Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Kenya; too many stories to tell.

OK, is that your real hair or is it extensions.  "Hahaha, it's extensions!  You should get some!"  Chuckles over spaghetti lunch at my favorite restaurant.  It's a continuation of a conversation we've had before.  The rest of the staff join in, laughing, telling me I should get extensions!  Come on, guys; two weeks ago you were giving me a hard time for needing a haircut!

So tell me about your family.  "Well, I have two daughters, one 8 years old and the other not quite 2."  Is the older in school? "Yes, and she's doing well.  I have 6 brothers and 2 sisters on my mother's side.  I'm the first girl! (with a big smile).  "My father has two wives, so I have 3 more brothers and 2 more sisters."  Two wives?!  Can you do that in Kenya?  "Oh, yes.  It just depends on your pocket, you know.  He's 73 and works as a cleaner at the hotel.  He had a 3rd wife, but she left with one kid.  I live with my mom, and she takes care of my girls while I work."  I tipped much bigger than usual.  On the days she works, it's 8:30 AM until 10 or 11 PM.  She'll make $50 - $70 per month if things are good.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Guruguru, Kenya; the reason I was willing to go back.

The children we meet along the way are unfailingly polite and welcoming as are their families.  These are preschoolers in a program Bishop Samuel's church provides in Mariakani.  They sang a welcome song for us, and each one came and shook hands politely.  It's a great work for these kids by the church community.

Click on the photos for a larger view.
Bishop Samuel and I drove up to Guruguru today to see the area and incidentally, to meet the children you helped back to school.  It's a long way down a terrible road, of course.  Fortunately, we know Samuel and he's dedicated to serving the people there, so we have an in.

Guruguru used to be a bustling market center.  Back in the 70's when the area was fertile, folks gathered there to sell their fruit, vegetables, and milk.  They could raise pretty much anything in those days, even pineapples. Since the famine around 1980, the area has declined, the locals tell me.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Home for 4 days, then back to Kenya

Pretty girl; served me my lunch.  I asked her how long it took to do her cute hairdo.  I know guys don't ask those kinds of questions but I'm a foreigner and old enough to be her grandfather.  "Half an hour," she says laughing, "'cause it's extensions in back."  Extensions!??  This girl lives in a rustic village in Kenya and she does extensions?  Girls and their hair; gotta be a genetic thing.  Guys will probably never understand.

Arrived home on Sunday, unpacked everything into the washing machine, then at work on Monday, got a call mid-day asking if I'd be willing to go back to Kenya.  Of course.  :)  My heart is willing; my backside is tired of airplanes, though.

Airplane, airport, airplane, airport, airplane, airport...

Back in Kenya for less than 12 hours; I went across the street to have a coke at the bar; "Mr. Brian, Mr. Brian, I heard you had returned!"

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Kenya Changing

Advertising in Kenya is interesting.  The ad here is for a soap powder used in hand-washing clothes.  Most don't have machines to do the work; they wash by hand.  The very poor can't afford the soap, of course.

Huge billboards line the major thoroughfares of the Mombasa.  A coastal city with a large tourist population, Mombasa has many attractions and services.  The beaches are stunning.

For local folks though, it's a tough world.  Begging is a practiced art.  Presentation is everything.  "Sir if you'll sign this petition for the orphans school ..." along with a coerced donation; annoying, even though the fellow doing the scam lives in poverty and tells such lies in hopes of making enough to feed himself and perhaps a family as well.

Then there are the truthful ones.

This young fellow and his mom can be found beside the road; she's a paraplegic after the accident that killed her husband.  She sells trinkets to tourists as her only source of household income.  She lives with her grandmother and brother in a village nearby.  Since she had invited me, I came to her village and met them all.