Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Randomnicity

I miss having an oven with a temperature gauge. Sunday was my turn to make brunch. So I made a breakfast casserole, hash browns, and homemade cinnamon rolls. I could only guess how hot the oven was and it cooked twice as fast as I expected. The cinnamon rolls were a little burnt on the bottom but they were still edible.

Cali and Matthew are the only two kids at the orphanage can talk (well in full sentences any way). Whenever anyone walks in the room, Cali likes to shout out their name until they stop and talk to him. Maybe it is because I am the most likely to sit and play with him but I feel like there are days when every two seconds Cali is screaming "Katie, Katie, Katie." Matthew on the other hand never calls me Katie. Don't ask me why but for some strange reason Matty thinks my name is Juliet. Any time he tries to call me Juliet, I tell him my name is Katie and he promptly repeats it. But the next time he wants my attention, I am once more Juliet.

Yesterday was my mom's birthday. In order to talk to her and the rest of my family on Skype, I woke up early this morning (5:30 am Kenya time and 9:30 pm Illinois time). The time difference is a pain in the butt. It is so weird talking to people yesterday when it is today.

I am proud to announce that my heel has finally healed. When Amy and I were walking around the reef, a tiny piece of coral broke off in my heal. It was a small wound but it hurt like the dickens and it took forever to get better. Which makes me wonder if Amy still has her jellyfish sting mark.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Candy Request

Dear Family, Friends, and Halloween Lovers,

I need your help. On Halloween children in Kenya are deprived of the opportunity to dress up and demand candy. Sue, Michael, Tom, and I are to trying to right this injustice and share the gift of Halloween with countless Kenyans (and by this I mean the dozen or so people who will show up to our party). However, we could not possibly convey the full power and magic of Halloween without candy. So if you want to join in our mission to bring Halloween and the sugar induced coma that follows to the masses here is how you can help: go to the nearest store and buy a bag of candy (or if you have left over Labor Day parade candy that works too), find a manila envelope to put it in, and mail it to us. In as little as two weeks, that candy will travel the 8,000 miles to Kenya and you can take pride in the fact you helped spread the joy of Halloween. Thanks!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I have been in Kenya for three full months. Strange how it feels like time has flown by and yet it also seems like time passes so slowly. That doesn't make sense but just go with it. Any way, happy three month anniversary to me.

Monday, September 21, 2009

I meant to go to work today but it didn't turn out like I planned. As I was getting ready for work this morning I put my matatu money on the bed, instead of in my bag. So I got on the matatu and realized that I only had thirty shillings and it costs seventy shillings to get to Kakamega. Once I realized I was short, I got off at Kakunga which was the next stop. The way I figured it, I could go home and get some cash and make it back to the orphanage by ten o'clock but of course most of my work is over by then. Luckily, I wasn't far from Michael's orphanage, Tumaini. Seeing that today is a national holiday in Kenya anyway, I decided to call work and tell them I wouldn't make it in today. Instead I spent the day at Tumaini.

Tumaini is both an orphanage and a school. Michael teaches English and religion to fourth and fifth graders and today I took over his classes. First we went over the spelling and definition of vocab words. Next we played a spelling game. Then in CRE we read a story about a woman who was jealous of her stepdaughter's beauty and instead of killing the stepdaughter, she mistakenly kills her own child. After that happy story, we moved on to the story of Cain and Abel. During lunch and break periods we got to play games with the kids. It was a fun day.

So I guess this goes to show that things don't always turn out like you plan. At first I felt bad for not being at work but I was planning on visiting Tumaini one of these days. All's well that ends well, right? Tomorrow I just have to make sure I remember my bus fare.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Vitamins

Amy brought a veritable gold mine of things with her to Kenya, such as full bottles of shampoo and conditioner, clothes that fit me, boxes of macaroni and cheese, and a bottle of daily vitamins. Now in the US I would occasionally take a vitamin but it was never a big priority. Here in Kenya my diet is quite different and I think a daily vitamin could be beneficial (maybe it will stop my hair from falling out). But I have found that vitamins can have another purpose. Many people use a calendar to mark the passing of days, I have decided to use vitamins. I have counted out 57 vitamins, which will last me until I go home. That's right folks. I have 57 days left in Kenya, meaning I will leave on November 16 (and arrive on the 17th). I have enjoyed my time in Africa but I am ready to come home.

That brings me to my other news. I have decided to go back to Nigeria in January. This time we have figured out how to work through immigration issues and I will be able to spend the full year in Nigeria. NDMV and CMMB have given me a great opportunity and I am excited to go back.

So I will be home for six weeks. I can not put into words how very excited I am about seeing my friends and family again. Please let me know if and when you want to do something. See you soon!

Love from Africa,

Amy

So Amy is back in the good old United States. Tuesday she went to the orphanage with me in the morning and from there we traveled to Kisumu. We spent Tuesday afternoon buying a ridiculous amount of souviniers. It was almost as mouch fun as the day after Thanksgiving shopping. Then we saw the movie Up. Wednesday morning we grabbed breakfast at Nakumatt (complete with pastries and chunky milk). From there we went to Lake Victoria and took a boat ride among the hippos. Once back on dry land we ate lunch, packed up the suitcases, and went to the Kisumu airport. After saying our goodbyes, we went our seperate ways: Amy home to the land of milk and honey (by way of Nairobi and Istanbul) and I went back to my everyday life in Kenya.

I had so much fun with Amy. It was nice to have a vacation and do all of the touristy things in Kenya. But more importantly, I enjoyed having my sister around. I like having someone to talk to on the matatu or not eating dinner alone. The worst part of living in Africa is that I don't get to see my family, which really sucks. Amy's visit reminded me of how much fun it is to hang out with my sisters and now I can hardly wait to go home and see Becky and Megan too.

Amy, thanks for coming to Kenya. I had soo much fun with you and I miss you already.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Feeding the Giraffe

video
The Educational Value of Travel

The question is much discussed whether it is good for young people to travel. A better way of putting it would be to ask whether it is enough for educated man to know only his countrymen. For my part I am firmly convinced that anyone who only knows the people among whom he lives does not know mankind. But even admitting the utility of travel, does it follow that it is good for everybody? Far from it. It is only good for the few people who are strong enough in themselves to listen to the voice of error and not let themselves be seduced, and see examples of vice and not be led astray. Travel develops the natural bent and makes a man either good or bad. More come bad than good because more start off with an inclination to badness. But those who are well born and have a good nature which has been well trained, and those who travel with a definitive purpose of learning, all come back better than they went away.

Emile by Rousseau


Jambo everyone, this is Katie's sister Amy. I am currently visiting Katie in Kenya so I have decided to take over her blog for an entry. I have been here for two weeks and am leaving on Thursday. Oh what to say, where to begin.

While Katie and I were at the Indian Ocean I read Emile and came across the previously mentioned passage. I think it applies well to Katie. Volunteering in Africa is not easy, especially for an entire year. Don't get me wrong, I am very glad I made this trip but it was hard adjusting the first week. I knew I would suffer from culture shock and I knew my internal time clock would be out of whack for the duration of the trip. I also figured that since I've spent my last three summers in rural West Virginia that I'd be better able to adapt than most. With all the inner preparations I made I still was not ready for what I encountered. From always having to calculate prices from shillings to dollars, hearing the word mzungu and knowing people are talking about you to being followed home by a crowd of curious kids; I give kudos to Katie for all the little things she puts up with on a day to day basis.

Now that I've been here longer, I really like Kenya, especially Malava. There's still the frustrations of being one of the twenty-one people in a fourteen passenger van as well as not having running water for a few days as the water pump broke but things here are quite pleasant. All these are great experiences for me to have under my belt but I feel satisfied that in less than a week I will go back home to having meat in my diet again, a dishwasher, and my mosquito net free bed. I don't really enjoy watching tv but I'm really looking forward to sitting down in the living room and just kicking back in front of the tele.

I know Katie has already mentioned some of the stuff we did on our vacation but we have done some cool stuff! First, they drive on the left side of the road here! I have always wanted to ride on the left side! Second, Nairobi is south of the equator so it is currently winter. I have never been in a winter outside of the States! Also, for those of you wondering, I can't tell if the toilet flushes the opposite way south of the Equator. I felt so dumb but for the life of me I couldn't remember how a toilet flushes back home. Don't worry, I took a video of it so we can compare. There was nothing in the toilet when I flushed it in the video, I'm not that weird...

Onto bigger things, Katie and I went on a safari! It was by far one of the coolest things I have ever done in my life which says a lot because I have lived and continue to live quite an amazing life. We went to the elephant and rhino orphanage and saw the cutest babies ever! We got kissed by giraffes at the giraffe center. Talk about sloppy kisses! I went to the market and bought some cool stuff including custom made tire sandals. Katie and I also rode the night train to the beach and we stayed in chalets that had monkeys on their property. We rode a glass bottom boat and went snorkeling. I even got stung by a jellyfish! Yesterday we went to the rainforest and even got rained on! So many cool experiences!

Africa is not what I expected. It's not as different and isolated as I thought it would be. For instance people I have seen two Kenyans wearing Northern Illinois University gear. I really wanted to go up to them and say, "hey, I went to school there!" Also it is weird to see cars drive by with pictures of the Obamas on them and hear typical American music on the radio. At the same time, the poverty gets to me when I least expect it. Today when we went to church, the pews were literally pieces of wood made into benches and we complain how uncomfortable the pews can be back home. I am hoping when I come home to continue to appreciate everything in my life for as long as I live.

I don't think I could spend a year volunteering in a third world country. Actually I know I could but I just don't think I want to. I could handle the sacrifices of material items but it's just too far from my family and friends. I don't want to sound gushy but I really missed you Mom and Dad! Knowing I'm halfway around the world makes it feel that much farther.

I will soon be out of Africa and I feel I will be coming home a somewhat different person. I have opened my eyes and now see with a better global perspective. The world is not as big as it seems and people on other continents are just like us. We all struggle and work and laugh and love. I really do want world peace.
One more quick note, if anyone out there is looking to adopt, there is the cutest little boy here! Katie and I don't know if he'll ever get adopted because it is anticipated that he will never walk. He's really cute! Talk to Katie for more information!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Vacation

My vacation is coming to a close, I get on a bus to Malava in three hours. Here are some of the cool things I did this week:

1. Went on a retreat with my fellow volunteers in Nairobi
2. Ate a burrito. I have gone 9 months without Mexican food and that is much too long.
3. Amy came to Kenya. She is here until the 16th of September and I love hanging out with her.
4. Got kissed by a giraffe. On the lips. I have the pictures to prove it but I am not sure I want people to see them.
5. Went to Carnivore and ate my weight in meat. It was pretty tame but the menu did include ostrich and crocodile.
6. Saw the newest Harry Potter movie. I like the books better but it was nice to sit in an actual movie theatre.
7. Saw baby elephants and a baby rhino that were orphaned. They were so cute.
8. Wandered around aimlessly in Nairobi for most of the afternoon. I think Amy was a little worried we would be lost forever.
9. Went on a safari in Nairobi National Park. We saw zebras, warthogs, impala, buffaloes, giraffes, wildebeest, ostriches, and other animals.
10. Took the night train to Mombasa, on the coast. There were beds in our compartment so we got to sleep. It is a nice way to travel.
11. Went to Fort Jesus, built by the Portuguese in the 17th century
12. Saw the Indian Ocean
13. Took a glass bottom boat ride and went snorkeling on the reefs outside Diani beach

So I had some good times but now it is time to go home.