I'm so sorry to all of you who have been awaiting my next blog post!! It's been so hard to do it, I'm working almost every day including Saturday, and unable to bring my camera with me, so knowing that I have a lot of typing to do has been hard to get around to when I'm EXHAUSTED at the end of the day. So I'm sorry that I can't share photos with you of the things I've been seeing and doing, and I'm sorry its taken so long!
So, basically my daily routine on most days is walking to the office in the morning. It's about a 45 minute walk (hey dad I'm exercising!) past markets, car washes, and the entrance to Kibera. But I go past the entrance to Kibera a ways to get to the actual office. So I usually do office work, sorting files, sorting receipts, and retyping important documents that haven't been saved anywhere. Then we (Nancy and I) have lunch at the office and then usually head out to Kibera or do other chores around town for Real Stars. Then, I take my 45 minute walk home in the late afternoon.
So when we go to Kibera, we do home visits, catching up with families in the program, whether their actually being sponsored yet or not, and making sure the kids have been doing alright in school, if they've been able to GO to school because of the school fees, and what the parents income is looking like. And it's pretty much always one parent, usually a single mother. Although today I did meet a single father which was a first, I was really curious about his story because I've seen the child's photos everywhere at the office, but it was unfortunately not HIS home visit day, so I didn't ask him many questions.
Other days that we don't go into Kibera, Nancy and I have been running to Uchumi (the supermarket) to get supplies for the monthly packing of food and other home supplies for the families. So I actually spent a couple days measuring out beans and corn and dividing up things like soap, cooking oil, etc. The other day was really tiring because I spent a couple hours measuring out the beans and corn (huge amounts of beans and corn) and when I was finished, after doing the calculations we realized that someone had snuck into the storage room where we were keeping all of this, and stole some of the food. So after all of that work, I had to empty all of the bags of corn and beans back into the big bean bag, and the big corn bag, to see how much had been lost from the original amount. I don't remember the exact number but someone took a pretty big amount of beans... maybe like 5 families worth, and 1 families worth of corn. It was pretty disappointing, but there's nothing we can do about it now, it could really have been anyone, there's almost always different visitors coming into that building each day. Anyway, that night and the next day I was on the couch and in bed with a sudden cold. Body aches, head ache, soar throat and stuffy nose... I was bummed because for me usually colds last for like 3 weeks... but somehow this morning I woke up feeling 100% so I guess it was just some 24 hour bug.
Today I did more office work in the morning, then went to Kibera to talk with a family. We went really deep into Kibera, the farthest I've gone. I mean, there wasn't many things that were new to my eyes, but walking through there definitely never gets boring. I finally felt comfortable about asking how the people who live there shower, how they go to the bathroom, and how they get their water. For some reason before I was afraid that I would offend someone by asking, but the man who was escorting us around to the woman's home was really into talking about it. So they have a public toilet for probably about... mmmmm I'd say 15 houses, maybe more. And 1 public "shower" for those houses also. The shower is basically like the same room as a toilet room, where they just bring the basin of water and wash themselves. Right after he said this I finally started noticing the toilets, phew! I really started to worry that the river I was walking next to was the sewage! That previous sentence was a joke by the way, because the river I was walking next to WAS the sewage. Having 1 toilet for tons of houses isn't really stopping people from, well, you know.
That brought me to the next question... WHERE do they get their water for goodness sake I could not see one place that had any sign of water. Apparently on the outskirts of the slum there are water tanks that they purchase water from. This made me feel a little better, at least there weren't wells inside of the slum... with those fresh water rivers streaming over them through the beautifully clean mounds of garbage. I wish I was super woman and could just snap my fingers and fix these problems, Kibera is crying out for help in so many ways.
So when we got to the Farah home, we had the usual discussion about school fees, the children's grades, and the mother's income. She sells vegetables at a nearby stand. Every morning she has to buy fresh vegetables to sell, and she buys them for about 500/=, which is equal to roughly $6.00. From that, on a GOOD day, the amount of money she can take home and save is 500/=. Unfortunately, there are hardly ever any good days. On a typical day, she can save 100/=. That's roughly $1.20. Which, obviously, isn't enough to support the 6 children that she has. None of which are sponsored by Real Stars yet. Like I said, there are more than a hundred pending cases, and less than a hundred who are actually being sponsored. We still do home visits to the families that are pending cases, just to stay informed on how they are getting along, and if someone becomes interested in sponsoring them, we can get them up do date.
The Farah children are all extremely good in school, their grades were mostly A's and B's, some C's, which is really really good for kids here. One of the children, Abdi, is 18 and finished 8th grade about 3 years ago. He hasn't been able to continue on to Secondary School, or high school because of their inability to pay for it. I hope that a sponsor will find them and give them the opportunity to go on, as more and more of the kids are nearing the age of having the opportunity to go to Secondary School.
So, it was starting to get late and we had to leave since the walk out of the slum was going to be pretty long, and it's probably not the BEST idea to walk through there when the sun goes down. As we were getting ready to leave... the mother (I feel horrible that I can't remember her name, it was really long and complicated...) did what I dreaded she would do... pour me and Nancy a glass of juice. I watched her make the juice earlier, a little bit of syrup diluted with water... I do not trust that water. So I looked at Nancy and she even looked like, "oh... uh oh" and she whispered, "Kristin, we have to drink it. She's already diluted it and she will be SO offended if we don't take it" I said, "I really shouldn't drink Kibera's water..." she told me how she shouldn't drink it either but, well, we have to so lets do it. Nancy is really great by the way, I love working with her. She's so much fun in so many different ways and we get along really well. Our personalities click perfectly. So anyways, shrugging my shoulders since I had no other choice, I drank that juice as if it were the best thing I'd ever tasted. I mean, it really didn't taste bad and I continued to remind myself that this water didn't come from the river outside. As we were walking outside the house Nancy was just laughing and saying, "Well, now our stomachs are in God's hands, there's nothing more we can do." I agreed, but in the back of my mind was daydreaming about my wonderful Cypro. Until I realized it was all the way back at home and who knows if I'll get there in time for it to save the day. But, I guess we'll just have to find out tomorrow!
I am really hoping that I took it in time though, because on Friday I go back to Kijabe for the weekend to officially say goodbye to everyone. Have you guys noticed how great I am at saying goodbye one time? No? Yeah, well I've learned something about myself, I hate goodbyes. There's nothing good about a goodbye, what a ridiculous name for that ritual. Its a badbye. Or a sadbye.
Lastly, last Thursday and Saturday I went with an American girl Kaylie, who used to live here with Gideon and Mwix but now has her own place right next door, to two different schools that she teaches weekly art classes in. The first one was in the slum called Kawangware. Her curriculum for both schools consists of "traveling the world". So they go to different continents, learn about the cultures in the different countries within that continent. Right now they are in Australia, and this class was in New Zealand, so on Thursday we (well, mostly she since I know nothing about teaching a class of like, 30 to 40 kids...) taught a short lesson on pretty simple things like, what makes a country a country. For example: government, laws, culture, etc. Then we did an art project with them, sand art. So they drew a little design on the front of a card, then put glue over what they drew then sprinkled sand on it, making a nice little sand card.
On Saturday, we went to the slum called Mathare. Here was pretty much the same routine at the beginning of class, but we did a different art project because THIS class was in Fiji. So we did culinary art, which was really fun to do with the kids. We made some sort of Sweet Potato Banana Salad... it was well, sweet potatoes, bananas, and then mixed with a "dressing" made from mayonnaise, curry powder, and garlic. There were also onions and lemon juice mixed in. It was...well, interesting. But the kids had so much fun making it, and it was great to experience it with them. So anyway, I'll be going to Kawangware with Kailey tomorrow again and I'm really not sure what we'll be doing!
So, I'll be going to Kijabe for the weekend for my final badbyes, then I'll start my last full week of this trip that I can't even find a word to describe. It's been the best experience of my life. :)