#25-2013 We Grow Slowly by Slowly
The kids were early again today. I was a lazy bum, getting up late, then showering and washing hair. They had already rearranged the tables and were sitting expectantly when I arrived. All were there, plus 2 more, an SFG form 1 and her form 1 friend from another school.
I had decided to let the students demonstrate the word problems I had given them. They did a good job and were very proud of themselves, except the last 2 were more complicated so I took over. We had to talk a lot about them but in the end everyone had a smile, so I knew they got it.
Then we talked about logs! Oh my, they have so little understanding. But we slogged away, talking about a variety of log questions and soon the small smiles began to appear. I felt sorry for the form 1’s who have never heard of logs, which are forms 2 and 3 material. However, they were very game and said they had followed. We will certainly hit this again tomorrow.
I almost had to shoo them away at noon, nearly 3 hours later. I’ve never had such an eager group and it’s really fun.
Catherine texted me in the middle, saying she was training a new group of peer educators, women in sex work who volunteer to educate their colleagues regarding gender-based violence and other issues of great concern to them. Because they were such an open group, she and Wanjiru decided I should join them. Since they were meeting quite near, I hopped over after my favorite lunch (peanut butter sandwich, banana and yogurt!) Wanjiru is wonderful the way she talks to the women, straightforward, respectful and able to discuss even very sensitive issues easily. It makes the women more comfortable when the issues that make them feel ashamed are brought out and shown the light of day – particularly abusive relationships. Every one of them had been married at one time or other, all had left the abusive partners. One older woman was heartily applauded when she told her story of getting fed up with abusive treatment. She beat up her husband, then packed up and left!
I spoke to them of the sisterhood of all women, each helping others in what ways we can. They laughed when I mentioned I have told Americans that they are not sex workers b/c they love sex. They are there because they have children to feed, rent to pay, school fees and medical costs to meet. Although I was fortunate to have a very kind and loving husband, I am well aware of the damage to one’s self-respect done by abuse, especially from a lover. I talked about my work with girls, hoping to save them from the desperation of the streets. Then I invited any of them with high school aged children to bring them tomorrow to Mji Wa Neema for my math workshop. Most have younger children, but some will come.
I don’t have a picture b/c they are sensitive about being identified with their profession. But I will tell you they are like any PTA, just a group of women. There is nothing about them to identify them with sex work. No one had a scarlet A on her frontice.
Afterwards I walked down to the area of town where most of the shops are (downtown Naivasha?) It’s probably ¼ mile, but the way is rocky and one must ever watch for marauding piki pikis, donkey carts and matatus, runaway bicycles and whatever.
One of the teachers had asked me for a picture so he wouldn’t forget me. I told him he wouldn’t forget me with or without a picture, but I’d try to get down to the photo shop to get one printed. A roving photographer had taken a nice pic of Maya and me, so he gets 2 for 1!
Maya had asked me to give that picture to another teacher, but I have it posted to my refrigerator with a magnet and am loathe to part with it, so having it scanned and copied serve a dual purpose. Moreover I can now send it to Maya to add to her 500 or so pix she took while here.
I met Joyce to see whether we could find a certain fabric for cloth shopping bags in a local shop, but no luck. She will need to go to Nairobi for it. She thinks little of it and doesn’t mind going, but of course I have to pay her fare, about $6.25, which would be a lot for someone supporting herself by sewing.
By that time it was sprinkling and I feared that before I got home I’d be soaking. You may recall yesterday it rained elephants and giraffes (that’s how it rains here – no cats and dogs!) I approached a piki piki. “How much to the Catholic Church” (remember, this is ¼ mile). “Fifty bob (about $.60).” “No, it’s more like 20 bob.” “No I won’t take you for 20.” “Ok, I’ll find someone who will.” A bit further on another guy, “How much to the Catholic Church?” “Fifty bob.” “No it’s more like 20” “Ok I’ll give you a discount, 40 bob.” (quizzical look from me), “That’s a mzungu price.” (big chuckle), “OK, I’ll take you for 30 bob.” “Done” and I climbed on. It’s not that I mind the extra amount, but I get really tired of paying twice (or thrice) as much as a local. Sometimes I bargain them down and then pay their original amount, making sure they understood it’s the principal, not the cost. Most of them are very nice and this one was no exception. He wanted to know what I’m doing here, since I’m obviously not the usual tourist and clearly not a teenager traveling or doing overseas volunteering. We chatted on the way, each pleased with the transaction.
The sprinkle disappeared before we even arrived. No elephants and giraffes today!