Islands' Sounder


African cultural exchange

March 17, 2013 · Updated 12:22 PM

Flexibility and changes are in the plans for islander Mary Ann Slabaugh’s East African adventures.

Slagaugh had planned to live and work the Kenyan village of Chwele (10,000 population) for a year.  Over the holidays at Grace Kutos’ Oregon home, she explained that most volunteers work in the village for three weeks and then return home.  She advised Mary Ann that six weeks in Chwele would insure a better experience, and recommended against a year-long visit.

After 40 years of considering her need and desire to live in another culture and country, Slabaugh n plans to leave for Chwele in West Kenya this August.  Her plan is to volunteer in the Chwele community development project in the schools and do gardening jobs.

She met her Kenyan-born sister Kuto – author, teacher, philanthropist, and project founder – 20 years ago at an international women’s conference in Portland. Slabaugh knew then that she had made the connection that could enable her to fulfill her need of an African cultural experience.

Kuto has visited Orcas three times. She sees a bridge or connection between the village of Chwele and the community of Orcas Island.  She has put on several events, contributing to the island’s cultural diversity.

“By me going to Chwele, that bridge between our communities will be confirmed,” Slabaugh said.

A fundraiser bake sale with an African bent will be held at Island Market on Sunday, March 17. Be on the lookout for other fundraisers in getting Slabaugh to Africa.

To learn more of her Kenya calling project, check out www.chwele.wordpress.com or kenyankalling.blogspot.com.

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