How Do I……Take a Bath?

I meant to do a series of “How Do I” posts (maybe 4 or 5 of them) when I first got to my site last year but I never got around to it….so here I go!

How do I take a bath in my village?

First, I get water from the large water tank right outside of the girls dorm where my house is located. The water tank collects rainwater so I basically bath with rainwater that’s been sitting in the tank for a while.  I bring the water inside to my “washroom” which is just a empty room with a small hole for water to drain outside.

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I then boil the water on my kerosene stove that sits on the floor because I never got around to finding a table for my “kitchen” (besides most Kenyans do their cooking on the floor).

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After dumping the boiled water into my bath basin, I add some cold water to make sure I don’t burn myself with the hot water. I selected this particular basin color and design because it reminded me of a swimming pool.

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Then I splash water using my hands onto myself, soap up, and splash water again to rinse off. I use a cup to pour water into my hair to rinse the shampoo out.

The kids at my school bath with cold rainwater and they bath outside in a semi-enclosed area (no roof). Oftentimes on the weekends, I’ll see the older kids bathing the younger kids out in the field in front of the dorms.  The headmaster and deputy headmaster have a small stall next to a choo (outhouse) that they use to bath in.

Two Weeks Down

We’re getting ready to start the 3rd week of the new term yet it feels like we’re still on the first day of school!

Kids are still arriving. Schedule has not been established…heck, for a few days I didn’t even know what time school was supposed to start in the mornings. We’re still switching around who teaches which classes.

Then there was the Major Parties Election on Thursday which ran into Friday and may continue into Monday due to loss/confusion of where the ballots have been placed. There have been reports of protests and chaos in nearby towns but my village has been quiet. I’ve been keeping a low profile the last few days…..

Most schools have been closed due to the elections even though our school is supposedly still open (they hold most elections at schools but not at ours)…most teachers haven’t showed up to teach on those days.

I’ve learned to just go with the flow and to be prepared for anything at anytime when it comes to teaching.

Oh yes, and my Water Charity water tank project is officially completed if you want to check out the site…go here.

Water Charity

I submitted a water project through Water Charity (awesome organization that funds projects that can be completed for under $555) for a 5,000L water tank to collect rainwater at my school.  To read more about my project go to http://appropriateprojects.com/node/1273. 

A group of high school seniors in the States saw my project online and sold bottles of water to raise money to fully fund my project.  Pretty awesome, eh?

I was able to work with the headmistress on this project.  She was able to bargain and get some good prices (costs below are in KSH) for the materials.

5,000L KenTank:  36,000/=

2 bags of cement:  1,740/=

1 PVC pipe:  1,100/=

2 Tuff. PVC bends:  500/=

1 Socket:  70/=

2 Backnuts:  300/=

1 Collection G:  850/=

2kg Binding wire:  500/=

1 Tap Peglar:  800/=

Labor:  1,000/= or 2,00/= (I don’t remember the exact cost now)

It took a couple of weeks for the tank to be completely installed and set up.

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What Did You Do For Christmas?

There aren’t really any visual signs of Christmas in the village except for an increase in goats and chicken being transported. People usually don’t exchange gifts (unless they’re visiting then they bring a live goat or chicken) or decorate trees.  I’m not even sure if they know about Santa Claus.

One of the teachers asked Classes 4, 5, and 7 to tell us what they did for Christmas.

Almost all the kids described their Christmas Day the same way which consisted of them working, cleaning, eating (chicken, goat, or fish with ugali), and going to church.

First Day of School…..Sorta….

We kind of had school today, we kind of didn’t. This is the second week of the term but kids have been slow to arrive. We had assembly this morning with our 30 kids (out of around 90) and all the classrooms were finally unlocked today but not all the tables were in the classrooms. So, Classes 4, 5, and 7 were in one room……and there were only 10 kids total.

Kenya starts their new school year in January so all the kids have moved up a Class (my Class 4 kiddos are now in Class 5).

More kids arrived  this afternoon so I think I’ll be able to teach tomorrow. That is if the schedule gets set up, the schedule hasn’t been finalized.  I was able to grab the textbooks and prepare my lesson plans for tomorrow….woot!

I ended up just hanging out with the kids all morning and part of the afternoon. I bought in a few books that my parents had sent and the kids went crazy over them! They asked a million questions and tried to teach themselves how to draw (a couple of drawing books). Fun time!IMG_20130114_100816 IMG_20130114_092741 IMG_20130114_101048 Sorry about the low quality, I was sneaking pictures on my phone.

Term 3 Break

After Class 8 completed their exams, I took off for Malindi (on the coast) to visit Sara. I was able to complete my PADI Advanced SCUBA diving certification (AMAZING diving sites!) while I was there. Then I went to Iten to visit Jenny. Iten produces a lot of well known Kenya long distance runners and a lot of runners from other countries come to train in Iten as well (high altitude center). Good times were had and I got to see more of Kenya! I also learned to appreciate what is unique to my area of Kenya compared to other parts of Kenya.

Quick Update for December 2012

I didn’t blog at all during December so here’s a recap!

Half Marathon

I completed my first half-marathon (for World AIDS Day)…..that I didn’t train for…..and ended up walking half of it.  I could have finished it in barely under 3 hours if I hadn’t gotten utterly confused and had to follow another Kenyan who was confused as well…I ended up finishing it in a bit over 3 hours (slowpoke!)  The course wasn’t clearly marked and for a good 40-50 minutes we (me + random Kenyan) were the only runners/walkers from the race in sight on a confusing course….so we just walked the last 5k of it. It was fun to run among Kenyans who are known for their amazing long distance running skills.

It was nothing like races in the States where streets are blocked off.  We literally ran in the curbs of busy streets with matatus passing us (touts yelling at us) while breathing in diesel fumes.  We ran on busy sidewalks (almost like trying to run in NYC during rush hour).  We ran through mud.  We ran on rocky dirt roads.  We had to stop to cross busy streets.  We ran through road construction which included having to jump down from a pipe.  We ran through the slums.  We had kids chasing after us.  Water was given to us in plastic bags that we had to bite a hole through to drink.  We had to avoid cows, dogs, and goats.  We ran near Lake Victoria.  We got offers from pikpik (motorcycles) drivers to help us cheat by taking us closer to the finish line. Some Kenyans ran barefooted, some ran with their purses, and some even ran in jeans.

The winner of the half-marathon race ran it in 1:06:33 and the marathon winner finished in under 2 hours.

Just such an awesome experience that I was able to share with about 10 other PCVs who participated as well.

ESCALATORS

Cities and towns in Kenya are just a whole another world compared to villages.  Every once in a while I’ll go to Nakumatt (like Wal-Mart) and I will see a family who is obviously from the village.  I went to Nakumatt last week and saw a family who was trying to figure out how to use the escalators.  It involved screaming kids who were terrified of getting on and a woman who almost fell off trying to get on it.  They were literally just standing and staring at the escalators for a good 15 minutes before they even tried to get on.  Then they were so nervous about trying to figure out how to step off once they got to the bottom.

I give them major kudos for trying it!  Can you imagine never seeing escalators in your life and then trying to figure out how to use it?

PRAYER DAY, KCPEs, and CLASS 8

Our school had a Prayer Day for Class 8 the day before KCPEs.  Parents, a few teachers, and pastors came to pray for Class 8 students to do well on their exams.

Class 8 students are now done with primary school and awaiting their KCPE test results (this is the only thing that matters after 9 years of primary school…no other tests….no grades….very serious exam, so serious that each school has an armed officer with an AK-47 standing guard during the exams) which will decide if and which secondary school they go to this year.

I was sad to see them leave!

Hello 2013!

Another year has gone by.

When I left for Kenya in October of 2011, I thought 2013 would never ever arrive….and now it’s somehow sneaked upon me.

Time is a funny thing.

When I talk to family or friends back in the States it’s been “I’ll see you in two years” or “I’ll see you next year.”

Now……it’s “I’ll see you THIS year!”

Woot!  It’s kind of a bittersweet feeling.  I can’t wait to see family and friends back in the States again but it’s kind of sad knowing I’ll never see my kiddos again after I complete my service in December this year.  It makes me want to be in two different countries at the exact same time.

15 months down, 11 more to go…..2nd year herreee I come!

You’ve Been Lost

“You’ve been lost….”

This is a common saying among Kenyans. It took me a while to used to that saying….my first impulsive reaction was always to say something like “No, I’ve just been reading in my house…..No, I’m here, I’m not lost….No, I went to Nairobi but wasn’t lost.”

Basically, if someone doesn’t see you for a while they’ll say “you’ve been lost.” At first this used to bother me because I thought they were giving me a hard time about when I would escape to my house for an hour or two to read or prepare lessons for classes. With time I realized that it simply meant that they were acknowledging they hadn’t seen me in a while, wanted to know if things were okay, and where I had been. Kind of a way to start a conversation.

With time I’ve come to like this saying…..

Anyways, it’s been a while since my last blog post so will do a quick bullet October-November recap!

  • I met up with some Americans from the Indiana Hemophilia and Thrombosis Center (IHTC) along with some Kenyan medical professionals in Eldoret. They were very kind and welcoming. I had a wonderful weekend in Eldoret and Nakuru with them. I also discussed with one of the Kenyan nurses about how to take a family history for genetic evaluation of Hemophilia disorders. It was fascinating to see the cultural differences (family is defined differently in Kenya than in America, a person’s mother may not be her/his biological mother but actually her/his sister) which did make it a bit of a challenge (fun challenge) trying to figure out how to incorporate the cultural differences with my family history intake knowledge. They also started one of the first Kenya newborn screening tests for Sickle Cell Disease during the week I was visiting. They’re hoping to do a Hemophilia/Sickle Cell Disease outreach within the next few months in my market town so am hoping I can be involved with that somehow.
  • The following weekend (first weekend of November) I headed to Kisii with a couple of PCVs to celebrate one of their birthdays.
  • Then another PCV visited my site to discuss a few things. We both are on the Peace Corps DAG (Deaf Advocate Group) committee and want to set up a KYLC (Kenya Youth Leadership Camp) for deaf secondary students in Kenya. We were able to recruit a deaf Kenyan to help us out with this but it’ll be a slow process trying to get it started.
  • I headed to Nairobi for a few days for a Peace Corps DPS (Diversity Peer Support) committee meeting. It was so much fun to catch up with some PCVs who I hadn’t seen since April.
  • I spent Thanksgiving in Nakuru with a diverse group (PCVs, Americans, and one person from China who is in Kenya teaching Chinese at a university).
  • School closed last Tuesday (November 20th) so Classes 0-7 went home but Class 8 kids are still here preparing for their KCPE exams (Kenya Certification of Primary Education) which will start next week.

Ok, I think I’m all caught up….and I’m no longer lost, I’ve been found!