Thursday, January 8, 2009

Our Next Step . . . and Update to Date

January 5th . . . yesterday was Sunday, our final full day in Loitokitok town.  Saying goodbye for now was sweet sadness . . . so many friends made in such a short time.  I attended church for the final time here.  I have been attending the Lutheran Church for the last 6 weeks, it is where my business partner attends - and you DO attend church here as a cultural "requirement".  It is a very big part of the cultural experience here.  You go to church . . . it usually lasts from 2 to 5 hours depending on your choice of denomination.  Yesterday I was honored during the service with songs, photo sessions, speeches and clapping all in my honor . . . what an experience.  I was "dressed" by the mamas in two beautiful sets of traditional clothing in from of the congregation as a gift.  I said a few words of thanks in Kiswahili then a procession of hugs followed.  It was very interesting because Kenyans don't usually hug.  It was an emotional experience.  They were so nice to me and very appreciative of my effort to find funding for the education of children in their community.

This a.m. (Monday) we are loading for our trip to Nairobi.  We will spend one day driving then 4 more days of more site orientation and training, meet out site partners and find out where we will be living and working for the next two years.  I will continue working with KISMA in Loitokitok to help find education sponsors.  Later . . . I have been selected as one of three volunteers to speak at our swearing in ceremony on Thursday the 8th.  There is a speech in Kiswahili, one in sign language and I will be delivering the one in English.  Later . . .

January 7th . . . I an now assigned to Mikindu Children's Centre in Mikindu, Eastern Province, Kenya.  4 plus hours drive, due to road conditions . . . dust and not much pavement, southeast of Nairobi.  The centre (yes, the spelling is correct) focuses on education and job opportunities for at risk youth, i.e. orphans and vulnerable children due to HIV/AIDS related deaths of parents.  The area where I will live is hot and dry.  There is some agriculture BUT there has been NO rain and crops have failed for the second year so there will probably be a food crisis to deal with soon.  I will let you know more about my site later . . . when I know more!!  I'll arrive there this weekend.  There are 3 other volunteers within a few hours of me so I'll have some contact with others fairly frequently.  One other volunteer is actually in the same town.

I will provide another mailing address when I establish one - for now, keep using the one I gave you . . . the P.O. Box 30518, I think in Nairobi - mail is getting to me eventually - thanks to all of you who have written - it really means a lot!!!  Noreen and Dad - you WIN!!!  Aunt Patt and Doug, I received your Christmas card yesterday, what a treat!!

80% of Kenyans have cell phones WHILE 80% of Kenyans do not have electricity - so we are required to  
have one - I now have one BUT it is extremely expensive to call you and my budget is very slim, so. . . if you want to call me you are welcome to do so.  You dial 011-254-722-370-165, PLEASE keep in my the time difference and that I have a job to do here.  There is no voicemail but you also can text me - yes I do know how to do that now!!!  My phone does have internet access WHEN the internet is up . . . that's the question.  I can check mail about once a month maybe on a "regular" access line.

Thanks so very much to those of you who have emailed me with interest in my sponsorship project - you cannot know how much that means to these kids, parents and me.

January 8th - we are now officially Peace Corps volunteers - all swearning in is complete!!!

I'm off to my new site early in the a.m.  Love to all!!!

Tutaonana!  Paula 

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