The Toughest Job You'll Ever Love...Kenya

The contents of this website are my own PERSONAL opinion. They do not reflect the opinions, policies, actions, feelings, or eating habits of the Peace Corps, the U.S. Government, any government, shadow governments, or anyone else, for that matter, but ME.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

And The Winner Is...

Ok, for the moment you all have been waiting for (not really, but I was), DRUM ROLL PLEASE...the place I am going to be living for the next two years is: Oyugis, Nyanza Province.

Ok, so that means nothing to y'all, or at least those that don't read my blog with an atlas. If you will go to a map of Kenya, go west all the Way to Lake Victoria, find the city of Kisumu. South of that city you'll see another city called Kisii. I am almost halfway between the two on the Kisumu to Kisii highway (conveniently named don't you think). I am going to be working with an organization called JAM (Justice and Mercy). The are a NGO (non-governmental organization, newly converted from a CBO, or community based organization). They have a lot of programs going on including home based care, a widow's and orphans program and, what will be my focus, a newly opened clinic (sorry Nioka, I know that wasn't your favorite option).

I am writing this from the Oyugis (pronounced O-yU-gEEs) posta right now. I have been in town for a few days meeting all the folks that work with JAM, and all the community folks I will be dealing with. Now, Kenya is roughly broken up into provinces based on tribes. Oyugis is in a Lou (pronounced Lou-O) part of Kenya. They are part of the Nilotic tribes that are said to have come down from Egypt. They speak Lou, but because it is not a Bantu language, it isn't in the Kiswahili family. This means I will have to start learning a whole new language, again!

There are several of my fellow PCT's around this area (within 3-4 hours) and a few current PCV's as well. I will be living in a rustic little hose about 100 yards from the clinic. The clinic is a new addition to JAM's endeavors and has only one staff member, a retired nurse (called sister in the British tradition of nurses titles). She is a very nice woman. She basically treats what she can and referrs the complicated cases to Oygis hospital or an MSF (Medicines Sans Frontiers, or in English, Doctors Without Boarders) doctor. What she says she spends most of her time seeing is Malaria, upper respiratory infections (which could be anything from TB to Typhoid) and the AIDS patients who come in with OI (opportunistic infections, which around here is usually malaria). Since she is the only clinician, she doesn't have time to do consultations on malaria prevention, safe water practices or HIV/AIDS prevention and testing. I will be the main source of that kind of stuff. I'll also be working to help train their HIV/AIDS Educators and Community Health Workers. I am sure I'll also find a way to get into some other kind of trouble, but that is plenty for the moment.

Ok, when I say rustic little house, yes I mean it has no inside running water or electricity, but you'd be surprised at how fast you can adapt to that. It does have a decent pit latrine (choo) that I won't be sharing and an outside tap to get water, so I don't have to trek for an hour to the river to get water. There is a rather large living room, smallish bedroom and this little random room that might serve a number of purposes (possibly the guest room...hahaha). For anyone who knew my Nashville apartment, this place is probably about the same size. It is about 3 miles from town. The house is on a family compound and has a security guard around at night, so it is safe too! The area gets a good deal or rain, the we are amongst these beautiful rolling hills and farmland. The view from the house is great! This will be a great bike riding area (PCV's get bikes for site). I am told that there are many fresh veggies and lots of fish (mostly talapia from the lake). I am still going to try to grow herbs and spinach for salads and the like.

To get here we drove through the Rift Valley, from Lake Niavasha to here. It was just STUNNING. But, as per my continuing luck, the only animals I saw were the exotic African cow, Kenyan fighting chickens (we call them "free-range" in America) and the roaming goat. I was promised that there would be no animals on the drive but. "zebras, giraffes and antelope" (apparently those don't count here) and I didn't see ONE zebra, or anything else for that matter. Up until we all left for FSV (future site visit) it had taken 3 of us to see a whole baboon. My colleagues had better luck and I got a flurry of text messages from them listing all the cool animals they had seen. Pole for me. I still have a chance. This weekend I'll be going back to Nairobi through the rift valley, maybe this time I'll see my elusive zebra. I am beginning to think this whole "cool animals in Kenya" thing might be a big scam, or it could just be my luck. At least the people and the landscape (outside Kitui) are just beautiful!

So, I need to send a BIG hello to "Betty from California." I finally know who you are, and I must say that Shawn (we call him Frodo) is a lovely boy, y'all did a great job! By the way, he was one of our barefoot softballers who made a valiant effort at trying to salvage our pride at the 4th of July event. Look forward to hearing from you again.

In last weeks mail bag I got my brand new Titan's bandannas lovingly made by Sabrina. I also got Nioka's card (you'll both get a letter soon enough). I know there are still packages out there floating around, and I am very eager to get them. Peace Corps did give us some great news, that packages received until mid-September will actually come to us costumes free, so that opens up the cheap package window a little more. Thanks again for the emails asking what I need/want.

I don't have the new mailing info yet, so just stick with the already circulated information, I'll alert you as to when it changes. Also, I have to send big props to wonderful Kristin who called me the other day (on her way to work, just like at home). I was able to text msg her as well. I am told that those with Cingular can receive and send text messages very easily, and those with Sprint can receive. I hear that those with Verizon are SOL, but I haven't tested this for sure yet. If you would like to test it, my new number (and dialing instructions) are in the previous post.

Well, we are a mere 3 weeks or so from swearing in. That is when we become official PCV's (oddly enough, we take the same oath as the President, hopefully I'll maintain more honor for it). Things will be hectic (as if they've been calm until now) from here on out. After swearing in we are making our way back to our sites with the load of crap we must procure for our houses. Then, we will spend the first 3 months doing community entry stuff, not really working on our projects. This is the time where we become members of the community and try needs assessment exercises (see how official all that sounds, gotta love government phraseology!).
I should rap this novel up.  I just checked email and it seems mom and Crissy are having problems getting email to me, anyone else?  Just to make sure, use:
Congrats on the new house Crissy, I better be getting some pictures soon.  I am doing just fine Grandma, don't worry about me (fat chance I know).  If you have problems with email, you can always leave me a comment and it will come to my email.  I miss you all and look forward to hearing from you.  So, until the next installment...


  • At 2:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    dont know what a "sack garden" is but ya gonna get Cal. seeds.


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