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.
What have I been doing and what do I plan to do with my first month? Well, I’m assessing the situation. I want to figure out what is the best way to help the people of this area by learning and understanding what is going on before I jump into action. I’m eagerly learning Kiswahili so I can communicate better with the people. Although most people do speak English, there are certain gaps which occur in translations and to know the language will be extremely valuable for understanding nearby conversations (not for eavesdropping of course, but in case it’s something I need or want to know), reading newspapers, watching the news and speaking with the very young or the elderly. And teaching English if I go down that path.
I have been spending time at the local government children’s home. I’ve brought 22 children’s books from the US, donated by friends and family. I’m reading them to the kids. I also found out the home does have quite a few books here too, so I’m reading those and coloring with the kids. There are 170 children, newborns to age 18 here. The government presumably takes care of all the expenses, but of course not all the money seems to make it down to where it needs to go. It’s hard to say where it goes, but I sure am interested in finding out.
I’ve read and heard a lot about how it is detrimental to the children of the homes like these for volunteers to come. I want to understand that more and see what a better solution is. Often the volunteers come in and out like revolving doors, the children get attached and then detached and the home itself becomes dependent upon the free help and the handouts. Previously I only spent a week at this home, and just as a visitor or spectator. I held some babies, changed some diapers. I didn’t give any money.
This home, and I’m sure others in Kenya, do not just get volunteers from the Western world, but also local volunteer interns who are studying in some related field like childhood development, social work, or community development.
I do not wish to spend all my time at the children’s home. I feel like I’m kind of doing a small research project figuring out how we, myself, other volunteers and the staff can improve the home for the long term. I wish to get involved with various types of projects and just learn what is really the road that’s best for me to take: matching my skills and interests with something that can really help the people of this community for the long term.
I’m starting to meet some other organizations in the area that are working with other projects like libraries, school improvements, farming and microfinancing projects. I’m expecting it to take awhile before I really figure out what I’m doing. I need to take it all in before I shoot myself totally gungho down a path.
Where I’m staying for at least the first several months, I am so lucky to have a fridge, two balconies, my own room, warm water for the shower, a tea kettle, couches and a family looking after me in a house about 50 feet away. The first week I had the place all to myself. Some Danish 20 year olds came a few days ago and will be staying for 3 months. They seem great and once again, seems like Danish people are awesome.
I’m loving this African life. Here’s some things that are very different:
*I’m living in a densely populated spot with a handful of 4-5 story buildings and some larger properties, going down a hill.
*Roosters start crowing at 4:30 am
*A ridiculous loud medal bell (think like 50/50 between a church bell and a cow bell) rings about 20 times at 6:00 am. I guess this is the community alarm clock.
*The humans start making noise at 6:05 am
*I get to ride motorcycles whenever I want
*I can hear the rain minutes before it gets to me due to the tin roofs
*Sound carries so much with the types of windows they have and the animals and the metal doors! I’m still jumpy at night but I’m sure that will pass.
*Sandals everyday if I want
*The air is just how I like it, about 86deg F as a high, and a level of humidity that seems to make my skin look better.
Another thing I’ve been doing here in Kisii is crocheting plastic bags! I’m thinking my first project will be a reusable grocery bag that I can use when I go shopping. I love the concept of recycling the bags. This is something I’m interested in teaching to Africans but I’m just now learning it myself.
As you might recall, my fund raising goal was $6,000. I’m hoping that that should do me good for about a year. I’m guesstimating that $500 should be enough to cover all my expenses for a month. It’s a lot of guessing at this point, but sounds like it’s a decent estimation based on my calculations. So… of the $6,000 I have so far, (thanks to you awesome and amazing friends and family members,) come up with $3,640! That is so awesome and I’m so pumped about it! I would still love to be able to raise the remaining $2,460. You can still donate! And if you want to wait and see what I’m actually doing before you donate, that’s awesome and understandable too. The best two ways to donate are: PayPal and sending a check to my mom’s house and she can deposit it into my account. Contact me to get that mailing address!
Anyways, that’s what’s up with me. I probably won’t post for awhile since I’m trying to experience more than communicate about it right now, but I did want to give everyone a little update. Keep praying that I will find my path! I hear God saying “You are where I want you,” but other than that, not much has been revealed yet.