Well not really the Israeli’s as a nation just one Israeli to be fair….for the last 2 weeks i have been lucky to have one of my very close friends visit me from Israel. We are a tight knit group of 4 very close friends but life has spun us all in different directions so after graduation we all went off to different countries (apart from me, i stayed in good ol’ Blighty). So this means we only really get to see each other for weddings and so on and so when Meital told me she was able to make the trip to Kenya to see me i was over the moon! I tried to get the other 2 over too but with PhD’s and what not its tricky! As i approach the end of my time here what i have appreciated the most is the incredible support and love i have had from family and friends. It has been wonderful to be able to take them all with me on this journey and as a result i think the work i have done and the MARS Project as a whole means as much to them as it does to me!
Now to introduce Meital to the Kenyan delights…
So the week started with a trip around Kisumu Town, namely the market. Meital is a big foody and loves to cook and experiment so the Kisumu market was truly her playground! I did have to reign her in a little otherwise we would have wound up making an earth oven in the back garden!
The following day we had been asked to help paint a mural in Tamu. My fellow GSK volunteer is setting up a youth club there to provide a separate space for young adolescents to meet and receive counselling and support on sexual health issues etc and had asked us to lend our somewhat artistic talents to the cause. Meital is pretty creative too so we stayed up the night before designing the mural and here’s the finished product….
It took about 20 shots before we got all 4 of us in the air!!
I had my final visits to the school this week before they closed for the Christmas holidays. It was great to take meital along to be a part of the MARS Project, particularly the last follow up sessions. This included a session with the special unit, these are the children with various disabilities and learning difficulties. I was amzed that the girls had all made their 6 towels here, I had said I would award them for making 4 so the fact they’d gone that bit further to make the 6 was incredible. And of course there was much singing and dancing with the last Ombeyi group….even learnt a few new songs!
I’m pleased to say we had an 82% adoption rate. This is the number of girls that had fully completed 6 towels and so were awarded with soap and lotion. Not that I’m a perfectionist but I think we could do better and hopefully next year they will! ;o)
So Friday is Shabbat so since we couldn’t take transport anywhere we took the opportunity to invite the braidy lady to the house to braid our hair! Something I have always wanted to get done but something my mother never allowed me to do. It took her 3 and a half hours to tame my mane and by the end of it I have to say we were slightly concerned we looked more bald than anything else. She was incredibly pleased with her work, since we both have curly hair the braids naturally had curly ends which is apparently a popular weave!
On the Sunday we made a trip to Kakamega Forest, Kenya’s only equatorial rainforest. It was really interesting and a really nice 5 hr walk seeing different species of trees, plants, and animals. The safari ants in particular were so fascinating to watch! Only downside was I walked into a tree and smacked my head and tried to climb a tree and fell down it! Impressive I know! Sounds hilarious but it proper hurt! :s On the way we also went past the equator so had a picture with the sign. Not as glamorous as other equator signs but hey ho!
On Monday we took a trip to Oyamo Island. This is fishing island on Lake Victoria and is known as one of the poorest islands. OGRA support the dispensary there so good ol’ Meshack took us over and gave us a guided tour. The HIV prevelance there is quite high there and there were a huge number of children on this island! But more noticeably I was shocked at the number of drunk/high villagers there were at midday! Apparently the fishing community believe you can’t go out to fish without a drink and I guess since they don’t fish till the evening they were warming up??
The kids are soo unbelievably cute!!
The following day I took Meital fishing. This was my chance to redeem myself and catch something larger than my little finger! Personally I think we were chatting and giggling way too loudly to be able to catch anything but Morris and Steven (the fishermen that took us) seemed to have no problems. Just as I was about to give in I caught a beast! Well actually it was a catfish but it was HUGE!! I was so impressed with myself! Though it has to be noted catfish are really ugly! A few minutes later Meital also caught a pretty reasonable sized tilapia! Score! Thats it Morris we can turn it around and head home! Job done.
Next I took Meital to the feeding centre to see if the soybeans were ready for harvest and to take some spare underwear and soap I had left over for the children. I was thoroughly gutted to see that the soybeans were dying! It seemed the centre had once again run out of fuel to pump any water and a week in this heat with no water is enough the cripple the crop field that I had literally poured sweat into digging and planting. This is one thing I have learnt about Kenya – sometimes big efforts are ruined by small acts of carelessness and poor planning. Well, you win some you lose some, but sustainability will be hard to achieve if this doesn’t change!
Come the weekend it was time to take the braids out. They had been in a week and to be perfectly honest we had quite itchy scalps. Now not to sound blunt but this was a most exasperating experience and almost drove us to get the clippers out and just shave our heads! No wonder my mother never allowed me to do this, it took over 9 hours to take the braids out!! I think we almost lost the will by the end!
To celebrate Meital’s last night in Africa we hit the club! (it looked like a diner, i’ve never seen so much seating in a club before!!) I have to say I had been dying to check it out and with my dancing bestie who best to check it out with! We had a fantastic night and a great experience, certainly well protected by the guys (Meshack, Victor, James and June – a professional bodyguard). We got dropped to the door and everything. I tell ya the guys in the UK could learn a thing or two! ;o)
So we finished the trip as we started with a trip to the ‘Laughing Buddha’ for milkshakes. I decided to try my very first Fallodah (I know I’m a terrible Indian) and actually quite enjoyed it! 🙂
So now I have 2 weeks to go before I fly home in which to write everything up and hand everything over! I think I will be sad to leave Kenya and all the wonderful people I have met here but my god I’m looking forward to a Dominos!!……. Oh and to see the hubby and the puppy! :p