#19-2013 Not The Way I Planned It—Again!
The Plan Jecinta needed to go to Nakuru to pay fees for her clients in schools for various handicaps and I needed to go for a haircut. Our plan was to leave at 8:30. At 9 we drove out, hoping to make my 10 am appointment with a 1 hour, 15 minutes (with good traffic karma) drive. On the way, Jecinta revealed she had not been able to determine the amount needed for surgeries for 2 of the children and the department supplying the money needed a total amount before they could cut her a check. So she was just coming along with me for the ride and for a day of relaxation. Needless to say I was happy to have the company or that hairy drive. Possibly 10 % of the drive is 4 lanes. The remainder is full of SLOW trucks, so “overtaking” is required, or the 100 km drive (60+ miles) can be done at an average speed of 20 mph (no exaggeration). I get very tense over that drive and doubt I’ll ever do it comfortably.
It’s always a bit dicey for me to find the road to Shamin’s compound, so I was doubly glad for Jecinta’s company. We actually beeped the horn at the compound gate at 10:15, not even considered late here. Shamin, who was trained in London, has been cutting my hair since 2006. She is a lovely person, inside and out, and it’s always a treat to see her again. She chopped off a lot, but in a week I’ll look pretty normal again and I was happy to have the mop trimmed. She and Jecinta had met before and happily chatted away during the procedure. She happened to mention another mzungu client who makes earrings out of junk (taka taka), like plastic bottles, bottle caps, old beads anything. Shamin was so positive about them I asked whether she was near and upon learning she was, asked Shamin to call to arrange a viewing.
Fifteen minutes later we were met by her husband on his motor bike and led down a narrow lane lined with lush bougainvillea to a compound that was like paradise. We were met by small dog Bella, various children, Lydia and her husband, whose name I can’t remember (ARGH! That again!)
Immediately I knew I liked this South African Afrikaner lady, who has lived in Kenya about 15 years, running, along with her husband, a home/school for street boys, and a number of schools. They have no biological children, but have adopted 7 African children, the first of whom, Joy, is 16 and is a Zulu from SA. The others are all Kenyan. It didn’t take long to see what wonderful children they are, polite, confident, bright, active, interested and simply delightful. Lydia told us that at age 7 she had announced to her mother that there were plenty of children in the world and she did not plan to add to their number, but one can see from her interactions with her brood that she loves children and understands how to raise them with love. They are home schooled. One is a swimmer who holds 4 records for the district (like a state) and swam 5K yesterday. Another takes guitar lessons. In addition to the children, the family includes the aforementioned Bella, some baby chicks currently living in a screened front porch, 2 snakes in terrariums (harmless egg eaters we were assured, as Lydia lovingly lifted them from the cage to show them off), and rabbits, of which we saw one darling baby bunny. Outside there is a very grumpy monitor lizard living in a large concrete pen with a swimming pool. He had been taking his afternoon siesta and whipped his head and tail about to communicate his displeasure at being awakened.
Lydia and her husband are like Jack Spratt and wife. She’s a talker, he’s a quiet listener. But they are both passionate about their work with children and the joy it brings them. Lydia told us they had had only 1 of the street kids run away, which is an amazing record. Street boys are almost always addicted to glue and have had no training nor discipline. The center provides them with schooling as well as training in carpentry, electricity, and a number of other skills. Lydia’s husband is an electrician, but I suspect he is a jack-of-all-trades. They talked easily about the children, the first of whom (Joy) came to them while they were still in SA. Neither set of Afrikaner parents ever stepped in their home again. Her parents have now passes away, and his have eased their stance a bit, but they have still never visited. What a shame. I can’t remember ever meeting such a loving family. Pictured are the guitar student (forgot name), Dad, Thomas, Joy, Lydia, Teday (TD), and in front (ARGH!!! name gone) another boy holding Bella.
I loved the earrings, which Lydia tells me get sold as fast as they can produce them. They are made by the street boys from baked small pieced of plastic bottles, and bottle caps or other stuff. Lydia explained the idea came to her in the middle of a sleepless night, a source of many ideas and inspirations for her. I bought a pair for myself and one for Jecinta and ordered 30 to 40 pairs to bring home. I will get them in a few weeks when Joy and another sibling will journey to Naivasha for 2 weeks to attend my math workshops.
As we chatted, Jecinta received a call that a client was waiting for her in Naivasha. She needed to get back, but I needed to stay, having called my friend Agnes Mwamburi, who works with vulnerable women in Nakuru and is always looking for income producing projects. I thought she should come see the earrings. So after a quick but lovely lunch, I took Jecinta into Nakuru proper to catch a matatu home and picked Agnes, accompanied by Joy, a Kenyan student, studying in Uganda, and interning with Agnes. Joy (another one) is majoring in environmental science and is passionate about using discarded detritus. She loved hearing about SFG, with it’s solar/wind electricity, bore hole powered by by solar and all the other stuff. As you see, she is darling and loves being mentored by Agnes.
Agnes and Lydia were a match made in heaven. They immediately bonded and had many things to share. It turns out that Agnes has changed her focus to vulnerable girls who are at risk of dropping out of school at the class 7 or 8 level for lack of parental support, abuse, lack of funds, the usual. She has established a center where the girls live and receive her strong guidance and love. She’s another powerhouse who takes no prisoners. I never want to be on the wrong side of her but fortunately she and I see eye to eye.
We met in 2005 when Fr. Kiriti had brought me to Nakuru while he attended to some business. He had known her when they both worked in the diocesan office. When we encountered her on the way to have tea, he invited her to join us. Later he went off to do whatever and when he returned 2 hours later, Agnes and I were still chatting and enjoying a new friendship.
It was getting on towards 5 and I was facing the drive back to Naivasha alone. Reluctantly we left, promising to get together again. I took Joy and Agnes back to Nakuru center and fought my way onto the road to deal with the trucks and matatus. A bit more than an hour later I arrived home tired, but glad I went and very glad to be back.
When I called Fr. Kiriti to tell him I was safely back and give him a quick rundown of my day, he immediately perked up when he heard about the home for street boys. He had established a school for street kids in one of the Nakuru slums when he was assigned to the youth office some years ago. We hope to visit them on Friday, Aug 2 when I return with him from my planned visit to Kositei.
Hardly had I kicked off my shoes and opened my email, when a knock came at my door with the usual, “Margo will you help me with my math?” This was Simon, one of the very best kids here at Mji W Neema, where there are a lot of neat kids. He is in class 8 and has his practice KPSE in math tomorrow. We kicked around the major questions he had and then I just had to quit, eat dinner and get on with this and other things. I assured him he would do fine, which he will and heated up some leftovers from last night’s dinner—which I have not yet written about. ACK! Too much going on.
Now it is after 11. Good night!