#17 Day of Frustration and A Great Visit From Sister Irene

#17 Day of Frustration and A Great Visit From Sister Irene              July 7, 2015

Yesterday morning was from hell, beginning with a clogged toilet.  RATS!  I needed to be at SFG.  Go to see Julia, who calls our wonderful fix-it man Kebe (Key bay).  ACH! Kebe started his 1 month annual leave TODAY!  She calls him anyway.  He’s at home and he will come to see about it.  He has to open the drain system outside, but finds nothing.  OK from inside.  “Margo, come see what you flushed.”  Oops, the small cloth I kept on the back of the toilet to wipe it dry after my shower must have fallen in, unbeknownst to me…..and….. ARGH!  What a great way for Kebe to begin his vacation.  However, I paid him well.

Sister Irene, famous snake-beater from East Pokot (see last year blogs) is coming to visit.  I knew the toilet in the guest bedroom didn’t flush.  Kebe can fix that.  Also the lightbulb doesn’t work.  So off to the Naivas to get a bulb.  Get back.  Wrong kind of bulb.  GRRR!

In the meantime going out the gate I encounter Andrew and Harrison from school.  Harrison is not well and is going to be checked at District Hospital across the road.  This is generally what is done here instead of going to a doctor’s office, like we do at home.  I know Harrison has been sick for awhile so I offer to wait to take him home when he finishes.

At the same time I have picked Dominic whom I know from my very first year here, 2005.  He was one of 6 Ndingi students whom I interviewed, when they were being sent home for fees.  I was told that none of them would come back because the families (if they had them) could not pay.  Each of the stories was so sad.  They wanted so much to stay in school.  I told them I could make no promises, but I would try to find sponsors.  At home I was stunned that I could find sponsors.  All graduated from Ndingi the next year.  Dominic has kept in contact with me for all these years as he has made his way through seminary.  He has 4 years to go before ordination.  He is a very sweet, very dedicated young man.  He told me news about others of that group, each of whom seems to have found some way to get further training.  One, Priscilla, has written several times, and another, Paul keeps in touch when he can.

Dominic and I chatted until it was time to take Harrison home, having been diagnosed with some sort of infection.  It’s now about 3 pm and I’ve not been to school.  Too late now although I stop briefly after dropping Harrison at home.

Sr. Irene will be arriving fairly soon, so I busy myself fixing our dinner and soon Irene arrived, driving a big 4 X 4 truck.  She’s about 5’ 2” and tiny, but she wheels that thing around like a pro.  I met her when I visited Fr. Kiriti in East Pokot 2 years ago and immediately liked her wit, her devotion to the mobile medical clinic she was doing with Sr. Modesta, and her grit.  It was great to see her and we chatted the whole evening until each was bleary-eyed.  Perhaps you would like to review my blog about it, # 19 2014.  You can find it here.

She and her mobile clinic have been a great gift to the women of East Pokot, but she has fallen victim to the ego of an Irish priest in the very next parish to Fr. Kiriti’s Kositei parish.  This guy got his tail in a knot because she didn’t consult with him before she began her wonderful “coming of age” 2-week workshop in which 135 Pokot girls participated, with the support of their mothers.  What made this particular training unique is that it did not involve Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). It was the first time this had ever happened in this Pokot community.

The girls were given a lot of information about why not to have that done, not just the chance of dying from infection, but problems for the rest of their lives. Irene tried to tell them that not all women undergo that mutilation, nor are they routinely beaten, have to do all the work while the husband struts around, so proud of his 15 second part in the production of a child!  The fact that the mothers came and said, “we don’t want our daughters to be cut,” is a real tribute to Irene’s education of Pokot women.  Irene talked about the empowerment of the girls and as I saw the video of the “graduation” I could see happy, confident girls who were willing to risk being refused as a wife candidate, perhaps ridiculed or worse in the village.  Empowered is a good term to describe what I saw in those girls and in that video – and that #%*@# priest has stressed Irene so much that her order has told her to leave the Pokot area and return for reassignment.  Unbelievable!!!  Why in the world should she consult with this priest?????  What does he know about the dangers of FGM?????  She is heart-broken but also very determined to continue her vital work with women and girls in the rural, very tribal areas.  What a lady!!!!  She has given me copies of the video, so if anyone is interested in seeing it, let me know and we’ll have a showing, more than one if necessary.

There are 7 Pokot girls in SFG, all there through the combined efforts of Fr. Kiriti and Sr. Irene.  This morning we went to school, partly because she wanted to be there and to tour the school and of course partly to see the 7.  She sat at my staff room desk doing some computer work most of the day and enjoyed the joshing I get (and give back).  She loved the school, particularly the dining hall, built after Fr. Kiriti had helped design a lot of the building and had developed some ideas of what he wanted.  It is a great room, used all the time (and beginning to show some wear in some places), but still very creatively conceived.  Here is Sr. Irene as she was just about to leave.  Note goat in background.


Just as Irene was packing up to leave, Monica, one of our Mji Wa Neema kids, knocked my door.  Monica finished high school in Nov. 2013 and is in her first year of nursing school.  She is “on attachment” at the district hospital, right across the road, so is staying here.  She wanted me to see her uniform, which is really cute, as you see.  Monica is growing into a beautiful young woman.  She’s very calm and sensitive as well as bright and conscientious.  She’ll make a great nurse.  Her uniform is very smart and she smiled widely when I pronounced it such.

2015-17 Monica

My writing was interrupted just now by the arrival of the readers.  My group of 4 young boys (5 with Joseph) keeps growing.  Now there are 9, including 7-year old Sylvia who stopped by, wanting to know what those big boys were doing here.  Jackson, one of the original kids from last year, came today.  I hadn’t seen him yet this year, and was so happy that he came back.  He’s a very bright kid and must come from a very poor family.  His school sweater is barely intact -raveled sleeves, neck and bottom, shoulders coming apart.  I’d love to buy him another one, even used, in the market but I don’t know what can of worms I might open.  ARGH!  This is the moral dilemma I face many, many times.  If I do it, how many others will want me to buy them a sweater?  Almost all the kids at Milimani come from poor families.  If not, they’d be in boarding schools by 6th grade (yes, it’s true!)  I’ll have to ponder this.  Feel free to advise me – margo@kenyahelp.us .

I made the mistake of leaving my mechanical pencil on the table.  Well of course boys wanted to know all about it.  Several days ago Julius, who’s a bit cheeky, but a great kid, asked me for one.  I have many, so I gave it.  Today I had to give out 4 more, and that was before some of the others arrived.  I swore them to secrecy.  But if you read in the paper about a riot in a small orphanage in Naivasha, Kenya, in which an aged mzungu was trampled by 2000 kids wanting mechanical pencils, you’ll know the back story!  Somebody told.

Tomorrow I go to Ndingi to teach the form 4’s.


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