June 26, 2018
This afternoon 3 form 4 girls came to ask me about a math topic. That resolved I was ready to go home, but it became evident they wanted to talk more. “Margo, we are so stressed right now. We’re trying to prepare for our mocks, there is so much to learn, we feel overwhelmed. We graduate in November and then what?” Oh, I do like nice, simple questions. Two sentences ought to do it—NOT. It took a bit of fishing to determine the real basis of the stress. For the girl who asked the question, it turns out she doesn’t know what she wants to study. Here, a university applicant must include a study preference in the application form. I’m not sure why because they end up being admitted to some other course of study that they don’t want, but that’s another whole issue.
I told them the story of how I came to be here, how I listened to my dreams (literally) and followed my heart. Then I asked, “What class do you look forward to? What makes your heart sing?” I turned to each of the and all 3 actually did know. One wanted to be a vet, another to study law and the third, nursing. They answered quite promptly. I then addressed the issue of the mock exams. Pointing out that the score has no meaning for their future. “It’s just a practice, to be used as an informational tool. That’s all!!! It tells you what you don’t know yet, what you don’t understand, to help you focus your preparation for the real exam.” Mocks are widely seen as very important in themselves. Kids actually burn down schools here because they don’t want to take them. Some have committed suicide. Yet nobody looks at that score after they leave school. It’s a non-issue, but kids really stress over them.
Next question. “Margo do you ever get stress in your life?” “Oh yes, everyone does.” “What do you do?” Deciding to be totally honest, “Well, I swear a lot (laughter), growl, go sit and watch TV, go read a book. Then I take myself in hand and try to figure out what the real issue is, what is pushing me around. It’s not always what I initially thought. Then I make a plan, I prioritize what needs to be done first and what can wait for an hour, a day, a week, or never.” “Make yourself a schedule, making sure to include time to do nothing. Make sure you go to bed early. A good night’s sleep is the best thing you can do for your brain.” We talked a bit more as I packed up my books and went out the door, only coming back at the last minute. “One other thing I do when I’m stressed. I eat chocolate!”
I had spent the day talking with a new math teacher, observing him and being asked to teach a question, although he hadn’t told me he would do that. ARGH! I talk so fast, work fast and expect the kids to get it fast. Here the teaching is slow and ponderous—often boring. The teacher evidently felt I was too fast, so reviewed what I’d said.
(5 days later)
By now I think many (I hope all) have received #8 and #10. I wanted # 10 to get out in a hurry; but because our list is now so long, gmail blocked a lot of addresses. I think my helpers have split the list so all can get it. Gmail evidently has done this in the past, so we’re going to use either Mail Chimp or Constant Contact, but I’m not sure how long that will take to set up. Please be patient.
In the meantime, I spent 4 days as SFG, taught the form 1’s (2 sections) once. They are so young, cute and shy of me, but I think it went well. I’ve told the math teachers from now on if I teach their class, they must observe. When I did the form 1’s, the teacher told me after that he very much liked the way I approached the questions, much more simple than the way taught here. That’s often the case, but I haven’t been able to sell the teachers on it. Unfortunately this form 1 teacher has been hired by the TSA to teach in the public schools. I’ve railed about that before. I realize that the private schools, which cannot begin to meet the salary, retirement benefits and other perks, have become the training ground for the government schools, but do they have to take them in the middle of the year????? ARGH!! So disruptive to the schools. A new teacher, a woman has been hired, but I’m so sorry. I liked the one we had.
Friday I stayed home to help prepare the rooms for my 2 visitors, who were to arrive tomorrow (Monday, July 2) Alas, their plane was delayed so long in SFO they missed their Amsterdam connection As I write, they are in line at KLM desk, trying to arrange new flights. So I’m waiting for word about when to pick them in Nairobi.
Diana, the young woman I’m sponsoring to become a pre-school teacher, had offered to help with the cleaning of the room once used by the matron, Julia. She was aided by Mary, a worker here in the parish and a very willing woman. Julia left 1 ½ years ago, now married and living in US. Since she left, the room was emptied of anything usable, either by parish people or ???? Tabitha, the accountant helped by buying a lot of things—mattress, sheets, blankets bed net, but it has still cost me a lot to get that room, plus the second room in my house, ready.
The tiles in the bathroom, as well as sink and toilet were a mess, mostly from the minerals in the water. A man was sent to clean them, along with my bathroom, which wasn’t much better and in my other guest room (ditto). He worked very hard, on his knees, scrubbing away with a noxious-smelling substance, but the results were very nice. Then the plumber arrived to fix the shower, install a handle on the sink faucet, repair the toilet and do a few more jobs. It would have been better to reverse those jobs, as the bathroom, so lately sparkling, is now a mess. He promised to come tomorrow to finish and to leave it in the pristine condition it was. Let’s hope. Also an electrician arrived to repair various lights and sockets.
Because I was constantly out of water in my kitchen, a new and larger water tank has been installed on the roof. Such a joy to have water every time I turn on the tap!!! Heretofore, on the weekend I rarely had water. I’d fill a bucket from the spigot in my bathroom to carry to the kitchen so I could wash dishes—not exactly luxurious living!
There has never been a closet or any way to hang up clothes in the matron’s room, but there is large cupboard. It was full of hand-crocheted antimacassars and other items of unknown (to me) use as well as many discarded clothing items. I sorted it all out, took everything down to the rectory’s washing machine, lugged it back up here to dry and now have it ready to be given to anyone needing/wanting the items. I’m guessing Mary doesn’t get paid a “handsome” salary, so I offered her any of the crotched stuff, having ascertained from Tabitha that I could give away whatever I wanted. Mary looked it all over and chose a set of many 7 or 8 items in blue and white. She said she had a friend who has nothing and who would be very happy with it. That’s what I’d hoped for. I told Tabitha that none of that stuff was doing anyone any good rotting away in a cabinet. Right now (Sunday) I have a huge stack of clothes to give to Tabitha tomorrow for disposal to needy folks.
In addition, there were lace curtains and many lace items of the sort my grandmother would have used to decorate the tops of tables. Many were torn in small places, but were nice lace. I’m going to offer the lace to Joyce and Damaris, the ladies who make the bags I bring back. They sew clothing—in fact, everything. I thought maybe they could use bits of lace as decoration on their merchandise. Otherwise, maybe I’ll offer them on a table at front of church next Sunday, with a sign saying, “free to good home”.
My next project was to line the shelves of the cabinet with a nice sort of what we might call oil cloth. It’s used a lot here, I think because it’s widely available. Good mathematician that I am, I carefully measured my needs, but when I got to the store Friday afternoon I was exhausted, did the calculation wrong and bought about twice as much as needed. Oh well!!! I’m sure someone will be happy to have the remainder.
Finally I want to tell you about Jamaa, an alternative to the Naivas supermarket. They have slightly lower prices and parking, although they are in an inconvenient location. I made the mistake of going on Friday at 5 pm on the last day of the month (payday!!). What a jam!!!! People and carts everywhere, and very narrow aisles. Why a market has 50 boxes of salt, or 100 bags of 7 kinds of rice each is beyond me, but it is common here. Yet they have people restocking all the time. They could cut down on their inventory, widen the aisles, add several other check-out lines and even more people would flock to them. But no one asks me for my brilliant solutions to problems they probably don’t even know they have.
The queues were long, but I sought out what seemed to be the shortest, and had people with fewer items to buy. Just as I got into the queue, another lady slipped in front of me (even though I really was there first). She smiled at me and indicated she has just a bottle of milk. I assumed she had a child crying at home and nodding, returned her smile. Then along came her husband with a whole big basket of stuff. ARGH!!! I was irritated. When she look at me again, I shook my finger at her. She just shrugged and moved right along.
I was at Jamaa easily 1 hour. Ah, Kenya! I love being here and now that I’ve endured that particular challenge, I can laugh about it. Wasn’t laughing at the time, I assure you!