I often find myself wondering how did I end up here? This is the story of my journey to Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa and beyond.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
To all those who made my stay in Africa possible, thank you so much. Not a day went by that I did not thank God for all of the support (both financial and emotional) that I have received. I am very blessed. Thank you.
Today is my last full day in Kenya and I don't know what to say. I am very excited about going home to see my family and friends. But I am also depressed about leaving the children at the orphanage. It is very bitter sweet.
One of the Sisters is interviewing the SNDs and the volunteers about their various ministries in Kenya. She asked us to describe the ministry. And that was easy: every day I wake up and make the 90 minute to 2 hour commute to the St. Albertos Children's Home and work in the baby wing. Mama Angelica took care of the little babies (under six months) and I would take care of the six month to two year olds. I would tie up the bed nets and wake the everyone up. Then I had to strip the cribs and change the sheets. Then Mama Vivian would give the kids their baths while I got them dressed. After everyone was changed we served our breakfast of porridge. From then on the day consisted of doing dishes and laundry, changing diapers, extra feedings, rocking fussy babies, and playing outside with the older kids.
The other question we were asked for the interview was what developments do you see in this ministry and I had to pause and think about my answer. In terms of finding homes for the children there is rarely improvement. For every child we find a family for, one more makes his or her way to us. It is not like we can work harder and tada there are no more orphans in Kenya. We have to accept that there will always be orphans in Kenya and the needs are greater than any single orphanage can provide. But every day each child has new developments and makes a little progress. The first time Matthew used the toilet was a day to celebrate. And I watched Monica learn to walk. The first time a new arrival manages to cope without screaming all day is a big step forward. Seeing Andrew come out of his shell and actually smile or even laugh every now and then is amazing progress. These things may not seem small and trivial to some people but that is what my work in Kenya was all about. Being there to witness the little milestones in a baby's life and simply loving these abandoned and discarded children.
For a long time I was just thinking about the good stuff that comes with going home: seeing my family, having modern conveniences again, not being gawked at for being white, etc. But I didn't stop to think about what I will miss. I will miss the peacefulness of walking the deserted road into town and the smell of pine and fresh cut flowers. I will miss Sunday brunch with Sue, Tom, and Michael. But mostly I will miss my babies because I worry what will happen to them. Will Kelly get his braces off and be able to walk or will he always be in a wheelchair? Will Monica take to her adoptive family right away or will it take time? Will Child Services find the family that abandoned Mohamed? How long will it be before Mathew forgets me? How many of the infants will live to celebrate their first birthday? I just have to hope that in the future they will be surrounded by people that love them. And although they will not remember me, I will always remember them and I will always love my babies.
So tomorrow I say goodbye to Kenya and get on a plane. It will not be as easy to leave as I thought it would be. Still the thought of what is waiting makes it better.
According to my calender it is November but that doesn't seem right to me. For one thing, it is like 90 degrees outside and it should not be that hot in November, even if I do live on the equator. And could someone please explain to me where the month of October went? If my sources are correct and I have no reason to doubt them, today is November 4th. That means I have twelve more days left in Kenya. While words cannot describe how excited I am to go home, see my family and friends, take a hot shower, etc. but I am about to panic. There is no way I will be ready to leave in twelve days. I haven't even started packing yet. And how am I supposed to say goodbye to the children at the orphanage, my babies? I need more time. Please excuse me while I freak out.
I had a really good Halloween. Friday I stopped at the market and bought two pumpkins and then met the boys for a beer. When we went back to their house, their dog had given birth to two of the cutest puppies I have ever seen. We thought the show was over but we were wrong. Tom won the puppy pool based on the date but I won the number of puppies, with the grand total of five. So we spent the evening admiring the puppies and carving pumpkins.
Saturday morning I went baboon hunting with Michael and his coworker Casey. Less than a mile from home is Malava Forest and while it is not designated as a national forest or anything it has colobus monkeys and baboons. We spent a good hour or two wandering around various trails. Michael took us to the area where he saw them on a previous hunt but alas no baboons. So we finally decided to call it quits and that all we would find were colobus monkeys. But as luck would have it, we came across a police road block. The police officers told us that they had relocated because baboons had taken over the previous site, half a kilometer away. So we walked back down the road and there were twenty or thirty baboons hanging out in the middle of the highway. I picked up some sugar cane and threw it to the baboons, who sat down and started eating away. We were about ten feet away and it was pretty cool.
After the baboon hunt we went back to the Michael and Tom's house for pumpkin soup, made by Jacquelin who does the boys' laundry. Lunch was followed by candy and lots of it. We combined the candy our family and friends sent us and I doubt there was every a larger bag of sugary goodness. Thank you soo much to everyone who contributed. We shared some candy with the kids we knew and after that we were nearly mobbed by the neighborhood children. I put on a Frankenstein mask and chased some of the kids. The looks of sheer terror I got out of that mask made it really feel like Halloween. We finished off the evening with a showing of Gremlins. So that is how you celebrate Halloween, Kenyan style.