I cannot lie, I am an avid consumer of much of social media. At the age of 66 I have learned to tweet, Facebook and link up on Linkedin. I merrily use Hootsuite so that I can post multiple tweets across the social cybersphere with amazing ease. I check my twitter account to see what is selling on twitter of my tweets. It’s fat cats, of which I have several.
This week was an extremely important election in Kenya. For the first time in five years a new President was to be elected. There was much gnashing of teeth and many prayers lifted up to God that the election would come about peacefully and without scandal. Unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be the case. (See related story in the Nation today).
But here’s the deal. While the lives of millions weigh in the balance, the only thing that twitter folks and other social media junkies care about is the weight of my cats.Every time I post a photo of one of my behemoth cats I get thousands of hits, but tell folks that kids are dying, or that there is violence in Kenya and like my cats seeing dietetic food, they turn up their noses and walk away.
Ah Dear Readers,
Welcome back to the remnants of the Director who got chased by machete man. As you recall from last week, I wound up bound by the insane red tape that is day surgery. However, undaunted I did get through it.
It’s always good to be “first up” on the operation schedule. What that means is that while you have to be up before the birds, the surgeon will not be running late. I was an add on so I’m hoping you can figure that one out. The 3:30P start time, didn’t get underway till 5:30. Oh and there is no eating after midnight the night before. Needless to say when they finally came to put the IV in I was a bit testy as well as light headed.
Surgeon breezes in puts a smiley face on my knee (to remind them where to cut) and breezes out. NBD. I’ve had laproscopic surgery before. Hell, I had all my female part taken out that way. It’s nothing, you scarcely have a scar. A breeze, and indeed it was. In and out and home by 9P. Huge bandage, but nothing I haven’t seen before. Few pain pills and 2 days later I can take the bandage off.
(Now music from Jaws should start playing in the background) And that’s just what I did. OMG you have to be kidding. Seriously? What happened to the nice little dot of a scar? I have been sliced and diced.It’s the ickiest thing I have seen on me ever. And as I look at it all I can think of is the rehab this is going to take.
So, the moral of the story is don’t fall and break your leg in Kenya. Don’t expect an ER doctor here to want to look at anything but the one thing he does (remember I don’t do knees) and be sure you know exactly how much cutting they are going to do.
It is an anathema to me that articles are still running in the Nation over the KPCE exams. (National Exams to get into secondary school).Today’s article featured the school that did the worst. In the description the author talks about the “usual things in the school like cement floors and electricity”.While I did finish the article, I did have to stop at that sentence.
Huh? I haven’t seen a school yet in our area that has electricity and most of them have dirt floors. What’s the deal here?
I have spoken out about the 1 laptop per kid already, and now I’m hearing about schools in Kenya where electricity is the norm. I am more in awe of the kids in our program than ever. These kids make do with dirt floors, no windows, no electricity, 5 to a bench and no books and they score above the average. Could it be that we feed the kids? Could it be that we make sure the girls get pads to go to school when they menstruate? Could it be that we have a nutritionist who goes to the schools and talks to the parents? Could it be that we have empowered the parents to start their own businesses? I’m thinking that’s a yes and frankly it pisses me off that so much attention is paid to the wrong things that kids need in rural Africa.
I’m just saying’ people can you take a look at us?
I just sign our MOU and we’re working in 3 schools, feeding program, micro-finance teaching, nutritionist, reproductive health, with over 2000 kids and we’re doing that for $18,000. I’m tired of the huge grants and the huge budgets that get lots of notice. What do you think it will take for folks to recognize it can be done better and cheaper with better results. Your opinions will be appreciated
From time to time people ask me about the schools in Kenya. They wonder mostly about things like computers and assume that because the schools we work in are so poor the kids probably don’t learn much. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I, frankly, find that the kids know more in more languages than our kids of the same age do.
In November the National Exams take place for 8th graders. These are the most important exams the kids will take until they graduate secondary school. They are called the KPCE’s and the marks will be the ticket to a good school, a national school, or not. Parents, who often don’t have much to do with the schools until the exams, worry greatly about the exams and the results can be tragic to say the least.
This year a couple of young girls committed suicide because of their marks, and today I read that a headmaster killed himself because of the poor showing of the children in his school.
But instead of my describing it, here’s the article from the Nation.
Last night we didn’t get settled until 6P. And it was the first time I could pee all day. Ah yes, I remember, no peeing until 6PM. You see there are no restaurants or gas stations on the road to Kisumu so there are no public restrooms, so there is just no peeing till you get to either KMET or the hotel. So it still stands, (or in this case squats)no peeing till 6P.
This morning we went to visit a site run by the PICD. This stands for Participatory Integrated Community Development. We went first to the river where women and children had been bathing and drinking for lifetimes. The stench almost knocked me over. It seems that the cattle also use the river and defecate in it. And when it is the long rains they often find bodies of people who have drowned. Africans do not swim.
The PICD went into the community and helped the people organize their own project. No money was donated initially until there was an action plan. Many women and some men got together and decided they needed clean water and they made their own bricks, got a $1000 grant, added their own money and built a water tank that holds rain water.
I wish I could show you the film of the river and the women, but see that’s the African thing. Francis insisted on using my old camera instead of the HD one and well….it didn’t come out. And Francis being both a man and an African man was having nothing of asking another person at KMET to help him with the camera until I begged him. Alas, too late to get the film of these women.
From there we did the Kenyan thing of filling up time doing really nothing. I visited the nursery school I had worked on last year. I found that they had not implemented the suggestions I had given them and it was frustrating. Then we went to this ceremony with KMET and UNICEF and a whole bunch of other people that went on in the hot African sun forever. This is the part I really am losing patience with. The endless speeches, the naming of everyone and their introducing themselves, then more speeches, to say nothing of having to watch children sit tirelessly and better than I in the sun. We didn’t get to eat lunch and by 4P I was definitely feeling it.
Today was all the hard stuff of being in Kenya. It is the endless waiting, organization Kenyan style (that means everything starts 2 hours late and goes on at least 2 hours after it is supposed to end). And what seems to this American mind like a total waste of my time. But they wanted me there and I do have good southern manners (well sort of…half way through I put on my iphone and listened to a story…oops)
At the end of the day I reviewed with Monica and the staff the impossibility of the plans they had made for the rest of the week. Nothing gets done in 2 hours much less a visit to our favorite school; the one who is graduating and going on to mentor another. So we’re going to be at it flat out for the rest of the time I am here.
Tomorrow is Malanga. This is the good part of what I do. Tomorrow you will meet Benta, the Iron Lady. Tomorrow you will meet Maloba the headmaster and the parents and children of a school which has excelled beyond all expectations. It is true that there will still be the endless speeches, but I am going home to the parents and children I love. So I will sit in the sun, and take the live chicken, and find out just how well they have done.
On to Nambale (the town) and Malanga (the school)! Hooray
There are many who bemoan the high cost of gasoline (what we call it here in the US), however we don’t risk our lives for it. That is not so in Africa. Today my sadness continues as I learned that more were killed in a fire in Busia. This one is really close to home, since I stay in Busia when I am in Kenya.
I see those long lines of trucks lined up on the main road. I can literally walk across the border into Uganda from my hotel. Not that that would be a smart move for this muzungu.
Poverty makes people do crazy thing. Children are sold, and people overwhelmed by the need to eat will run up to a truck engulfed in flames to siphon off a little of the precious fuel that is not yet burning. And yes many will catch on fire, many will burn to death.
Often I am asked about whether I am worried about getting sick over there. I don’t think about it much. Whatever I get I figure can be taken care of when I get back home. But burns and automobile accidents are different. They can’t wait and the hospital and medical help in Kenya as well as all over Africa is so incredibly lacking that coffin makers are always just outside the hospitals. Hospitals are a place you go to die.
So I tell you this so you can know a little more about a life and a place you probably will never see. If you go to Africa you will probably go on Safari. You will never see the problem of Petrol
Today I ache and feel drenched in both sorrow and gratitude. Most of you cannot imagine the slums of Nairobi, nor probably of any 3rd world country. The slums are festering holes of people and garbage and infection and unfortunately no protection. Yesterday fire broke out in/
As has happened in the past, petrol was leaking from a pipe. The poor huddled around to gather their own fuel from the pipe since it was “free”. And then a spark and then the fire.
And because it was so crowded and there was no easy way to even get to the fire 100 people died.
From the Nation today:
“According to eye witness accounts, the slum dwellers called each other to join the party and scoop the ‘manna’ of super petrol. They stood knee-deep in raw sewage, scooping the fuel that was leaking from a broken pipe at the Kenya Pipeline depot in Industrial Area.
As they gathered to enjoy the scooping in the hope of making a living –as they normally did when Kenya Pipeline cleaned its depot and released diesel into the river—there was an explosion and they all got burnt. Up to 160 are admitted in hospitals.
The rescue efforts were hampered by the poor access roads to the slums and disorganised rescue efforts as there was no command centre. At the scene, all the emergency services plus some volunteers looked lost as they stared at the uncovered bodies for hours on end.
Watch this if you dare…and then join us on Boston Common on Saturday at BGood and buy a burger/ save a child
Harambee is fast upon us. So many dedicated people working so hard to make it possible for what we do in Kenya. However,
today’s post is an effort to raise awareness of why North Africa is exploding and why all of Africa may explode soon. A very insightful op-ed piece in the Nation took my focus and I hope it will take yours as well
A cogent argument is made that the youth of the nations should be able to voice their opinions on Facbook and Twitter, and that when governments want to silence them instead of their own members who also post hate messages, it needs to stop. So please Read this:
Female castration is one of the most grisly events I have ever seen. I watched as a 2-year-old child, screaming at the top of her lungs was held by her mother, while the Mzee cut the clitoris and labia off. I couldn’t believe a mother could do this, but culturally it has been done for hundreds of years.
Kenya outlawed this practice, however tribes continue to do it. Bungoma is a town not far from where One Village works. In today’s paper I read that circumcision by 3 of the tribes is getting too costly. It seems for a full ceremony, including the killing of 2 bulls a family must pay 52,000ksh. That would send a child to secondary school for 4 years.
It seems that while the threat of AIDS is one reason they may slow it down, the real reason is that it’s too costly. While I wish it were because the girls are mutilated, I am well aware that changing customs anywhere in the world is not something that happens over night. So I guess I’m glad the cost of female castration has gone up enough that the Sabaot are considering stopping the tradition.
To read the full story here is the link: http://www.nation.co.ke/News/regional/Circumcision+proud+tradition+faces+the+cut++/-/1070/1133200/-/13vnqqbz/-/index.html
$40,000,000 the news declared. Oprah spent that much money on one school in South Africa. She could have built 120,000,000 schools across Africa. They wouldn’t have been as fancy, they wouldn’t have been as technologically hip and they also wouldn’t have messed up the lives of the girls who went to them.
See, most of Africa is rural. People live simple lives. Education is very important to them it’s true. But when the girls finish their education they have to marry someone from their tribe or at least someone from their country. Oprah is educating girls to be unfit for South Africa. One school cannot change the values and mores of hundreds of years. What happens after these girls finish high school? Do they get scholarships to colleges? And what happens to their siblings? And whom do they marry; as most girls want to do. Surely they cannot marry men who were brought up in traditional schools or even the private schools that only cost a few thousand to run.The girls will either have to forget their schooling and settle down or leave the country. If they leave the country Oprah will have helped take some of the best and brightest girls from the very place which needs them the most. And if they stay, there’s no promise that they will fulfill the destiny Oprah had in mind.
And that’s the problem with Oprah. The School for Excellence is about her, her vision, what she wanted for the few girls she might help. It never was about Africa anyway.