#17.5 Julia Holds Court

Somehow this email got destroyed in transit, so will try to reproduce it.  Last Saturday I wandered outside and found the children crowded around Julia as she sat outside her door.  Next to her was a big pile of used clothing, recently donated.  The kids took turns claiming items, sometimes of their own choosing and sometimes as Julia’s suggestion.  “Beth, this looks like something good for you.”  Beth happily reached for a cute skirt, amid much giggling and joking.

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John and Patrick show off their finery. 

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Uh, oh, Tabitha has claimed John’s skirt!

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Much later came a knock on my door.  Joseph wanted to show me his new sweater.  It’s a very nice one, with no holes nor rips.  A treasure for a small boy who has so little.  The children get to wear their new duds only on the weekends or during holidays.  Otherwise it’s the uniform—see Joyce below.

Here is Joseph with Agnes (aka Auntie)

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Last night I heard him crying and went out to see what was wrong.  Rubbing eyes, like little kids do, he said what I thought was “An ant bit me.” We were near the kitchen where John was helping.  “What did he say?”  Then I thought it was something on his foot.  “Does it still hurt?”  Finally Agnes appeared and explained.  Joseph and Evelyn has been tussling in the dining when it evidently got out of hand.  Evidently this boy with the face of an angel has a mouth that isn’t.  He had called Evelyn a very nasty name in Kiswahili having to do with a backside.  Evelyn, outraged, reported to Aunty.  Joseph was duly called to be chastised.  It would seem that Joseph has been listening to the big boys at school and trying out some new vocabulary.  Aunty pinched him, which came out as “Aunty bit me.”  Asked whether he was ready to say “sorry” to Evelyn, he solemnly nodded.  Evelyn announced she had forgiven him, but he was still rubbing the eyes.  After being reminded by me that only good boys get peanut butter and jelly toast, he promised to reform.  Agnes tells me he has “reformed” before, but small boys sometimes need time to learn.

Among my newer customers for math help is Margaret—somewhat shy and very bright.  She is in class 7, so already setting her sights for a very high mark on the KCPE.  She hopes to go to a national school, which means she must earn well over 400.  I suspect she can do it.  Here she is wearing the skirt earlier claimed by Patrick.  Definitely looks better on Margaret, with a nice matching top and a smart looking jacket.

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Joyce (right) came in after school yesterday, proud as punch to report her latest marks, up from 257 to 305.  Note her uniform.  They get very hard wear.  Her skirt was evidently torn at some point and mended hastily.  Most of the children at Milimani, next door, where our children attend have equally tired uniforms, so it’s not shameful for them, although they do love to get new uniforms  Joyce has one more year, so my guess is she will have to make due until she get a high school uniform.

 

#18 Some Interviews and A Visit to Kinagop

Yesterday we began a series of videod interviews with students, to be put on our website.  When I bought the video cam, I was so ignorant, I thought it would be fine to use mini cassettes and only later learned special devices are required to transfer the videos to a computer or DVD.  Didn’t know about a memory card!  DUH! 

We recorded the first interview on cassette and after some questioning, discovered there is a place in Naivasha that can do the transfer to DVD.  So Peter Murigi (deputy principal) and I pile into my car to run down so we could view the first interview before doing any more.  It didn’t take long and wasn’t too expensive, so hopped back in the car to return to school for a staff meeting.  With luck we’d be right on time.  Hmmm, what’s this?  Police everywhere.  We’d noticed some at the church gate as we went by and speculated the search was on for an al Shabab excapee rumored to be in town.  But now, ACH!  All cars being turned off the highway, into the matatu station.  OK, wind through that mess, down an alley out another road.  Good thing Peter was with me!  After a few errors we are on the main road, heading toward school, but down from the intersection where I usually join that highway.  “It” OK, Peter, we have 7 minutes.  We’ll just make it”  Gunning the motor.  But wait!  More Police at the intersection.  Everyone is signaled to stop.  RATS!  A police female officer explains that President Kibaki and his motorcade were just coming down the pike.  No cars allowed until the motorcade had passed.  Nothing to do but wait.  People were climbing all over the embankments, Peter called school to explain.  Five minutes, ten minutes, ah—a siren!  No, false alarm.  Another few minutes, wow! ROARING down the highway came about 20 cars, with a fat black one sporting Kenyan flags right in the middle!  He was going to cut the ribbon on a new geothermal plant near here.  It will triple the geothermal generation output!

And so we were off.  I have learned to be as pushy a driver as any Kenyan, so we got in the line early and made it back only 25 minutes late!  But they held the meeting for us, the topic being who was going to Thika next month to attend Sr. Magdalene’s profession of final vows, what would be an appropriate gift, who would given how much.  I am planning to go, right before I go to West Pokot (not East as I mistakenly reported earlier) and now a delegation of staff and students will represent the school.

After lunch, rushed back to town to pick up the DVD and do a couple other errands, back up to school, preview the interview, and go outside to do several more.  Instead of my being the interviewer, Peter, Sister Magdalene and Patricia Head teacher and English teacher, also staff member of longest history at SFG, each did one.  I thought is was a brilliant idea to let people see (and hear) some of the staff.  Today, Ruth Kahiga, principal, and Mary ???? new teacher each did one.

Finally finished after 6 and went home., forgetting my computer plugged into a socket in the staff room.  Argh!  Am so addicted to it almost went into DTs!

Today, after a quick stop at SFG to collect my computer, was off to Kinagop to visit Regina’s school.  When I had almost reached school I had one of those sinking feelings, “Oh $%^$^&, gas is low and I have no money!  RATS”  Borrowed ksh 1000 (about $12) from the principal, and back down to the “petrol”, of course someone pulled in right in front of me, had a huge tank and was in no hurry to pull out of the gassing up spot.  Now I have about ¼ tank, which should be plenty.  It’s not that far. 

I knew part of the route and she was to meet me where I dropped her several weeks ago.  Up, up a winding, fairly good tarmacked  road, passing bicycles loaded to the eyebrows with milk or other goods, being walked up this LONG, steep hill, being passed by bicycles going the other direction, plummeting pell-mell down the same hill, looking for the familiar spot where the tarmack ends.  Going, going, oh, dear, where is it?  Finally, in a fuss, not wanting to be late, I see it.  And about 50 feet into the dirt road is an intersection with a police road-block.  They’re all over all the time, waiting for matatus and never bother me, but I stopped (fortunately, b/c I don’t have an international driver’s licence), not quite sure which fork is correct, “Which road do I take to Kinagop?”  “Kinagop is a very large area, madam, exactly where in Kinagop do you want to go?”  Ummm..  I didn’t know the name of Regina’s school and was about to go off in what turned out to be the wrong direction, when Regina popped up at the car door, having just alighted from a matatu.  Another small miracle!

The road is unpaved and very washboardy with potholes everywhere as well.  We bounced along and bounced along and I kept thinking we must be nearly there, but no, more bouncing along and I’m becoming convinced that every bolt on the car has become loosened and will soon fall off.  Turns out it is that far and more.  I’m eyeing the gas gauge, which fluctuates, depending on whether we’re going up a rolling green hill or down towards a small bridge to a river.  After more that half an hour Regina indicates a sign and we are there at last.

Her school is government sponsored and has received a nice chunk of a grant to build more classrooms and a boys dorm.  Currently only girls are boarders.  The school is rural, but has a nice feel to it.  Here are some pixImage

I thought you’d be able to read the aphorism on the gable.  It says.

“If your are planning for a year, plant rice.

If you are planning for a decade, plant trees.

If you are planning for a lifetime, educate people”

I met the deputy principal, a very pleasant and welcoming man, and some of the staff before going off to meet Regina’s prize physics class.  They’re not the ones who scored 4 points out of 10) higher than the previous year, but when asked, asserted they would beat the class that did.  Such nice kids, bright looking and hard working.  Clearly going to school is #1 on their agenda.  They had just a short break in their schedule of mock exams, and we went off to a form 2 class, with a very young teacher ws at the board.  Regina had arranged for me to talk to the students, which I did, then showed them my traditional lesson of FOIL, which the picked very quickly.  At first the teacher seemed a bit unsure—I think he didn’t know I was going to do that, but in the end, I think he liked it.  They kids really liked it and asked immediately when I would come back.  Probably not until 2013.  While I was teaching, a visitor wandered in, a chicken who evidently wanted to learn the process.  The students thought nothing of it, but I thought it was cool that chickens wandered freely about, providing eggs for the students and staff.

And then we were off to lunch—ugali and vegetables—and then to visit a large group of form 2’s.  They were in a new large room, newly built with no blackboard yet.  They asked me about the US education system, and lots of questions about schools.  Two questions struck me.  “Do they teach Kiswahili in US schools?”  I talked a bit about the events of the ‘60’s and why at that time some schools did offer Swahili.  “How many tribes are there in the US?”  At first I answered, “We don’t have tribes”, but upon rethinking that, I talked about the annihilation of the North American native population, comparing our colonial experience with the British with theirs.  At least their native population didn’t get wiped out!

They had many more questions, but it was time for their next class and for me to head back, but before I left I took a couple more pix.

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Regina poses in her finest wih the chickens and sheep that roam freely.

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#17 Visitors and Visits

Sunday is a social day in Kenya—at least in Naivasha.  Regina had called me yesterday to say she was planning to visit me.  I already had some commitments later in the day I said OK, but come early.  Regina, a math teacher whom I met in 2005, my first visit, has been through the Job routine, just one problem after another, but she is amazingly resilient.  Today she looked quite serene, at peace.  She told me whenever someone does her wrong, she confesses their sins as she lies in bed, she forgives them and she sleeps peacefully.  Sounds like a very positive way to live one’s life.

We always have much to chat about.  She teaches physics and math in a small rural high school maybe 45 minutes from here.  When she told her students she was coming to visit her mzungu friend, they begged her to bring them along, but of course she couldn’t, so we agreed I would go to her school either this Tuesday or next, depending on how the principal views things.  This last round of the KCSE her physics students turned in an almost impossible performance, scoring 7.9 (out of 10) up from 4.0 last year (she wasn’t teaching them that year).  Her principal had been giving her a hard time, but this score, combined with her forgiveness routine has totally turned the school atmosphere around.

I took advantage of her visit to ask her to explain a couple of KCSE problems I just couldn’t solve—both topics we don’t cover in the US.  Then it was time for me to go to tea at Elizabeth’s house.  She had invited me along with Maureen, one of the new young math teachers at SFG.  Elizabeth was the parish secretary when I first came here, but is now secretary at SFG.  Often I am leaving at 5 pm, so offer a ride to town to anyone needing one—almost always Maureen and Elizabeth.

Regina was going to visit her sister who is right near Elizabeth’s house, so, after stopping at the street market across the road to buy bananas and oranges as a gift, we began to walk up the road.  My instructions were to call when I arrived at “the second bump” (speed bump), where Elizabeth always alights.  I mentioned where I was going, “Oh, Elizabeth is one of my very dear friends from Ndingi days.”  So when Elizabeth arrived to escort me to her house, she was delighted to see Regina and invited her to tea too.

Maureen was already there, along with her 18 month-old daughter whose name I can’t tell you, but it means “the gift”.  After briefly chatting Elizabeth disappeared, then emerged from the kitchen bearing one after another of the warming containers in which food is always served here.  ACH!  I thought it was to be tea, but it was a 6-course meal?  Mashed potatoes, rice, chipattis, peas, cabbage, and meat.  It was delicious and I ate too much.  Had I known I would have eaten a smaller breakfast.

As I sat there I had that uh, oh thought.  Forgot my camera and how can I write about this in my blog with no pix.  I briefly mentioned my forgetfulness and before I knew it, Elizabeth had popped across the way to her sister’s to borrow a camera.  How’s that for a first class hostess???  I’m hoping she will bring them on a flash disc tomorrow so I can include them.  Another sister dropped by and joined us and after awhile Elizabeth’s husband, Samuel (pronounced Sam well) came back from a biology session with his students.  I had met him only once about 4 years ago, just a few days before their wedding—really nice man.  Elizabeth wanted him to show her how to load the pix onto the flash, but he refused until we took more pix, that included him.

Walking back out to the road with Regina and Elizabeth we encountered many small children, each having some kind of response to the mzunguwalking with the neighbor lady.  Some stared, some shook my hand, some wanted to know “how are you?” and one girl, having shaken my hand looked down to see whether I’d left some sort of mzungu mark on her palm.  They all giggled as they passed and Elizabeth opined they would remember, “She touched me!”  I know I write about this phenomenon often, but it’s a daily occurrence.

I had also arranged to see Damaris later in the afternoon.  I thought I had written about her earlier, but can’t find it, so I guess not.  She taught Joyce, how to sew, a project which ended up with our buying 100’s of cloth bags to bring home.  It’s been enough to get her off the streets.  Damaris is one of the most giving persons I’ve ever met.  She teaches women to sew (no cost to them) helps them market their goods and gives them all kinds of encouragement.  We discussed how the bag business could be expanded in Naivasha and it occurred to me that she could organize a contingent of “bag ladies” to petition the city council to put some kind of ban or price on plastic bags.  We talked about strategies—how plastic pollutes the soil, pollutes the air when it is burned, causing all sorts of lung problems, how using cloth bags promotes small business for single moms, who buy the fabric in local stores, adding to the tax base.  She says she will make a presentation to them.  I hope I get a report, but I’m not sure she does email.

While I was there and older lady whom I know I had met before dropped by.  She recognized me and gave me a huge grin and a bigger hug.  She doesn’t understand English, but as Damaris and I chatted we stopped so a translation could be done.  She regretted she had not known I was coming or she would have brought me mokoni, a traditional dish of mashed potatoes and peas, eaten with the hands.

Just as Damaris was escorting me to the gate, passing the caged up guard dog who was ready to eat me whole, given an opportunity, her husband arrived.  I had always wondered how Damaris supported herself in her very nice house, when she gives away so much of her time.  I don’t think I’d ever heard her mention a husband, but there he was, a BIG man, big smile and a huge paw that swallowed my hand.  Actually she does help, as she is now employed at a school for disabled children and adults.  She teaches weaving and sewing.

Back down the hill to the supermarket to restock Mother Hubbard’s cupboard, then home, where Patrick of Mji Wa Neemai materialized out of nowhere to open the big metal gates guarding the inner compound where the rectory is and where I park my car.  I hate having to get out, open the gates, trying not to pinch my fingers, drive through, get out to close the gate again, get back in drive around the corner to the garage—-it’s a drag, but it’s an important part of the security here.  Anyway, I was very grateful to Patrick, who is about 11 or 12, on of about 8 boys of approximately the same age.  I’ve only recently gotten all the names straight.  Part of the reason is they rarely tell me if I use the wrong name!

As I walk through the small gate into the children’s home compound I am met by clouds of dust.  Julia has the kids sweeping the dirt and digging up one of the few grassy spots.  Cough, choke—don’t know why they are doing that, just rush to my door and baracade myself against the dust.

We’ve been blessed relieved of dust most of the time b/c it has rained more this summer than I ever remember.  Generally the mornings are clear, but as the day wears on the clouds gather.  By 4 or so the clouds are dark and then all of a sudden it lets go.  Not only is it good for the crops and keeping down the dust, but also at SFG we harvest that rain water from the roofs and while the rain isn’t enough to serve the needs of 300 people, it helps.

So that’s my day.  I really enjoying living it and writing about it.  Hope you enjoyed reading it.

Thought I was finished, but…read on for the next em.  Too many pix to include here.Sorry.  I thought I was going to get some pix from the tea party at Elizabeth’s, but snafus happen everywhere, even here!

#16 Just Another Day

Just outside the door to “Margo’s House” is a very narrow sidewalk with potholes, running beneath the dripline from the roof.  As part of Judy’s beautification campaign for Mji Wa Neema she arranged for a concrete pad to be laid, essentially widening the sidewalk to a patio-sized piece..  The first part of it was laid today.  They had to construct a little bridge to my door so I could go in and out.Image

It looked so nice when I returned this evening, just as a sprinkle was beginning.  A sprinkle rarely stays a sprinkle here, but this one didn’t come down too hard—just hard enough to wash out little drip-sized potholes in the new concrete!  They are clearly visible on the left.  To the right, out of the picture, there is a line of little holes, each the result of a drop.  Wah!  So sad.  Maybe they can fix it tomorrow, but it will probably rain again tomorrow afternoon.

This morning I arrived a bit late, having taken time to accompany Lucas to the Lions Eye Clinic, held once a month here in the parish compound.  Lucas’s eyes have been inflamed every since I’ve known him, and occasionally seemed infected.  He’d been to the eye clinic several time, but still the redness.  Sometimes kids get pushed to the back of the line, so I decided this might be a time to use the deference often accorded mzungus.  Sure enough, the man in charge put him right up front and we were soon out of there, Lucas to his school, I to mine.

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Jecinta, Lucas and the man in charge.

Maureen, form 4 math, had had a tooth extraction early this morning (which I didn’t know about), but of course it took longer than anticipated, so I found her class unattended and went in.  The girls were busily studying for their mock exams, but I sat quietly in front in case anyone had questions.  Of course they did!  Most I could do, but one stumped me for awhile.  It wasn’t hard, I just kept making dumb mistakes.  Worked it out later and gave the solution to the girl.

Stopped to talk to Peter Murigi, Deputy Principal, about our arrangements for interviews of girls with particularly compelling stories.  These are to be videotaped for our new website. 

The teachers are all trying to grade their CATs, which I have heard about for several years, but thought they were saying CUT and wondered what that was.  Now I know Continuous Assessment Testing.  Aha! They have exams to mark.  So I am very popular right now because I love to go teach their classes.  I think I did 4 or 5 today.  Not quite sure, it becomes a big blur after awhile, but I know I taught the binomial theorem to both form 3 classes and sat in 3 lessons for form 4, just answering questions as students came to the front.  No wonder I’m bushed!

Right after lunch Peter Murigi, Lucy, a form 4 student and I met in front of the school for the first taping.  I asked Peter to do the interview, while I did the videoing.  They both did a fabulous job.  Can’t wait to get it up on the website.  The computer/tech guru, Francis, will take it from the tapes and download to his computer, burning a DVD.  I’ll send it home ASAP and we’ll send an announcement to all on this list when the new WS is launched.

I don’t know all the form 4’s anymore.  With almost 300 students I am overwhelmed and know few names.  But I became aware of Lucy when I noticed her a few days ago, sitting in the main corroder, crying.  I asked her whether she wanted to tell me what had upset her.  Then I noticed she’d brought a small plastic bag and I realized she had probably been sent home for non-payment of fees—something very painful for the students, as well as the school.   She told me her parents had recently separated, both worked in flower farms (for pitiful wages) and neither could pay the amount owed, although her father had given her a token amount to bring back.  This is particularly critical for a form 4 girl b/c they are preparing to take the national exam in just a few months.  Every moment is being used to prepare them.

Later Peter elaborated a bit on Lucy’s story.  She had just “graduated” from being head girl.  As you can imagine, head girl means she was chosen by her school mates and vetted by the staff—chosen as the most mature, having the strongest leadership abilities.  It’s the biggest honor in the school and carries a great deal of responsibility.  He reports she was a very strong HG.

I’m so glad I thought to talk to her, b/c after I learned the facts I met with Peter and Ruth (principal) and asked that we present her case to Kenya Help, in hopes her fee arrears would be covered.  She has not been one of our scholarship students (there are many girls in even more desperate need) and we’ve never taken on a form 4, usually beginning with form 1 and carrying the student through the 4 years.  Lucy has been sent home for fees a number of times, but always has bounced back.  I was impressed!  So we agreed that her arrears would be covered, if not by KH, then some other way.  Lucy is back in class and so happy to be there.

When I was speaking to Peter about this small project yesterday, he told me about 2 cases that brought tears to my eyes.  Both were about girls who had been raped and impregnated, one by an uncle the other by a brother!  One is a form 1 girl.  She has this small child, whom her mother is bringing up and the girl is with us.  I don’t know who she is and prefer to keep it that way, as it is a very tender thing.  She hopes none of her classmates will find out.  This situation has made being in school all the more important to her.  Peter tells me she does very well, is very mature and is a wonderful role model for the others.  Needless to say I am very happy that SFG has opened its door and hearts to her.  Not all schools might have been so welcoming.

The other girl is at home right now.  I believe she has had the child and will return at the beginning of the next year.

(RATS!  Just noticed mosquito bites on top of both feet.  Now have put arnica on them.  I found last year it greatly relieved the incessant itch of bedbug bites.  Hope it works as well on these.  I’ve lowered the bednet, but the horse has been stolen, as it were.)

The video taping will continue as soon as we see how today’s session looks.  If it’s OK, we do another tomorrow.  One of the girls whose story Peter thought was particularly touching is that of a Muslim girl from the very distant part of northeastern Kenya, right near the Ethiopian border.  It takes 2-3 days to travel from there to SFG.  Her parents have died and her older sister was taken briefly to Ethiopia, but is now in form 2 in another school here in Kenya, sponsored by an NGO.  This girl is one of our KH sponsored students and is an outstanding form 1.  I was particularly interested because one thing I love about SFG is the diversity of the student body.  Some 15 tribes are represented as well as many other religions besides Catholic.  I think it fosters acceptance of “other” in a very natural and important way.  I well remember my freshman year in college, meeting and getting to know a Jewish girl from Texas living in my dorm.  She was the first Jew I’d ever met (as far as I knew).  I really liked her and was so interested in what was a Jew like.  Unfortunately she left after our first year, but I am still grateful for all she shared with me.

After I sat in the form 4B classroom, answering random questions, they asked me whether I would come back at the end of the day (4:20), which I did.  I love having them show the initiative.  Finally about 5:30 Pauline, their teacher, came in to return the CATs she had marked and sent them off to run around, relax and get their minds off the mocks that begin tomorrow.  Thank goodness she did—or I’d still be there (9:15 pm)

Christopher is a math teacher whom I got to know several years ago and have enjoyed working with so much.  If there is a problem I don’t understand he’s one of my go-to guys.  Unfortunately he has a big problem—smokes!  We talked about it a lot last year and with encouragement by all he managed to stay clean for several months, but as we all know, it’s tough to stop and eventually he succumbed again.  Last week he came into the staff room after having taken a stroll down the road in front of the school, smelling so pungent that I held my nose and made some smartcrack.  Oh my, the expression on his face.  I felt terrible and apologized.  His response, “It’s not you who should apologize, it is me.”  It turns out that others who sit near him have complained about the odor as well.  So we began to strategize again about how he could stop.  He’d done an internet search and found a number of “helps” one of which is candy (sweets) and another is lemon juice in water.  I had offered the 3 lemons we had here at home, but of course I forgot this morning.  But just before I left this afternoon he reminded me and also mentioned about the sweets.  I had a small bag of lollypops in my desk (bribes for reluctant students/rewards to spur on others).  So I tossed him 4 to cover the times he thought he’d be particularly tempted tonight.

One the way home I stopped at the old supermarket, so I texted him, asking what kind of sweets he liked.  Ecluis, he texted back.  I asked several workers in the marker what were ecluis, but they were all equally puzzled.  On the way out, I passed a little shop that seemed to have snacks, so I went in, looking for ecluis.  Not finding anything likely, I asked a clerk.  She was very astute.  “Do you think it could be éclairs?”  We were standing in front of a display which included a bag of caramel candies called—-yep, éclairs.  I texted Christopher, and he wrote back, “Oh, yes, that’s what I meant.”  Mystery solved.

Returning to my car, I noticed a small open market across the road.  I took my life in hand and ran across to see whether any of the sellers had lemons.  As I approached I heard, “Margo!”  A young woman was smiling and holding out her hands.  I swear I have never seen her, but obviously I had.  I think she might be one of the Life Bloom ladies now supporting herself selling fruits and vegetables.  I didn’t bat any eye when I greeted her equally happily, but not by name, since I hadn’t a clue about what it was.  Even better, she had lemons!  Ksh 5 each.  I had just rejected lemons in the supermarket for ksh 100 each.  Such a bargain.! So I bought 10 for Christopher, making her very happy all over again and I’m sure Christopher will be happy when I bring them in the morning.  For any of you who have been through that mill, you know how hard it is.  I was very fortunate in sharing that ordeal with my husband, Jim.  We were able to support each other and both succeeded.  We never were feeling weak at the same time!  Christopher isn’t married and lives alone.  I offered to be his phone helper, but he’s a bit shy and has never called for support.  Hold the good thought for him.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this.  I love writing the little vignettes that I live each day.

Margo

#15 Judy Say Goodbye to Mji Wa Neema

We are always to happy when we arrive and sad when we leave.  Today Judy flies off to Paris, then to Montreal for her annual visit to her brother.  So last night she organized her goodbye dinner, spaghetti Kenyan style, eaten with chopsticks.  The chopsticks are becoming a tradition since she organized a Chinese dinner several years ago.  The kids learned to eat with the chopsticks and every year they love doing it again—except Joseph (7) who couldn’t get it together.

David Mongai, who will soon leave for university to study public health had had no lunch.  He was HUNGRY.Image

In fact we are always astonished at how much these children eat.  Evans, who is about 5 inches around eats huge plates every day.  He’s been tested for intestinal parasites and everything else they can think of, and is always clean, but he eats a lot.

Anyone expecting spaghetti would not recognize what was presented yesterday, a meat stew (very tasty) poured over huge mounds of pasta—which Judy supervised, so it wasn’t cooked until moosh.  We’ve agreed that next year we will cook what we think of as spaghetti, complete with parmesan cheese, which we’ve recently found in the supermarket.

After everyone had eaten she brought out a bag of scarves, items that her friends had given her for the children here.  Those kids had so much fund with the scarves!

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Jecinta in foreground, Agnes (asst matron) behind blue scarf, Evelyn, David Kamau, Mary and Margaret.

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Simon loves the purple, Tylon, Patrick and Josephat (with Judy).  Kids love to clown the world around.  Judy also distributed the pens and pencils she had schlepped here from Portland.

Part of the reason for the celebration was the completion of the new floor, financed and organized by Judy.  The old concrete floor had more potholes than the road to West Pokot.  She investigated and learned that the kind of floor installed in the dining hall of SFG will stand up to hard use very well.  She also found someone who makes plugs from old tires for the metal chair legs, so they won’t chew up the floor.  She also paid for painting the walls.  It looks so good!  Lucas wanted to add his bit of sprucing up, so he polished the windows.

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Joseph, the pirate (below) is Lucas’ little brother.  This morning Joseph sat with us (on my lap) at mass, but ¾ through, claimed he had to go to the bathroom.  Judy wanted me to bet on whether he would come back, but I don’t bet against a 100% probability.  He didn’t.  After mass she wanted to give him a popcicle for taking his bath, but I demurred—no treats for mass cutters.  (What a grouch!)

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John, Tabitha, Leah and GraceImage