Thursday, February 9, 2012

Settlin' In

Hello all! So sorry it's taken a long time, with the combination of getting settled in and the inconvenient power outages, it's been hard to get on the computer. But I'm now back in Kijabe, which is really easy for me to call home. Mama Chiku, the whole family, and the entire community have been so welcoming. Before I arrived, Joyce (Mama Chiku) told me that I have to be prepared to live like a Kenyan. I think they had some doubts, but I've already made it very clear that living like a Kenyan isn't hard for me at all. In fact, I think its a fun way to live. So at the house I have a room all to myself, its small, only really fits the bed, but im not complaining... I'm never in there except to sleep anyways.Outside, we have chickens, sheep, kittens, and two really sweet dogs. I love the presence of the animals and waking up in the morning to their sounds. And we have unlimited eggs, which is always a plus. The surroundings are lovely as well, there's shambas (gardens) everywhere around, and a nice view of the valley. My favorite part of the house is the living room... it's so home-y, and screams Mama Chiku. There are couches hugging every wall, it could probably seat about 20 people. Anyway, that's pretty much it for my living situation which I've already melded into very nicely.
So officially start my work with John tomorrow, but I did get the chance to go with him the other day and visit Veronica, a woman that we worked with last time. She was a prostitute in Maai Mahui, and John moved her out of the center of town to a piece of land that a house was eventually built on for her, including a Shamba. Last time, there wasn't much in the garden, but this time when I went I hardly recognized the place. There were flowers and trees surrounding the house, and the Shamba looked really lively. It's beautiful. When I visit again I'll make sure I take a picture, I didn't have my camera so the only picture is this one John took of me and Veronica. Anyways, Veronica is now suffering from AIDS. She's had HIV for about 4 years now, but the past few months have started to become rough for her. And when I saw her, it was very apparent. She has lost so much weight, struggles to stand up, and her body language always looks pained. Moving around seems like a chore now. But somehow, she's still able to keep a beautiful, happy, and carefree smile on her face at all times.
The same day I visited Veronica, John also took me to visit some ladies who work in sewing shop outside of Maai Mahui. John started this business for the woman, who used to participate in prostitution as well. So he gave them all the opportunity to make their livings a much safer way. These are all wonderful women, and I can tell that they are so excited to be working. John introduced me to a woman named Pauline (another Pauline...) and she lives in Kijabe and has her own tailoring shop here, but three times a week she visits the shop in Maai Mahui and she is the teacher for the women. Yesterday she took me down there and I spent the day in the shop, keeping the women company, and I learned how to hem a dress! I've never known anything about sewing ... thanks a lot mom ;) (just kidding), so it was fun to learn how to do some things, and I'm sure it'll be useful someday.
Me and My New Found Family
So that's pretty much all I've been up to, my work starts either tomorrow or Monday and I'm excited to start the projects with John.

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