Dear diary: I love boys. Boys boys boys! Just kidding. I feel like such a child every time I start an entry to my journal. Maybe this is just another journal entry, but maybe it’s a blog post, we’ll see how it goes.
Today was the essence of what I’m doing in Kenya. What I love about my life here, and what I’m going to carry back with me. As well as what I have to make things interesting, keep me here and satisfy my boring streaks. I mean it may sound terrible, to go to a place more destitute than my own in order to entertain myself, but it’s also intriguing to see how life thrives in various conditions and environments. So, let me tell you about my day.
Ambalo and I had organized to visit a nearby school for the mentally handicapped earlier this week (I know that’s not politically correct, so before jumping down my throat about it, please understand that I am not the one who labeled schools in Kenya), which I have been looking forward to for several months. I have asked on a few different occasions for him to accompany me to a school, or to at least advise me on how to organize my own transportation/visit, but there were always complications, rain, funerals, etc etc. But the stars finally aligned and alas, a visit was made today. To give you some insight about how much I was looking forward to this visit, I saved my very best skirt all week long just for today – specifically for this occasion. And, I might add, I did successfully dress to impress, according to my kids. They all did the “fancy” sign as I exited my house for Ambalo’s car during lunch.
So we went to the school, where I was able to ogle over the rather advanced facilities for the students. The school (Equator Special School for the Mentally Handicapped) had two completely finished dormitories, one for boys and one for girls, as well as several classrooms and two separate vocational programs – tailoring and carpentry. The vocational classrooms were phenomenal. Pics to come!
I’m hoping to initiate a vocational training program here at Nina before I leave, so being able to visualize the facilities and ask questions about their program was definitely beneficial. After a tour of the very developed compound, I was able to meet some of the kids. Most of the kids are older, and the majority was verbal. We exchanged greetings before departing for our next destination: Ambalo’s Home.
When I say his Home, I’m referring to his home-place, the place where he was born and raised. In Kenya, families always have a “home” and their “Home.” He lives at home, in Siaya, with his wife and kids, but his Home is in the village, Sihay to be exact. His mother and father still live on the compound, in their original house, and it is now flanked by several other smaller houses which are occupied by some of his siblings, or kept for when the family returns Home for the holidays or special occasions. Even once the children marry and move away, they always have a house at Home to return to. So, to get to his Home, we actually branched off of the lengthy dusty dirt road onto a cow path for several kilometers. We passed several other homes on the way, as well as cows and pedestrians, straddled ditches and ravines and dodged trees before squeezing between two trees marking the gate of his compound. We were greeted by his father, Wilson, and another man sitting on the grass under mango trees, weaving a dome out of branches to keep chickens in during the night. His mother welcomed us into their house, where we sipped on hot cocoa and I watched the chickens fight over grasshoppers as the grown-ups caught up on the latest news in Luo. That’s all this visit consisted of, nothing more to write about, but I loved it. I can’t even tell you exactly why, but it was something I know I will never forget.
After our visit, we decided to stop for a beer at a hotel along the main road. Again, nothing particularly remarkable about this event, but it was great to sit with Ambalo in a peaceful silence, enjoying the African sunset. We’ve come such a long way, with our communication and our understanding of each other, and this was a time where our progress really presented itself. It was just so casual and normal. Normal. That’s the word that I was looking for – a small word that is so… normal… ha. But seriously, it’s something I think all PCVs strive for and are constantly searching for during their service, regardless of their placement or assignment, we are always yearning for some type of normalcy. And I guess that is exactly what made today so exceptional – it just felt normal.