Friday, February 27, 2009
Term One of the school year began in January. The term has been very busy, hence my delay in updating. I am teaching 2 sections of Form 1 (9th grade) physics, 1 section of Form 1 biology, 2 sections of Form 2 physics, 1 section of Form 2 biology, and one section of Form 3 biology. So I have a lot of lesson plans to write as well as lessons to teach. I am also continually working on organizing the school library as well as helping with the after school clubs. Currently I am coaching cross country. Good thing I don't have to run with the students:) I just have to organize them. Organization skill I have, the skills to actually run cross country in this heat are lacking.
Okay, you are probably wondering why I have titled this post "Drought, Famine, and Heat". Let me start with the first word. Drought. We have not had rain since the one day of rain in November. All of the crops we planted in our shambas (fields) have totally dried up. We will not get any maize or beans from the plants. The lack of rain causes a lot of problems. One being the rivers never filled with water so there is no water in the area. I am amazed every month how my water situation continually gets worst. Now we are hiring trucks to carry water from town to the village for us. It is very expensive so we are very careful about every drop of water we use. Lack of water does not just mean problems for us but also problems for the animals. People are moving their animals from they area to places where they have rivers because if they keep them in our area they will all die due to lack of food and water. The lands is dusty and brown and it seems like there is little life surviving.
Famine. Because there was no rain to grow food there is not food in the area. People are depending on relief food from the government. Of course there is food in the shops that I am able to buy so I am not starving but the local people do not have money to buy the food in the shops because they have no crops to sell for money and most of the people in the area are farmers. It is a very sad situation to see people seriously starving. Small children dropping out of school to spend their days searching in the woods for wild rabbits or wild fruits to take home and eat. The problem isn't lack of food, because their is plenty of food, the problem is food distribution. The relief food that is brought into the country is only distributed in town and it is not reaching the people in the rural villages. It is sad to see but at the same time I wish these people could stop depending on others to give them everything. If I try to give them work so I can pay them so they can buy food they refuse the work, they just expect me to give them food or money because of my skin color. It is very frustrating to see the famine in the area.
What makes me the most sad about the drought and famine is the number of students dropping out of school. Primary school is free but students are dropping out to make money for the family or to collect food from the forest. Secondary school is not free so students are dropping out because they do not have the fees to continue. Thanks you to those of you who have donated for my students to remain in school. I have been able to keep 5 of my students in school through the donations I have received. A few weeks ago I had my best form 2 boy stop me on my way to school. He gave me some papers and asked me to take them to the teachers at school for marking. When I asked him why he wasn't in his school uniform he told me he was dropping out of school because there was no fees but he wanted to still learn so he was wondering if I could bring his papers to school for marking and return them to him so he could learn from home. This is a boy that has a lot of potential in life. He is so determined and definitely has very good grades in school. I was so happy I had found him a sponsor because I could not imagine this boy dropping out of school. If anyone still wants to donate money for a student send my mom the money and she will put it into an account for my students. For a secondary school student to attend a day school for the whole year it is $100.
Heat. It has been very hot here and there is no escape. It isn't like home where we get into an air conditioned house or sit under a fan when it is 100 plus degrees. Here we are in the heat all day and all night. The heat has gotten to be a struggle for me. I really wish I could drink cold water or drink carmel coolers from Carribu Coffee. I keep hearing about the snow at home and it makes me miss winter.
Besides the drought, famine, and heat things are going well here. I still love teaching at the school. My students are wonderful and they always make me smile and laugh. I really love spending time in my village community and working the the fields with the mamas. I know the next 9 months are going to go by quickly. I am sure the second I arrive in MN, in December, I will be ready to come back to the heat of Kenya.
I will warn you now that my next post probably will not be until April when we are on school break since I am planning on remaining in the village until then. Those of you that see my mom should ask her to see my pictures. I sent a bunch of pictures home and I will try to update you with a few more pictures in April.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Me, Jessica, Mary Beth, and Heather at the Equator
My Matungi (water can): The amount of water for one week (20 liters)
Everlyne and Me working in the Shamba
Now it is the end of December and it is hard to believe the year has come to an end. The first week of December I spent in the village trying to save the pea plants in the shamba since it is the only thing that had not dried up. I worked on my chicken shed and did little projects around the house. I baked a few cakes and visited my friends in the village. The second week of December I was in Nairobi for Peace Corps training. Last week I spent the week on vacation with a few other volunteers. We started our vacation by climbing to the top of Mount Longonot. The Mountain is a crater in the middle of the great rift valley. We hiked the entire rim of the crater. After our hike we went on a bike trip through Hell's Gate National Park. It was amazing to be so close to all the animals on a bike instead of in a car. The geological formations in Hell's gate were amazing. We also hiked through Hell's Gate Gorge which was pretty amazing. We camped at Top Camp which is a beautiful place up a hill with a great view of Lake Nivasha. We went on a boat trip on Lake Nivasha and saw hippos and lots of birds really close. After we spent a few days in the Naivasha/Rift Valley area we headed to western Kenya. We pasted through all the tea and coffee plantations on our way to Kakamega. In Kakamega we stayed at Kakamega Environmental Education Program bandas. We did a sunrise hike to the hill in the center of the forest and went on a bird hike through the rain forest. It was an amazing vacation and Christmas. Now I am in Nairobi and on my way down to Loitoktok which is at the base of Mt. Kilamanjaro. I will spend a week down there training the new volunteers and getting them prepared to go to their sites. School starts January 6th, it is amazing how filled my 6 weeks of vacation were. I am defiantly excited to see my students and start teaching again. I am sure in April, our next school holiday, I will take another adventure somewhere, maybe this time out of Kenya.
Me biking with the zebra in Hell's Gate
I hope all of you have a wonderful New Year! It is hard to believe it is going to be 2009, the year I return back home. I know it will be sad to leave but I will be happy to see all of you!
Me, Heather, Kristy, Avery, and Jessica with Santa
Saturday, September 6, 2008
My students hanging out at my house on a Sunday afternoon. I usually have a compound full of students on Sundays after church. Usually they want me to bake them cakes or to play hacky sack, but we usually have a good time.
On my safari in Tsavo National Park.
My friends looking at the elephants at the waterhole. Tsavo has so many elephants, but we also saw water buffalo, lions, warthogs, dikdik, gazelle, zebra, giraffes, hippos, crocodiles, and many species of birds
Elephant in Tsavo National Park
My students on our school trip to Mombasa
Water buffalo at the waterhole
Friday, September 5, 2008
Saturday, August 16, 2008
July brought a lot of school strikes at many schools across Kenya. I was very fortunate that our students were disciplined enough to not participate. The students went on strike for various reasons. July was a busy month at our school with end term exams and setting up the library. Thank you to those of you who have donated novels for the library, the students were very excited to take home novels over the break! For those of you who have been asking what they can do or send, I would love to recieve some reference books or textbooks so I could add them to the library as resources. It is great to have the students see pictures of things in the textbooks as well. Also, I am trying to sponsor a few students school fees so if anyone is interested in sponsoring a childs school fees let me know. Many students miss a lot of school or do not even attend school because they do not have fees. I continue to hear their stories and they break my heart. I am so thankful I grew up in a system of free education and where I had a supportive family.
It currently is pea season so when I have free time I love going to the shamba with my students and picking peas. I love that we go to the shamba together to collect our food and then we sit in a circle and peel them as a community. I love the concept of growing our food as a community and preparing it as a community. Water is still a problem but I am managing.
I went to Kitui to visit my host family there. The children are getting so big! JoAnne (who has been renamed JoRae) is 10 months old and walking. Kali and Cynthia have improved their English so much. They told mama to stop speaking to them in mother tongue so when I visit they can communicate with me. Kali and Cynthia also convinced mama that JoAnne needed to be named after be because she fears people but as soon as I walked in the door she reached for me so they are saying that she remembers me caring for her when she was born. So they actually changed the birth certificate to JoRae.
I need to keep this short and without photos again because I need to catch my matatu out of Mombasa. But I will try to update again soon and add pictures.
Saturday, July 5, 2008
I traveled to Mombasa to see my volunteer friends and to spend the holiday with them. Yesterday I stood at the main roadside for over an hour trying to catch a bus. As I stood there I saw many mzungus (white people) passing by in empty matatus with only one or two of them in it. Private matatus...that is one way to travel around. However, I was happy I travel like them because I was traveling like a true Kenyan. I boarded an overcrowded matatu and road to Mombasa like the locals.
On my journey to the coast, I passed through Tsavo national park where I saw all the usual animals as well as entire family of elephants (9 of them). After traveling through dry Tsavo, the country started to turn green, the houses were constructed of different materials since the rock of the area was no longer clay but rather granite. Some of the huts were constructed out of grasses. I loved seeing how the shelters changed according to availability of materials. Once I was at the coast it like I was in another country. There is water here!
This week at school some crazy things happened! I became the girls handball and volleyball coach...yep don't even know what handball is. We also got a generator and watched a shakespear play. All the teachers canceled class and we had 200 students and 8 teachers in a room watching this horrible tape version on an 18 inch TV. They told me they wish TV could be there hobby and I was so happy that TV is not available here. I am so glad it was a special treat to be able to watch this play and TV is not a hobby!
Life Skills Club update. This week I have started to hear horrible stories about HIV/AIDS and what the people think about the disease. I have heard when someone finds out they have HIV/AIDS they have sex with as many people as possible because they do not want to die alone. It is such a sad concept that makes me cringe. The phrase here is once you have decided to have sex, even if it is when you are married, you are accepting the fact that you may die with AIDS. I am working on educating them on HIV/AIDS but it is very difficult.
Teaching is still going well, I brought the students to the lab this week and we did a lot of work in there...which was disastrous at first but by Friday they were understanding the lab a little better. We received a box of posters this week so we hung them and the students were so excited to have "learning aids." My community is awesome and all is well. I will try to update you again soon (maybe with pictures) but it might not be until my next trip to Mombasa in August.