Yesterday I made the trip into Siaya town with the intent of picking up packages, mailing letters out, and going to the cyber to update my blog and check my email. It proved to be a rather frustrating, unsuccessful trip… but on the bright side, I paid only 100 for transportation each way, when I normally pay 150. Also, I got a deal at my fruit vendor, and bought a butternut squash (50 bob) and two mangoes (30 bob each) for only 100 total. Nice discount, guess it pays to be a loyal customer.
I went to the cyber and they had only one open computer, so I initially thought, “this is my lucky day!” Before I could even log into my gmail account, the power went out. So, like most of the other people in the cyber, I sat and waited. I don’t have the patience of my fellow Kenyans, so I gave it about 10 minutes, then decided to run a few errands and come back. I went to the supermarket, bought some essentials, returned to the cyber to find the power was back on. I sat down at my same computer, logged on, and this time the server was down. Ugh. This time, determined to check my email NOW, I sat and waited for 45 minutes with the rest of the men. No luck. I was so frustrated I actually started to cry, in public. Good indication that it’s time to go.
That was when I went to my fruit vendor, got a discount, then went to Mr. Ambalo’s shop and he treated me to a “soda baridi,” meaning a cold soda, which is my favorite treat lately. He always gets an orange Fanta for me, and has a crest himself – which is much like a 7 up or sprite. Also, by the time I got to his shop, my computer was almost fully charged, so I sat and chatted with him while waiting for it to finish. It’s funny how these things go though, because one minute I’m devastated and feel like my day is ruined, then something compensates for my disappointment and it’s back to feeling great. It’s just such extreme emotions here, I feel like I’m never really just comfortable and moving along at a steady pace. Either I’m going at break neck speed, high on life, or I’m down in the dumps. Hard to find a balance, and very difficult for me to keep my emotions reeled in right now. I hope it steadies out. I’m not supposed to be a crier!
Today is Tuesday, and it’s about 6:30 in the morning. I woke up to run, but I’m just not feeling it. I’m a bit down, but I felt the same way yesterday and it turned out to be an overall awesome day. Especially teaching. When I showed up early for my class, which is supposed to begin at 8:55, but since the other teacher did not come yesterday, I thought I’d get a little head start. So when I came early, the kids were really excited and begging me to get started.. It was sweet, and I have never met a kid excited to learn math before. So, I spent almost 2 class periods reviewing really simple math, same stuff we’ve been working on for the past weeks, but they really tried and had fun participating. Then we did KSL, colors, again. Previously, I made word searches for their math lesson, and it was an epic failure. I should have known, they can’t spell “five” how would they be able to find it in a hodgepodge of letters? But, I decided to give it another shot with colors, hoping it will help them remember the order of the letters. I made small ones with 6 names of colors in them, and to my amazement, almost all of them figured it out. The exception being my nearly blind kid and a kid with ADHD, but even with help from a girl in class 3 he was able to figure it out (the one with ADHD, no such luck with the blind kid – ha). I was pretty pumped. And they enjoyed it, so I might try to do that a little more often.
Class three has moved from health education to plants, so yesterday we discussed habitats. Not really sure if they totally get the concept, but I used my book from home about Kenya to show different habitats, and then I learned the sign for environment. I like learning new signs, and find that the kids teach me more than I teach them. After discussing various basic habitats, I had them draw a picture of any of the mentioned habitats.
I want to thank everyone who sent coloring supplies (again). My kids absolutely LOVE to color, and I love that they have the opportunity now. I was thinking the other day about the lack of creativity,, uniqueness, and general ability to make decisions that these kids have. They have school uniforms that are entirely identical apart from the location of the tears and stains, including their socks and shoes. They all – boys and girls – have shaved heads, no make up or accessories at all. They are served the same meals for lunch and dinner within the day, and breakfast is always the same uji (porridge). Monday and Thursday meals are ugali and sukjuma, Tuesday and Friday are githeri days, and Wednesday is beans and rice. Saturday/Sunday the kids also beans and rice or ugali. They have no decisions to make here, just following routine constantly. Being given a piece of blank paper and a bunch of crayons doesn’t seem like a big deal, but for them, I think it’s a good way to exercise their creativity and have a little freedom. I don’t have anything to prove that, and maybe I’m off, but I love giving them the opportunity. They ask every single day if they can color after school, and if it weren’t for the packages that you all sent, they wouldn’t have the chance. Thank you so much!
I’m hoping to start a feelings group, as part of my life skills assignment. Aunt Renee sent me a book a while back called “The World Needs Your Child” and I thought, well the world’s already got me – I’m in Kenya, and I don’t have any children yet… so I didn’t give it much attention. But this week, boredom got the best of me, and I picked it up. It was perfect timing for me, because it really related to a lot of things I noticed with my kids here. I’ve noticed my kids tend to bully each other sometimes, and that they like to smack and swat, sometimes they pinch. I don’t think it’s maliciously, but they do it to get a reaction. The book talks a lot about raising kids to be able to put them selves in other people’s shoes, and teaching your kid to identify their own feelings, as well as feelings of others. It’s pretty interesting; I recommend it for teachers or parents alike, if you’re interested in raising helpful, giving children.
We received another new kid yesterday evening. We are still short on beds and chairs, so at this point, I would like to enlist a little support from my troops at home. If you would like to help, a donation would be hugely helpful and well spent here. I am blessed to have an amazing head master that actually cares deeply for the school and the kids. In fact, one of our kids was recently diagnosed with HIV, and when Mr. Ambalo approached the mother, he skirted around the meat of the issue for a while, to gauge how she would take the news, and when he finally told her, she reacted very calmly. Surprised by her reaction, he assured her that since she is being so supportive and positive, her daughter will always have a place here at Nina, even if the family cannot provide the funds. He is truly a great man, and has big dreams for this school.
It starts with having a place for the kids to stay, and right now we have kids sleeping on the floor, or in beds without mattresses. Our classes share the 3 classrooms we have on the compound, and two classes use one chalkboard during the same period. Some of the students are standing during classes because we lack chairs. Right now, I am working on a website for the school, and once it is ready I will post the address so you can see more detailed pictures and have a little more information about the school.
Our school is growing so much, and over the next few months, we are expecting to finish our classrooms by laying a concrete floor, plastering the walls and fitting doors and windows. We also hope to secure funds from the government to begin construction of another dormitory, since ours is at full capacity. The government funds construction, but they do not provide the mattresses, food, bedding, etc. The children are supposed to bring mattresses with them, but most children cannot even afford to pay the school fees, which is why I’m asking for help from home.
For now, I would just like to make you all aware that if you want to help, a very easy, convenient way would be to donate a small amount of money. Things here are much cheaper than they would be at home; one chair costs about 15 -20 USD. A mattress and bedding is less than 10 USD. If you are interested, or simply have questions, please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
My Internet access here is limited, but I will respond as soon as I can.
Contributions can be sent to my mom,
Ruth Anne Full
PO Box 305
Elizabeth, WV 26143
Hopefully soon I will be able to charge my camera and share more pictures with all of you from home. Thanks!