Poverty alleviation is one of my main passions and it’s also one of the main things I’m working on here in Kisii Kenya. As the main activity in fighting poverty I’m training and mentoring small entrepreneurs with skills to improve their businesses, increase their profits and ultimately escape poverty.
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Well. I finished my 14 days of poverty: living on 2$ a day. I originally thought I would/could blog during that time, but it just didn’t work out. But here I am. And here’s the update. (When I say 1$, I’m also saying 100 Kenyan Shillings, usually that’s pretty close to the exchange rate.) Read the intro to this experiment here.
Two Dollars a Day for 2 Weeks
Things I learned about while living on 2 dollars a day:
- You don’t get to have your comforting foods
- You’ll be staying home more because you can’t afford the transport
- It’s hard to have a social life because you can’t pay for a motorcycle, you can’t go out to eat/drink and you don’t have enough food at home to entertain
- Keep the lights out when you can: because you can’t afford all that much electricity
- You better not have to go to the doctor, because that will definitely put you over budget
- I finally get why people don’t buy the larger supply and save the money per weight: because they just don’t have the money. Period.
There were things that I would really have liked to do during this period, but I just couldn’t afford it. Even if I wouldn’t spend any money at this place I wanted to go to, I couldn’t even afford the 1-2$ transport to get there and back.
In a way I feel like a pretentious, privleged fool for doing this. In another way, I feel like I have to.
It’s recommended, in general, for single, independent missionaries to live on $1,500 as a minimum monthly salary. That would be $50 per day!!! Last year, I spent an average of $1,119/ month. That’s 37$ a day. Granted, a lot of that went to rent, insurance and other things that I felt were IMPORTANT. But I felt and even FEEL guilty about it. Especially because my income (from donations and web work for a cause) was only half that, and the rest just drained my savings almost to the bottom. For this year, my yearly fundraising goal is $8,500, which would be $708/month. I don’t think that will be super comfortable but I’m sacrificing. Anyways, back to the story.
I have two exciting projects that I’ve already started and am excited to continue this year. Here’s a video about my rough plan for the year.
Tutoring at Children’s Home
One is tutoring the kids who are struggling in school, who live at the children’s home. I’m starting with the kids who are actually schooled at the children’s home, which is 2 levels of preschool and kindergarten. The kids never get any one on one time educationally, so if they fall behind, they’re screwed. And really the classes are really bad. In 2017 I had been helping the kids with colors, letters, numbers and reading in an informal way. Now I’m actually taking the kids, one at a time, to a separate room so we can actually work on learning what the individual kid needs to learn.
2018 is here already! I apologize for doing a bad job of communicating what I was doing in 2017. I was just trying to get a feel for everything around me. But I’ve written up a good 2017 summary and I’m ready to share it with you! If you donated 50$ or more in 2017, you are welcome to request the 2017 FULL/serious report of the year. It’s a PDF with lots of nitty-gritty details. Just ask! But, below is a brief overview about what I did in 2017.
In 2016 my friend Joelle and I were to go hiking up Wanale Hill in Mbale Uganda and camp for the night at the top with two local guides (read that story here), who I was also friends with. We were to meet at 1 pm at a local cafe/bar and we’d start the hike. Joelle and I got there around 1 pm. I called one of the guys around 1:10 pm telling him “we’re here and ready”, he said he’d be there soon. The gentlemen finally arrived at 4 pm. 3 hours after we were to meet, and all the while, the guy was telling me he was “coming”.
First, What I’ve Been Up To:
Teaching Reading to Struggling Readers at an Elementary School
I’ve been teaching reading to some struggling readers at an elementary school, grades 4-7. I did this for one week before they had a 3 week break. This last week it started up again. I’m excited to get it going again. There’s a boy in 7th grade who doesn’t know the alphabet. I’m working with him one on one. He is making progress and I’m hopeful for him.
Another interesting thing is Grades 4 and 5 don’t speak English well enough for me to teach them in English. So… I’m trying to do the class mostly in Swahili! So that has been interesting and fun.
The adventure has officially begun! I arrived in Kenya on March 1st and arrived in Kisii on March 2nd. It’s so nice to be back here. It feels very right.
I learned a whole lot about courage and fear in 2016. In 2016 I was in my early 30s and for the first time really pushing myself past fear.
Why does that matter? Why push past fear? Why not just live a simple life and do simple things? It wasn’t until I was in my early 30s that I really started to do courageous things. Sure I had moved around and got far from home and moved to Boston with no job, but none of that scared me. I once had a friend who told me he loved doing scary stuff. He loved the feeling in his stomach when he was nervous. I didn’t get that at the time. I’m still not sure I get that.
Lately, I’ve been getting some slack about my messy hair. After 6 months adventuring around the world, doing and experiencing things you never could have imagined, your priorities and beliefs change! How I feel about my physical appearance and how to present it has been one of those things. I don’t want to look like a slob, I want to look pretty (I’m still single!) but I’m choosing an unconventional hairstyle. I actually feel prettier when my hair is messy. When my hair is brushed, blow dried and polished, I feel like I’m pretending to be someone I’m not.