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.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Happy V- Day

It is already February, where does the time go. Being February, this is your friendly reminder to find a V-Day celebration, and not the kind that has candles and cheap champagne. No, find a group in your neighborhood that is staging a production of "The Vigina Monolouges" and support the cause of women's rights and anti-violence groups around the world. Plus, if you have never seen "The Vigina Monogloues" or if it has just been awhile, it will change your life, PROMISE! (If you are in Gallitan, TN, may I suggest the production my friend Sabrina is starring in.)

Ok, now that the first of my several solicitations is out of the way, I can tell you what I've been up to? I was in Nyahururu last week (no, there aren't too many letters in that word, that is what the town is called) with some of the staff from JAM to observe a program. My friend Tarika is placed with an organization that has an intigrated ART (anti-retroviral therapy) that I hope to facilitate bringing to Oyugis. It is a bizarre part of Kenya in that it is just FREAKING COLD at night. I mean where are my sox and somebody get me another blanket kind of cold. It is a beautiful place, situated on the leeward side of Mt. Kenya. We spent two days taking in how their program is run, meeting people living with AIDS and those supporting them and generally seeing how things work. It was a valuable learning experience and wonderful opportunity to catch-up with my awesome friend Tarika. Although, she did seriously show me up. She is just steller with languages and speaks great Kiswahili and is learning Kikikuyu. I had to tell the JAM staff with me that do not ever expect such language skills from me, and that Kiswahili was Tarika's fourth language and Kikikuyu was her fifth. They were impressed with her, and mighty disappointed with me, but I warned them. I am trying to put up pictures of this little outting including stops at Thompson's Falls and Rift Valley overlook on the picture site in the next week or so. So, keep your eye out for the update.

It is the dry season here (as I have mentioned many times) and it is amazing how life changes for the dry season. First, the lack of food in the market is just remarkable. I am sure you have heard of the famine happening in Northern Kenya, well, even here in the fertile green west food has become more scarce. The staple food of Kenya, sukumawiki (we just call it sukuma and in America it is the same as kale greens) is just not there. "Not there" is the way Kenyans say that it is gone, or they say, "it is finished." It is amazing to know that something as basic as that is missing from the dinner tables of my friends. It is probably the healthest food that Kenyans eat, and in Lou-land it is always paired with ugali (I think I have explained ugali, something beyond explination really). I know we are lucky in the west of Kenya because even in the years with less than normal rain we will get a decent harvest here. The volunteers in the famine regions, the regions that get food relief, the situation is just heartbreaking. The rations are megar, not nearly enough to sustain a family and if you are on food relief you obviously have no other options. There was a woman arrested a few days ago for selling dog food to customers as real human food. And Kenyan dog food isn't rated for human consumption in the least. All this to say that the rains need to get here. The roads are dusty, the rivers and ponds mucky and the livestock looking next to death, that is what the dry season means here. They say that it should start raining next month, never in my life have I wanted it to rain soooo much!

Well, I have to hand it to my friends, they are in a serious book drive mode. My friend and fellow PCV (now home) is having her class at the school she teaches at bring in books. They have already brought in 200. And my other friend Christi is getting the Gator Club of Nashville to take on this library as their community project. Also my friend Tonia had a box of books in the mail before the end of the day when she received the email, so did my sister, and from her sick be none the less. I am over-whelmed with gratitude, as is Emily. But that won't stop me from asking for more help (I am a darn dedicated Peace Corps Volunteer, aren't I?). Along with the schools in Oyugis, we are looking to help a school in another district where another PCV (Keisha) is teaching. She is looking to help her kids prep for national exams and to expand their literary horizens as well. So, if you have kids, gathering books can be a fun class project. If you work in an office, what better way to break up the boredom of the work-a-day world than to do a book drive for Kenya. If you are a member of a community group looking for a project...here it is. If you are a packrat, time to let go of some of the clutter. The most cost effective way to send the books is through M-bag, marked "books for donation" on the customs form, at the US Post Office. It works out to about a dollar a pound. It will take a coons age to get here, but I promise to alert each sender as to when it arrives. I will also be posting pictures of some point of the reading room, newly painted and filled with eager young minds. Thank you in advance for any help you can provide. It will be appreciated beyond words here. Here is where they can be sent to:

Misty Ellis, PCV
JAM Community Group
PO Box 465
Oyugis, 40222
Kenya

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