color. It was fun to turn them into tiles that are permanent."

Carroll County artists on the Gooseneck Designs staff who helped with the community markers included Ruth McDaniel, Lisa Cavanaugh, Jason Stultz, Jennifer Heinen and Cori Martin.

"The community markers will help people take pride in their community, especially the children," said Spencer. "They took part in transforming their community."

Lisa Breslin's Central Carroll neighborhood column appears each Monday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

Pub Date: 10/05/98

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