#19 Visiting with Friends Ron and Carol July 12, 2015
Friday morning we headed to SFG to meet Jacqueline. Carol has organized a group of 10 women who have supported Jacqueline for the past 2 ½ years. What makes Jacqueline’s story so poignant is that first she lost her father in an accident and then she lost part of her right leg in another accident. She now walks very well with prosthesis. Carol was so moved by that story; she vowed to help Jacqueline get an education at SFG.
It was a wonderful meeting, everyone obviously very moved. We chatted in the library, exchanging stories and the 3 of them getting acquainted. Jacqueline was thrilled with the 2 books C&R gave her, To Kill a Mockingbird and (ACH, can’t remember). Here are the 3 of them in the inner quad at SFG.
We couldn’t keep Jacqueline out of class for too long and besides, we wanted to visit a wonderful pre-school established in the KCC slum by a young new Zealander named Markus. I’ve been there severally as has Judy and each time we’ve been amazed at how much the 3, 4, and 5-year olds are learning. They always look incredibly happy and enthusiastic. Unfortunately, Markus was in Nairobi at a conference, but Eva, he welcoming assistant left her “baby class” to show us around. Here is a pic I took last year. This is the middle class, learning their letters and numerals.
Virtually all the teachers are volunteers. Many are locals, but some come from abroad—US, Europe, Australia, New Zealand. The school is free, goes for ½ day, ending at 12:30 when a big and nutritious lunch is served. For some, it may be the only real meal they eat. Much of the food is grown on adjacent land and now they have 4 cows to provide plenty of milk. Judy and I were always amazed at how much those little guys could eat. It may look like they’re all boys, but most girl’s heads are shaved, just like the boy’s. The only way to tell is to see who wears a dress and who wears shorts.
I had to get back to school for my 5 bottom kids program, in which each day 1-1:30 I teach the bottom 5 of a form 3 or 4 class. They tell me a topic or problem they have struggled with and we thrash it over. I wish I had more time and I think I’ll do more of that 4-5 each day, but for now it’s just the ½-hour.
C&R had returned to their hotel while I met Fr. Kiriti to drive to their very nice hotel down by the lake. We had a lovely lunch, after which Fr. Kiriti drove us around the lake to a smaller saltwater lake where we hoped to see flamingoes. Alas they had migrated elsewhere, but it was an interesting drive. Carol, an amateur botanist, enjoyed both familiar and new varieties of plants.
I returned to Mji Wa Neema in time to greet my reader guys. They are such a kick. After choosing their new books they asked me to sit down in my little entryway. They went outside with a lot of giggling and whispers, then appeared in the doorway dancing and singing quite a long song. I didn’t have the camera handy, so you’ll have to take my word that those 5 boys sang beautifully and danced really well. Then they got corny and did a lot of 11-year old show offy stuff. So fun. Julius had taken Harry Potter 1 the day before, but the rest had all finished and returned their books. They told me they had “fired” one of their group because he was giving away a book he’d borrowed. They grabbed the book and returned it to me. They are so grateful for the opportunity to borrow the books that they have become quite protective.
Saturday we toured the big outdoor market—the place Janet and I went to buy fruits for Talent Show day. Slowly by slowly the ground-stalls are being replaced by better built stalls on concrete slabs. I’m sure it’s better for the vendors as well as shoppers, but it does take away some of the charm for me. We then toured the Naivas—both of them and a few other sites, then I went home as did R&C.
Cyrus is the oldest resident in Mji Wa Neema, although he is no longer a resident, but attends Jomo Kenyatta U studying pharmacy. R&C have been among his sponsors for quite some time and have wanted to meet him. Cyrus and I were to arrive at their hotel at 7, but a series of glitches made us very late. First, Cyrus was delayed arriving from Nairobi by huge traffic jams caused by road closures. Nairobi is getting a major facelift in preparation for Obama’s visit later this month. Finally he arrived and we hopped in the car, wherewith I proceeded to drive the wrong direction (ignoring Cyrus’s telling me so). We drove and drove until I realized in fact I had figured it out exactly wrong. Back to Naivasha and out the other road, but by this time it was dark and I missed the driveway to the hotel. It had no light on it’s sign and I had been blinded by oncoming traffic. Again I drove pretty far before realizing. Tried to call Fr. Kiriti for help, but he didn’t pick his phone (as they say) Ben however, knew exactly what to tell me. “When you get to Karacta, there are 2 traffic bumps. The entrance is right after the second bump.” Perfect, but I never would have found it in the dark without the bumps.
Again it was an emotional meeting on all sides. R&C had wanted to meet Cyrus for a very long time and he had wanted to meet them. We had a lovely dinner, with Cyrus telling them about his life and how his school is going. They shared pictures of their family and Carol presented him with a copy of Cutting for Stone, by Abraham Verghese. I had told him how much I haved enjoyed both reading it and listening to it on my iPod. He was very pleased to get it. Here they are at the door as we were leaving.
Fortunately the drive back was quick and uneventful, except right at an intersection a herd of zebras leaped across the road right in front of us. So beautiful and graceful.
Story to be continued tomorrow.