Saturday, April 25, 2009

Back "Home" In Makindu

This is my second try, I completed a long blog and it disappeared . . . who knows, quite frustrating . . . anyway, here goes again. I have just returned from Nairobi after nearly 2 weeks of Peace Corps training (IST) inservice training. It was good to see our volunteer group again, share 3 months of varied stories, have a hot shower and experience rainfall and cooler weather. We had good speakers and learned more and more about our jobs here and resources available. ALL GOOD! I finally passed the required Kiswahili language test . . . a relief to say the least. I am anxious to use more of the language, I like it a lot and it helps so much with communication in my rural areas even though they speak Kikamba, some Kiswahili is similar enough that you can get by. Many thanks to all for the wonderful cards, letters and a couple of care packages, all is appreciated. It is always great to get mail. The customs charges are beyond my PCV salary but they are worth it!!!

Winnie Barron, the founder of MCC, has been in town from Oregon for the past 2 weeks and I have had an opportunity to meet, chat and work with her briefly. She is medically trained so her primary concern is for the health and welfare of the children, of course, she was very busy. I am going to do some follow up for her on a few hospital tests for the children and I am happy to do so. She and her friend, Pat, are headed back to the states tomorrow. Pat has painted some beautiful murals on the walls of the center and the children are delighted with her work.
There work here is doing so much for the children - currently 450!!

A little on current events - there is a new pension scheme (plan) for government civil servants, teachers and police. It will involve 400,000 people in job classes A - L with monthly salaries from $100.37 to $421.46 USD. 15% of each worker's salary will be contributed by the government - people are not confident about this part. The employee contribution will be 2% in 2009, 5% in 2010 and 7.5% in 2011. You are required to work for 5 years to qualify for a share. There is a teacher shortage of 64,000 teachers, a 4 years degree is required, starting salary $166.67 USD; any takers?

You may have read or heard about the gang of Mungiki in Kenya. They are not in my province (Eastern) they have caused some real problems and death. Peace Corps is very astute about security so no worries.

The guardian goat training continued in my absence ( we have had around 60 or more at each session) and I understand that they are excited and motivated about it. That makes me feel great. I hope I can continue to find the same in other areas as my time here progresses.

Our water bill at MCC has quadrupled and our budget is now gone for the year so sadly we may have to let most of our shamba die . . . our bills went from 3 - 4,000 KSH per month to well over 20,000 . . . ouch . . . water is now unaffordable for most. I am not sure what will happen.

Happy Birthday to my wonderful dad and my cousin Scott in May . . . a little early I know but I am never sure about internet access.

Health report . . . I have been very lucky and very healthy . . . I currently have a little fungus problem under six of my fingernails caused by wearing latex gloves underneath my leather work gloved while picking up trash. Peace Corps has given me some cream and I hope it will heal soon. I also stepped on a sharp rock and bruised the ball of my right foot - limping a bit and feeling a little old temporarily!!! ALL will heal soon.

I better close and send now - I am afraid this connection will disappear on me again. Love to all!!! Stay healthy and happy!! Sorry about no pictures yet - it is too hard. But I do have some!!