So last week it was my 23rd birthday. I was surprised with a German birthday cake made my French speaking Vietnamese nuns. It was such a lovely cake! It’s a tradition here that the birthday person spoon feeds people some of the cake for goodluck. So I politely spoonfed some priests, Gemma and Paul!
Gerard, another student in my course, arrived on Tuesday! We all went to the airport to meet him. He is staying with us in Bosco boys, but he is traveling to secondary schools to raise awareness of sexual violence against minors in kenya. The public schools are on strike at the minute here, demanding a 50% – 60% salary increase so this has set his project back a bit.
This week we have all been very busy interviewing and doing focus groups with the staff and children here in Bosco boys. We have heard some unbelievable stories that have been both positive and negative.
Paul’s wife arrived this week too. We all went for pizza on Sunday and met up with other irish people who have spent the last few years working in Nairobi and Somalia. We got the privilege of visiting an orphanage run by sister Mary Jane. She has cared for over 200 children and is currently caring for 25. Most of her children have become doctors, teachers, priests and nuns.
This week myself and Gemma are writing up the report for Bosco boys. This will be based on the focus groups and interviews we have done over the last two weeks so it might take a while to go through all of our data and summarize it all.
Tonight myself and Gemma had dance-offs with the children after we said the rosary while walking the length of the basketball court throughout. Typical Mondays.
Hope everyone is keeping well!
One half black pepper
One teaspoon every two hours for three days
Don’t use metal, plastic or glass
Blood test if still not well
This was the advice Gemma was given at the beginning of the week for her sickness. She was also given a homemade remedy, a full glass of vinegar, to settle her stomach overnight. The smell and thought of even taking a sip nearly made me ill. But fairplay to Gemma, she downed it all!
We have experienced some very odd cultural shocks while here, accidentally offending the locals and not even realising it. We were walking down an aisle in the supermarket. It was a small aisle, and a man had left his basket on the ground behind him, blocking the path. Paul, not really seeing the basket just stepped over it and continued walking. We had a Kenyan friend with us who instantly apologized to the man who owned the basket who was suddenly very angry. In Kenya, it is definitely not an option to step over a basket full of food, even if it is in the way. It’s better to turn around and take the longer route. Without our Kenyan friend, there could have potentially been a small blowup in the supermarket.
So this week we met with some of the parents. Half an hour before the assembly I tried my best to learn a few sentences in Swahili. I was fine practicing in the hallway but standing in front of 40-50 parents trying to make sounds that made no sense to me was scary enough. Somehow they understood anyway and clapped at my effort. Even seeing a white person speak Swahili is funny enough so I got a few smiles.
A community nurse visited the school this week to run a hiv testing clinic. So we all queued to get our fingers pricked. She voluntarily visits the centre once a year and visits nearby slums to test as many people as possible. I’ve never been tested for HIV but thankfully I am negative.
The children are given two hours of playtime everyday. But on Thursday we got to play basketball for 4 hours! They are really good so we get to play nonstop matches for hours. School is starting on Monday and we have our timetables full so I’m not sure if I will get another chance like that to play for so long.
So we have been here for exactly one week now! Time is going by so quickly. I have to get ready for mass now, one of the children is certain jesus is a black rasta so I might pray to him this morning.
We are in Nairobi!
Dr. Paul (his Nairobi name) greeted us at the airport to bring us to our new home. We have our own 3 bedroom apartment for just Gemma and I inside the compound. We are spoilt with our own fridge, hot water, cooker, toaster, kettle and neighbour! We have our own living area with the numbers 1-100 written in Swahili on the wall so we should be fluent in no time.
On our first night we had a welcoming dinner with the 8 priests we are working with. We then drank whiskey, which they said was to help us sleep, but we were so jet lagged we didn’t really need any help. But when in Kenya, do as the Kenyans do.
Sunday morning Fr. Joseph woke us early to get some breakfast and get ready for a 2 hour mass, all in Swahili. Unfortunately Gemma was feeling ill, so I left Don Bosco with the other priests for the mass that was in the middle of the slum. We sat close to the back but when Fr. Joseph stepped on to the alter, I heard some Swahili, my name and Ireland, then more Swahili. Everyone turned around with a huge smile. It was a lovely gesture to make me feel very welcomed by everyone but I did feel a little blush sneaking through. The mass itself was amazing though, with singing dancing and laughing. Kids were dancing up and down the aisle to the hymns and everyone clapping. The 2 hour mass only felt like an hour.
That’s it so far. Kenya is a lovely place so I’m happy to spend the next few weeks here. Tomorrow we start are work here in Bosco Boys so night night from me and Gemma.
For a start, thank you to everyone who has made this trip a possibility! Myself and everyone involved in this trip really really appreciate it! As it is getting closer to the time for us to leave, I am getting more and more excited.
This is a blog (similar to my one when I was in Sri Lanka for those of you who read that) to let whoever would like to know what I’m at – that I’m still alive – and where our project is taking us! I hope to update this as often as possible during my placement, hopefully with some photos too!
We leave on the 21st of August so my next post will be shortly after we arrive. 🙂