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.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

A Little Taste Of America

 
You might not know this, and you might not be able to appreciate the level of sincerity I am trying to express...but, is there anything in this world better than that powdered cheese in the Kraft Mac n' Cheese Dinners (or, as our Canadian friends would say, "Kraft Dinners")?  I know that Bare Naked Ladies pined about them in the millionaire song, but I had no idea back then.  Back when I could just get in my car and have any tasty delight I wished, at nearly anytime of the day or night.  Back when I kept those boxes of mac 'n cheese in the cabinet for emergencies (like being too lazy to just go get some tasty delight, or being too broke and needed something to tide me over).  I remember when I was a kid and we ate them all the time, because when you grow up poor in America, Kraft Dinners were remarkably cheap and could feed unrelenting hungry kids.  I remember eating them in college because I hated romain noodles and, while Kraft was more expensive, that extra  25 cents was like a luxurious splurge while still being able to afford the other essentials (like tuition). 
 
But now, now that some kind folks in America have bags of unneeded macaroni from those blue boxes cluttering their cabinets just so that they could donate those lovely cheese packets to a worthy cause, now that I am thrice weekly enjoying a real (well, sorta real) taste of home, now I understand.
 
That wasn't all the goodies included in the bag Mom lugged half way round the world for me, but it is what has just thrilled me in this past week.  I can't believe how good it tastes, and how much I crave it.  I sure hope my tastes for processed and junky American foods abates once I return stateside, because otherwise I am courting an early death.  I guess these are just the comfort foods, and once they are readily available, I will return to my natural foods campaign and only rarely indulge in the high fructose corn syrup, trans fats, artificial sweeteners world that American food has become.  Although, I don't know if I will be able to kick the Lemonade Crystal Light habit, as it has become so delightful.  And, oh please kind Universe, don't let me continue to crave Slim Jim's, those things just CAN'T be good for you!
 
I am so thankful for all the goodies people sent (you'll hear from me individually).  Thanks to some really caring friends and family I can now listen to my radio with abandon, snap into a Slim Jim (though, they are nearly gone already), wash and style my hair, catch up on progressive feminist thought, wreck my teeth with processed sugar, and generally take pure joy in the little things that have come to mean so much to me in my little corner of Africa.
 
This Juneteenth (read up on Civil War and Black History) finds me getting ready to go to yet another Peace Corps training nini (nini is used like the word thing or thing-e in America, but even more so in Kenya).  This is the Cross Sector Meeting, and I am utterly underwhelmed to be going.  I have packed a few books to occupy my time, as Webuye is hardly a thrilling tourist destination (although rumor has it the hotel has a pool).  Peace Corps means well by these training sessions, but I find them a total bore.  I am also not one to wait to be trained on something to give it a go at site.  If  I need information, I usually seek out the folks who have it (go figure).  After the Cross Sector meeting, we go to Nairobi (AGAIN, as I have been there three times in the last month) for the 4th of July party held by the American Chamber of Commerce and the American Embassy (who hates PCV's).  There are some nice, rich expats here who take sad pity on us broke PCV's and donates vouchers for us to eat and drinkat the party.  I sometimes feel like an urchin in Oliver Twist, minus the catchy tunes.
 
After that, it is back to work.  I have to stay in Nairobi (uggg...well, sorta uggg, there is Java House to eat) to do some Post Rape Care Clinicians training taught by Liverpool VCT.  It will be really interesting, and this will allow me and Emily to really dig into the re-training of the staff at our district hospital.  We want to also figure out how people in other communities have been doing Anti-rape community mobilization, considering what a taboo subject it is, and considering it means taking the message to men who are not terribly open to the subject of gender empowerment and sexual autonomy.  I am looking forward to this training!
 
So, that is the current scene from my perspective in Kenya.  I hope to get back to Oyugis soon, as I am having a blast seeing the nurse at my clinic occasionally wearing the scrubs Mom brought her (she wanted a nurses uniform from America).  Also, I am hoping to get together with the CHW's and manage some sort of First Aid training, but I am working from a Red Cross book (and my own Red Cross training) where every other instruction is to call 911.  The mere concept of trained emergency personnel at the dial of a phone makes me get all misty-eyed.  Here, if you don't bleed out first, and manage to endure riding on the back of a bike for a bit, then the matatu to a clinic or hospital, you are in good shape!
 
Hope you all are well.  And have a great 4th of July, enjoy the charred and BBQ'd meat (kabisa), drink lots of iced down beverages (both adult and not so adult) and most of all, HAVE FUN and I am with you in spirit.

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