Thursday, 2 August 2012

Just Snip it

Hello again everyone,

This has been a week filled with less work and more observation, a little hard on our Dutch Calvinist work ethic.  We have been checking into the progress of all the projects we have helped to start – three homes and a protected water spring.  Omwabini has a very strict and correct policy that the families and communities must be highly involved in all of their projects in order for them to take ownership of and care for the project themselves.  Otherwise people think they can just sit back and not only let the white mzungus pay for the project, but also do all the work and they will just reap the benefits.   It’s an excellent policy, but we feel much more useful diving in and working.  We have learned to sit back and let the African laid back culture soak in a little more.

It is also important to them that we see how the money we raised is being put to use.  Some of the money was ear marked for education, so we have also been introduced to a few students who are in technical schools or university and are sponsored by Omwabini.  Their tuition was in arrears and the fund had has allowed their fees to be paid.  These funds have also paid for tuition for many of the secondary school children (our grades 9-12), so we paid a visit to these schools again and took pictures of those students.

Yesterday (Wednesday) we could hardly complain about lack of work.  We worked really hard that day!   (Well, aside from the fact that we left 2 hours later than expected, getting up at 5:00 am for naught)  We drove about 2 ½ hours to get to a place called Busia, 1 km from the Ugandan border. (A journey we were told would take 1 ½ hours.  No surprise there).  There we were to complete an entire house in a day, up to the first coat of mud.  Well, due to our late start and a huge afternoon rain squall (resulting in thick, slippery mud), we only got as far as the framing.  However, this was a lot of work given the intense heat of the day and the extremely hard packed ground.  The 2 foot post holes are dug using only an iron rod and metal bowls for scooping dirt.  That took a long time and man did we fry!!  The roofs are also constructed differently there – a hip roof instead of a gable, so there was a lot more work to do on the trusses.  By 6:30 pm we were pretty tired and finally heading home – the rest of the house will be finished after we leave.  The recipient’s old home had partially caved in and they could no longer live there.  He is an HIV carrier and his wife and 6 children are all HIV positive.  His wife is not expected to live much longer.

(As an aside – I am now typing this by flashlight as once again the power is out.  It cuts out every day for any period of time and it usually coincides with our daily rain shower/downpour J)

I forgot to mention earlier that on Sunday Andrew cooked up the two boxes of macaroni and cheese that he had brought – his favourite comfort food.  Redempta let him use the charcoal cooker outside instead of cooking over the fire in the smoky cookhouse.  He gave most of the macaroni to the many people living in the other house in our compound, and they loved it.

One last thing of note…I may have mentioned that now that it is August, it’s a big month in this part of Kenya.  Every two years August is CIRCUMCISION month.  Yup, and we get to be here.  Could life get any better! Woohoo.  Boys between 10 and 16 are circumcised throughout this month.  What we have seen so far:  Boys in groups of 2-5 jogging up and down the streets rattling musical type instruments, blowing whistles and singing.  As the day goes on they are joined by more and more males (relatives, etc).  This will carry on all day and all night with lots of dancing and drinking of a home made beer.  Then the naked boys are covered in a coat of cold river mud and surrounded by these many people as they noisily make their way down the street on the way to the actual event.  The boys are kept closely surrounded by the others so that no curse can reach them (causing a botched snip).  Witch craft is very common here.  When we saw this crowd waving sticks and shouting coming down the street towards us, we at first thought is was a riot!  Thankfully, it was just a REALLY happy, if rowdy, crowd on their way to a SNIPPING procedure.  Just a note – not all boys have it done this way.  Many, including the Omwabini boys, go the hospital for the event.

Tomorrow we have the special ceremony dedicating the newly protected well for the community.  Many speeches in Swahili….sounds like we will make use of our acquired cultural patience!

How much mud can you work in and carry on your shoe?

Andrew cooking his Mac and Cheese supper by head lamp

Girls from Omwabini attending a girls secondary public school

Orphan girls from Omwabini

The Circumcision "riot" dancing down the street

The Busia house that is being replaced, house #4

Written on the Busia house wall: "Only God knows my problems so that shut out and leave me alone Jesus is able"

Here comes the rain again!

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