Don’t know if I wrote this before, but I’m writing this stuff in Word then pasting it to blogger, otherwise when I finally get online I would say something even more lame than the rest of this stuff. Everything is sequential but not necessarily one right after the other.
Sometimes I’ll be watching TV with Papa and they would be speaking Kiswahili and then switch to English. At these moments I would think that I was able to understand them amazingly speaking in Kiswahili. And then I am brought back to life and realize the fact of it. It reminds me of the episode of The Simpsons when Bart is sent to France as an exchange student and he’s treated very badly. At the end of the episode he is complaining about “stupid France” and mumbling about how he can’t even speak the language after all the time he’s spent there. And during his mumbling he starts talking in fluent French. That was a good episode. I wish that would happen to me. Here’s a Swahili lesson for you all. “Habari?” means, “how are you?” Then you respond by saying, “Mzuri,” meaning, “I am fine.” Take that one to the bank.
Happy Thanksgiving everybody, even though you won’t be reading this until several days later. Long and tiring day. Komotho, Benard (a Rohi high school kid), and I went to the dump, aka Hilton, today. Took a bota bota (bicycle driver with a cushion on the back) at about 8:30 am to the matatu (public transportation van) to town. Then hopped another matatu up to the dump. Hiked a short hill to the top and saw everything that goes with a trash dump and then some. This dump is complete with pigs, flies, stench, and people living there. Rohi is teaming up with Pastor Hudson and his church to look into starting a preschool there. The questionnaire I wrote up last week was put to use today. Benard and I went to about 18 “houses” and asked some questions to find out some information about the people there. I think there are about 130 people there. It is government land, and they are basically “squatters.” They are there, in short, because of not being able to support themselves financially in their previous homes for one reason or another. Being there is not pleasant. You have to watch where you step or you might find yourself cleaning your shoe of pig/dog feces or something else disgusting. Kirstin, Gladys’ cucu says hi. We took a picture where you took yours. She sends a video message I will show you when I get home. Benard did an awesome job of asking questions and translating. So basically we went from house to house (these houses are basically one room, sometimes split with a sheet down the middle, and made of sticks, plastic, sometimes mud, rocks, and whatever they can find. I’ve seen kids’ forts look better than these) the whole time and finally left around 3:30. It was a good five hours we were there. Then we took a bota bota back to town and ate some good food at Rift Fries. Took matatu and bota bota back to Rohi where we arrived at 6:10. Solid 10-hour day. I went to go for a run but ended up helping pick caels (sp), a plant leaf thing, pretty popular here, for a bit until it got dark. Rohi grows and sells them and other crops for sustainability. I took my camera around with me at the dump so I can put a video together about the place. I need a firewire that will hook up to my camera though. The USB only work from the chip, which is not very good quality. Hopefully the video will help people experience the place. Well, I’m about to eat dinner. Be thankful for what you have on this Turkey Day and pray for those who don’t have as much. It’s amazing how thankful those people are though, thanking God for every little thing. Peace.
I talked to my family this morning. So good hearing their voices and that everything is good. Unfortunately I used up the entire 1,070 shillings on the call and we got cut off. I just bought those minutes two days ago. Don’t know when I’ll be able to get more. So right now I am locked in the school office. I came into Komotho’s office when everybody was here. I started working on something and people started to slowly leave one by one. Next thing I know I hear the metal door close behind me. And then the lock close shut (can only be unlocked from the outside). By the time I could get over there the person had left. I’m feeling a bit claustrophobic. I hope the place doesn’t catch on fire. All the windows have bars on them. Not to mention no bathroom in here. Hmm, wonder where they all went. I have my phone, but it has no money on it. So funny. I think I could yell out the window if it comes to that point. …. She just came back after several hours (actually about 10 minutes) in solitary confinement. I can breathe again. Looks like I can survive another day in the Wilds of Africa!
I want to talk a bit about Mama and Papa, Papa in particular cuz I’ve talked with him more. Papa is 70 years old. He is a farmer and has been one all his life growing up on Nakuru. He is one of, I think, 17 brothers and sisters from three wives and a single father. He is from the second wife. I am assuming he lived the typical young African farmer’s life and heading down a similar path as his father. When he was 25 years old he was convinced to go to this thing where a preacher was speaking. He wasn’t planning on going and didn’t want to. He told me he had planned on doing “something bad” that night. So he goes to this thing and hears the preacher talk about a person’s soul, and “is anything more important than a man’s soul?” (Matthew 16:26) At this point he realized all the things he was striving for was meaningless if at the end of his life he had everything but his soul would be sent away into eternal destruction. From that point on he changed the way he lived his life. He got married that same year, had a family, and is living an amazing life. The choice he made that day changed the course of not only his life, but also the lives of his children and the generations to follow. His kids, who now have families of their own, could be another African statistic. Not only did he change his family’s life, but he changed the lives of at least hundreds of others. He gave up his land to provide this school called Rohi. He’s a leader in the community and is working on getting irrigation through the farms to the community. He is a good man who cares about the well-being of others in this life and the next. It’s good hearing his thoughts, and him giving me advice on marriage and what not.
You know what bothers me? When the toilet paper layers are not even. You know when the sheets come apart and are like a quarter inch apart? Especially when it’s at the beginning of the roll.
You know that saying, “Wherever you go, there you are.” That’s how it goes right? I used to hear that and say, “Duh!” But, last year in particular when I was here, I really knew what it meant. A lot of times people try to go away from something, a problem or looking for something. Just because the environment is different does not mean your problems will just go away. If you can’t find whatever it is you’re looking for (not necessarily a thing), maybe you’re not looking for what is reality. Don’t know if I’m making sense. For example, if you’re trying to find happiness in a place that is “better” you may never find that place. If you have problems with whatever, you will still have those problems whether you’re in California, Africa, China, Australia,… Just a thought. No matter where you go, the rash will still remain on your butt, and it may get worse. NOTE: This is not from personal experience- the rash thing that is. However, new environments can help in seeing things more clearly or working through a problem. Basically if you’re feeling depressed, don’t spend a bunch of money to go to paradise in Fiji. Spend the money on some meds, then go to Fiji
I figure I would take this time to thank all the very groovy people who helped me get here. I don’t feel like mentioning everybody, but you know who you are and so does God. So, give yourself a pat on the back. Go on, nobody’s looking. There. Now doesn’t that feel better? Thanks everybody.
I wonder how many people actually read this. I bet like 7 people. And most of them are my family. If you are reading this, pat yourself on the back. I even just did it. I made it look like I was scratching my back cuz Mr. Daniel Komotho is sitting right in front of me. Daniel just read the thing I wrote for the newsletter and deleted “boss” and “Mr.” in front of his name cuz he doesn’t want to be known as that. Such a humble guy. I like him. We’ve had some good laughs.
I’m trying to think about what you all want to hear. So I compiled all the questions we asked yesterday at the dump. We ended up going to 45 homes. We tallied 187 people living there (these numbers can be off and we may not have gone to all the homes), 40 of those are children under the age of 6, and 51 are between the ages of 7 and 13. A lot of those kids walk around barefooted. Many of the women collect plastic bags and weave pretty cool bags out of them. They then sell them.
Some of the jingles for products and shows are pretty funny to me. There’s one for rice that goes, “All Kenya Pishori Rice, Tastes so good, smells so nice.”
Don’t think I could watch another episode of “Catalina and Sebastian.” It has to be the worst show ever. As I said before, it is a Mexican soap opera. The music is horrible, the story is horrible, characters are dumb, and the American voice-overs are even worse. I watch the show maybe once or twice a week, and that is way too many times. Feel free to go online and watch an episode yourself. I hear the theme music from the other room and my stomach turns. Ok, I’m getting worked up so I’m moving on to a new subject.
If you ever want to become an instant celebrity, move to Kenya. The only thing required is that you have white skin. I think it’s gonna be weird when I go back to the US and people aren’t looking at me all the time when I go in public and I don’t have to wave hi and say “habari” every 10 seconds when I go on my runs. Although, it is pretty fun when kids come and run beside me for a little bit.
I went to church with Papa today. It was a Swahili service so he gave me the 411 on what was being said, even when a few things were spoken in English. I enjoyed that. One of the ladies prayed for what had to of been at least 15 minutes. I think she matched my word count in that one prayer with my word count for the day. I don’t think I’d be able to do that no matter how hard I try. I’m not a person of many words, if you didn’t know that already. It was cool though. Especially knowing that there are people on the other side of the world who believe the exact same thing as you and are “getting it.” So that makes me happy. After that I had a quality lunch of ugali (it’s like flour, maybe ground corn, and water? It’s mixed and has the consistency of very stiff mashed potatoes? Kinda hard to explain. Go online and google it. It’s doesn’t have much flavor, but it’s good nonetheless.), beans (but it’s not just beans), rice, and a baked/fried bread thing with some meat in it. It started raining at that time for about an hour with some thunder. It then stopped in time for street church. I brought my video camera and was able to record what it’s kinda like. I spoke and did, I think, a decent job. My speaking is not like the usual Kenyan speaking. Kirstin, those Probar things are good. I had my first one today. On the way home from street church we stopped off at the store and I bought the kids with us cookies. I bought some honey for myself to put on my peanut butter and bread in the morning. I’m looking forward to it.
I’m kinda baffled about some stuff. A large majority of people here are Christian. I see many churches, big and very small, like shack small, doing what they do, which I’m not 100% sure what they do. They might just be a social club or they might be doing good stuff. I’m not in the position to say. However, if a Christian’s job is to feed the hungry, help the poor, spread the gospel, etc, then why are there so many poor, hungry, spiritually deprived people here. Yet there are a lot of Christians here. Now, I have only been here for three weeks now, so I have only seen a tiny bit, and I do not know everything that people are doing. They can be doing a lot, and I just don’t see it. They can be doing so little. I met and spoke briefly to a man named Joseph and his wife Molly. They are from the US and are doing some amazing things here. One of the last things he said before he went was that if everybody who is doing something here teamed up, Kenya could be rid of many of the problems they have, poverty, kids on the streets, disease, etc. So, why don’t people do it? I know some people have great ambitions to start a school or orphanage or hospital or whatever, and they do it. That’s great! But, if they were to put their resources, (money, creativity, etc) into an already existing facility or organization, could they have helped the situation even more. For example, if a hospital is just scraping by financially and another one is set up 3 miles away from that one, don’t you think the problem would not get better. If the money was put into helping that struggling one, then it could be more productive and the mind power of it would be multiplied to doing so much more. Why reinvent the wheel when you could just add a patch to a deflating tire. In some cases starting over is a must, but only in rare situations. I just wish all the great minds here, and there are a lot of them could get together and figure this thing out. I’m sure there are several factors that go into why things are the way they are, but something has to give. I think I might be writing and trying to problem solve. In the meantime, if you are planning on starting an orphanage here, don’t! Find one that is doing it right and pour yourself into that. Thank you and goodnight.
I was talking to Daniel about Kenyan food told him that I want to videotape Mama one day cooking. And then I thought we could make a cooking show out of it. Americans love their cooking shows. Daniel said maybe Pauline, one of the secretaries here, can do it. We can then edit it and make it look good, combine it with a cookbook, and sell them. That’s a pretty good idea if I say so myself.
It’s pretty busy right now at Rohi. People are coming from all over to apply to go here. I would guess that there are probably at least 100 kids with their guardians here applying. I just asked Pastor Juma how they decide who gets in. I think he said the main thing is to see if they are orphans. It’s strange cuz I see all these kids and they seem really happy like normal kids. But a large majority of them don’t have parents for whatever reason. They are being taken care of by grandparents, aunts, uncles, whoever. It can be fairly easy to overlook this stuff if you don’t pay attention, although much more blatant than in the US. I was standing next to the door of the office as all the women were giving their paperwork (birth certificates, ids, etc) and I see a lady holding a death certificate. I don’t know whom it’s for, but that child has been greatly affected. That is why when I go for my runs and kids come running out from nowhere and yell, “Mzungu! How are you?” I do my best to respond to each kid with words, a wave, eye contact, or something. You never know when a tiny gesture might make all the difference in the world.
Came to town for the first time by myself today. I’m sitting here at Guava Café drinking a milkshake. Pretty good. I made my first appearance on the street, going to where the art stuff is. Kirstin, Vincent says hi. Also Sammy, if you know him. They seem like cool guys. I kinda feel like this is the start of some good stuff. I walked around the block, and at Nyayo Gardens (I would hardly call it gardens) is an HIV/AIDS rally thing. Some people talking, testing, counseling. That was good to see. Then a couple street kids looked at me, they looked at each other, then started, “I’m hungry! Can you give me some money or food?” It was perfectly on cue. They need to work on making it more convincing though. They hid the glue as I approached. Their English was pretty good. One of the kids was 13 and the other 11. They said they were on the street for over a year. I was talking to them about what they want to be and asked if they were in school. They said “no,” and I said how are you gonna be an engineer and pilot if you’re not in school. I asked if they did glue, and smiled wanting to say no. I asked if they think they should, and said they should not. I asked why they do it. They said it helps with the stress. Then I said a few other things. These two kids seemed pretty smart. I’m hoping I will see them around. So that was my first day on my own. There were a few kids I saw with nail polish on their toes or fingers. This, I think but will confirm, is to show that they are available for sexual acts.
The weather has been good. It's been about mid to upper 70s. But when the sun comes out, it's intense! I'm sure to bring my hat with me. I have to go. Gonna try to make it back for Swahili class with Troy and his family. I don't think I answered questions that were asked. Sorry. i'll try to maybe tomorrow when i have more time.