Friday, August 21, 2009

I've moved Tim Brauhn

After a goodly amount of time here at Blogger, I've packed up shop and headed over to Wordpress. It had to happen someday. So head on over to In the Hand of Dante at Thanks Blogger!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Kenya Series - Mt. Longonot

A fantastic slide show, complete with funny captions, follows this post.

Our team from The 1010 Project spent a few days visiting with a partner in Western Province, then headed to Lake Naivasha in the Central Highlands of Kenya. Naivasha is big and beautiful - it's in the bottom of the Great Rift Valley - and the entire area is covered by flower farms. Apparently Kenyan roses have a huge market in Europe. The lake has hippos and monkeys and storks and whatnot, but I wasn't all that interested in such beasts. My goal was to climb Mt. Longonot, an extinct volcano about 20 kilometers from the lake.
I recruited The 1010 Project's Development Coordinator Emily Ruppel and we planned the trip. Before long, word had spread that we were going to be awesome. Our team grew. Our buddy Josh came along, as did two people from Northside Christian Church in Houston, Texas. The Houston team was traveling with us for part of the journey, visiting our partners in Nairobi and Vihiga. Aldo and Pastor Dave would be joining us on the climb.

We started a bit late on Friday morning because we had some difficulty finding cheap transportation. By about 9:45 am, we were ready to start what by all estimates was a four-hour climb. It's actually only 630 meters (2000+ feet) from the base to the top of the crater, so we weren't entirely certain what to expect; I had (unlike most other outdoor things) done scant research on our climb. As it turns out, that 630 meters is fairly strenuous because it's NEARLY ENTIRELY VERTICAL. There is only one path up the side of this monster volcano, and it is S-T-E-E-P, let me tell you. Further complicating our climb was the omnipresent dust. It's all super-old volcanic ash and such, so the minute you put your fit in it, you sink two inches. It was like climbing in sand - my legs were getting beaten up.

Pastor Dave, a young man in our minds, was still about a decade and a half older than the oldest of us, and as we climbed, he grew increasingly short of breath. After one particularly grueling section, we took a break and he mused that he would likely not be able to reach the summit with us. At that point, we were close enough to where the rim of the crater was within another two or three strong drives. We told Dave that he could definitely make it, and that we weren't that far from the top. It was like a motivational speech or something.

Well, Dave cowboyed up and as we crested the top and stared down into the crater of a MASSIVE EXTINCT VOLCANO IN THE GREAT RIFT VALLEY IN KENYA, Dave collapsed to his knees and let out an "Oh my..." The view was amazing - on the one side we were looking back over the Rift Valley and its endless expansiveness. On the other side, we were looking into a giant crater full of forest. It was amazing. The photos following this post cannot do it justice.

Dave thanked us for inspiring him to go those last few hundred feet and we walked around the rim for an hour before heading down. If the climb was tough, the descent was pure awesome. We ran down large sections, kicking up massive dustclouds as we went. In fact, the powder was so fine that we were even able to "dirt ski," as it were:

Yes folks. That is Kenyan dirt skiing.

By the time we reached bottom, the sun had really started to heat up. We sat in the shade and waited for a ride. I had to shower with my clothes on and it still took two more washings to get all the dust out. We had conquered a volcano in Africa and had a great time of it. We found out later that day that where we were on the rim stood at about 8,000 feet above sea level. This would explain why Pastor Dave, a man who is easily active in Houston, might have had a rough time of it. He laughed when we told him. All in all a great day. Here are some shots to back up the post:

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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Kenya Series - Amsterdam (to be updated with videos later)

So I'm midway through an eight hour layover in Amsterdam. Holland is a nice place. I rode a bike through this very old city and felt quite Dutch. The only things missing were clogs, tulips, and giant windmills.

The people here are very nice and I wish that I could bottle up Dutch accent and sell it. Old buildings and new buildings - typically European. I came out onto the city at about 6:30 am. For two hours I saw about ZERO people. The city was a dead zone.

I wanted a nice coffee drink, which I eventually got, but I had to wait a number of hours to find a shop that was open! They like to start late, I think.

Expect videos to back up this post later. I've been using the dickens out of my Flipcam, so Youtube will be my next endeavour. Until then, friends.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Kenya Series - 2

I climbed a mountain in the Great Rift Valley today, but I don't want to blog it until I can upload the pictures, i.e. when I return to the States.

In the meantime, we're heading back to Nairobi tonight. Next week will be very busy, as we meet with partners, make great plans, and work on implementing our recent grant.

I'm in great health, sleeping wonderfully, and I miss everyone and most things. I'll be in touch.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

JAMBO - Kenya Living

Hello all. I feel strange for not being able to blog this excursion up, but my connections have been a bit slow. Oh well. It's nice to be able to touch base here.

I'm sure I'll tweet this when we hit the road again, but if I had two words to describe the Kenyan countryside, they would be: "carelessly verdant." Seriously, everything is either a strange mass of strange trees or a field of plants. Lots of farmers around here. We drove out to Western Kenya last week, almost to Lake Victoria, and slept under bed nets in an orphanage where one of our partners works.

In case you don't know, I'm here with The 1010 Project, a Denver-based humanitarian organization that partners with social entrepreneurs in the developing world to break the cycle of poverty. Aside from two organizations that are based in the rural west, we have a number scattered across the slums of Nairobi. I'll be heading to Korogocho and Kibera and Kayole and Matopeni in the coming days.

It's amazing here, it really is, and I'm super-glad to be with The 1010 Project. I'm our Fundraising Coordinator, and part of our trip involves me implementing a grant that I wrote a few months back. Our partners are VERY happy to work with us on some specific income-generating projects.

Some highlights: Helped a 4 year old Luhya girl carry a 20-liter jerrycan of water through a cornfield to her home. She smiled. I addressed a crowd of what looked to be 40,000 street children in Matopeni, singing songs and dancing and telling stories. I thanked a baboon for laying the groundwork for the internet and Twitter. Got bit by a mosquito, which means a LOT more here than it does in America (check out previous posts, which I can't link to now, about my work with the Interfaith Youth Core and Tony Blair Faith Foundation).

I'm likely to spend the first week of July writing a bunch of impassioned posts about these and other things and putting them up, but for now, I just wanted to check in and thank you all for following along with my work. You folks are a big part of the work I do - I see it in the congratulatory tweets as much as I see it in the smiling faces of orphans and entrepreneurs that we work with in Kenya. See you all soon.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Tim's Going to Kenya

OK. So I take off on Monday morning for Kenya. That's in 3 days. Got a few things to do.

I'm traveling with a team from The 1010 Project, a humanitarian organization here in Denver. We partner with creative and innovative social entrepreneurs in the developing world to break the cycle of poverty. As the Fundraising Coordinator, a big part of my job is writing the grants that help keep us trucking along. But to write good grants, and to keep our international development work running smoothly, we need DATA.

We're going to Kenya to meet with partners and friends in our community-based organizations. They're mostly in Nairobi, scattered across the various slums and estates, but we do have a few rural partners as well. We'll be going all the way out to Kisumu near Lake Victoria. We're collecting boatloads of photos, lots of video and audio, and most importantly, stories. We view ourselves as storytellers - our tagline is "Join the Story" - and we're going to talk with the people that our income-generation activities benefit. We'll be visiting schools, orphanges, microfinance institutions, women's empowerment groups, and HIV/AIDS support groups.

I've never been to Africa, but I hear good things. Our team is super-talented and super-cool, so I don't expect any problems. I'll be tweeting along with our Director of Communications, Mark Mann. With luck, we'll be tweeting like mad by next Wednesday morning, or for those of you in Denver, late Tuesday night (there is a 10-hour time difference). So stay sharp, keep up with us, and we'll see you when we get back!

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Why I Like Sci-Fi

Found a neat little clip from Babylon 5 (you might remember it from back in the day - "our last, best hope for peace") while ignoring my final for Modern Islamic Political Theory. I think it's a great reminder of how diverse and interesting our planet is: