It feels like it has been way too long since I have had the opportunity to write the latest on my life! Every time I start a blog post, I feel like it’s a new episode of Glee – “So here’s what you missed on Glee”
So, Here’s what you’ve missed at Nina: The new classrooms will be under construction beginning this Friday, I visited an orphanage and a funeral (unrelated events), I purchased the materials for wiring my house using solar power, my kids are now learning addition and subtraction, and the rainy season is creeping in.
It’s kind of overwhelming to realize how much I would like to tell all of you about my last week or so, but I will try to give you a brief summary.
Well, we have been approved for construction to finish our unfinished classrooms. As I mentioned in the last post, this means we will be getting a cement floor, windows, doors, plaster walls, and a ceiling. The construction should only take about a week, so during that time, the kids will be learning outside as long as the rains hold off.
The rains haven’t really “started,” according to the Kenyans, but according to me, if there is precipitation falling from the sky, it is raining. They say I will think differently after the rains have really started… they’re probably right. But so far, we have had showers almost every day/night for about a week. Just enough to keep the dust down. And keep the borehole going – it ran dry for a few days last week, and we had to fetch water. It was pretty shocking. The second night it was dry, we had our first substantial rain in over a month. Just in time 🙂
I went to a nearby orphanage on Saturday with a colleague, Mr. Ajode. It is in Ng’iya, which is often referred to “Obama’s Place.” I didn’t really know what to expect, but was preparing myself for something dreadful. I was blown away by how awesome it really was. When we arrived, we were taken into the office and met with Mama Rose. She answered my long list of questions, about where the money comes from, how they acquire the children, where the children come from, where they go, and school… so many questions. I could write an entire post just about the visit, but for the sake of time and to spare you of a little boredom, it was such a rewarding trip. There are 38 kids at this orphanage, ranging in age from 2 to 18. Many of them have sad history’s, but they are all extremely well cared for and fortunate to have this safe haven. Honestly. The kids here are living much better than many in my village.
The orphanage is operated by an NGO from UK. It has been running since 2006 and originally started with only 6 children. All of the funding comes from the NGO; school fees, food, clothing, furniture, construction, etc. The compound has a fabulous kitchen, a boys’ and girls’ hostel, dining hall, borehole, chicken house, milk cow, and garden. Like I said, very developed. The best part is that it is entirely Kenyan. Often, NGO’s come and start something great, like a swimming pool for physical therapy, for example, and then after they leave, there’s no way it can keep going. First of all, there’s no water. Second, people here aren’t familiar with care and maintenance of swimming pools. Third, there aren’t shops for pool maintenace supplies and stuff. It just doesn’t work out. But this was different, and it was entirely Kenyan and entirely fabulous. I plan to return and spend more time here, and hopefully get in touch with the NGO to learn more about it.
Yesterday, I attended my first Kenyan funeral with Mr. Ambalo. To say funerals are a big deal here would be an understatement. There were probably about 500 people here, crowded into this residential compound – the home of the deceased woman. There were probably 3 or 4 homes here, with mud walls and thatched roof, and between the homes were 3 enormous tents with hundreds of plastic lawn chairs crowded underneath. Nowhere near enough chairs for all of the people. And in the middle was her casket. The front tent had a DJ system, where people went and sang songs or read poems/scripture, or just gave long, long, long speeches in Luo. We were there from 9-4. First, we sat and listened to someone give a speech for a few hours. It might have been a few people giving speeches, but when it’s in a language you don’t understand, you don’t pay attention. So after that, we got in a really long line, washed our hands, entered another tent with a few plastic tables, a bunch of plastic chairs and several emaciated dogs. We got a plate of food (after Mrs. Ambalo explained I don’t eat meat, they gave me fish, since i’m a vegetarian… because i guess it’s ok to eat fish if you don’t eat meat? And by fish, I mean half of a fish. They chopped off the tail part of the body, and boiled it, and it even still had it’s eyes), and then we had a seat amongst the crowd and the dogs. We ate the food with our hands, which is often the case, when you are eating ugali. But I was eating rice and half of a fish. It was interesting, but strangely not uncomfortable, because everyone else was doing the same. Only without the fish.
After eating, we sat under yet another tent for about 3 more hours, listening to speeches. A “photographer” came and took pictures of me. He took a lot of random pictures around, I assumed to keep for memories of who attended the funeral. Then, he came and took several in my face. About an hour later, he came back and strung about 100 pictures up on a piece of tape at the end of our tent. I saw my face, and everyone started whispering “mzungu.” Turns out, these “photographers” come to funerals and stuff to take pictures and sell them. So, I bought the pictures of my face to get them off of the piece of tape. Seemed like an unusual thing for people to be doing at a funeral…
Anyways, that was the funeral. Mr. Ambalo said that the more people who come mean less grieving later. There were a lot of people there, for sure. And one white person – yours truly.
So, that’s the latest. Right now, I am in Kisumu to buy the last things for my solar system. Hopefully it will be up and running within the next few weeks, and I will be able to have better communication.
Last thing, I really appreciate all of the interest in helping my school! I have received several e-mails from folks back home, willing to help with the development of my school here. Thank you all so much! I will keep you updated on the progress and will be taking pictures soon!