Sunday, July 19, 2009

Winter Here . . . Summer There!! Greetings from Makindu

June 16th was the Day of the African Child . . . typical Kenya . . . start two hours late, finish even later!! Oh well . . . we are getting used to the “time” thing. The day was good once we got started. We paraded with hundreds of children from one venue to another most of the day then we settled at the District Offices so the dignitaries and others could be entertained by the children and a few adults with songs and poems and dramas. Our friends from the Sikh Temple among others provide snacks along the way for the children and others (tag a longs for free food).

I have organized several training sessions for the MCC guardians and between rescheduled ones and cancellations they all happened in one week – but they happened that is the good news!! They received trainings on goat keeping improvement, food preservation and value addition using locally produced vegetables and seeds which are dried, thrashed and milled into flour. The women’s group we visited in another town makes snacks, varieties of flour, handicrafts, dehydrated vegetables & fruits, they weave, make purses, ropes and handicrafts in addition they farm their own shamba and own their own mill. They are awesome and a wonderful model for others in Kenya. I hope my MCC guardians will be motivated to follow in their footsteps. They also received training in soapmaking, water catchment and sorghum planting and small farming (thanks to the Erin’s organization WACAL). Erin is the other PCV in Makindu.

We have three (at least) MCC children excelling at Kiambani Primary School. Juliet Ndunge Mutiya, Class 8; Fidel Muisyo, Class 7, and Ingina Mulwa, Class 8. Juliet, since 2005, has participated in individual and group Kiswahili poetry competitions. Each year she has excelled. This year I was lucky to see their competition at the District Level here in Makindu. As of this writing, they have now qualified through the Provincial Level and are going to the National Competition in Mombasa August 1-7, 2009. Juliet will participate in four group poems and one poem as an individual. Ingina is competing in the choir. They qualified with three songs. Fidel, is an academic star. In his class of 210 students, he is always ranked in the top 3, most often #1. Kiambani teachers recognized the potential in Fidel and the school assists MCC in sponsorship by providing his boarding free of charge. This removed Fidel from an undesirable home environment and allows him to focus on his studies in a disciplined, supportive and healthy environment. I think I may have mentioned Kiambani Primary School before – it is the top school in a very big area and also where my Kiswahili teacher teaches. It has almost 1500 students now I believe and is in such demand that they have to keep building classrooms. They just have a real nurturing attitude about their students and their education. Every chance I get I help them where I can – posters, books, anything. I know they will use it and they are always very appreciative

It is Winter here now (this month) so it is 85 instead of 105 degrees during the day, I think, who knows. No flashing neon temp signs and no clocks!! Dry, no rain of course and windy. It cools off at night but that’s it for cool. We are anxiously waiting for the rains – October/November we hope.

Erin, the other Peace Corps Volunteer in Makindu, is an avid reader and has been keeping me stocked up with every book ever written that mentions Africa – I read a lot before I left the States but I really read a lot now. She is wonderful to share. I am old enough to be her mother, in fact I think her mother is younger than I am so we have fun with that with the locals – teasing isn’t really part of their culture so they just believe everything we tell them without sorting through the teasing/kidding parts. It is harmless entertainment for us. Just finished three good books – The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch, The Bottom Billion and The Zanzibar Chest

We have Peace Corps trainings for two weeks in August – so we will be traveling July 29th and returning to Makindu August 16th. We are taking a couple of days to do some hiking in the hills about 3 hours north of Nairobi in the area where our training is being held. It will be fun to the hills and the coast and Indian Ocean – I haven’t seen either yet. We are going to Nairobi on the 29th to welcome the new volunteers in Public Health. They will be sworn in on the 30th.

All else is good. Still working on a variety of things every day – resting on Sunday – sometimes we hike!!! I sent the proposal into Safaricom Foundation for my trash project (Tupa Takataka Hapa). The group I am working with heard back this week that the proposal is being forwarded to their Board of Trustees for consideration. That’s great news – I am hopeful for full funding – we will wait and see

Erin’s parents shared better dialing/calling options, if you care to call me. You can go to to select Kenya cellular type cards for calling. Dial the access # (usually 1-800#, when prompted enter PIN, when prompted again dial 011-254-722-370-165 (that’s my cell #) Apparently international calling cards have problems connecting with cellular service in Kenya – so maybe this is an alternative to anyone who cares to pursue and call me.

I miss you all and hope everyone is healthy and happy. HAPPY AUGUST BIRTHDAY to Amanda, Peri and, Lori.

Love to all; Paula