2016 – #13 My Muse Takes a Week Off!!!

I just realized I have not posted for a whole week. One way I know is that no one has written to me for a whole week!!!!! (except Hilliary and Bernie and a few of their cohorts). Somehow, even though it was a very busy week, I haven’t felt the urge to write. But here goes

Saturday was Talent Show day at SFG and the place was vibrating with excitement. We got there late, and already the dining hall was lifting off its foundations with the force of the music. I knew I couldn’t manage very long with that, so I boldly pushed forward and asked please could it be turned down. The DJ did so, but pretty soon it was back up to max decibels. I have a few pix, but there is no way my camera could capture the energy, the wit, the creativity we saw that day. Nonetheless we left after 5 ear-punishing hours, feeling pummeled. The show went on for 2+ hours.

Sunday we look it easy, but in the afternoon I went again to the Naivasha Sports Club to tutor Sandy. We worked in the small building where Minilyn (mom) shows her crafts, many made by HIV-positive workers, whom she has trained. Sandy is coming along, nicely, but she’s not going to make a name in the math world, despite our best efforts. I just want to get her to the place where she can follow and understand the lesson. She’s a bright girl, but one of the rare ones who really doesn’t get math. (sigh!)

2016 - #13 Margo tutoring Sandy

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday saw us chained to the tables in the SFG library, surrounded by girls who wanted math help. It’s amazing how many are now coming in—always more than the ones the teachers have selected for help. I think there are several factors contributing to the increased interest, enthusiasm, and confidence we’ve experienced from the girls. First, the new math teachers are good and the girls like them a lot. Secondly, Fr. Ngaruiya, the new parish priest, is a math teacher and has taken a big interest in their progress. He is well-liked by all and I think the girls want to do well to please him. I believe the presence of Alison and me and the 1-1 time they’ve received has also contributed.

Thursday Hiliary, new social worker for Empower the World, drove us to Nakuru to visit Fr. Kiriti. I have done that drive several times a year, but somehow I developed a fear of that road with the slow trucks, the speeding cars and matatus and the many near-misses I’ve seen as the speeding ones overtake the slow ones. Last year I didn’t drive it at all. Poor Hiliary had to take a matatu back to Naivasha—not a fun ride.

That afternoon Fr. Kiriti took us to the Wild Animal Park, a huge hunk of land where animals can live a very natural life—until a predator gets them, but that’s part of their natural life as well. There are always many of the deer family, mostly elands and gazelles, who merely looked at us and returned to grazing. Once we noted several who were on guard-duty. Fr. Kiriti opined there must have been a lion nearby, but we didn’t see any. We saw several rhinos, a couple of wart hogs and many buffalos and zebras, but the big treat was many giraffes—more than I’ve ever seen. I’m still awed by their size and grace. Fr. K says they have no predators, their skin being over 1 inch thick and very tough. They also have a powerful kick that has splintered the ribs of many a lion.

2016 - #13 Giraffe 2016

Of course the monkeys and baboons were so much fun to see. The older ones seem to spend most of their time people-watching, sitting by the road, observing those odd characters snapping pictures from the car windows. We loved the babies, tumbling, scratching, screeching and playing just like a bunch of little kids.

2016 - #13 Baboon 2016

Back at his new parish, St. Paul’s, we met his assistant, Fr. Xavier, a very sweet and devoted priest who plied us with questions about our visit, our lives and our world in the US. We thoroughly enjoyed spending 2 days with the 2 of them.

Friday we visited the parish high school, small, new (only goes to form 3) and very poor. The students have few text books and they have no library at all. We took maybe 20 – 25 of the books I had brought over. We also gave each student a mechanical pencil and each of the staff members got to choose a scarf—including the cook who was so grateful!

We visited the form 3 math class, taught by a student-teacher, who is the only math person there. Matrices was the topic and some of the students were struggling with what has always seemed to me an unnecessarily complicated way to solve a system of equations. He demonstrated a problem, then set the class to work on another. The 3 of us wandered up and down the aisles, marking correct work, giving suggestions and minor lessons to those who had made mistakes. They had made it a double lesson, so the class was long and I took the opportunity to tell them to use their brains, not their calculators. “God gave you a good brain, didn’t He?’ nod of head, “Then you should use it before it turns to oatmeal!” giggle. Both Alison and I had a great time with them but were happy to relax for a 20-minute tea break before meeting a combined form 1 and 2 group.

The teacher was introducing solving systems of equations (not by matrices) and made a typical new-teacher mistake of assigning a problem to be solved, which the bright ones completed quickly, then sat idly by. AAACH! I couldn’t stand it, and told them to do another one. He had shown them one method (not the one I would have used) without helping them see they could either add or subtract, depending on the signs. Again, I couldn’t stand it and asked his permission to address the class. He was very kind and perhaps felt he’d learned a little bit about teaching. I can’t imagine being the lone math teacher in a high school, a learner at that, with no mentor, no one to give advice. He’ll go back to university in a few months and a new practice teacher will show up. It’s better than having the proverbial football coach, but not a whole lot. It’s not that there are no math teachers. It’s that the school is too poor to hire one. Practice teachers are free (I think). I’m thinking that next year I might volunteer at that school for my 2 ½ months here. Although I know I’m helping at SFG, I think I’d be of much great use in this school. We’ll see, but I’m contemplating it.

After our school visit I went off to see my friend, Shamin to get a haircut. Generally when I’m there I’m the only client, but this time there were 3 clients when I arrived. One lady had booked an appointment for manicure and pedicure but then wanted a haircut too. Shamin’s sister does the fingers and toes, but only Shamin does the hair. On top of that, they had no running water, but had to fetch it in buckets from a tank that they fill from a water truck. It was crazy, but somehow she got it all organized and I was out in less than an hour—shorn more than I would have liked, but better than going 2 ½ months on one haircut.

Next on the agenda was a visit to Jecinta, former principal of SFG, now principal in a government high school in Fr. K’s parish. She had left SFG under somewhat of a cloud, but Fr. K, always one to soothe things out, had visited her recently and was received with great joy. They had a healing visit and she encouraged him to bring me to visit too. As we left Shamin’s shop it began to rain—lightly at first, but soon it was not only elephants and giraffe’s, but an occasional hippo and rhino. In no time the road was awash in MUD! ARGH!!! To top it off, when we arrived, no one was in sight. Evidently they were having an assembly. We never got to see her and we kept the bottle of wine we had taken to give to her. Fr. K kindly offered to take it off our hands!!!

I mentioned that I did not want to drive the road between Nakuru and Naivasha, but my conscience wouldn’t let me force Hiliary to take a matatu early in the morning to fetch us and drive us back. He already had to use his Sunday to drive Alison to the airport, so I had a little chat with myself and determined I could take it easy, not be in a hurry to “overtake” and I could do it—so I did. And it was fine.

Here are Alison, Fr. Kiriti and Fr. Xavier right before we left for Naivasha

2016 - #13 Alison, Kiriti, Xavier 2016


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