Visiting with Friends in Kenya

Note: I am currently volunteering at Watoto Wa Baraka Orphanage in Kenya for the second time. Fridah and Agnes are two women who worked for the organization during my first visit in 2008.

kenya visit
Agnes, me , & Fridah at Fridah's house

April 20: Visit at Fridah’s House

This morning I spent 2 hours assisting with laundry. I signed up for laundry duty, knowing that I would be done by lunch and could go visit Fridah today! I put back on my ‘smart outfit’ that I wore last time and headed over with James to Marua village. Luckily, the rain took a break for a few days so it wasn’t nearly as muddy. We were greeted by a new set of puppies and a really cute kitten at the gate. Fridah had phoned Agnes and she was on her way. James went to hang out with one of Fridah’s brothers who’s close in age, while Fridah and I sat down inside the house. We chit-chatted about how the kids are doing and about all the changes taking place at the orphanage. Agnes arrived a little later and we were served Cokes, rather than the traditional chai tea. It was a wonderful afternoon spent catching up and reminiscing. By the way, I bet you can’t figure out which one I am in the photo… I’m practically Kenyan these days ;)

It was getting late and Fridah said, “I have breaking news.” She was giggling and between laughs said, “I’m getting married.” I look over at Agnes and go, “Is she joking?” I really thought she was since she was laughing so much. Agnes thought she was serious. Fridah said, “Remember last time when I said I had a lot to tell you? This is it.” Of course, she was still laughing, but I realized she was serious! I gave her a hard time for not telling us right away. This is huge news! And, as I recall, breaking news is told at the beginning of a broadcast, not at the end!! Her fiancé was coming to meet her family on May 1st where there would be a party, and she invited James and me. At around 6pm we had to part ways- the sun was starting to go down, and although James and I just had a 30 minute walk home, Agnes had a 20 minute walk, a 15 minute matatu ride, and then another 20 minute walk home. She wasn’t going to make it before dark (and no there aren’t street lights). Fridah escorted us to the Pundamilia matatu stage, we said good-bye to Agnes, and James and I continued our walk home.

Fridah invited me to come stay with her in her new village (she’s currently just visiting her parents) and spend a couple of days. It sounds amazing, but I’m starting to run out of time in Kenya. I felt really stressed about this- even considering staying longer here and replacing my run in Rwanda. But after thinking it through I’m sticking to my rough itinerary. I have managed to squeeze in at least 1 night at Fridah’s and will be able to visit the school where she teaches. When you find a friend in a foreign country, especially one that is such a good person, you can’t forego an opportunity to stay in their home and experience life in their shoes. Yes, I wish the visit could be longer, but I’m looking forward to the time I will have to visit a new place and spend time a friend.

April 27: Visit at Agnes’ House

typical kenyan village house
Agnes' house

While visiting with Fridah, Agnes (also called Aggy by friends) invited us to visit her home the following Wednesday. She lives with her parents in the village of Igikiro, a place that I had yet to go. Fridah and I were to meet at the Pundamilia matatu stage at 2pm. I, running on Kenyan time and having been tied up at the clinic in the morning, did not make it until 2:25pm. Not only do I hate to be late, but I was really late! Luckily, Fridah was there and we caught a matatu to Kamahuha and then another to Igikiro. As I’ve mentioned before there are usually more than 20 people crammed on these public minibuses, and that was the case to Kamahuha. But to Igikiro, there was only the driver, the conductor, and one other passenger besides Fridah and me. It was almost a surreal experience. I was actually sitting in my own seat- I didn’t have to share it with anyone, nor did I have a bag of maize or a child in my lap. We got off at our stop and walked up the dirt road towards Agnes’ house. It was a pretty setting with lots of green plants and trees. The area near her house was shaded.

friends in kenya
Fridah & Agnes

As much as I was looking forward to the visit, I was actually under the weather the entire day and dreading being offered tea. My stomach was cramping off and on since the wee hours in the morning, I had no appetite, and the sight of food made me want to vomit. I can’t tell you how relieved I was when Agnes offered me a Coke. This drink is much more expensive than serving tea, but I gladly took the carbonation offered.  The visit was more or less like our visit at Fridah’s- we sat around talking about old times, however, this time Agnes and I were also discussing our excitement over meeting Fridah’s future husband on Saturday! Agnes’ mother and neighbor joined us at one point and I just sat back, watching village women in Kenya bonding and laughing together. On our way home, I met Agnes’ father in Kamahuha. He was very insistent that I stay the night in their house (gotta love Kenyan hospitality!) but I had to get back to the orphanage. I would really love the opportunity to go back and stay with them, but again, time is not on my side at the moment. Therefore, I’m just thankful that I was able to reconnect with my friends in Kenya. It would have never happened, had my friend James not known where Fridah’s parents lived.

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