#9 Thugs and other Stuff
Had a short meeting with Fr. Peter this morning to discuss the fate of a boy from Mji Wa Neema, then off to school. Soon after arriving I learned that thugs had breached a weak spot in the thorn hedge and entered the SFG compound. But it was handled beautifully. First, the principal had anticipated some sort of shenanigans and warned the 2 watchmen to be particularly vigilant. Second, some time ago a code system had been enacted (new each night) such that if a watchman were grabbed and forced to call the principal he would give the code word first. If the principal were grabbed, she could be forced to provide keys to the computer lab and the offices where money is kept. The watchmen were not grabbed last night b/c they saw the shadows as they jumped into the compound. One immediately called Ruth and announced the code word, at which she turned on a LOUD alarm placed on the roof of her house. She then called police and Peter Murigi who set off a second alarm, near where the students and those teachers who stay within, live. She said the only part that was not perfect is they don’t know how the thugs got back out, b/c they were watching the entering spot and they searched the grounds. So they got away, but no damage was done.
I don’t want to give the impression that the school compound is unsafe. Two sides are protected with very high stone walls topped with particularly strong barbed wire. The other 2 sides have an 8-10 foot thorn hedge The breach was at a spot where the hedge had been cut back to facilitate the drilling of the bore hole. The breach will be repaired very soon. Needless to say there were many tired folks today.
I have had to rescue Maya. She came to me this morning, “Granny I am getting nothing to eat but bread.” OK, I get it. She has tried, but she can’t live on bread alone—isn’t there some scripture to that effect? The students, being proper Kenyans, are happy to have ugali every day. Ugali does not appeal to the American palate, no matter how hungry you are.
Another difference is the amount of food people eat. I’ve noted before the huge plates of food consumed by the small children here at Mji Wa Neema. Where do they put it? If I ate that much food I’d be shopping for a larger wardrobe very shortly, but these children don’t seem to be overweight. Here is Tylon, flanked by Joseph, with his plate of rice, veggies, chicken and chapatis, taken the night Fr. Peter joined us for dinner. This was topped off by several servings of ice cream and a pile of biscuits.
Ruth needed a ride to town, so I took her down to a copy shop right across from the Naivas (supermarket). I bought pasta and sauce, pnb and cheese. When she had finished her errand we drove up the road a ways to the small street market across from the church where I shop all the time. I got tomatoes, carrots, green peas, bananas, oranges, cucumber—can’t remember what else and we headed back to school. Ruth keeps chickens, so I am buying eggs for breakfast.
This is the street market where I shop for produce. I carry my cloth bags and often my traditional woven grass basket. It’s quite lovely, with one strap, which a Kenyan woman would put on her forehead, with basket hanging down the back. They must have incredibly strong necks, b/c this is not an easy way to carry, but it does leave the hands free to cradle baby. Not needing that freedom, I put the strap over my shoulder. Nonetheless, the market ladies admire my basket. Every seller has a stash of plastic bags, but I staunchly refuse them, except for shelled peas. The colorful fabrics in the left background are lessos, used by women to wrap around the waist to protect their skirts.
My dear Esther, Matron, was so gracious. She will keep the food in her house, between the 2 dorms. Maya will come there to eat and Esther will prepare it. I encouraged her to share Maya’s food, if there was anything she liked. I grabbed Maya when her class was over and took her into Esther’s office so I could discuss the arrangements. Just seeing the fruits and veggies made her feel ever so much better.
I’m feeling bad that she had to wait so long, but it’s partly b/c she was trying so hard to fit in. She didn’t want to complain. I had thought the cateress (euphemism for cook), was taking better care of her, but she wasn’t even there today—Wednesdays off. I think we’re going to have a happier camper. She has been such a trooper, as I’ve said before, but I think she has had her experience with new foods and is now ready for American fare.