This is Monday and I have not posted for 3 days, so will try to fill you in. Friday, my friend and fellow KH board member, Alison Staab, arrived from the US. We were about 5 minutes late getting to the airport, so I found her standing with her suitcases, totally unruffled. If it were my first trip and no one was there to meet me I’d be plenty ruffled!!!! But Alison is a trooper.
It was evening before we got back to Naivasha, and she was very tired, so we had a quick dinner and she was off to bed.
Next morning she was up bright and early—how early I don’t know b/c I was not up early. I am definitely an owl. We had a leisurely breakfast, then walked down to the corner to get a paper. When we got there we decided to walk further, ending up with a nice long hike, dodging piki pikis (motor bikes), matatus, buses, cars, donkey carts—the usual hazards, but it was fun to show her a bit of the town. We walked over the to Catholic Bookshop, where she bought some math textbooks. She is also a retired math teacher, so we hope to become the dynamic duo in the math department. We’ll see.
Later in the day we drove to the Naivas supermarket, which is fun just to wander around in. They have everything. After that we walked over to the big open air market to buy mangos, avocados, tomatoes, onions, bananas. The market is huge and ever so lively. I love going there and Alison was enjoying comparing it to markets in So.Sudan and India, both of which she has visited.
In between were drop-in visits from friends, all of whom wanted to chat (and so did I), but finally it was time to meet our dinner guest, Betsy Rose, who was visiting a new mother in the district hospital right across the road. I haven’t written about Betsy, who arrived just 3 days after I did. She has been staying at the house Fr. Kiriti arranged for me to rent. At first I felt bad about abandoning her there, but she assured me many times that she really appreciated having a large space all to herself. A Berkeley resident and folk singer, she has devoted her life to women’s singing circles and the empowerment of women. She came here as a guest of Catherine Wanjohi of Life Bloom and has sung with groups all over the Naivasha area, school children, women of LB, in the men’s prison (where she had a wonderfully positive experience, even “jamming” with men in their own guitar group), the women’s prison, and the girls of SFG. She has been traveling the world for 6 months, making a video of girls singing songs like We Shall Overcome, Welcome to the Circle, How Could Anyone Ever Tell You, You Are Anything But Beautiful (from the gathering of women in Beijing in 200X-can’t remember), Gather The Women Let the Circle Begin, We Are the Women Giving Birth to Tomorrow, We Are Sending You Light to Heal You, to Hold You and more. Often the girls make up their own verses which are pertinent to their lives. Betsy will be sharing it with all of us sometime after she gets back to Berkeley and I’ll be glad to pass it on to all. She left Sunday for Liberia where she will be singing with the women who were responsible for ousting Charles Taylor. If you have not seen Pray the Devil Back to Hell about what the women of Liberia did, I highly recommend it.
Here are Alison and Betsy at La Belle a local restaurant with good food and reasonable prices. We had a wonderful chat and report on all Betsy’s doings. She particularly loved singing with the girls of SFG and they loved her too.
Sunday morning was Alison’s first Kenyan mass. She was inspired by the wonderful singing and the energy of the congregation, but especially she loved the children who dance down the aisle 3 or 4 times during the mass. Some look to be only 4 or 5, but they DANCE!!! Mass here is generally 2 hours, which is a long time for someone used to ½ that time. The pews are hard and despite having Jim’s to hold me up, my backside begins to complain well before the last hymn. Maybe I’ll bring a cushion some Sunday, but I suspect the people will not understand (Kenyan backsides tend to be better padded than mine!) After mass we walked down to the corner to buy 2 copies of The Nation. We both like the Sudoku and X-word puzzles. Julia and the children are glad to get 2 copies when we are finished with them. All the kids here love to read the newspaper. Afterwards it is used to light the fires in the kitchen stoves.
Sunday is the day people come by to visit. This day it was my dear friend, Regina Muchimi, whom I first met in 2005 at Archbishop Ndingi, where she was a cracker-jack math teacher. She is no longer at Ndingi, having been hired for a government school. It’s about 1 hour from Naivasha near an area called Kinegop, where it rains a lot and is often COLD. Regina has a daughter named Jenny (about 13) who has always been very shy with me, although Regina tells me she thinks Jenny will be much more comfortable now that she is older and understands English better. The way I’ve tried to woo Jenny is with peanut butter toast, which she loves, as does her mother.
At dinner we enjoyed entertaining Joyce, a good friend of mine and member of the board of Empower the World foundation (ETW) which is the NGO established here to receive and disburse funds sent by Kenya Help. She, her husband Charles and the 2 children, Travis and Precious arrived promptly at 6:30 for a spaghetti dinner. My kitchen is very small. Judy once described it as a “One butt kitchen.” We had to pull the table away from the wall to seat 6 people around it, which meant we were even more squeezed, but despite the limitations of space we had a wonderful visit. Joyce is an entrepreneur par excelance, while Charles is a thermo geologist, currently earning a PhD in Iceland, where there is plenty of thermal heat, as there is in Kenya. He is home for a couple of months before returning for his next year. When the children (about 6 and 8 maybe) began to get restless with all the talk, I opened the suitcase of books and told them they could each choose 2 to keep. That kept them quite busy for the rest of the evening. Thank you, donors of those books. They are worth their weight in gold here!