Alisa has gotten over the infection/virus/bacteria that has plagued her for the past week as she adjusted to life in Kenya. She was taken to the nearest hospital earlier in the week for a malaria test, which was negative, and is finally regaining her appetite and strength. She is currently living with Emanuel, a school teacher with 4 children, near the town of Kilgoris. During the past week she and a group of other volunteers from the British Isles and the US put together latrines for the school, and also moved in beds for the boys’ dormitory in anticipation of the approaching school year. Emanuel’s school has been set up to prepare children for the national high school entrance exams that determine which high school you will be admitted to. Two of Emanuel’s own children attend boarding school two hours away in anticipation for these exams. Alisa has learned that public schools do little to prepare children for high school, as they adjurn for the day at noon. Thus Emanuel has set up his school for the children of the region.
Alisa’s approximate location”
For the past two days Alisa has been attending classes at Emanuel’s school where she participated in teaching lessons on the anatomy of the eye, as well as a grammar lesson on the differences between ‘and’ and ‘but’. For those of you who know and love Alisa like I do, you will certainly get a chuckle over the fact that Alisa of all people is overseas teaching English Grammar to small children. Let us just hope that they don’t require her to teach spelling next week 🙂 And when I queried her on how she had any knowledge about human anatomy, she responded “we just covered the iris and pupil, not that hard”. Watch out Harvard Med School!
She’s also picking up some Swahili, perhaps in an attempt to out due me before my Swahili classes at UCLA begin this fall. She’s learned you’re welcome/welcome (karibu sana), thank you very much (asante sana) and hello (jambo). She also pointed out that Swahili is a lingua franca (though of course she didn’t use that term) of the country and region, as Maasai is spoken in the home, but Swahili and English are taught in the schools. Swahili will come in handy for the coming East African Federation merger with Tanzania and Uganda as both countries have Swahili on the books as one of their official languages. Swahili is also used in other parts of Eastern Africa. Alisa, not a person of languages, did say that she felt she was picking up Swahili quickly and could understand much more of it than Maasai.
She made guacamole tonight as a dry run for making it on her birthday celebrations tomorrow (the 13th), as one of the Irish girls she is living with celebrated her birthday today. She says the avocados are the size of two fists, and that her first attempt turned out pretty good.
The nights are cool, which is why she doesn’t like me calling in the evening, but the days are very warm.
She leaves on Sunday to Mama na Dada, a NGO about five hours north, near Lake Victoria. She will be there till the 5th of September. There, she has been told, is internet access. She has still yet to get the Safaricom 3G chip to work in the iPad and spoke of her regret for not bringing her Macbook Pro, as she says Emanuel has a modem with a 3G chip that she could have used. So bad call on my part for advocating on behalf of the iPad. I’m sure that hasn’t helped the tinge of homesickness she feels, and she thinks that she should have come to Kenya first and then met me in South Africa. We were both very tired physically, mentally, and emotionally after two months of constantly on the go in South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Botswana. We both felt the desire to return to the easy life here in the US (at least temporarily to recharge), and while I flew back, she flew off to three more months in Kenya, a place that is certainly not as comfortable as South Africa. However, she does say that she loves it in Kenya, and that all of her experiences have been positive and enriching. We both talked in South Africa that the first two weeks would be difficult because she would have nothing to do, and I certainly think that’s taking its toll on her mentally. I think when she gets to Mama na Dada she will be able to immerse herself in the work and duties each day.
Tomorrow (Aug 13th) is her birthday, so if you have a Skype account, you can send her a SMS at : +254 735630172