Tag Archives: Deaf Education

Are we there yet?

As the end of my service approaches, what am I thinking? 


Well… for starters… “has it already been 2 years?!?!” which I immediately chase with “it’s about freaking time.” Then the more meaningful, complex thoughts begin emerging, which if left unattended will absolutely consume my mind and my thoughts. So, then, what am I thinking? What’s for supper? What am I gonna wear tomorrow? I wonder if it’s going to rain… then I’ll have to wear my sneakers. Maybe Ambalo will be late so I can wear leggings. I hope we have mandazi at tea break. How did I gain 10 pounds? 
 
So basically, coming home isn’t something I’m giving much thought. It’s going to be tough. 
 
But since I’m not really into thinking about that, and I’m not really into boring you to death either, I’ll talk a little about how things are going at school.
 
Class 8 (8th graders) just finished their KCPE – possibly the most important week of their lives, marked by hours of sitting in a classroom with an armed police officer guarding the door and 3 adult teachers sitting and staring at them as they select ABCDE for 50 questions, 6 exams. It’s a pretty stressful time for all involved, but thankfully it’s now finished and they are preparing to go home. All students will be going home this Wednesday, November 20th. Parents will come in the morning and have some meetings, receive their children with report forms in tow and vanish into the village until January, when school reopens, sans Kelsey. 
 
But now I’m getting ahead of myself again. What else is new here… 
 
Both of our cows have now given birth! As many of you may have seen on facebook, the first to birth was Lucy (the mean one) on November 8th. In fact, I went to the harambee with Mr. Ambalo, and when we returned we immediately went to check the cows. It started raining and we became stuck in the cow stable, waiting for the rain to stop, when we realized that Lucy was going into labour. Baby Kelsey was born before dark with no problems at all. Here’s a cute picture of our new baby girl: 
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Today, at 4:07 this morning, Michelle gave birth to another baby girl. 
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So now we have 2 baby girls and 2 big mama’s to milk. I help our worker, Christopher, with milking every morning and evening. Michelle turned out to be a little sassy, but I think that she’s settling down now. The kids are all thrilled to be able to drink milk every evening after supper, and since school is getting ready to close we will be making quite a bit of money selling the milk every day. Lucy is producing about 15liters every day, and today being the first day we milked Michelle, we can’t really guess how much she will contribute, but I’m expecting her to surpass Lucy. We’ll see. Either way, it will help offset expenses for the parents who can’t afford to pay school fees! THANK YOU to every single contribution! You guys are the ones who put these cows here – thank you a million times over!
 
In other news… all of my kids are healthy and strong. Denis came back to school and is putting weight back on. He finished his exams last week and has been helping take care of the cows. None of the kids have started milking yet, but they all pitch in when it comes to bringing water and working in the garden where we grow grasses to feed them. In fact, today all of my kids helped dig flower gardens along my house and the office. We worked on it this morning and even lined them with small rocks collected from around the compound. I’ll add a few pictures for you to see.
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While Denis was at the hospital, I met a man who worked there and knew of another deaf child staying at home in his village. He was curious about what services were available, or what people do with such children, so I explained that normally we treat them like humans and educate them. We exchanged info and on Monday of last week, Ambalo arranged to have him brought to school. He’s a feisty little thing, terrorizing all of his agemates, but it’s good he came this term to adjust to school life so when he returns next term it won’t be so shocking to him. 
 
So, that’s life at Nina. Let’s have a countdown: 
5 more days with my kids
6 days until my farewell party
16 days until I leave my home in Siaya (to Nairobi for close of service procedures)
21 days until I am no longer a Peace Corps Volunteer
30 days until I say goodbye to Kenya and hello to Vietnam
55 days until my feet touch American soil for the first time in over a year. 
 
OMG! OMG! OMG!
 
Soooooooooo, what am I gonna wear tomorrow?

Wrapping things up

As my time in Kenya dwindles down, I’m starting to get a bit frenzied about last minute accomplishments and projects. I’ve been devoting quite a bit of time to our milk cows, milking in the mornings before school, and in the afternoons I try to find an hour to teach crocheting and bracelet making, as well as just spending time with the little ones. It’s hard, getting ready to say goodbye. I mean it’s never easy…. but I guess this one feels odd because I have known for so long that this was coming, but I always felt like I had so much time. Welp, guess what? I don’t! And like my mom pointed out, there’s never really a GOOD time to say goodbye, and there are always going to be things I wish I had just a little more time to accomplish… but overall, I would say I’m pretty content with what I’ve been able to accomplish and learn here. I stand by my earlier post claiming that Kenya has changed me more than I could ever dream to change it, and these people have shaped me into a different, new Kelsey. I know I’m leaving a print here, but little do they know how they are leaving a print on me. I’m really going to miss these people!

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Crocheting with Quinta
Crocheting with Quinta
Crocheting lesson
Crocheting lesson
With Quinta, after crocheting
With Quinta, after crocheting

So, if you want to get technical, I have 24 days remaining as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I officially complete my service on December 6, 2013. My friend is coming to meet me in Kenya on December 11, and we are leaving Kenya together on December 15. Before coming home, we are going to visit Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand – spending about a month amongst the three. My ETA in America is January 11.

What next? Don’t ask. Please… I beg you. That’s the one question that is sure to evoke panic in any near-RPCV (myself especially included). Your guess is as good as mine. I have cast my line in a few different ponds, so we’ll see what happens. The possibilities are endless. That’s the best part about this experience, possibly…  the doors it opens for the rest of your life. I’ve had experiences that just can’t be replicated, and can’t be explained or understood, and it changes things – especially perspective. I can’t wait to see what falls into my lap next.

Anyways, let me leave you with some recent pictures. Since the end is coming closer and closer, I’m getting more comfortable asking people to take a picture of ME. So here are a few, from a harambee (fundraising) I went to with Mr. Ambalo and Mr. Sirawa at a special school for mentally impaired children (maybe not politically correct? I didn’t choose those words.)

With Mr. Ambalo after lunch
With Mr. Ambalo after lunch
Ambalo, me, Sirawa, and some lady who totally photo bombed. Ugh. Annoying.
Ambalo, me, Sirawa, and some lady who totally photo bombed. Ugh. Annoying.
With the headteacher of a nearby school.
With the headteacher of a nearby school.
Kelsey Sandwich!
Kelsey Sandwich!
My clan - Ambalo, Sister (The headmistress of the host school), Headteacher from nearby special school, me, Sirawa
My clan – Ambalo, Sister (The headmistress of the host school), Headteacher from nearby special school, me, Sirawa

We’ve got MILK!

Finally, one of our cows has given birth to a beautiful baby girl named Kelsey! I was able to help with the delivery and see her first steps – and even give the udder the first squeeze 🙂 Here are a few pics from her first few days.

Newborn baby Kelsey!

Day 1

Milking on the second day

WIth Christopher, the cow worker

Fire Prevention Week (October 6-12, 2013), Kenyan Style

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GIving fire safety lessons before practicing escape routes.
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Assisting the girls with exiting through the rear window of the dormitory during our first fire drill.
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The boys practicing exiting the dormitory through the rear window during our fire drill.
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The girls running from the dormitory to our “safe place” meeting point.
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During one of our later drills, while we were timing their escape, the girls even began using 2 windows to exit the dormitory.
Fire Prevention Week (October 6-12, 2013), Kenyan Style
Running to our “safe place” meeting point after escaping the dormitory during our fire drill.
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Discussing the drill with the girls afterwards.
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Giving feedback to the girls after they were all counted at the “safe place.”
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Now, last time, from the beginning! The girls would go pretend to be asleep in the dormitory and the house mother would wake them with a whistle and flashlight to start the drill.
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After a day full of running and squeezing through windows, the kids deserved some Kenyan style Kool-Aid (“quencher”) and biscuits.
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Nina Special School for the Deaf! Congratulations on your first (of many) fire drill!

The Village Life

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The road connecting my house to civilization. About 15km of this lies between Nina and Siaya.

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The path I follow for my afternoon walks, which also leads to my local market. It’s a tight squeeze when the cattle come through!

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The traditional Luo hut – one of many lining the roads in my village. I pass this hut every day on my daily afternoon walks.

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Fresh fish from Lake Victoria! This one was bought in Ugunja, with Dorine. They flash fry it before spreading them out in the open air market. Once it’s sold, they wrap it in newspaper and tuck it in your purse. I cooked it with onions and tomatoes, like a stew. Delish!

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One of the biggest perks of living in the village – fresh produce! Okra from my own garden, avocados from the tree shading my house, potatoes from Dorine, lemons and tomatoes from local mamas, brought to me by Stephen.

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Deworming day at Nina! Here, little Alvin is taking his deworming tablet with a gulp of water.

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Cooking mandazi (donuts) in our school kitchen. All of our school food is cooked over these small fires, with 3 large stones supporting the sufurias (cooking pots). Can’t wait to show off my cooking skills around the campfire when I get back!

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Another shot of me cooking up a storm in our school kitchen. You can see on the left, water is boiling for tea for the kids. The two buckets have water for cooking, which was collected from the borehole about 100m from the kitchen.

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The eternally beautiful Dorine – in her house, after she cooked a lovely lunch for Daisy and I.

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Miss Daisy, ready to dig-in to Dorine’s famous dengu & chapati.

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Post-Lunch makeover for little Suzy in Dorine’s house.

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One of my all time favorite pictures – Dorine’s nephew and sister, relaxing in the shade of one of the houses in her family compound.

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Admiring newborn baby, Beryl. Notice that she is just laying on the couch – no one is holding her. This is one major difference I’ve noticed between Kenyan and American cultures. In America, the baby is passed from one visitor to the next, with little or no time left alone. Here in Kenya, it’s typical for the baby to relax on the couch while visitors take turns admiring from a distance.

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Is there anything this woman can’t do? Our housemother, Anjeline, plaiting Lavenda-tall (we have 2 Lavenda’s – known as Lavenda small and Lavenda tall) during her free time.

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One of the school’s fabulous cooks, Joyce, shredding sukuma for the kids’ dinner. In the background you can see the pot used for cooking an enormous ugali and the dishrack.

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Steve, another jack of all trades, working on cooking a monster ugali for the kids. To the right, in the yellow bucket, you can see the ground maize flour he is about to use to make the ugali.

DSCN1255Undoubtedly the biggest bananas I have ever seen in my life. Tons of them. Enough for everyone in my school to get one, including staff and teachers. These came from a local mama, brought directly to the school on the top of her head.

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My little buddy, Paul, sporting the ‘stache. After drawing it on his face, he showed it off (to everyone’s amusement) for about an hour before asking if he could wash it off. I told him it was a tattoo, just like mine, and it wouldn’t come off. He believed me and ran away crying. When I found him, I helped him clean up and took a picture of his clean face to prove it. (He’s still my buddy, and in fact asks for a new one almost every day)