#26 2014 A Visit from Jane Doe (aka Mary) and a Harrowing Trip
Past readers may remember Jane Doe (Mary), the young woman who had a girl child last year. They came to see me today, after a harrowing matatu ride. Mary is on holiday from school and has been staying in Narok (on the road to Maasai Mara) with an aunt. She boarded a matatu at 12:30, expecting to be here at 2. Two came and went, but no Mary. I tried to call her, but no answer or as they say here, “she didn’t pick my phone.” Later she called to say there was no network where she had been, and she would explain when she arrived. Here’s the story.
The road from Narok ends in Mai Mahu, site of Fr. Kiriti’s home compound. The police have been clamping down hard on unlicensed matatu drivers and one of the check points today was in Mai Mahu. The drivers alert each other by flashing their lights. Suddenly the driver diverted and went over very bumpy terrain, across a virtually unpopulated area finally ending on a totally different road. She was frightened and worried about 1-year old Gwen (Guinevere). Evidently the driver admitted to the passengers that he was evading a police blockade.
Gwen is darling, as you see. She didn’t let me hold her, but at least she didn’t cry at the sight of my strange looking face. She has 2 bottom teeth, stands well and walks with support from mom. She says, “Da Da”, which means sister in Kiswahili, is very serious and really gave me the once-over. I had bought some African dolls, momma dolls with babies strapped to the back, so I gave her one. She looked at it, and dragged it around a bit, but will take awhile (if ever) to become attached. She has quite a protruding umbilicus which seems worrisome to me.
I’m sending a pic to a neonatal specialist friend of mine to ask whether it should be treated, either bound or perhaps surgically repaired. I’ve never seen one like that. Mary says it doesn’t seem to cause any discomfort, even when depressed, and the nurses at the well-baby checks have told her not to worry. I’m not so sure about that. If anyone has specific information about what should be done, please write to me ASAP so I can tell Mary. It doesn’t seem to me that she’s getting good advice at all. Moreover, today’s paper carried several articles and editorials about the breakdown of the health system here. It seems to be related to “devolution”, which means most of the power and authority has been ceded to the counties (like states) with drastic results. Drs. Not paid, promotion by tribalism, graft everywhere. It is so sad, particularly as we support 3 Drs. in university and I wonder what it will be like when they complete their studies. They’ve all pledged to stay in Kenya, rather than emigrate to Europe or the US as so many others have done, but I fear for their idealism and willingness to work hard in a system so corrupt.
Veronica, one of the 4 girls who are staying here for a week, came in this evening, as she has almost every evening for mast help. She always has very specific topics she wants to discuss and doesn’t tell me she understands until she really does. It’s a real delight when I see that “I get it” light in her eyes when the veil of confusion finally lifts. She is so happy to have this time here to get really private tutoring and I think her math grade will rise somewhat dramatically. And when the girls aren’t doing math, most of them are discussing some other subject. After I shooed everyone out at 1 today I found a whole group of them sitting around a table talking about biology.
Ann lives just outside of town and comes from an extremely poor family in which she is the oldest of 12. Like other girls in that boat, she sees that high school is her ticket out and she works doggedly. I give her matatu fare every day b/c her family can give it to her and she stays through the afternoon to work with the other girls. She is extremely shy and quiet and never asks me for the fare if I forget. She just comes to say, “Margo, I want to go home now.” Today I was sort of dense and didn’t get it, so she patiently waited, then said again, “Margo I want to go home now.” Eventually I woke up to the fact that she didn’t have the far to get home. She hadn’t had any lunch either, because they didn’t think to hand her a plate, although there was plenty and they had expected her to eat. So about 4, on my way out the door to pick Mary and Gwen, it occurred to me that she might be hungry and fixed her peanut butter with jelly. I daresay that was the best meal she’d had in some time. She is aiming high like Quinter, also from poverty. They both know they have to achieve admittance in the regular lane to university if they hope to be sponsored. I just hope when the time comes there will be enough to send her. I didn’t think to ask her what were her career hopes.
Saturday we met again, but only 19 came. I thought it was above and beyond the call of duty that 19 showed up. As usual, we worked 9 to 12:30 at which time I left many of them still working, some on other courses, and some on math. I’ve never had such devoted and determined students. They are a joy to teach, but I do get tired after while. And the morning isn’t the end, in the evening they come for kitchen table math. Veronica is the most assiduous, with others coming too. I think Quinter now has everything she needs to score very well on the test, but she is still attentive and active.
I did take time at the end to teach the unit circle, which I think is one of the most useful tools in all of trigonometry. I’ve showed it to teachers with varying responses, but I don’t know how many of them use it—perhaps they haven’t see the value. Nonetheless, the 19 copied it down and asked a lot of questions.
Tomorrow—confirmation by the bishop.
=Love to all