Tuesday, October 11, 2005

One of those days

Do you know what, sometimes i wish i didn't do anything except work, eat and sleep. No sooner had i got home then i got a phone call i was supposed to be meeting the centre manager at the community centre so i headed on up there. Got home, no food, cos i was too tired to do a proper shop last night, and it had gone past that threshold where you can't be bothered to cook or anything. Decided eventually on a take away despite not really being able to justify the cost - in the end convenience won. Then my mobile went, I'm supposed to be at another meeting now to organise a circuit service, i feel a bit bad that i can't go. It's just too much...

Anyway, on a better note I got an email from Siobhan in Kenya:

Well, I've made it to the second email! Yes, I know I lied in the last one. I was viciously attacked by a fit of blond-ness and wrote next week instead of 2 weeks. Please forgive me! Perhaps so called 'African time' is rubbing off on me. I've even noticed some Kenyans talking about American time when they want something to start promptly!

You'll be pleased to know that I've become used to the food, although I still think cabbage is seriously over-rated. As food is one of my favourite topics I'm going to continue for a while. Last Saturday I learnt how to make chipatis but I didn't learn how to spell it - I hope that's right. I have also tasted sugar cane, which is like rock but you have to spit bits out and you can't get any with your name written through the middle. I almost lost some more teeth eating it, watching some of the kids filled me with awe. They either have good technique or their jaws are made from titanium. Most of the time they lop of a cane from one of the plants around the home but you also see men with overflowing wheelbarrows in town. Another thing you find in wheelbarrows is live chickens. In fact I've just remembered that on my 4th day in Meru I was with Esther and she bought one of these infamous live chickens. Being the young fit and able one I was the one who had to go and fetch it and put it in the boot. I don't think that beats Janet but it was a bit weird.

It's not just my stomach that's settled in - the rest of me feels more at home as well. I think I've just about got the hang of the routine. I don't feel so much like a torist any more but I've discovered that I myself am I torist attraction! Every time I walk through town I get stared at like I have two heads. The other day I even got a bunch of kids following me back through the slums. However, I do feel a bit out of place sometimes because some of the 'children' are older than me yet I'm counted as staff - where do I fit in?! Woe is me!

The school system here starts at 7 with 8 years of primary followed by 4 years of secondary (which is usually bording school). Which means that the end of primary school is like GCSE age but quite a few started late or had to repeat years so they end up being older than me. Free primary education only came in a couple of years back when the 3rd President (yes, they've only had 3!) was elected.

He appears to be making quite a lot of changes (like surfacing roads!! Whoo!) but the main one is the constitution. Everyone here is bananas! No, that is not a prejudiced assessment of their mental capabilities, it is a judgement of the current political climate. Honest. Due to high levels of illiteracy, when they vote on the new constitution it'll be bananas for 'yes' and oranges for 'no'. How cool is that? Most people round here seem to be bananas but we'll have to wait until November to find out.

I've been spending a couple of days a week at CCM which is a feeding project in Meru town that feeds some of the other street children the Children's Home can't take in. Just so you know 'street children' doesn't mean 'homeless'. Most of them have a parent/guardian but choose to spend most of their time on the street because home isn't very pleasant. Poverty is a big issue, just being able to get food is a problem let alone paying rent and HIV/AIDS only compounds the problem. As well as giving out lunch they're encouraging the guardians of the children to grow their own food. (The school where it's based has given over some land for this, which was very nice of them.) The social services and Food for the Hungry do quite a lot of home visits to guardians - the theory being that anything they do will be a waste of time if it's not backed up by the parents/guardians. I've tagged along on a few of them, hense the pied piper impression through the slums with the kids following me. These visits have been very interesting in a horrible kind of way. I will not attempt to describe the homes of some of the people because it will make me cry.

In order to continue walking around Meru on home visits when the rains come I've invested in a lovely pair of wellies, they are a stylish black so will always be fashionable. Sometime in the next two weeks all the bright red dust which is currently choking me will turn into bright red mud which will no doubt make me fall over. It's slightly bewildering to see people preparing for some rain. One of the things we've been busy with over the weekend is preparing a field for growing maize. Which means I helped with the lovely job of moving tons of manure, I did attempt to balance the bucket on my head but I think manure isn't the best thing to pratice with.

I've also had my hair plaited, which felt like a xylophone had landed on my scalp. It took ages! As in, 5 hours! But it looked good, at least everyone here seemed to appreciate me looking like a 'proper' Kenyan girl.

Church is much better now I can understand what people say. This Sunday was the first sermon I could actually follow! Success! My Swahili lessons have taken a musical form, as the Home has a choir and they've started teaching me the songs as well. It'll be even better when I know what they mean! Kimeru is still beyond me, my tongue is having serious problems, at least I can greet people now.

And with that I'll say goodbye.


That's cool, cos it's exactly a year since I set out on my travels, starting with Kenya

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