It certainly has been a long time since I last posted, this time I can honestly say I have been busy- I have often sat down to start writing my blog and have become distracted by a whole range of things- a monkey outside my window, a colleague coming to chat, an opportunity to go visit a school, an exciting email from friends and family (I love emails- hint hint!!) etc. Well, I am committed to sitting down with a warm cup of Ketepa and some country music after office hours to write my blog.
Tomorrow morning I leave for ZANZIBAR with the other YAVs and Phyllis (one of our two YAV retreats for the year.) We will head to Dar, Tanzania (T-Zed) on a 12 hour bus journey, spend the night in Dar, then take the ferry across to Zanzibar J While its not Turkey dinner at the lake with my parents or stuffing and apple pie with my sister and grandparents, I’m not going to complain. I am learning to find the comforts of my holiday season this year in new places instead of carol singing on Park Avenue with my church -- lighting of the mall in Nairobi with friends, instead of cooking baking with my sister--cooking baking with the girls at First Love Kenya and instead of Christmas shopping—some time at New Life orphanage during the holiday season.
On to my blog post….
Every day Jane, the receptionist at the OAIC, comes into my office to sit down and chat with me the other day she sat down to “tell me a story.” She told me that when pre-mature babies are born they sit in an incubator and that burses go to visit them, she said “now, the babies who are visited by their families and the nurses, that the nurses hold and talk to- those babies get better faster than the other babies.” She said “I am like you nurse, I come to check on you and make sure you are ok, just by visiting. “ So, with the help of Jane- I am finally leaving my incubator (office) and heading out to new exciting things that aren’t a part of the daily routine I built for myself and that I sometimes don’t want to do not feel like doing.
The other day I went to Gatina Primary School, one of the free government schools in Kenya to visit with them on their last day of the year. The Standard 8 children (8th grade) are the first group of children to graduate from the free primary schools in Kenya so the OAIC and a group in the US called Project Promise worked together to buy all the children school shoes as a gift. A team from the OAIC came to the school and spoke to the children about the importance of their education. While the shoes are a helpful gift to the children and their parents as it is one less thing they need to buy for school, it wasn’t all about the shoes. The children in standard 8 were finally getting the kind of recognition they deserved. (I remember for my eighth grade graduation we had a party with my friends and family and took a trip to Mackinac Island.) This may not be the same, but these children deserve some congratulations for their hard work and some credit for their completion of primary school. Not only some celebration for their work, but encouragement to continue to do better and encouragement for the other 7 grades who came to watch the Standard 8’s receive their shoes.
Yesterday I went to graduation for African Pride Centre, a pre-school developed by the OAIC Kenya chapter. The graduation took pretty much all day but it was soo worth it. The children graduating (pre-unit) will enter primary school next year, most of them at Gatina Primary school across the way. APC focuses on the whole family at the school. To receive admission into the school parents must have people vouche for them (pastors and imams) and write something explaining their desire to have their children attend. The idea is to have people in the school who truly want better for their children regardless of their financial status. The school has a computer lab for parents and people in the community to learn computer basics to help with their businesses, has a sewing room to teach women how to sew and use sewing machines to promote small businesses and has a bank where parents save their money and are able to borrow in small increments to start businesses. The school focuses on why parents are in poverty and makes the effort to help both the parent and the child out of poverty. The children are separated into three colorful classrooms with caring teachers, they have a nice swingset and slide and learn to raise their own chickens and plant and care for their own sukuma wiki (greens.)
Graduation at APC was wonderful, the children performed a small skit for us where they explained the importance of education and thanked their parents for bringing them to the school as well as danced for us. They were entertained with a moonbounce and clowns to dance with during speeches from some other schools in the area (Kawangare.)
Today I went to the First Love project in Kibera. I have gone to the First Love project in Karen (the orphanage) before but have never been to visit the school and the feeding program. I spent the afternoon touring the compound, meeting with the women’s groups who make quilts, baskets, aprons, bags etc., checking out the daycare and meeting some of the boys who will move into the orphanage soon (currently it is set up only for girls but the new building that will be completed very soon will house the new boys.) I got to spend some time with the little babies in the daycare which certainly can make anyones day better; when you’re having a great day to begin with, it puts a whole different kind of smile on your heart.
I have also started buying my groceries from produce stands on my walks rather than in the large grocery stores and have traveled to new churches. I am leaving the Kenyan comfort zone I created for myself and I like it! Eleanor Roosevelt said “do one thing each day that scared you,” I wouldn’t say I am afraid to do the things I am doing, but they aren’t things I always want to do, sometimes it is easier to stay in the routine we have for ourselves, but the payout sure is worth it!
Well, I am off to finish preparing for Zanzibar—look back here soon for pics and an update on Zanzibar!!! :)