A Travellerspoint blog

Kids-umu is bustling

(we visit plenty of children's homes and feel like naive over-sized children ourselves as we negotiate our new environment)

semi-overcast 29 °C

As the thunder rumbles outside, we cannot escape the fact that we are in a completely different environment to 'home'. In the mornings we are often woken up to babies screaming and people doing their washing outside and gates screeching open at 5:30am. I think we now seem to sleep through the 5am call to prayer (although as a good 'missionary', I have already been up at 3am for an hour, ok?)
We are also still trying to negotiate Kisumu as 2 of the very few mzungus around, that means we can be hounded by hawkers trying to make us buy or get on their particular brand of transport, of which there are many- tuk tuks (little three wheeled petrol taxis) are my favourite, but you can get on the comfy seat on the back of a bike, get on a matatu (van packed with people), ride on the back of a motorbike or hire a taxi. Part of the problem of being white is that people view you as a naive and easy target, which means trying to charge a far higher taxi fare, ie getting charged a 80p to get into town on the back of a bike instead of 20p. This may not seem much, but it is the principle of it all, I think.
Often this new environment is confusing and a little unnerving. Only today we heard through a friend, Margaret, who runs a widows and orphans organisation that an Asian friend of hers was shot dead yesterday by a gang as he left his shop to take money to the bank at 9am! The even more scary thing is that it is the same shop we visited on Friday afternoon to pick up cloth for curtains. We actually had an idea that we were going to go on Saturday morning before our Swahili lesson at around 9am....
So these things play on your mind and it can be hard to know how to respond and how to have peace despite these circumstances. Today's sermon in the Anglican church we visited mentioned peace a number of times and that brought some comfort to Emma. It is also really hard to understand how a country which is supposedly 80% Christian has so much corruption and robbery. I suppose as the Kenyan lady in the cornershop was saying, most people are unemployed so are trying to survive however they can. I was trying to empathise and put myself in someone's shoes who has nothing when the TV shows adverts and TV programmes which could make you think you were living in a very well-off Western country.

Anyway, apart from these incidental issues..., we have had a productive week in terms of starting to get inolved a little here especially for Em. On Friday, we went with one of the REAP field workers, Pastor George, to Orongo where an enthusiastic and energetic lady called Florence runs the Orongo Widows and Orphans Programme.
Innovative and enthusiastic Florence

Innovative and enthusiastic Florence

She is also very involved in REAP's work and uses REAP's natural medicine teaching to help look after sick orphans which offsets medical costs. She says that even the local hospitals refer patients to her at times because of her knowledge. She is currently in the middle of building a fish farm which will provide much needed protein for the vulnerable people she supports.
Fish Pond

Fish Pond

Emma is hoping to volunteer in the nursery that Florence runs. There are about 30 kids in this nursery. Most of the orphans are looked after in the community by volunteer widows so there is no 'orphanage' as would be typical in the west. Orphans Nursery

Orphans Nursery

On Saturday, the two of us took a tuk-tuk together to visit New Life homes. It is a care home for babies and toddlers that have been abandoned by mothers for one reason or another. These babies are cared for at the home until they can hopefully be integrated into a adopting family. We met one of the families from Holland who were staying in Nairobi and adopting 2 children. For some reason there are a number of Dutch families adopting in Kenya at the moment. Anyway, it seemed well resourced and has a number of volunteers, so Em is not sure about being involved there.
Today (Sunday), we visited an English service in an Anglican church in town where the aforementioned Margaret attends. We also do our language lessons on the church property. (We are going to be learning kiswahili as well as the local tribal tongue Luo which is Obama's tribal group). After the service, we took a matatu to visit Margaret's orphanage out of town with a great view of Kisumu and Lake Victoria. Here there are about 35 vulnerable children being looked after. After some very long African introductions, we stayed for over an hour playing football and with the skipping rope. We are hoping to come every Sunday to play with the children and teach them some Sunday school as well. The orphanage seems quite under-resourced and Margaret was saying that on occasions, the children do without food.

Posted by africraigs 20:54

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