Location: FAQs, UK
"Did you have a nice time" to which the quick answer is "brill, had really nice time" a more in depth and thoughtful answer...
"tis still hard to sayt whether "a nice time" is an approprite answer, there were times where you could be happy and express it - i.e looking at rocks, dancing swahili stylie, seeing fantastic things - but for most part being confronted with poverty, very different living conditions, and children with nothing was not really ever going to be something to enjoy"
"Was it great?"
well, would do it again... not necessarily a "great" thing... necessary for everyone to see to be able to appreciate hardships and differing attitudes and cultures. Definitely amazing for me to have had the opportunity, not sure why but "great" doesn't seem to fit
"Did you just fall in love with the children?"
So so so yes - it creeps up on you but at the end of your time you will inevitably have become attatched to the children, they're the most amazing thing there. You learn of their backgrounds, see their personalities, children are amazing full stop.
Wow, I bet you missed your children, bet they were glad to see you?
A bizaare mix of feelings - knowing they'd be well looked after takes "worrying concern away" - same as resting in the knowledge that if anything serious was to happen my phone was on for texts. Missed boys as much as I thought I would but on return never expected to be so anxious to see them - love them all the more - 4 weeks is a long time for missing young people! Jack lost 2 teeth whilst I was away :/ Not sure could go away from boys for that length of time again for a while!!
Location: ...the crater..., Kenya
Sunday 29th Oct
amazing how enthusiastic you can be getting out of bed if you know that once up and at the pool you can schnooze til your hearts content in the sunshine - love the cheshire cat feeling of basking in heat:) - did this until lunch until the itch for geological sightseeing became too great. Gathered volunteers (aka sunday sunbathers) hired a taxi with driver Peter and headed up to the Menegai crater - supposedly the second largest crater in the world. Journey up to the crater rim was amazingly smooth - being in a car with suspension was worth every penny:) People live all the way up to the top and use the highly fertile ash laden soil for crops, the crater is amazing
Location: ...sat cont, Kenya
so we partied the night away at Summit - huge open plan night club part of a hotel with a pool table area, big dance floor, eating bits and loads of open plan seating
Arrived in style dressed up to the nines on Boddah Boddahs - a surreal experience by night imagining you're something out of ET on the elaborate cycle conraptions racing Kate and Monica through the darkened streets of Nakuru :/
Tip for future volunteers..
Is always an idea to check the condition of your Boddah Boddah transport before sitting on - two hand holds to grip onto are more advantageous than one... two foot rests are very much more advantageous than one
Danced the night away to much swahili music finished off at he end by heavy dance, rock and pop (including Rick Astley...) - have never actually jumped up and down on a dance floor in a rigorous fashion before - was a case of "when in Rome do as the Romans" - twas quite leberating:)
Location: Nakuru, Kenya
Friday 28th and Sat 29th
School was good again - has been a tough week planning lessons and playing teacher. Maths and english with a mix of gymnastics/acrobatics and games are our specialities - although a brilliant revelation... Sue has mapped a competancies sheet of the abilities of each pupil in the class based on the test we did on Wednesday. I have written a further test based on gaps identified and building on current knowledge, we'll teach planned material until next Wednesday then the further test will assess how effective our teaching has been! has to be done! The children love love love the tests, it's really amamzing to watch how interested they are in them! Teachers are loving how they at a glance they can see who is yet to grasp which concepts of maths/english.
Chatting to other volunteers in the class below we have also moved Heleskine (10 year old boy) into our class. Bright spark that he is, always completes his work early, gets bored and distracts the rest of the class - watched him for a bit, looked at his work, talked with project manager who spoke to teachers who spoke to Helespine - happy as Larry he's picked a friend in our class to sit with and is settling in well:)
Quiet night on Friday - internet crashed 5 minutes after arrival so pootled off home on the Matatu (which did't stop where we needed it to... mustn't have banged hard enough...) watched "unfaithful" for the second time, then watched "Crash" but that stopped and started itself throughout entire movie so took ages to watch - did So Doku at same time to fill in the gaps...
Cockroaches in the kitchen were spotted a while ago, but when they're in the loo... lights are now left on so we can see what we're treading on/next to - what's sat next to us whilst on the loo... tmi?
Woke up and couldn't get out of bed quick enough at the prospect of a day relaxing at the Merica hotel - see willy nilly photos pic 2:) up 6.30, at the merica and first to bagsy a sun bed at 8am
Visited the market for a first time, on the second visit met Lawrence who named all other previous volunteers and urged me not to buy from the market - he'd take me to the wholesalers - went back to Merica to get myself a back-up-buddy (you just never know!!!) and set off walking - wow - you would not believe the amount of stuff I have bought for 10 squiddilies - practically enough to set up a small shop on Beach road! All from an aladins cave of a what looks like a junk shop from the outside. Got some lovely lovely bits and bobs and got Kate and Andie (jewellery making boffs) strings of amber beads for 22p
Back at the Merica - reapply sun cream for a third time, swim for a bit in the shockingly icy water of the pool (it's one of those where everyone looks to watch your facial expressions and to giggle at your discomfort!) cool down, eat dinner internet cafe - out tonight at Summit restaurant/hotel/club then hopefully another busy day relaxing tomorrow :)
Location: ...cont, Kenya
I left the diary on the Saturday day...
Saturday night we danced the night away at Summit - huge open plan club part of a hotel, with a pool table area, dance floor and loads of open seating - drank Vodka (£3 for a a half bottle) which we obviously drank sparingly...
We arrived in style at Summit dressed to the nines on Boddah boddahs - (felt like something out of ET racing Kate and Monica through the darkened streets of Nakuru).
Tip for future volunteers - Is always a good idea to check that the boddah boddah you select has the right number of peddles and handle bars for you as a passenger - will dispell the need for you to hold on for your life with one hand whilst graspings footwear of the dangling foot of no foot rest in order to prevent shoe loss...
good night, much swahili stylie dancing followed by the strangest western rock, pop (including Rick Astley) and rave music aka "a foreign mix of music" - never physically jumped up and down on a dance floor before - twas quite liberating :)
Location: Nakuru, Kenya
The search for the Bamboo Flute and the Piano you play with your thumbs...
The Lion King is well reknowned in the west yet no-one in Kenya has ever heard of it... the Leap-Pad book of The Lion King (childrens electronic toy thing) tells the story then gives educational background on African culture, it even explains native music and instruments. On hearing that mom was going to Africa, Jack (eldest son) pronounced that he would very much like a bamboo flute (like illustrated in book), he kindly then helped brother Ryan in choosing an instrument mom could bring home - described as 'piano you play with your thumbs...'
I have scoured the shops, asked the Masai and even braved seeming interested at markets by enquiring after both - believe me, there are some very odd looking instruments out here but nothing that would pass scrutiny of Jack. Mom back home has joined the hunt for the bamboo flute but as yet to no avail. (thanks mom x)
Today I found the piano you play with your thumbs. (Must eat weetabix before return to haggle proper!) Still no bamboo flute, the search continues...
Protection of your amazing hair do is v important - it is perfectly acceptable to don a showercap when the rain comes - even in town shopping or walking down the street (wanted to take photo but felt rude)
Collecting buckets of food for dinner am stopped by a man called Fred. Fred is wearing a referees outfit (am always getting stopped - everyone wants to speak to the white people...) - anyway chat chat chat (children gather around the white person) - chat a bit more and before I know it I have four children storking my right hand - three feeling my ankle and a 5 year old boy holding my left hand, was also told by a man in his late 20's this morning that 'white people are so smooth and shiny'. They like our soft skin!
White visitors with any length of hair should be aware of the fascination this will inspire in the Kenyans.. sat on the Matatu and the person (adult or child) behind you will almost always stroke your hair - if you turn around they'll pretend they're not....
Good day today - classroom looked good, children behaved well, did gymnastics and mad stuff on the mats - brilliant.
Have been sat here typing for 2 hrs 37 minutes and haven't done photies yet - sad that Sue and I will be the only volunteers in our house until next Monday - others staying longer have gone up to Mount Kenya (we're classed as the part-timers only being here for a month) desperatly wanted to conquer the mountain but not enough time - anyway, not too keen on spending 5 hours in a matatu there and another 5 hours back + reports of 14 eggs a week and dinners of Ugali and spinach are not really that appealing for your last weekend - must diligently await arrival of boxes + shop and relax, will be a relief when supplies arrive :)
Location: The Walk, Kenya
Sue spent much time last night preparing a 3 page maths test for the whole class - then photocopied the sheets this morning and brought them to school - bit dubious as to how it was going to go but I have never seen children to captivated! The quietest and most engrossed they've been yet. Crouched over their benches, seated where placed to distract from copying, barely coming up for air! Break time comes and we can't budge them, they love it!
Cut plastic sheeting for gym mats, mark up with pencil and set Rodgers off with sewing - very productive day. Mats are brillliant. Children leave at 3.30 - carpenters deliver on time - so good - whole classroom appears from out of nowhere - will so so help - our room was the only one of the three left where the children worked sitting on the floor or with their books on their laps - will help in keeping them where they're supposed to be:)
Short entry again, (playing catch up) we went out Wed night to send Marion off in style - having been in Kenya for nearly 9 weeks now, is jetting off to Mombasa to relax on the beaches before heading home - back to the poshed up place in town (Merica hotel) then head out to Dimples (see guide books !)
Marion disappears down an open drain but once pulled out recovers rather well (3-8 foot ditches line all walkways and disguise themselves as shallow puddles at night). Dimples is empty (much like last time really) not that we bother that no-one else is dancing, until they bother with us... Amber is physically restrained on the dance floor with men nearly fighting to dance with her - good humour - nothing rough:) Sparks in the corner of the club did bother us for a while, strategically positioned ourselves near the well lit exit just in case (no leccy laws here? 15 yr old on news this morning, electricuted in own bathroom:/)
Got home and promptly sat around for tea and biscuits before bed:)
Location: The Walk, Kenya
Set off early this morning to investigate gym mat meterials - take Sue and the money Sue's sister kindly donated. Buy the foam and perfect blue plastic gym mat covering - couldn't be more perfect - grab a tut-tut and head off in style to The Walk. Rodgers is a man of many talents and agreed to shop for us after school for the nylon type thread to sew the mats - getting giddy again...
The aim of getting the dancing/singing teacher is to not only have fun with the children but the give them skills so that they can raise the profile of the project and attract funding. SCANN project has an acrobatic troupe - belive me they are very very good but the man who trains them costs - need to blag him to come and visit for free (note mission!) Their acrobatics is well kopwn and does attract funding. Mats are essential - no grass here - have had Rebecca flying on my feet and tried rolly pollies on the dust yard butwould not encourage the children to have a go. Mats will be valuable if they want to teach the children acrobatics. To be continued....
Boys are back in class - do the 'pleased you're back' thing - boys are too cool to let on much but come to me later - tis very heart warming. Make sure they know they've been missed. Have a new edition to the class too - Zack - really pulls the other boys together - good to see. Do role play and encounter many 'challenges' - a group at the age where sitting next to a member of the opposite sex is just not done, still role plays go well, we get there in the end.
Check with carpenters that whole load of classroom furniture will still be ready tomorrow at 4pm (200 squid from Sues sister - 50 quid to furnish our classroom - teachers desk, four tables for children and 8 accompanying benches!) we are assured all is on track:) Not very eventful evening - watch 2 DVDs go to bed
Location: The Walk, Kenya
Monday 24th - Sue's Birthday
Spot some foam sheets and some plastic coating materials - the idea of the gym mat is born... watch this space - will investigate further...
We normally have teacher Chris heading our class, but he's off this whole week :/ It's Sue, myself and interpretter Rodgers (wicked at sewing and making sandals and stuff)
We normally have 12 or 13 in our class but today we had 10. Two of the boys were absent, had never really thought of the scenario really where children may opt not to come. Their sister was in class but not really herself - set up lesson with amazing lesson planner Sue, then took Rodgers - interpreter (makes me think of Buck Rodgers!!!) and set about the mini Q and A session with the sister.
It's really tough here, some of the children have really awful backgrounds but as it happened, nothing sinister, the boys had not attended on Saturday along with a few girls - Monday the girls had had to wash all utensils used for the lunch cooking as a punishment - the boys decided to be absent to avoid their tasks...
Still, worrying all the same - it's always a relief to see them all sat in class in the morning - love it when they show me their new clothes (newly found off the dump, quite grubby but 'new'), they are happy and in the most, eager to learn and be set work. If anyone is ever off, the project manager (absent this week) will make sure that the family and child is ok. We did a show of hands the other day on who had ever visited a doctor and none of them ever had - it's too expensive, cuts get infected easily when they're srambling barefoot on the tip after school - their noses are constantly running - yes the daily handshake of all in the classroom brings a mix of feelings - am glad they don't kiss me on the cheek like they do with Mama Sue :) Am getting really attached to the kids :/
Whole day has a melancholy air, the class even with two missing is so much quieter, still the work is good and the others (except sister) don't seem to bother.
After school pootle to town in the Matatu, visit the internet cafe (get discounts now because so regular) - leave when the power cuts off and head home to get ready for Sues night out - still got that down feeling which isn't helped as we pass the town ruins where everyone throws their rubbish and spot a boy sat stoned sniffing glue like it's going out of fashion - no-one is shocked, they all carry on with their own business -
am greeted with candle light (no leccy in Langa Langa either) Comes back on just in time - shower, pile into Matatu - head up town. Sue expects just us from our house to be there but all other i-to-i'ers have come - tis really nice to have a proper knees up, eat well and have a nice smelling western toilet facility with a hand dryer and everything...
After meal head back home - (7 in a taxi) stop off at Landladys pub across the way from the apartment to be treated to Celine Dion video - only stay for one...