Saturday, May 23, 2009

Week one of seven is already over

Hello again!

I guess you'll all be happy to know that I made it through the last few days with very little money. Thanks to my mom's midnight efforts to send me money, I have managed not to starve. Thanks mom.

Things are still awesome. Still strangely comfortable. I mean that in the sense that I don't have the same sense of fear and unknown that I remember from last time I was here. It feels familiar, as if I just went to visit some friends on the other side of town and not of the world. Maybe it's because I'm missing the getting-mugged intro to Chuda that I had on my last visit. maybe it's because everyone knows me and I know them and so I don't feel quite so out of place. All I'm sure of is that I don't feel like sitting inside and watching movies as much as I did last time.

My comfort, however, does not extend to the physical. I hadn't realized that I would get so soft being away from here. I guess I got tough during my six months last time, but now... I cut up my feet using African sandals Bobo's mom lent me. Then I tries to do laundry and made my knuckles raw after like three pieces of clothing. I couldn't even finish it. I also have like 800 mosquito bites. I'm taking malaria medication, but they're still aweful even if they don't make me sick! On Thursday morning, I went running with Bobo and joined some other guys at Chuda beach for their morning excersises. They go from 5 to 6 every morning while it isn't too hot. I kept up. Sort of. But I'm only just able to walk properly again today. You know how Kenyan people are always winning races and stuff? They told me they'll make me fit like that before I go home. We'll see how that goes. Meanwhile people keep commenting that I got too skinny while I was at home and are attempting to make me fat. That makes me laugh, especially when I think about how much people fight against getting fat at home. I explain that to them and they think we're crazy. In a way, I agree. I guess there's a happy medium. In any case, it will be interesting to see whether I come home fit or huge, cause I doubt it will be both.

As for Nuru, things are moving. A little slowly, but as they say, "this is Africa." No hurry. Hakuna matata. We should be meeting with the mayor this Monday or Tuesday with the help of the Tudor (Chuda) area councilor. I had a long conversation with the councilor yesterday. He is very interesting. He was telling me the story of how he became coucilor - against the odds. He was a conductor on a matatu (minibus), and a kid from the slums. Several years ago a small girl, five years old, was raped here in Chuda by a matatu driver, and found miles away across the city in a ditch. Mr Unziru (mostly they just call him the councilor) heard about it and went to the matatu park, where he found the man, arrested him by himself and took him into the police station. When the rapist talked himself out of prison, the councilor rallied the angry women of Chuda and demonstrated at the police station until they jailed the man. He has since been released and drives matatus in a different part of town. In any case, the councilor decided he wanted to become a leader. So every night after he finished conducting, he would poster his small black-and-white posters around Chuda with the help of a few friends. He told the chidren of teh neighbourhood, who liked him a lot because he was plentiful with the sweets, to tell their parents to vote for him. To everyone's surprise, he beat out the former councilor who was rich and affluent in his campaign. The story was all over the news, and he is still famous. The Mombasa council couldn't believe a slum kid could become councilor. he still comes to sit and smoke and chew miraa with the guys at ruff howz and he refuses to buy a car and always takes the matatu to work. He has done a lot for Chuda though and his voters love him. He has offered to help us as much as possible with Nuru including getting us some land in Chuda to build a children's home, securing us some government funding for working with youth, etc. This is all in the future of course.

Well, that was a digression. But an interesting one I think.
I'll just finish up with a few more updates. They are indeed lacking kitchen equipment at the school, so we will be our first use of the money so generously donated by my friends and well-wishers in Canada. I had a lovely tour of Marycliff Primary school on Wednesday. The headmistress is great. I really liked her. I'm looking forward to help them out. All they really need is a couple of really big pots so they don't have to waste tonsa of fuel cooking over and over in order to feed everyone. And someone to do the cooking of course. It's looking like about $300 for everything there, and it will get a lot of parents from the slums off the hook.
Other than that, we're waiting on the mayor and a couple meetings with other organizations. And we had to revise the constitution and are working on a couple of other organizational things. Further news on that to come as soon as something interesting happens.

Today we're going to a group counseling session led by a friend of mine from WOFAK, the organization I worked for last time. One of the things i would like to do is get some of the mombers, and us, educated in peer counseling. there are organizations that do this for free so we are looking into that. Again, I will say more about it when something interesting happens.

Thanks for tuning in. See you next time, same time, same channel!


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