# 14 WOW!

#14 WOW!

I am stunned at the response to my letter about Jecinta, the girl at Cardinal Otunga training center who hopes to become a doctor.  Enough people wrote the first day to cover fees and expenes for 2 years and the next day someone wrote who will pick up the rest!  She is set for 4 years at SFG.  Here is Sr Christine’s response to my email telling her how wonderful you all are:

Miracles do happen!!

That is great, Margo, you are a hard worker.  I hardly believe it, so fast. Jecinta is already working on  her  English  seriously.  She asked me for good English books for reading and I have given her.  We hope for the best.  I am sure she will make it.

Thank you Margo and God bless you.

I am trying to get sponsors for the other 3 girls.  I am sure God will continue working miracles for He loves these girls and always provides for them, we are just His instruments.

Sr.Christine.

But it never stops.  Today after our classes, Jecinta (principal) invited Anita and me to her house, one of 4 existing teacher houses in the school compound.  It’s small, 2 bedrooms, 2 baths (tiny), kitchen and living room.  She lives with her small daughter and housegirl, also Jecinta.  Jecinta (P) told us that Jecinta (hg) has not finished 8th grade b/c she had no money for a uniform.  Her mother refused to buy it and put her out for work.  Jecinta (P) says it would take about ksh 3000 (~$40) to cover her needs.  She says she could be liable for prosecution for employing a girl who has not finished primary school—the girl’s mother said she had finished.  This is the law, although it is not well enforced in the rural areas.  Anita and I have offered to pay the amount.  Jecinta (hg) will continue to live with Jecinta (P) when she goes to an elementary school just down the road from SFG at the beginning of the new year in January.  Jecinta (P) needs her only to watch her small child when she (P) is in the classroom in the evening.  Her child goes to school during the day.  I told Jecinta (hg) if she passed the KCPE with an appropriately high mark to qualify for SFG I would guarantee admittance and fees paid.  She was very happy.  Jecinta’s (P) sister is a primary teacher and will provide books to begin studying now.  Of course she will get tutoring at home from the best.  She told us her favorite classes are math and CRE (Christian Religious Education, a requirement in all school, public or private).

Anita, Christina and Riley have hit the ground running and are now quite comfortable riding the matatus independently of me.  They have fit in comfortbly at school, where they’ve been warmly welcomed by students and teachers alike.  It makes it a lot easier for me, as I can continue doing what I do without being concerned about whether they are having a good visit.  They take care of themselves.

I have been teaching math classes at usual, as well as mentoring teachers and chatting with girls.  In addition, I’ve contracted with metal workers to make a cube, cuboid (like a box), and a cone and have bought a sphere in Nairobi from a school supply store.  It is typical of the African culture that they never asked Fr Kiriti for math models, although all are delighted to have them and declare that the solid geometry will be much easier for the students to understand.  Jecinta reports she has found the girls using them a lot.  The mentality, even among the educated, like the teachers, is simply to accept what is, without thinking beyond.

Ben did that shopping for the sphere and 2 cones, one for SFG and one for Ndingi.  The sphere he bought was OK, although a bit small, but the cones were ridiculous—only about 6“ high.  The stores here have no return policy, but I think I can go there and trade them in for something else from their stocks.  In the meantime, I contracted to have 2 cones made by the better of the 2 metal workers.  I had to pay ksh 1000 each for the ones Ben purchased in Nairobi, but the metal worker made them much larger and sturdier for ksh 500 each—three times as good for ½ the price.  Such a deal!

The form 4’s began their mock KCSE exams today.  They are a practice test for the KCSE, with the results having no bearing on their grades.  Yet the mocks are feared by students.  In 2007 when post-election violence delayed school openings throughout the country, many schools had riots b/c the students didn’t want to sit for their mocks.  Part of is was fear and part a response to the violence that shook the whole society.  You may recall that people were burned alive in a church in Eldoret, not too far from here and in a house here in Naivasha.  The country has still not recovered completely from the trauma.

However, our girls are gamely sitting for their mocks—did English today.  They will get the results back from having been marked by the education ministry, independently from our teachers.  The exams take several weeks, after which the girls stay in school for 2 weeks of “tuitioning”, so called b/c the parents have to pay extra tuition, as the teachers must be paid and food purchased.  This year both forms 3 and 4 will have tuitioning, as will those form 2’s who have not performed up to standard this term.  The form 1, 2 and 3 girls will begin end-of-term exams next week.  These are exams set by and graded by our teachers to provide the only real assessment they get.  Each term the students are ranked solely on the results of these exams.  It’s a traumatic time for them, as some parents react severely if their child is below the middle rank.  Imagine being the very lowest rank!  The results are published for all so see.  They might be listed by student number, but many girls know who has what number, so it’s not anonymous.

July 31 marks the end of the term.  Form 1’s and those form 2’s who have performed well go home for holiday the whole month of August.  The others go home for 2 ½ weeks after the tuitioning.

# 13 Prize Giving at Ndingi and Visit with Sr Judy

# 13 Prize-Giving Day at Ndingi and a Visit with Sr Judy,

Saturday was a big event at Ndingi.  Open air tents were set up for parents, students and invited guests, namely teachers from SFG and other schools.  The VIPs had special chairs in front, facing the rest.  Regardless of my not feeling very special, I am always placed in the latter.

The program began with entertainment, SFG girls danced, followed by Ndingi boys.  They all love to dance and are so fun to watch.

SFG Girls Dancing
Ndingi Boys Dancing

It was an overcast day, so the lighting isn’t too good.  Sorry.

After the entertainment came the mass, celebrated by Fr Steven Mgubwa, good friend of Fr Kiriti and professor of education at Nairobi U.  and after the mass came the speeches and more speeches and more speeches.  Kenyans make LONG speeches, making the same point in 5 different ways!  I have yet to be at such a function in which the speeches were short and to the point.  ACH!  So of course the projected end of 1:45 became 3 pm.  People were hungry and needing a potty break.  Since I was going to Nairobi to be met by Sr Judy, I took a chance and asked Fr Mbugwa whether he was returning today and if so could I hop a ride.  He graciously agreed, but he was needing to get back, so we downed out lunch very quickly and piled into his car—his 80-year old mother and a nun.

On the way he told me his mother had lost everything during the post-election violence of  2007.  Their house had been burned, their livestock slaughtered or stolen, EVERYTHING was lost.  He relocated he to an area just off the Nairobi road, but it has been very hard on her b/c she also lost her support system, dear friends and neighbors whom she had known all her married life.  Fr Kiriti had said she “went mad”, but is now coming back.  Fr Mbugwa said she had temporarily lost her memory and at one point didn’t know who he was.  She’s a very sweet lady who seemed quite sane to me, but this is more that 3 years after the incidents.  About ¾ of the way to Nairobi he turned off onto a frontage road and then right for about ½ mile to a gate.  The house she now lives in is pretty nice for a rural Kenyan house, tile (not dirt) floor and reasonable size living room.  The outhouse in back could accommodate 2 (I used it) and while there is no running water inside, a faucet is right by the front.  A cow was penned nearby and he showed us fields in which she is growing all her traditional crops, maize, beans, carrots, onions, tomatoes etc, as well as fruits on very old trees.  He has tried to move her to a more urban place where he could have someone care for her, but she insists she wants to continue to farm.  What a lady!

We had arranged for Sr Judy to meet me at the basilica in central Nairobi, as that was near where Fr Mbugwa was going.  It was a loving meeting, smiles and hugs.  Judy and I had become fast friends in past years.  She is lively, funny, open and so loving.  She used to be stationed here in Naivasha where she worked with HIV+ women, but has now been transferred to Cardinal Maurice Otunga Girls Empowerment Center.  It was established to giving training to girls from the Kibera slum in Nairobi—girls who were not able to go to high school, mostly for lack of fees.  They come to the center for 2 years, and have a choice of tailoring (sewing) knitting (using machines) or catering and all get computer training.  Although they can accommodate 160 in the facility, they have only 68 because they don’t have the money for more.

The buildings were once a retreat center and are very nice—tile floors, large rooms forming a quadrangle surrounding  a garden with lovely trees and flowers.  The nuns have a spacious apartment, nice kitchen with stove, refrigerator, running water, dining room, living room and large bedrooms upstairs.  Mine was almost as large as my whole house here in Naivasha, with its own bathroom (with western toilet, always a +).

Sr Judy and Sr Christine run the school, along with a social worker and several lay teachers.  Judy is a bundle of energy and enthusiasm and hardly sits still.  “Like spit on a hot griddle” I told her.  Sr Christine is more serene, but really a fun person.  We all got along like life-long friends, sitting at the dinner table late in the evening, talking and laughing.  They just couldn’t leave me alone—“Margo, eat more.  You eat too little.  More tea?  Juice? Have some more stew.”  I countered by teasing that they were mothering me too much.  Judy is in her 30’s and Christine is maybe in her 40’s.  In addition Sr Josephine, in her 60’s was with us as a visitor.  She is diabetic and arthritic, so had retired from teaching, but she still has a great wit and twinkle in her eyes.

Sr Christine told me about Jecinta, a 14-year old student who has recently joined the school.  I will write about her separately, but in the telling I saw what a wonderful loving heart Sr Christine has for these girls.  These are the very fortunate ones.  When they finish the 2-year training, they will have marketable skills and have had the loving guidance of these 2 dear nuns.

Sunday morning I slept so late we had to drive to Resurrection Garden Retreat Center for mass, a short 10-minute walk.  The center is very large, lovely gardens and small meditation areas spread over maybe 10 acres or so.  This is a very lush area with rich brown soil that would make bones grow, it’s so fertile.  Although this is winter here, there were still beautiful bougainvillea and many other vines and plants I couldn’t identify.  The church is massive, but b/c there were not retreatants, the congregation was confined to students from several schools, all scrubbed up in their uniforms.  Sr Judy is the choir director and the girls sang like angels.  It was so beautiful and full of life, I couldn’t keep my body from dancing along with the girls who danced in the aisle and in front of the altar.  This is traditional here and the dancers were fabulous.  Judy was like a dancer herself, graceful as a swan as she led the girls.  Later she told me that most of them had not known how to sing when they came.

As we arrived back at the school I saw some of the girls who had danced and asked them to show me how to do the head covers they wore.  Immediately I was having my head wrapped, a lesso around my waist and another tied on top.

Margo All Wrapped Up

The girls giggled and laughed as teenagers are wont to do.  They then began to clap and sing for me to dance.  They cheered and we all laughed.

In the afternoon Judy and I walked back to Resurrection Garden and wandered along a hilly pathway lined with inspirational panels and the stations of the cross, which were tall bronze reliefs—beautiful and very moving.

Back at the school we had tea and donuts produced by the girls who are studying catering.  They’re not very sweet, but delicious.

Judy went out to play football with the girls while I talked to Sr Christine more about Jecinta.  We called her in so I could talk to here, hear her story and take her picture.  I then went out to watch the football game, which was a very lively affair, with Sr Judy on one side and Dominick, the school jack-of-all-trades on the other.  Judy was quite a player!  She scored 3 goals, while Dominick scored only 1.  The final result was 4-1, which Judy announced triumphantly!

I took a short nap and when I came down Judy had prepared a wonderful meal of the tenderest chicken, mashed potatoes stuffed with tomatoes, cabbage and onions, a dish that is at almost all meals here.  Again she talked well into the evening, sharing our stories and just enjoying each other’s company.

Srs Judy and Christine

I confessed that I had thought I would be going to the mother house, had worried about how to address the Mother Superior, and would I do something to offend.  This was so relaxed and fun!

This morning I was up early.  The shower heater was broken, but Judy had given me a very large heating coil but put in a bucket.  Very quickly I had nice warm water which I used in the shower to wash.  Going downstairs I found the dining deserted, as they were at work and Sr Josephine, who loves to sleep, was not yet down.  I found a plate of avocados on the table and made myself a sandwich.  Yum!  The avocados here are fabulous!

Soon Judy and Christine arrived, again urging me to eat too much, but I resisted, protesting I’d have to move into a size larger clothes if I stayed there very long.

At 10 Dominick drove us to Nairobi where Sr Judy put me on a matatu to Naivasha and in 1 ½ hours I was back home.  I am awaiting the arrival of Anita Dippery, one of the Kenya Help board members, her 16-year old grandson, Riley and her young friend, Christina, who is currently studying in Egypt.

All for now,

Margo

# 12 Inspection

#12  Inspection

Problems occur in African schools just like every other place.  And teenagers are teenagers the world over.  Victoria had been given a very nice picture album by a friend, filled with photos of her family, friends, school and activities.  This was to show around at the school because the students (and staff) love to see what our lives are like.  The girls wanted her pictures and Victoria had generously said they could have them.  Not a picture was left!  But then the album disappeared.  She had told them the album was a special gift from her friend, but …..well…when it was time for Victoria to leave, the album was nowhere to be found.  Victoria was a good sport about it, but I could see she was a bit bummed.

Two days after she left, Jecinta (principal) announced a surprise desk, locker and bed check.  I had not heard of these, but evidently they occur from time to time in all schools.  Students are not allowed to have food (attracts undesirable visitors), money (no place to spend it here), perfume, cosmetics, phones etc.  First every desk was emptied out and sure enough, there was the album in a form 3 desk.  Jecinta lost no time in taking that girl to task.  The girl claimed she had planned to return it, but was too late.  “That was Sunday, we have been announcing about the album and this is Wednesday and you still had not brought it?”  I don’t know the nature of the punishment but Jecinta runs a tight ship here and I was told the girl is not likely to do that again.  Evidently it was not her first offense.

All mail is read first by the administration here.  So in the check letters were confiscated, including the note Victoria had given me for Teresiah, her long-time penpal.  Teresiah had not had time to read it.  Naturally she was upset, but I understand it was returned to her.

These seem like harsh measures to us, but are common practice in schools here.  The attitude is that the students are in school to learn and they should not be distracted.  They wear the same uniforms so that no clothes comparisons can occur.  Thus they are not permitted to have street clothes.  I had to leave (to do my shopping) before it was all over, but reports were that a good bit of contraband was discovered.  It takes the whole afternoon to inspect belongings and spaces for 200 girls.  Imagine when it’s 320!

Today (Friday) I found a table on the porch of the school and parents there.  Hmmm, this is unusual.  Then Jecinta explained that today was parent conference day for form 2.  ACH! No one had told me.  There I was in my clean but very ordinary jeans and t-shirt.  The men were in suits and women dressed to the nines.  Did I ever feel shabby!  But when Fr Kiriti arrived in jeans and a t-neck, so I felt a bit better.  The teachers all assured me I was just fine, but were they going to tell me my appearance was an embarrassment to the school?  No!

The drill is that each parent briefly confers with each of the student’s teachers.  The staff room was jammed and parents with their daughter milled around the yard, waiting for things to clear.  Students in forms 1, 3 and 4 were just studying in their classrooms, as the teachers were all busy with parents.  I walked around and greeted parents, but small talk isn’t my strong suit and I was glad to go off to form 3 to teach them for Jecinta.  In fact I taught them for 2 hours, then back to the staff room.  It seemed rude to eat lunch when parents were right there, but that’s the routine.  Later I saw that parents were given lunch in the dining hall, followed by a meeting that ran on African time—beginning 1/2 hour late.  Several girls sang and one did a recitation honoring parents, followed by teacher introductions.  After I self-consciously introduced myself Jecinta leaned over, “they want you to say more.”  Um…So I ad libbed a bit then excused myself to go teach the form 4’s.

About 4 I was ready to go home.  Backpack over my shoulder, I started out the door, only to be stopped by Elizabeth (secretary).  “Are you going down to Naivasha town?”  “Yes” “Do you ever ride motorbikes?”  “Yes, why?”  “There’s a motorbike driver here who wants a rider going back down.  Hmmm, sh 20 on a matatu, sh 200 on a piki piki.  Oh well, I want to get down quickly, b/c Fr Kiriti was coming to have tea and I had some things I needed to discuss with him.  “OK” (to the driver) “How much?”  (I’d learned you have to bargain for the price in advance)  “I’ll take you for nothing.”  Now that’s a switch.  “No, I’m happy to pay you.”  “OK, sh 50”  Huh?!?  “No, I’ll pay you sh 100”.  I hopped in the back, while Esther (matron) admonished the driver to be very careful with me.  Later she texted me to ask whether I had arrived safely.  I had.

Back in my little house I shed the 50 lb backpack (why is it so heavy?) put the teapot on to boil, got out the tea cup, then sat on my bed to read.  I can always tell when Fr Kiriti is coming, he greets all the children and whoever else is around, so I can hear him 3 minutes before he knocks on my door.  Here they would say “before he knocks my door”.  The leave off a lot of prepositions.  They pick you at the airport.

RATS!  The electricity just went off.  Thank heavens for a laptop with battery, b/c I had not saved this!  In the past I have lost more than one pearl of writing to the vaguaries of the electric system.  I grope for the torch (flashlight) AH!  There it is.  Oh, and there’s my backpacker’s head lamp.  They are like gold!  I strap it on my head, and settle in the type when on goes the electricity.  Sometimes it’s out for hours, but the gods are with us tonight.

After Fr Kiriti left the tea party I walked out to take the picture of the church for # 11 and as I came back I stopped to talk to Julia (matron of orphanage) for a minute.  Just then the 4 8th graders come pouring in all excited from a class field trip to Nakuru, where they heard President Kibaki.  Daniel is totally hyper, telling Julia about getting Kibaki’s autograph.  I can’t begin to convey his excitement, but…. “Mom, I got his autograph!  They wouldn’t let us near him—we’re just kids, but I yelled ‘Your Excellency’ and waved my arms (demonstrates arm waving).  Before they could push me back, he said ‘let that boy come here’, just like when Jesus said, ‘Suffer the little children to come unto me’” (Daniel is about 5’9”, long and gangly, hardly a “little child”.  All the time he is searching around in his backpack, but of course he can’t find it.  “And then they gave us free milk, camel’s milk and he smelled awful” (confirmed by the others).  “Ewww! It was so gross!  But they gave us free yogurt too.  SWEET!!!”  And out they bounced to tell the rest of the children.  We were in stitches!  Shoulda gotten a picture of that!

Good night.

Margo

# 11 The dinner

#11 The dinner

It has been such a busy week I haven’t written.  I write in my head, but much of it stays there.  Wednesday afternoon was my marketing day.  At Fr Kiritit’s suggestion I had invited the 3 nuns who live in the convent in the parish compound (where I also live, but in the orphanage) to come to dinner on Thursday—last night.

First I took my ever-ready cloth bag and trotted across the road to the street market where (mostly) women sell produce, used clothing, shoes and whatever else they can scrape together.  I like to buy from them b/c I know this is their only livelihood and b/c it is the typical African way to shop.  The venders spread their wares out on a cloth on the ground, or if they are lucky, on rather rickety raised platforms.  They chat together as they await customers, looking up in hopeful expectation at each likely passerby—like me with my bags.  I planned to make spaghetti, so bought tomatoes, peppers, onions and garlic then proceeded to the mango vendor, found papaya, and pineapple—fruit for dessert, and the ubiquitous avecado-delicious for ksh 5 or 10 depending on size.  That’s $.06 to $.12.

Church Approach

My bag was full and I had run out of change, so I headed back across the road (crossing is an adventure in itself, especially in the evening, with so much traffic—trucks, matatus, piki pikis, donkey carts, taxis, bicycles—and nobody stops or even slows for pedestrians!)

I love walking in the driveway of the parish compound.  Fr Kiriti loves to plant and the drive is lined with roses of every color.  Since there was rain this year, the gardens are particularly colorful.

I unloaded my bags and went off to the supermarket for the rest of the dinner.  It seemed that everyone I have ever met in Naivasha was out that afternoon.  Maina, who used to be the cook here now works in the supermarket, I also met Mithlet, a graduate of Ndingi before it was all boys.  She was one of the very first group of students I tutored during the August holiday and was one of the best at math.  She has been accepted to study accounting, but probably can’t go b/c she has no money for tuition.  There are so many like her, and it is such a waste of a good brain.

Coming out of the market I saw for the first time this year, the glue-sniffers—street boys who salvage virtually empty glue containers from the shoe repair shops and get high on the fumes.  It’s terrible stuff, which in time affects the brain.  A school has been established for such boys near SFG and I’m told that many of them have been rehabilitated, but some have resisted that.

Back up the road I heard my name and there was Pauline, a woman I met in 2005.  She had invited me to come to her house for tea and chatting.  I had not yet seen her and was so happy.  I get hearty hugs and big smiles and give the same.

Back in my small kitchen I began browning the hamburger, chopping tomatoes, onions and peppers, mincing garlic, looking around for the basil, oregano and bay leaves left from last year and soon my kitchen had a delicious smell.  I knew I wouldn’t have time to cook Thursday b/c of other commitments during the day.  It was late by the time I finished the spaghetti sauce and cleaned up the mess.

I asked Sister Janet who teaches biology and geography at SFG whether they would come at 7 or 7:30.  “Oh we’ll be there at 7,” she said.  I was actually ready by 6:30.  The fruit was chopped, table set, big pot of water for pasta aboil.  So I went into my room to read.  Seven came and went, 7:30 and no visitors.  At 7:40 I texted Fr Kiriti, “Don’t know what to think. The sisters were to be here at 7 and they are not yet here.  Is this just another case of African time?”  I didn’t have a phone number for them, but he called them and called me back.  “They’re coming right now.”  Twenty minutes later they showed up, all smiles.

Srs Jane, Janet and Martha

They were a bit reserved at first, but as we ate and talked, they became more relaxed.  They were so jolly and fun after that.  We laughed at my forgetting that in general Africans don’t like cold things.  I began the meal with mango juice, right out of the refrigerator, of course!  Sister Jane, added hot water to hers.  The others left it to warm, although I didn’t get it at first and thought maybe they didn’t like mango juice (huh???  What’s not to like?).  When it had warmed they drank it all down.  I served the spaghetti from the stove, covering the pasta with the sauce (naturally!)  I noticed Sr Martha carefully scraped the sauce off the pasta.  “Oh, my, is she a vegetarian and too polite to tell me?”  But no, she ate the pasta and then the sauce.  I cleared off the plates and took the chopped fruit-mango, papaya and pineapple—out of the refrigerator.  Uh oh!  Blew it again!  Sr Jane again poured warm water on hers.  Left to right above Srs Jane, Janet and Martha.

At the end I asked whether they would like some chocolate (Trader Joe’s 72% cocoa).  I chopped part of a big bar into the squares and we all enjoyed.  As they left I asked whether they would like to take some of the chocolate.  Janet and Martha politely demurred, but Jane spoke right up, “YES!!!”  She went home with a bag of the rest of the pieces.

I think they had a good time.  They kept saying they needed to leave, but then they sat there, chatting away.  They laughed at everything, great audience.  In my family we would say, “A good time was had by all!”

Best,

Margo

# 10 Victoria Leaves Us

# 10 Victoria Leaves Us

It is has exactly 2 weeks since Victoria and I arrived and she will shortly be winging her way first to Dubai, then San Francisco and finally to Portland.  It will be a really really long day for her.  She was up and dressed by 7:30 this morning, her plane leaves at 11:30 tonight (already 16 hours and she’s not off the ground yet).  Because we had the whole day, we did many errands.

Fr Kiriti needed a new supply of hosts and altar wine, both purchased from a Carmelite convent in Nairobi.  The public area is a small anteroom, with a sliding window in one wall.  A smiling sister opened it and shook hands all around.  I had offered her my wrist, explaining that I had a cold, but she opened my palm and shook my hand, trusting that she would be fine.  I hope the antibiotic has been at work long enough!  Then through the midmorning traffic jam to Nakumart, a very large shopping mall, with a huge supermarket, where we inspected a number of freezers.  I had it wrong, it is a freezer and not a refrigerator that is needed by SFG.  They don’t have, but not need a refrigerator, as their food is rice, porridge, ugali (maize flour) cabbage, onions, beans—not of which requires a refrigerator.  However, on occasion they buy a cow or a goad to slaughter and need to store the meat.  After careful consideration of size vs cost, we made our decision, but couldn’t take it until we dropped Victoria and her luggage from the car.

We headed to the other sections, where I found everything on my list and all the things that I had forgotten to put on it—even suction towel hooks (very important in a stone house—no nails), tuna fish, which I have been craving, dill pickles, a necessary go with, a new broom to replace the one that evidently has been borrowed by Harry Potter, as it is no longer here, good peanut butter (no sugar nor stabilizers, just peanuts and salt).  I was a happy camper.  Victoria found gifts for the last few folks she wanted to share her visit with and we were off again.

Next we went to the cathedral where Fr Kiriti had arranged to meet some people from a wood carving tribe.  They make beautiful Christmas crèche pieces and we wanted to get some for Vitoria to take to Judy to sell in support of Jecinta’s work.  Judy, we bought 7 sets.  Hope that’s OK.  While the men were packing up the sets, Fr Kiriti ran off on some other errand, leaving us with the car blocking another car.  Of course the owner came along and wanted to leave.  In fact, she came very close to crunching me between her car and his, until I yelled, “stop!”  Fortunately she did.  “Aha, his keys are in the car, I’ll just move it.”  Grind, grind, grind—RATS!  Forgot he has a special car jackers foil button that must be pushed before the car will start.  He has never shown me where it is.  I go to the driver’s window and say pointedly, “Father will be back in just a moment,” hoping that would cut us some slack.  They were very nice, he showed up shortly and we were off.  And now I know where the secret button is.

We stopped for lunch at a nice restaurant on the way to the airport, where we all had a big meal and enjoyed some good laughs and some of Victoria’s insights.  We dropped her at 3:30, which is 6 hours before her flights, but couldn’t be helped.

Back at Nakumart, we were ready to buy our freezer.  I was congratulating myself for remembering to alert VISA that I would be using the card in Kenya.  But Murphy’s Law was in effect and there I was at the checkout, wanting to buy a freezer for  Kh 50,000 and Visa does not allow it.  RATS!  I’ve already been to the ATM to pay for the crèches and I have no way to get more cash until tomorrow.  We leave Nakumart with no freezer, lamenting that another trip to Nairobi is now required.  By this time it is 5 pm and the traffic is horrific.  I get out my card to call Visa and of course all operators were busy helping other customers, despite my call being very important to them.  Finally I get a real person, who asks me all kinds of questions to verify that I am me, then connects me with the fraud department.  Can you her the meter clicking on my phone?  Fraud asks more questions and finally is convinced that I am, indeed, Margaret McAuliffe.  Of course they have no idea why my careful preplanning has gone awry, but they have now fixed the problem.  We’ll see!  But we did figure out that I can go to the ATM tomorrow and again Wednesday.  Ben has to go to Nairobi on Wednesday on some other errand and he can get the freezer with cash!  Problem solved and we are finally on our way back to Naivasha, arriving after dark, tired but having accomplished a lot.

What I haven’t written is that before we left, Fr Kiriti met with the Safaricom people who came to verify that SFG actually exists and is likely to stay in business for awhile.  The representative was very impressed and virtually assured Fr Kiriti that they will fund the solar installation for at least 2/3 the cost.  Kenya Help will pick up the remaining 1/3, which is a whole lot better than picking up 3/3!  I am quite elated, as is Fr Kiriti!  This proposal has been moving through the SC pipeline for a whole year.  I was about to give up on them.  It will be a few more months of pipelining, but the project s/b funded and built within the year!

Now if it will just rain and fill the cistern, we will be in business!

Love to all,

Margo