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.
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.
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 spent 6 months in Liberia, Uganda and Kenya and learned some things about what is helpful to bring to a tropic, hot, developing world location from the Western world. If you’re going to stay for 1 week or 2 years, take a look at this list. If you’re going for just a week or two and staying at fancy, civilized places, than you might not need all of this, but you can use your judgement.
In most places that I visited you can buy bottled water. But I had a couple times when I couldn’t and I was very thankful I had my Sawyer Water Filter. I will also say that all the bottled water had outside seals on them so you know they’re good. And they were good. Except one in Kenya, Tiji. Even though they were sealed they had floating crap in them. Yuck. I whipped out my Sawyer filter for those!
In Western Kenya I taught Life Skills Education to 500 high school students. I think that was the most difficult month of my life.
I never heard of Life Skills Education until I came to Otaro. I’m a huge fan now and very interested in exploring this path more with Laurie Goes to Africa.
Below are the Life Skills as laid out by the Kenyan Ministry of Education:
The Lonely Planet guide for Kenya does not speak highly of Kisii. That’s too bad, I really liked this hilly, bustling little town.
I have written and rewritten this article many times. I’m trying not to say too much negative, but this has been a hard place. I’m teaching at a school in the Lake Victoria region of Kenya. The culture is male dominated. The people are not as friendly as in Uganda, by a long shot. The community is small and there is not much to do and most comforts are non-existent. I’m including some pictures of the area so you can kind of imagine what it might be like.
It has been hard since before I even got here. Yesterday made one week with this assignment. Actually, typing that makes me feel better! Time truly is progressing! Most of my past African situations were good. The one in Uganda that was bad, there was no question in my mind that I had to leave early. In this case, I felt God say “You need to stay.” I admit that I don’t always do what God says, but in this case I’m obedient.
In Kilifi, I met the lovely Fran from Germany, living in Zanzibar. When I first met Fran, we were in the gift shop. It went like this.
Me: Hello, I’m Laurie.
Fran: Hi, I’m Fran.
Me: Nice to meet you. Can I ask what country you come from?
Me: Wow, I’m surprised, your accent is so much more beautiful than the German accents I’m used to.
And that was the beginning of our friendship.
Fran was a great friend to me, including taking me to the hospital when I got stung by an unknown marine animal (not jelly fish, not sea urchin). Fran does have a BEAUTIFUL voice. I told her she should do some books on tape or something. It’s a voice that reminds me of Mia Farrow in The Last Unicorn. So soothing. When I asked Fran, “Do you know the movie The Last Unicorn?” She said, “I love that movie, it’s such a beautiful movie.” For sure!
Fran and I had great times, fun times, peaceful and relaxing times. We shared many swims, dawas, stories, amongst other things. We sat under the baobob tree for energy and peace and it was such a nice friendship in such a magical place. I will absolutely see Fran again!
I arrived to Distant Relatives Ecolodge and Backpackers on Wednesday April 13th. The best day of my life (thus far!) was Thursday 14 April 2016.
Swimming is one of my most favorite activities IN THE WORLD. It feels so freeing, comfortable, joyful, soothing, etc. “Backpackers” (as it’s called around here, aka Distant Relatives,) is about a 6 min walk to a salty creek beach. It’s nice enough, but the ocean beach is about 20 min by motorcycle. Thursday morning I’m checking out the nearest ocean beach that was recommended to me by several people: Bofa Beach, outside of Kilifi Bay Resort.