I Have Officially Become an African Woman

Today I awoke at 6 am and was unable to go back to sleep, so I got dressed, cleaned my hut and did some laundry all before breakfast.

After eating and packing a PB&J sandwich for lunch I walked 30 min by myself to Keminini to get a matatu to the junction. When you take public transportation here there are men who try to persuade (push) you to ride in their matatu, but you have to stand firm and insist on knowing the price before you get in, otherwise you might get the white person price.  The first guy who approached me wanted 40 Bob to the junction, hell no, its 50 Bob all the way to town and only 10 Bob to the junction. He took back the first offer and I road for 10.

Once we got to the junction I walked another 30 min to the primary school. Several motorbikes stopped and asked if I wanted a ride, but I waved them on. I don’t like motorbikes, plus I prefer to get the exercise. One thing I have noticed here is people dont just walk  for the sake of walking, they only walk if they have somewhere to go. So they think it is very strange that I actually like to walk, even when I have no where to go.

When I arrived at school everyone was asking “where were you last week”, “we missed you”, so I had to explain Continue reading

Rain, Photos, & Goodbyes- Poems at the End

My week here in Kenya has been met with several obstacles.

On Tuesday I made the matatu/walking trip to Wachonya Secondary School to teach HIV/AIDS education. However, for the 2nd time, the principal and the teacher did not communicate on the time and I was unable to teach. I am supposed to go back this week at 3:20 after spending the morning at the primary school, so hopefully 3rd times the charm.

After Tuesday was a bust, I was looking forward to teaching STI education to the 7th graders at Wachonya Primary on Thursday. However, the weather was not cooperative.  It poured on Wednesday night and well into Thursday. If it had only been a sprinkle we would have put our raincoats on and made the trek, but it was very wet and the mud here is like cement, you have to scrub with a brush to remove even the smallest amount.  Plus for some reason my feet get unusually dirty here. I don’t know if it is how I walk or what, but Kristiana compare our feet at the end of the day Continue reading

An Afternoon in Kitale

This past Sunday I went with Kristiana and Joshua to a “nature reserve” outside of Kitale.

We had been told me were going to some sort of domestic animal freak farm where they had a cow with 3 horns and other unusual animals. However we came to discover that was only a small part of our adventure.

Joshua having been to this place several times decided to wait for us while we went with a guide through the park. Our tour began with a walk through  the botanical gardens which other then trees had a large population of mosquitoes. Neither of us had brought bug spray because we thought we were going to a sunny farm.

As we emerged from the garden we saw before us Jesus crucified on the cross and several other biblical displays. Krisi and I just looked at each other–What did we get ourselves into? I gentleman came over and explained to us that they had built 10 mountains representing different stories from the old and new testament.  As we were told the stories of each mountain I  couldnt help but reflect on the strangeness of the situation. I had come thinking I was going to a freak farm, but turned out I was going to a nature reserve with biblical statues.

After the man finished telling us about the mountains we continued on to the nature trail where we were met by a swarm of mosquitoes and lots of stagnent water. As the usual afternoon storm began to creep in we finally made it to the freak farm part of our tour.

We saw a dwarf cow, a cow with 4 horns and 4 eyes, a sheep with 4 legs and several other unusual features.  Some of the animals I wanted to just kill to put them out of their misery because it was clear they were suffering.

Sunday evening Krisi and I brought our iPods down to girls group and had a dance party. The girls taught us some local dance and we taught them how to line dance. It was the best part of the whole crazy day.

New place, new challenges

I have really neglected the blog since coming to Kenya, so I wanted to give everyone a new update. There is too much going on to share here, but I promise to tell all when I get back.

I left Mama na Dada about 2 weeks ago for my current placement at Common Ground (Not related to Search for Common Ground that I interned with in DC).

I am living 30 min. from the city of Kitale in a village called Keminini. The placement I am currently at includes several projects: a primary day/boarding school, water filtration factory, and an organic farm and training program.

I sleep in a concrete hut that is furnished with a bed, table and cupboards. Unlike the other places I have been I have access to the internet about every other day or so.  There is another volunteer, Kristi,  here with me from Canada, so I have someone to talk and hang out with.

Like Emmanuel’s we eat meals with the family in the house. I have had the most variety of food here including fried/stewed chicken, chips, cabbage, french toast, fried egg, and beef that taste like cows from home. The best is when we have fresh mangos.

We live in a compound that contains the school, our house and the farm. Everyday like clock work it rains. I thought it would be a nice tropical rain, like in Hawaii, where you can still do things outside, but its not. A few drops come down and then it just pours and the temperature drops at least 10 degrees. Within an hour you go from sweating like a pig to needing a jacket and maybe pants.

I am doing several different projects here including teaching English, Health Education, and facilitating a girls’ leadership group.

I teach English Mon., Wed., and Fri. in grades 6, 7 and 8. The students here are more advanced then the public primary school I taught at in Kunya, but there is still work to be done. They speak English very well, but their compositions are just as poor as some of the public school students.

Tuesday and Thursdays are my community outreach days where I go to public schools and do health education. The Kenyan school system includes life skills (HIV/AIDS, STI’s, hygiene) in the curriculum, but most teachers do not feel comfortable talking about these topics, so they do not teach beyond what is in the book. Our goal is to go beyond the book and make sure the students have all the information they need to protect themselves and those they love.  For example, the book tells students to wear a condom when having sex to protect against HIV, but most of the students dont even know what a condom looks like outside of the packaging, let alone how to put it on properly. Kenya has the 7th highest HIV/AIDS rate in the world and the 2nd highest rate of AIDS orphans after South Africa. I think it’s time to teach young people how to put on a condom incase they decide not to abstain. Kristi and I are also going to try to get the mobile testing clinic to come and do testing at the schools for those who want it. Many of these students have been orphaned because of HIV/AIDS and they don’t even know their own status. They just assume that because their parents had it they do too.

For 2 hours on Sunday I facilitate a girls leadership group for 7th and 8th grade boarders. Last week we talked about characteristics and attributes of a leader and this week we are talking about setting and achieving goals. I asked the girls during our first meeting if there was any topics they were interested in covering, so future topics include female reproductive system, hygiene, and self defense. It has been wonderful getting to know the girls beyond the classroom and learning about their lives and dreams.

Other Observations:

* They love watching Spanish soap operas dubbed in English. The most popular show is called “In the Name of Love

* Many of them think this is the first time we have seen a black person. A director of another school told us ” you are very lucky to travel because it allows you to experience new things like meeting black people”. We had to explain that we have black people in North America.