Jambo! Habari yako? Nili ona pundamlia leo. Pia nika ona tiwiga.
Oh! Hello there! I am so sorry, I didn’t even realize I was going off in Swahili. (not really sorry though!) Now that I have been in Africa for over a month I am practically fluent! Ok, you got me, I am learning swahili but I also have a little cheat sheet here by my computer which enabled me to write out that sentence correctly. 🙂
I flew into Nairobi Kenya almost two weeks ago. I met up with Francis and Andrew Aho (they are the owners of the Mara West camp) and we fired up the land cruiser ready for our trip to my new home for the next 3 1/2 months. There were some very exciting things I saw along the way. I saw a building that had been cut in half because there was a road needing to be built and the building was simply in the way, so they chopped right in half! We Initially didn’t see much wildlife, but as we got farther and farther away from Nairobi, the animals started appearing. First, we saw tons of baboons on the side of the road. Then we turned on to this very bumpy dirt road and I saw hundreds of gazelles and zebras! When you have such beauty to look at through the window, a jolting six hour car ride isn’t really so bad.
We finally arrived just as a major thunder and lightening storm did too. I was shown where my new home was, and we took cover! It’s certainly different than any other home I’ve lived in, and I love it!
The following days consisted of a tour of the Africa Mission Services Clinic where I am working and the local school. I also received my first motorbike riding lessons. Francis showed me the important things and I practiced for about 15 minutes and then took off to the clinic for my first day! The 15-20 minute ride is absolutely spectacular. There is something amazing about riding on a dirt road with zebras, giraffe or just cattle lining the edges of the road. People wave and shout a hardy “Jambo!” and children jump up and down when they see you. Now, the roads are fairly rocky, but I have heard there has been a huge improvement over the months. However, the biggest obstacle I have faced are the cattle that like to travel on across the road. I sometimes wonder if the cows see me coming and are like “Here comes Krista. You’re up Bessy… block the road so she has to slow down and weave around us. Maybe we’ll see her spill today”. Anyhow, The ride is always amazing and there have been no spills yet!
Now let me tell you about the clinic I am working at. Mondays and Thursdays are our immunization day so we have tons of mamas and their babies coming in. We give shots, assess newborns, analyze blood and assess women’s pregnancies, in addition to anyone who comes in because they are not feeling well. Those are the busier days, and on the other days we see just the sick people! 🙂
I love immunization day because there are always tons of babies around. But one must be careful when holding these babies. I found that out the hard way… One day, I was waiting for the nurse to come back to discuss test results with the mother when I saw the cutest, chunkiest little baby in her arms. The baby was wearing a full blown snowsuit and I couldn’t help but ask her if I could hold her little eskimo. So I am cooing and making faces at this baby, and she is laughing and we are just having the greatest time when I suddenly feel like I’d peed myself. So I lifted up the baby and I saw a steady stream of fluid that my scrub pants quickly absorbed. That is the day I learned that the Maasai women over dress their children with every article of clothing possible, except diapers.
On the non baby days the clinic can get a little slow, so I walk up to the school to spend time with the kids! Currently, I am helping Francis with her sponsorship program. Some of these children come from very poor homes where their parents cannot afford education and would not be able to go to school if it wasn’t for a kind person with a giving a gracious heart. Since the sponsors have been so compassionate, Francis likes to make sure they receive something in return. So I have been going to the school to help the kids write letters to their sponsors. It was incredible to see the children take time to carefully write thank you’s. They spent over an hour with their letters so that their words and drawings came out perfect!
While I was helping the younger children, it was more difficult to communicate. I would smile and ask them a question, and they would smile and hide their face. So I walked over to this sweet little girl and tried to make conversation. I looked at her drawing, and had the translator ask if she was drawing a cow. The translator relayed the message and the girl giggled and hid her face. I asked the translator why she was hiding her face, and he told me it was because she was drawing a girl, not a cow. Oops! So clearly I am off to a very good start with these children. Also, for the record, I asked before she had clothing! The purple skirt really brings it together. So now you can be the judge… girl or cow? Either way, she worked very hard on it and I know her sponsor will love it! After that, they sang “Jesus Love is a bubblin’ over” and it really made my day! I look forward to spending much more quality time with them. 🙂
In closing, my time so far has been absolutely amazing. The camp I am staying at is wonderful and I am fed very well. Everyone I have met has been friendly and beyond welcoming. I am so excited to meet more kind faces and learn more about the Maasai culture!
Is anybody wondering what I wrote in Swahili in the first sentence? I said, “Hello! How are you? I saw a zebra today. And I saw a giraffe also” Simple, but all true! 🙂