Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Waiting Game

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A week ago today, I boarded a plane at JFK International Airport to embark on my two day journey to arrive here in Kenya. I can’t believe it was a week ago already! Waiting was the name of the game today. A and I slept in a bit today and had some morning tea and bread with Jane and Issa next door (I’m sorry I think I forgot to mention that Jane is our neighbor and Issa lives just one door further down). We prepared to meet for the staff meeting with Paul (the director of the CYEC) at 11:00AM. 11:00AM turned into 3:30PM, which turned into 4:00PM, 5:30PM, and ultimately 6:00PM. Ultimate Kenya time.
In the meantime, A and I prepared our lesson. As a part of Lesson 1 of the curriculum, we have an activity that consists of creating a unique animal with a variety of pictures of various animal parts (i.e. a lion’s head, giraffe’s head, a wild boar’s body, a lizard’s body, ostrich legs, zebra legs, etc.). The purpose of this activity was to enable the recognition of different animal’s assets and understanding that many parts contribute to the make up of one animal, facilitating its identity. As a part of the lesson, following this activity, we would relate this concept of identity as a multifaceted idea back to ourselves as individuals. We are also comprised of a multitude of varying aspects. Due to limited resources, we set out to cutting the various animal parts with our butcher’s knife, how crafty :). A and I also went through our first lesson to determine which parts each of us will be teaching. We decided to teach both the first and last lessons together and then alternate for the middle eight lessons.
After we felt comfortable with our plan of action, A and I decided it was time to venture outside the centre and go for a “nature walk.” On our way out, we fed some leftover food to Eleanor, our friend the goat. However, she got excited and in jumping on me, she left behind some remnants of her former meals that must have gotten caught in her little hooves. She definitely had no ill intention, but needless to say, that sweatshirt is set aside for a thorough washing.
We went on a beautiful walk along the dirt/mud roads surrounding the centre. Pictures do not do this place justice. The vibrant color of the incredibly lush landscape is unmatched. The deep cocoa color of the dirt road in contrast with the wide array of green was something you just have to see with your own eyes. The roads are a maze of long paths lined with green, home-made fences, vibrantly colored flowers and gates that each have their own personality. The sun was shining, what could be better! By the time we made it back to the centre, our sandals were caked with mud and we had surely added at least two pounds to each foot. We tried to get the laptop L lent us for the trip to work and were successful at first, but now, no such luck.
We played with some of the kids until it was time to “take tea” before the staff meeting. Kenyans generally say “take” instead of “eat” or “drink.” Anyway, we all packed into the small conference room above the CYEC office. A and I were only there to recruit for interviews for our happiness and leadership research. Regardless, we got sucked into attendance for the entirety of the meeting. It did not come to a close until 8:00PM. Paul spoke about the importance of organization regarding responsibilities, the importance of documenting activities, and marketing tools to help generate income for the centre. Some of the concepts were so elementary to me, I couldn’t figure out how they had not yet been implemented. For example, he presented the idea to create a calendar in order to coordinate required transportation to town and elsewhere. Paul also went into a not so brief history of the CYEC, which was very interesting, but by this point in the meeting, our bottoms were feeling a bit numb and we were fading fast. Every time we thought he was about to conclude the meeting, Paul would bring up another, similar topic to the one discussed prior. We patiently waited to announce our request for volunteer interview participants. We each needed five different staff members to volunteer for interviews. A got her five and I have four, but am confident I will soon recruit my fifth.
Needless to say, due to the length of the meeting, we were again unable to begin our curriculum. We made Issa promise we would begin tomorrow and we are sticking to it. After the staff meeting, Jane and Caroline took us out for some dinner at a restaurant and hotel owned by one of Jane’s close friends. It was very dimly lit and had very few customers by the time we arrived. Her friends were very friendly, although is struggling with substance abuse. In the time we were with them, he drank a fifth of liquor, which he added to his hot water, chewed leaves we were told had a stimulant effect, and smoked two cigarettes. It is evident that substance abuse is a large problem here. We were presented with a large meal of ugali and chicken. However, I cannot adequately explain how tough the chicken was. I could NOT penetrate the meat with my teeth, it was almost like rubber. The Kenyans had no problems ripping apart the chicken with their teeth. I was amazed that the chicken didn’t take any teeth with it! The one small piece I managed to separate I chewed for about two whole minutes. I guess I need to tell my teeth to toughen up? After many jokes, biased palm reading, and a mini counseling session, we returned to the centre to head to bed.
Twonane badaaye (see you later)!

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