#20 2014 Meetings and Dinner and a Visit
Saturday was the meeting of board of governors for SFG. It’s quite an impressive board, all professional people, one in HR, and several business owners. Fr. Kiriti is chairman of that board and I am always invited when I am here.
After the meeting I dropped in to one of the Form 4 classes and found a ready audience of maybe 10 girls who had questions. We worked for over an hour, but I could see their energy was flagging, so we knocked off for the day. Looking for more “clients” I found Joyce, one of the form 1 girls from Mji Wa Neema. I’ve known all the children here for 10 years, although it took me a few years to get all the names and faces connected. Joyce is a very sweet girl, kind of quiet and a very hard worker. However, math is a total mystery to her. I think she has now sorted out how to add positive and negative numbers. It’s a concept we have wrangled with many times, but (cross my fingers) I think she might have it. She does well in the non-science/math classes, but numbers are not her friends, try as we both have. Poor dear!
I had made plans for dinner with Anastasia and husband, Mwangi, and Fr. Kiriti. He is old friends with them and he doesn’t get to see them very often. We’d planned to eat at the Naivasha Golf and Sports club, but there was a big tournament that day and it was jammed. We found a very nice hotel, one I had not seen before, and had a fun, relaxing dinner. I had dinner with Anastasia and Mwangi just recently, along with their friend, Fr. Nick (just so you can place them among the many people I’ve written about). We were all loathe to leave, but Fr. Kiriti had an early mass next day, so he left, while Anastasia and Mwangi and I lingered on. I enjoy their company so much.
Next day I went to SFG again, working with more form 4’s. Some of them really struggle with math and many don’t really like it, despite my efforts to lighten it up. In the middle of a rather hairy problem my phone rang. It was Jesse Wahome, on the board of Empower the World. “Margo, did you forget at 3 we were going to visit Elizabeth, the deaf woman who used to sign the mass?” It was 2:55. ARGH! How could I forget? “Can we put it off for an hour? I have some eager learners here, I hate to turn that off.” We agreed we’d meet at 5, which was perfect.
Elizabeth is like so many Kenyan women who “get babies”, as if they were sold at the Naivas. Only this time she “got” twin boys. Her family has rejected her and the father isn’t paying up—evidently he is unemployed and sick. I asked Jessie and wife, Irene, the question I ask so many times, “Don’t they know what causes it?” I’m not a prude, but “getting” babies you can’t take care of doesn’t make sense to me. Right now she is living on the good will of her friends and neighbors, but eventually she’ll need to figure out how to be independent.
She’s really a lovely person. She initiated the signing of the mass and soon had a class of folks wanting to learn signing. Of course she can’t do it herself b/c she does not hear, having lost that ability to meningitis when she was a child. So sad.
Not wanting to go empty-handed, Jesse and I made a foray to the Naivas where we bought staples, including detergent and a big pkg of pampers. Yes, most people here use disposable diapers. Most of them live in houses without running water. They have to purchase water or fetch it from a communal faucet. Not easy, so disposable diapers are the way to go. I don’t even want to think about how they are disposed of. ARGH!!!
She lives in a tiny one-room “house”, where she was making tea on a “jiko”, which is a small charcoal burner, that must be used with good ventilation, because it gives off carbon monoxide. Every once in awhile I read about a death attributed to cooking inside with charcoal. Terrible, but again, how else could they cook? I think most people know to leave the door open, but they are sill exposed and my memory from many years ago is that exposure to CO does brain damage.
This is Irene with Martin, Margo with Matthew and Elizabeth.
We chatted, with Irene signing and interpreting for me. Jesse had asked me to go because she has become depressed and needed to know others cared about her. Such a hard life. Hopefully she’ll be able to take in some sewing projects soon, as she has that skill, as well as hair dressing. Women here have very elaborate coiffeurs, such that she spend long hours in the salon each week. Hair braiding is a nice way to pick up some cash and it can be done at home.
She was thrilled to receive the things we brought. I didn’t see much else to eat in the house, so it was a timely visit and I think it did cheer her up.
Today is Monday. I spent it at SFG, finishing up my solutions to the 2013 KCSE math exam. There are 2 papers (exams), each with 24 questions. Some are easy, like 1 minute, but others are nasty. There are several I haven’t sorted out yet and one on Kenyan taxes that I will never sort out. Too complicated! Tomorrow is a national holiday to celebrate the end of Ramadan, so there will be no exams. I will drive Fr. Kiriti to Nakuru in the morning, then go to school to work again with individual students.
Students in forms 1-3 are now doing end of term exams. Form 4’s are doing mocks, the practice exam for the KCSE, which they take in October. The mocks take 3 weeks (as do the KCSE exams). So some days they may have only one exam, while others they might have 3. I have set myself up in one of the science labs and girls come in when they want to and are free. Generally I have 6-12, depending and we thrash through questions. If the question is particularly hairy we find more like them and they try them for themselves. I really love this kind of teaching, where I can take all the time necessary to get everyone comfortable with a concept or topic. Yesterday 2 girls stopped me to thank me and to say they had given up on math but now they have hope and are working hard to at least pass the math portion of the KCSE. It brought tears to my eyes. They were so earnest in their appreciation. If I ever question why I spend so much time and effort here, that question is put to rest when students tell me it has made a difference to them.
I’m also getting ready for the classes I do mornings at Mji Wa Neema for anyone who wants to come. This year, for the first time, several girls have asked whether they could stay there so they can take advantage of that extra time. I’ve talked to matron, Julia, who agreed, but said we had to get permission from Fr. Mwangi. He has agreed, so it’s a go. The traditional “tuitioning” which is private tutoring, much like what I do, except parents have to pay for it, has been outlawed. However, since the term “tuition” implies a fee and I don’t charge anything, it is OK. They can’t outlaw someone helping kids who want to learn! Today yet another asked me, but I’m not sure how many can be accommodated. It will be fun to have them here. Three of our girls are among the form 4’s, so they all know each other well. The ones who will come are all very nice girls, who will be helpful and well-behaved. If not, I’ll send them home, but I think that will not be a problem.
=Love to all