Hopefully, this will be the last blog I post from the US. I board a plane on Sunday July 13th and after stops in Holland and the UAE arrive in Kenya on Wednesday.

I love being in California. I am so grateful I was able to be stateside to help my parents who are both overcoming some pretty serious physical injury/illnesses. But, I miss Daraja Academy. If home is where the heart is, I have been away from home for FAR too long. I miss the smell of smoke in the crisp, dawn air as the mommas in the Turkana village behind my house start their cook-fires. I miss hearing baboons in the middle of the night “woooofff” a each other high in their tree by the river. I miss my wife, I miss the students… I miss Daraja Academy.

From Vallejo to a Kenyan Bush school, Kayla Lozier is a remarkable young woman. That was clear 3 years ago when I taught her in Honors World History, when she became Hogan High School’s student body president, when she set a goal of visiting Daraja after she graduated and began opening the Benicia Gym at 4am every morning (on school days!) in order to earn the money to do it.

Though they were written about a week ago I only received her 1st two blog posts today, I hope you enjoy. World, meet Kayla…

Jason Doherty

June 27, 2009

Today is my first official day at Daraja Academy. Its only noon but I can tell you already that I’m going to love it here.
I didn’t sleep last night. For a few reasons, I think:

1. Jetlag and the time difference.
2. I was out of my mind excited to meet the girls when I woke up in the morning.
3. Once I lay down in bed I got smacked in the face with the realization that I’m on the other side of the world, without my family or the love of my life and that this place will be my home for the next five months…without them. Then I got over myself and stopped being such a boob my first night here.
And 4. Daraja Academy wins the gold medal for sporting the most wretched pillow in existence…. Just a tip, if you plan to visit Daraja for any amount of time, be sure to bring your favorite pillow from home. You’ll regret leaving it. So, since I couldn’t sleep and couldn’t stand just laying in bed any longer, at 5AM I got up and went for a self-tour/hike around Upper Campus. It was beautiful!

Watching the sunrise over Mt. Kenya and the view of Rift Valley was amazing. I saw amazingly beautiful plants, and some scary ones. I met a jackrabbit that let me get surprisingly close and gorgeous birds. It was an incredible morning.

When the sun was fully up (around 6:30) I headed back to my house and got ready for the day. I arrived at Jenni’s house for breakfast (planned for 9AM) at 7. By breakfast time I taught a little girl puppy with no manners named Rasta, how to sit on command.

Andy and Olivia, two other volunteers currently at Daraja Academy joined us for breakfast and we talked about the students. Andy took me on a real tour of campus. I saw the dead body of a mongoose, had a close encounter with a bull I thought was the cow, met the cow I had actually been looking for, met the sheep, goats and chickens who have free reign of the campus along with the four dogs, bull and cow. I got introduced to the sculls of various animals, including elephant, water buffalo, and antelope.

Finally I met the girls. Right away you could tell that they are fun, happy people. They were very friendly. They danced and sang and showed me their rooms.

At this moment there are toucan looking bird (I learned is a hornbill) was pecking at my window. This place is a miracle. I am so proud to know that such wonderful girls get to live here, and excited that I get to share some it with them. One hell of a half-first day.