I left Watoto Wa Baraka orphanage at 8:30 with Erick, our field worker. We were walking to Ciumbu and Mihango to visit several of the sponsor children. This Saturday we had planned our monthly sponsor event, where the sponsored children come to collect food and supplies. Unfortunately, due to a death in the family of one of the staff, we had to postpone it. Back home, if you cancel an event, you pick up the phone or send out a quick email letting people know. Here, you spend hours and hours walking. Eric had just let some of these people know last week to come, and now we are spending the day telling those that live the furthest away not to come.
Archive for April, 2010
It was a Sunday morning, and I was heading into Thika with some other volunteers. It ended up being a long matatu ride, but thanks to little Joseph tagging along, he got the matatu driver to drop us off in front of Tusky’s, the grocery store, rather than in the market. I finally got to buy baby wipes, which are a lifesaver when it comes to getting the red clay off of your feet before bed. Another volunteer decided to get his beard trimmed up (yes, this grocery store is like the Wal-Mart of Kenya, except it treats its employees better). It seemed like we had to wait forever; they gave him a head massage, put some warm cloths on his face… the whole she-bang just for a beard trimming. We finally got out of there, hit up the internet café, and then it was time to head back home. I bought some sausages out of the matatu window in anticipation for my visit with Fridah. Fridah was the former cook, launderer, caretaker, and Superwoman of WWB. She left at the end of 2008 to get her teaching certificate and has since started teaching in another village. My friend James was taking me to her parents’ house in hopes that she might be there on a Sunday.
During my last stay in Kenya, there were people in the village and staff that I grew very close to. In particular is the boy next door- I’ll call him James. One of my first posts on this blog was my argument discussing how $5 can make a difference. The boy who needed shoes was James. He and his brothers live next door to Watoto Wa Baraka (WWB). Two of them used to eat dinner at the orphanage. In 2008, I sat down for dinner next to James on my first night, and we forged a lasting friendship. After setting down my stuff my first evening back at the orphanage, meeting some fellow volunteers, and taking a tour of the new buildings and grounds, Joseph (one of the older boys) asked me if I wanted to go visit James and his brothers. Of course!
Landing in Kenya
You may have read my anticipation, hesitation, and excitement to return to Kenya. After stepping off of the plane, I was the first person in line for a visa. I was told I did not have the right forms filled out and then was corrected about how I filled out the forms. I handed over my $25 (a drop in price since my last visit) and zipped down to baggage. I grabbed my backpack and went to pick up an airport taxi. These taxis are set prices and you don’t have to haggle. It is my understanding that you can walk out of the airport and bargain for your own taxi but the cost savings is relatively insignificant. My plan was to take a taxi into Nairobi and then take a matatu to the village. A matatu probably deserves a post on its own (and it may just happen). It’s a 14-passenger white minibus and is the standard public transport. Yes, you did hear me say 14 as that’s what is ‘official’ but off of the main roads and past police checkpoints you’ll see 20 or more people crammed into these vans. You may have a child in your lap or a bag of maize depending on how full they cram it.
Madaba has one of the largest Christian communities in Jordan. The town was abandoned for about 1100 years, until 2000 Christians migrated from Karak in the 19th century due to a dispute with Muslims. While settling the area and building their houses, these people discovered the Byzantine mosaics that are now Madaba’s tourist attraction. Today you can find all sorts of mosaic souvenirs from drink coasters to wall mounts. While walking around Madaba, I stopped into a mosaic workshop and found this girl working on a large mosaic rug. She said she had been working in the shop for about six weeks, entirely on this commissioned piece. The sticks you see in the lower right are slices of the stone, which she would then cut with clippers to make the small stone pieces. You’re actually looking at what will be the back side of the finished product. Such a tedious job!
There are plenty of places in the world where I would tell you to avoid the tourist traps. Many are just moneymaking sites with junk shops enveloping them. In Florence, the junk shops and street vendors are in abundance, however, most of the touristy sites are must-sees.