Sunday, June 28, 2009

Last Minute Happenings

Wow its been a week since I last wrote. I meant to make it sooner, but now that my trip is coming to a close, it’s like I’ve been trying to cram into the last minute everything that I didn’t get a chance to do yet.

First things first. Right after I wrote last time, my mom called to tell me that she and my grandfather had decided to share the cost of a pump for us. Awesome! So a big huge thanks to my mom and Opa in Holland.

Unfortunately, there have been some other complications, so it looks like the well won’t be finished before I come home. Here’s the thing: The slums here are built on someone else’s land, and the people there are squatting in temporary mud houses. Anytime, the owner could come and demolish the houses and evict all the residents so he can build something else. In fact, one part of the slums here in Tudor is being destroyed right now. If we spend $700 on a pump and install a well in the slums, we won’t own it, so we have no insurance that it won’t be destroyed next week. A battle is currently going on in the Municipal Council about whether or not those people’s homes should be destroyed by the owner of the land. If things go well, maybe we’ll be in a situation where we can feel comfortable investing in a well. Otherwise, perhaps we can get a permit of some kind from the mayor, or talk to the owner of the land… in any case, this issue needs to be dealt with before we build the well. And the chances of that happening in the next two days are slim. It will just have to happen after I get back. At least it’s happening – that’s the important thing.

In other news… two Saturdays ago, I agreed to help some friends from an organization that I worked with on my last trip. They were writing a proposal for funding from the government and they needed someone to help them write it. I didn’t think it would be a big job but it really was. That’s the real reason that I haven’t written for the last week. I was busy writing that proposal. I spent two whole days at the WOFAK office discussing everything and a bunch of evenings writing and it still wasn’t finished. On Wednesday, I had to tell them that I couldn’t spend any more time on it. I felt really bad, but I only had three days left in Mombasa and I wanted to spend it seeing my friends, going out and finishing up what I could for Nuru. I’m glad to say that they managed to get it finished anyway with the help of someone from Likoni Health Centre, and they got it in for the deadline this weekend. I did feel guilty about flaking out though. And they bought me a gift – some kangas – which made me feel even worse. But at least they did get it done. And all of us learned a good lesson about planning ahead for proposal writing.

Things are still moving along for Nuru, but the energy that we started off with is starting to dissipate. I guess it’s because now there’s no way we can get anything else done while I’m here. I’ll be leaving for Nairobi tonight, Sunday, and leaving for home on Tuesday. Things are definitely in motion though. We have our proposals at the Municipal Council for the city works (the sewer etc) and for an office, I’m working on a proposal for medical aid for the people in the slums, which I hope will go through in the next month or so, the well, which I explained already, we are working on creating an advisory board, and there is even a little money left to get a few more kids in school. All these things are still going to happen, plus a few others, but I just won’t be around to see them. So the urgency has left a little, at least for me.

Seven weeks really wasn’t enough time to get everything done that I wanted to. I feel like I could stay for another two months and still not be done. I’m sad to leave and disappointed that I won’t be here to see some of those things happen. Plus I’ll miss my friends here. The girls who live next to me here are so upset that I’m going. I told them I would come back as soon as I can. They said they’ll really miss me. I’ll miss them too.

Last weekend, I went to a traditional song and dance competition that all the primary schools in Mombasa were invited to. It happens every year and those schools that do particularly well go on to provincials, and then nationals. There’s a movie – the name is escaping me right now – about a primary school in Northern Uganda that was picking itself up from the war and sent a team to the national dance competition… The one I went to was just like that. The girls from Marycliff were amazing. They looked so beautiful in their traditional costumes, and their singing and dancing was incredible. I remember when I was that age and singing and dancing were so embarrassing. But these girls were fearless. They did well in the rankings, too. They came in first place with their Baganda Dance, and moved to the provincials in four different categories. I have some awesome pictures which I will post on facebook.

That reminds me!! I never wrote about the library. A few weeks ago, a Dutch couple, Luuk and Maria, came to Marycliff to build a library. They had raised the money through a project where they sold Ninje books (did I spell it right? It’s that little white bunny) and used the proceeds to build two libraries at poor schools in Kenya. So we helped them. I helped the girls cover and stamp all the books and set them up on the new shelves in a newly renovated room. The guys from Nuru helped the school get ready to open the library by cutting the grass, setting up chairs and tents, etc. The school had invited about 200 people, including the mayor and the area MP. The mayor didn’t make it, but Councilor Kipara was there and the MP made it too. They had a big table at the front where I sat with Luuk and Maria and their old friends Yoko and Wilmijn from Nairobi who had arrived the day before to visit them and see the library. The MP and Councilor and the headmistress were up there too. I felt strange being set on a pedestal like that. Especially cause my fellow Nuru members had done just as much work as I had. Many speeches were made, Speaking of the area MP, he made this speech in which he detailed all the money the government had given to schools and then went on to explain how malicious people had been spreading lies that the Kenyan government is corrupt. He asked us not to listen to that horrible propaganda. I was kind of appalled. Wilmijn and I were exchanging looks of horror the whole time. I hope no one believed him, but they probably did. Sigh. Councilor Kipara made a speech as well and introduced me. A lot of the people there knew me already, but they clapped for me. Then Councilor went on about all the things we’ve done for the community with Nuru and everyone was cheering. Bobo filmed it on a video camera. It was really awesome. And Councilor really knows how to work a crowd.
Anyway, then we had some entertainment in the form of young dancers. Those girls can really shake it. ;) Some women danced for us too and pulled us down from the table to dance with them. That was fun. Even the fat, bald area MP danced. After all the entertainment, we went outside where the MP planted a tree on the school grounds. Then everyone went to see the library, where the Nuru members were keeping guard. We needed to guard the books so they wouldn’t be stolen. They won’t be lending them out, either, cause they’ll never come back. And they don’t have that many.
All in all, it was a pretty awesome day. I’ll have to make sure I get a copy of that film.

That’s about all the writing I have time for today. We’re having a celebration of our own this afternoon to open the toilets and shower in the slums. It won’t be as big as the one for the library – just the Nuru members and a few other guests. We have a goat, which is being cooked right now at Tudor Paradise, an outdoor bar at the edge of the slums, and we’ll be buying some crates of soda and whatnot. And taking people down to see the work. It’s all finished, except that the mud is not quite dry so they haven’t cemented the walls yet, But they will, cause otherwise wind and rain will slowly wear it away into nothing. The floors are cemented though and the basins and pipes are installed, as well as doors, so it’s mostly done. If they did the cement now, it would crack, so its better if we don’t rush with that.

Anyway, the party starts in an hour, so I better go get ready. I also have to pack cause I’m leaving for Nairobi this evening. Ahhhh… it’s too soon!!!!!

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Toilet

June 19, 2009

Ok it’s not Wednesday, but at least I’m finally telling the story. I’ve been trying to help some friends of mine, people I worked with on my last trip, apply for some funding from the government. Writing the proposal is taking a lot of time, so that’s why I haven’t updated for a while.

Let me get to the toilet. Story, that is.

About two weeks ago now, we started working on the idea of building a toilet and well in the slums. For those of you who weren’t at my fundraiser, that was the original idea I had for what to do with the money I raised. So, we collaborated with a group of elders in the slums who had some experience with building. They were excited about the project.
When we went down to check out the place where they wanted to build – on the edge of the beach at the bottom of the slum – I was a bit shocked. There were piles of garbage, of course, not as high as you might expect, but I think they burn it now and then. And then the school that owned the next property had built a cement wall to block people from going into the bushes along the beach there. As a result, there was human refuse everywhere. I had to be really careful where I stepped. This is a bit disgusting: some people there have a toilet built for their house, which they pay rent for and lock. The rest have nowhere to go, so they go on the path, on the beach, near the piles of garbage. Or they go in a plastic bag and throw it on the garbage heap. It doesn’t smell very good. So we’re building a toilet there. Two toilets actually, and a shower room. The plan was also to build a well, so there is easy access to water there. But there have been some complications with that plan. I’ll get to that.

Okay, so after we decided to start the project, we had some logistical delays. We had to drop letters to the Area Chief (who is, by the way, a woman) and the mayor. We had to be careful, cause the land that the slums are on is owned by someone, and the people that live there are squatting illegally. One can’t build a permanent structure on the land without getting the attention of the owner. I have no idea who the owner is, but clearly they don’t have a big problem with people squatting there. We just had to be careful not to be too bold with our building plans. Plus, if we don’t own the structure, it could be demolished any time, so we had to make sure we didn’t invest too much, only to bring attention and possibly have it destroyed. Bobo told me about a time maybe ten or twelve years ago when the owner brought a couple bulldozers and flattened the entire property. Without warning. People were running for their lives, carrying what possessions they could manage to grab before they were flattened. The houses there are made of mud and stones mostly with palm roofs of metal roofing sheets. Easy to mow down I guess.
Bobo’s family made it out, in case you were curious, but they lost a lot. All their pictures and information about their grandmother, all their birth certificates and identification, their home… They had to split up and stay with friends. That’s when Bobo started living here with Jay.
I’m digressing. It’s just that I find stories like this fascinating. The way people live here, the things they have to go through…it’s unreal. I always ask Bobo questions incessantly till he gets annoyed and depressed. Anyway.
We decided to make the toilets first, making the structure with wood, stones and cement. And metal sheets for the roof. Long lasting, but not too elaborate. Then we had to get the money together and figure out exactly which materials we would need. Last Friday, Bobo and I went to the lumber yard and hardware store and bought everything from small tree trunks to cement to toilet basins and brought it all back here with a few handcarts. We got help with the handcarts, we didn’t push them ourselves. On Saturday they started work, digging out a big section of the sand and garbage, clearing a level area to start building. Then they started asking for money. I understand that those guys are struggling. Many of them have families to feed, etc, but I honestly thought they would build it just because they wanted it there. We had been collaborating on the project planning and I thought they would be happy that we bought the materials. It’s not like any of us are getting paid for this project. Bobo said they think we have a tap with money coming out. Something like a money tree I suppose. Actually, we’ve been fighting with them about money a lot. Every time we agree on a deal, they go back on it and ask for something else. We’ve had a bunch of yelling matches. It’s intensely frustrating. I want to help them, create job opportunities and all that, but they are taking advantage of us, because now that they’ve started, we’d be wasting a lot more if we stopped. None of us knew this was going to happen, so we didn’t know to prepare for it or how to deal with it. Yesterday we signed an official agreement with them, which they will have to honour.

The hardest thing about the whole ordeal is that I feel like they don’t appreciate the things we’re doing for them. I didn’t realize how much appreciation mattered to me. I didn’t think I was doing this sort of work for the recognition or whatever, but I’ve started questioning whether I would still want to do it if people didn’t appreciate it. Even if I knew it was good work, I would question it. I wouldn’t feel good about it. No such thing as a selfless act, I guess.
Other people appreciate it. Women thank us and bless us from their doorways when we walk up and down through the slums. That helps, of course.

On the upside, things are moving very quickly. The structure should be finished in the next few days. The idea was that we would have time to get the well finished before I left. But the toilets have cost more than we thought, and it looks like we won’t be able to build the well right now. It’s like this: we want to build a well with a good filter and a hand pump. There’s no electricity for an electrical pump and tap system. A good hand pump costs about $700. We have about that much left, but what about the other costs of making a well – like digging? What about the kids we’re sponsoring? What about the kids we want to sponsor, medical stuff, hiring someone to keep the toilets clean, getting some speakers in for the women there, etc, etc, etc. There are so many other things we want to do, so the well might have to wait. We could build a cheaper one, where you haul the bucket up yourself, but the water won’t be clean, it will be salty… I guess we just don’t want to go halfway with the well. It might have to wait till next time we have some money.

I have to get going, so I’m going to cut this short. Or long, I suppose. It’s not that short. I’m sure there will be more developments with the project soon, so I’ll keep you updated. As per usual.

Till next time!

Monday, June 15, 2009


Okay, before I get to the toilet/well project, I have something I want to talk about. Last night, Sunday, me, Bobo, Junior and his friend Noel were on our way back from having a beer at a local pub. We were driving, cause a friend of Bobo’s had lent us a car for the day. At the corner of the road was a big crowd, so big that we could hardly make the turn. A rasta friend of Bobo’s stuck his head in the window and told us that a man from the slums had been stabbed. The crowd was standing around him. We got out and walked to where he was lying on the pavement, bleeding as he grabbed at people’s ankles in pain. I was all for loading him into the car and driving to the hospital right away. But my friends said no, we had to go get the police. Apparently we would be in big trouble if the guy died in our car. But besides that, they told me that the hospital would not treat him unless they knew that he was not a criminal, or if they had permission from the police. So we had to drive to the police station and get the police to come and ascertain that he had not broken the law and therefore deserved medical treatment. They were fairly quick, luckily. He was still alive when they got there, but he looked awful – semi conscious and bleeding as they loaded him into the back of their truck to take him to the hospital. I was told they would need to fill out a form in order to give the hospital permission to treat him.
The whole time that we were driving to and from the police station and making our report, I kept myself in control, but after they left with him, I had a complete panic attack. I just couldn’t believe we had to go through that whole stupid process when the guy needed medical attention right now. I kept imagining him dying while the police were deciding whether or not he deserved medical attention. I couldn’t believe that the hospital would refuse to treat him because there was a possibility that he might be a criminal. Bobo and Noel tried to console me by explaining that these were the realities of life here. I’m sure you can imagine that that did not help in the slightest. They seemed totally bewildered that I was so scared and upset. I just hate the powerless feeling of situations like that. It made me wish, not for the first time, that I had some kind of medical training.
It wasn’t until Junior told me that he was keeping in touch with the officer in the truck and that the guy had made it to the hospital and was doing okay that I began to calm down. After my friends stopped making fun of me for panicking, I started to ask them some pointed questions. For example, if the man was from the slums, would his family be able to pay the hospital bill? No universal healthcare here. More importantly, it occurred to me that fifty people had been crowded around the guy for who knows how long before we got there and no one had gone to the police before us. Essentially, they were all standing there watching him die and not doing a f***ing thing. Turns out it’s because they’re afraid of the police. Turns out the police are hardly fair or just or trustworthy here. They’re corrupt and brutal. I guess I knew that. In fact, turns out the only reason they came for that guy is that they wanted to make a good impression for the white tourist. That’s right, that guy would most likely have bled to death with an audience of fifty people if I hadn’t been there. I don’t feel like a hero though. I just feel this despair because I know I’ll never be able to be there every time someone needs the police, and I know that it’s only a matter of time before someone else is stabbed because of some gang thing or petty thievery or mistaken identity or whatever and no one is able to get them proper medical attention.
My friends kept saying I need to learn that this is how it is here. But the truth is that I don’t want to stop caring. I want to think about every unfortunate person who did not have a bribe or a white girl to help them, or at least a witness who was brave enough to drive to the police station. Caring sucks when you’re confronted with such a desperate and insurmountable problem as “corruption”, but I still think I prefer it to apathy. Maybe it will even help somehow, if it motivates me to do something about it, though at this point I can’t think of what I could possibly do to fix a problem like that.

Maybe it’s stupid but a big part of me wishes I could have treated him myself. Then I wouldn’t feel so helpless.

A couple of weeks ago, Bobo and I were in the slums visiting the families of the children we are sponsoring through Nuru. One of the kids had missed school because he’d burned his hand. It was a pretty bad burn. Over a week later, we went to check on him. His hand was still unhealed and he was still in a lot of pain, screaming at the mere hint of someone wanting to look at his hand. I couldn’t believe his mother hadn’t asked for our help. I felt awful that we had waited so long to check on him again. We took him to the clinic, by which I mean his mother dragged him while we followed carrying her other two children, one about 2, one maybe 6 months. The poor mother looks like she’s about 20, looking after three kids under 5… Anyway, we got the kid a tetanus shot and a special ointment prescribed by the doctor. He screamed the whole time, so loudly and so fearfully that it made me shaky listening to it. For a while, I had to hold both the small kids so Bobo and Dre could hold him down for his shot. The baby was weak and small and had some difficulty breathing. After, we asked the mother if he needed a checkup too, but she assured us that he was fine.
After that incident, I started to realize that the mothers we are trying to help are afraid to tell us when their children are sick or otherwise in need of our help. Apparently, this is because they are afraid we’ll think they aren’t good parents. Wow. When I think about it, I have noticed a lot of sick kids down there. Healthy ones too, but here and there is an unhealed cut, a sign of ringworms or malnutrition. And their parents can’t afford a doctor and are afraid to ask for help. I didn’t realize this was such a big problem, but I think this needs to be a priority for us. We won’t have the money this time, but next time I get some fundraising done, I want to get a doctor to check up all the kids in the slums. Maybe the adults too if we can manage. The doctor will probably have to spend a week or so down there, with a couple nurses. Then we’ll need the money to get the proper medication to the people who need it and make sure they of their parents have the proper instructions for using it. It’s going to be pricey, but it seems like the only solution to me. We even have a doctor already who I think will do this for us. What we need is some real funding. Maybe a sponsorship from a pharmacy at home or something…
I wish I had some medical training. Then I’d have a better idea of how to pull off something like that.

So I didn’t get to the toilet story. That will be a novel. I’ll start it tomorrow and it should be up by Wednesday. I just had some other things on my mind, clearly. The toilet is going well though. In fact, it’s a much better story than this rather depressing blog. I’ll try to be more upbeat next time. ;)

Also, some pictures are up on facebook. I will post the link for those who don’t use facebook. I’ll have to look it up though, which I will do in the morning cause it’s late and I’m really tired right now.

Thanks for keeping up with my news, those of you who are. If you have any words of wisdom about my above revelations, please share them. And it’s always nice to know that other people understand my sentiments. Till next time then!


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Under the Weather

The rain here is really amazing. It’s not only heavy, but really loud. It hits the metal roofing sheets deafeningly, and takes over all the other sounds, like the fan sweeping back and forth at the end of the bed and even the music coming from the computer speakers. I’ve set up the computer on a chair so I can reach it lying on my stomach in bed. But today (Monday) is the first time since Friday that I’ve felt well enough to bring myself to write a blog. Don’t worry, I don’t have malaria. It’s a bacterial infection in my throat, but it’s pretty much incapacitated me. The doctor told me there was nothing I could have done to avoid it. I got some antibiotics and I’m starting to feel better. I still can’t eat much other than soup and tea though.

Jay is making me some soup for lunch. I can smell it. I hope I can be a bit sociable when he comes in. He’s been so busy with his new baby that I haven’t seen that much of him at all since I’ve been here. And even when I do see him, I’m not always sure what to say. He has this whole set of responsibilities now that I can’t even begin to identify with. We did have an interesting conversation the other day though, in which he told me that the beauty of lfe is not getting the things you want. Jay is fun – he likes his jokes, alcohol, dancing, etc, and he’s good at that. But he also always has something to say that makes me think. In this case he explained that if everyone got everything they wanted instantly, the fnu would be gone from life. I told him I knew what he meant. A little discomfort, a little risk, makes life more of an adventure. That’s one of the reasons I like coming here.

Bobo doesn’t agree. In fact, sometimes he gets really uneccesarily afraid or worried about things. When I first got sick, he was convinced that someone had put a spell on me and insisted on praying with me. He helped me kneel and showed me how to put my hands, then started speaking Swahili prayers. I started to feel faint after a while and almost passed out. He panicked, assuming that I had some demons in me. He was so scared, he totally freaked out. I had to calm him down, explaining that I just had no energy. But what do I know? Maybe it was demons. In any case, he’s calmed down now cause he can see the antibiotics are working and he doesn’t need to pray so much anymore. I do appreciate praying even if I’m not convinced that someone put a spell on me. We had a conversation about Religion when I was safely back in bed. I told him I thought praying was important no matter what religion you are. He had some views on the matter too. I won’t go deep into it right now.
It was kind of strange to see Bobo being so fervently religious, cause he doesn’t really fit the image of a devout Catholic. He just seems a little too…tough, big with dreadlocks and everything. It’s hard to explain.

Anyway, let’s just say this weekend was not like the last one. ;)

What else is new? Well, I realized I forgot to include an important development in my last blog entry. Well, development is maybe not the right word. I met the Mayor of Mombasa two Fridays ago. He finally had some time. We actually spent the day at the Town Hall. First we had to see the councilor who is distributing the money for municipal projects in Chuda. I think I explained that a couple blogs ago. We submitted a draft proposal but he didn’t have time to talk it over with us cause he had to get to an emergency meeting. He said it was good though and I think we have a good chance of getting the funding. Still have to hear back though. Hopefully we’ll know this week. Then Big Jay the chairman, Prince and I waited outside for Bobo and Pudus who were renewing our registration. Then we all waited for ages until the Mayor had a moment and his secretary let us in. He had a big power office that went with his big presence. He was a large man with neatly shaven white hair and beard and an authoritative face. We introduced ourselves and gave him our letter requesting an office, which the Deputy Mayor had promised at the soccer tournament. He told us he would review it with the Council. He welcomed me to Kenya and told me if there was anything we could do together I shouldn’t hesitate to ask. I thanked him and we took some pictures. I felt a little weird about pictures, but it was okay. He seemed like a nice guy to me. The Councilor in Chuda likes him a lot. Some people think he’s corrupt though. I have heard his size referenced as proof. Politics are incredibly corrupt in Kenya, so flimsy proof aside, the rumor could easily be true. That’s how it is here. Big Jay did tell me though that the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission had gotten to the Municipal Council in Mombasa, explaining why they now had doors, electricity and proper paint jobs in most of the rooms of the town hall. We went to the Parliament Room, just to see. They had the classic set up with the seats of the Mayor, Deputy and Town Clerk on a dais, the councilors in concentric circles on the floor below, and the board members at a rectangular table in the middle. The walls were lined with portraits of all the mayors of Mombasa, the picture quality increasing with each year. We took some pictures there too of course.
Anyway, after the Mayor, we went to see the Town Clerk and give him a copy of the letter as well. Surprisingly, he had an even bigger office, furnished with beautiful couches and chairs and glass cabinets filled with trophies and such. He was a smaller, harder man than the Mayor. I am told he was responsible for the violence a couple weeks ago between the hawkers and the riot police. We introduced ourselves and gave him our letter, leaving pretty quickly. We didn’t take any pictures there.
So, we are now acquainted with the Municipal Council somewhat. More importantly, they are acquainted with us. If we can impress them with our work, it will doubtless be a very beneficial relationship for us.

Meanwhile, this last week, we have been making preparations to build a well and a toilet in the slums. This is the project I was hoping to do with the money I raised on May 2. It looks like we should have more than enough, We’re planning to start everything this week, and I’m really excited about it. I hope I’m well enough to help. But I think this blog is long enough. I don’t want to overload you guys. So I’ll tell you that story in a couple of days. Also, there will be more to tell once we get started.

Till then!


Monday, June 1, 2009

Long Weekend

The computer is blasting Swahili music right now. Bobo is pouring me a cup of hot milk from a plastic bag. It's for chai. He also brought some warm jam sandwiches and scrambled eggs. But that's unusual. Usually we have beef soup or coconut beans with chapati, or these sort of pastry pockets. Or else just the leftovers from whatever we cooked last night. We don’t usually pray before breakfast, but for other meals, especially when a lot of people are there, we give thanks for the food before we eat. I’ve had to catch myself a few times so I don’t start eating before we pray.

Okay, hold on, I’m just going to eat breakfast.

I’m back. Pretty quick right? It’s Bobo, he always bugs me to eat more. “Kula, bana.” I guess he thinks I starve in Canada. It reminds me of the stereotype of an Italian woman. Yesterday I saw a woman here with a t-shirt that said “I have an Italian attitude”. It made me smile.

Ok, but I’m sidetracking. I wanted to tell you about my weekend. I just woke up from my first decent sleep since the last time I wrote. It was a long weekend, for the 46th anniversary of Kenya's independence from Britain. They call it Madaraka Day.

It started with the final match for the Premier League. Barcelona won, for those of you who don't follow soccer. So the weekend started with a celebration by Barcelona fans. I don't really have a particular leaning it comes to the premier league, but I don't mind celebrating. Bobo had convinced me to rent a car for the night, cause he wanted us to go to a place that you can’t get to on the Matatu. I finally caved and spent the $30. A bunch of us piled in the car and then we spent the evening driving around to drop people here, pick up people, get this and that, and then we ended up at our usual place cause so many people had tagged along that we couldn’t afford to go to an expensive place. And by “we” I mean me. Now I’m sure I’ve done this before but I feel like I need to qualify that. People aren’t freeloaders the way you probably think they are. Socially, it’s accepted here that if you have money and you’re going out, you can treat other people. True, this does not promote good budgeting and saving. A lot of people don’t think about the future at all, actually. But it’s not like they’re taking advantage of me for my money. That’s all. People have treated me when I was short. And in truth, I do have the money to pay a five dollar cover for six people and buy them a couple beers. Beer here is about $2 to $4 depending on where you go. The only thing about that night was that renting a car was a complete waste.

Enough of that. Let me move on to Sunday night. I didn’t go out Saturday cause I was not feeling at all well. But Sunday night we had to celebrate Kenyan independence. I put on some makeup and a little dress I had brought with me. Everyone kept telling me how good I looked, and when we went dancing the guys were fighting each other over who got to dance with me. Maybe it’s juvenile, but I enjoyed the attention. Especially when there were so many beautiful African women there to occupy their attention. The girls in the bathroom even told me they were jealous. The thing is, I get attention from people just for being white, but I know it’s because they think of me as rich, as an opportunity for them or as representing a culture they admire. This was different because they’re my friends and I know they were dancing with me cause they thought I was attractive and not cozying up to me for a free drink or to steal my phone. Whatever, you would have enjoyed it too.

Yesterday I got my hair braided by a bunch of masai warrior hair dressers. It was strange. They were all decked out in red checked kangas, beaded jewelry, and rubber sandals; all but carrying spears as they combed and braided people’s hair. There was a newspaper clipping on the wall with a headline that said “Masai Warriors Break Taboos”. That’s for sure. But they were really good. It took them only 4 hours to cover me with rasta-style twists. And they are very tight. It hurts a lot actually.
All the little girls who hang out around here in Chuda thought it was so cool. When I got back from the salon they were all touching it and telling me I look “so smart”. They know enough English that I can converse with them, which is fun. They like to come and visit me sometimes and take pictures with my camera and practice their English.

Well that pretty much brings me up to date. I went to bed early last night cause I was so tired from the weekend.
Pictures are coming. We just need to get some software installed on the computer to upload them onto. Then I’ll get them online. It’s so much easier for me to do computer stuff thee days since we have a computer here, and I really want to share pictures with you all. More than that, I want to save them so I don’t lose them all like last time.

So we are supposed to present our sewage system proposal today. I will write soon and let you know how it goes.

Bye for now!