Monday, April 27, 2009

April 27, - the first rains of the season


Greetings from Nguluni – Another long period of no rain, even though it is the start of the rainy season. I returned after two weeks of Peace Corps training in Nairobi to find out there has been no water anywhere in the town for over two weeks. Seems like the pump to the town is “broken”. I have had to have water delivered twice in two days as I had 2 weeks of laundry, a dirty house and drinking water to think about. The well water looks rather sketchy – sure hope PUR holds up to its reputation of being able to purify any water! Even the well is low and the fetchers are raising their rates for collecting water and delivering it to homes. Why not – a great opportunity to earn a few extra shilingi and fetching water from a 20 foot well is not my idea of fun. I’ve tried it and it is darn hard work.

Two weeks in Nairobi is LONG. We had meetings everyday from 8 – 5. It was great to see all my fellow PCVs and find out what they are up to at their sites. It is amazing how we are all on the same roller coaster of emotions and experiences even though we are miles apart. It seems like all are enjoying the Peace Corps experience and the opportunities to travel around Kenya.

Now that I am “official” I plan on doing a bit of traveling with a few other PCVs. I am not one to travel here by my self, so am trying to organize a couple of adventures. There is the wildebeest migration in the Maasi Mara in July and August, and a trip to Hell’s Gate, a hike/bike around a crater are in the plans. While in Nairobi I met another non-traditional volunteer and I plan to travel to her site for a weekend visit.
If I can get in shape I am going to hike Mt. Kenya – definitely taking whatever anti-altitude sickness meds are available. I understand there are various trails of varying difficulty, but the altitude will get you regardless of the route you take. I had very little exercise in Nairobi, and zero yoga/mediation. Now I am trying to get back into that routine. I actually bought a 4 x 6 rug so now I have something to do yoga on that will last. I gave my foam pad, as ripped as it was, to my neighbor for her son to sleep on.

I have had more fun playing with the kids in my compound – today we started to learn to play jacks. Quite the challenge using a pop bead as the ball and small stones as the jacks. I do have a small ball, but it is more fun to see what they can come up with to play with. We have been tracing body outlines with chalk with the children proudly writing their names on the chests. I love to see the smiles that these simple things bring to the kids. This is the reason I am here.

I missed my community when I was gone for the 2 weeks, and was greeted with smiles and yells of “Mutanu” when I returned to town. Even the mamas in my community came running to greet me. I think I am the entertainment in this community and when I am gone there is no one to laugh at/with. I think this is the Peace Corps experience I want to be having.

I have one more week off before classes start and I need to return to work. I have met a wonderful woman in the community, a retired nurse who has a health clinic, and she is taking me to meet the hoop-de-doos at the district level. From there, I hope that I can determine a HIV/Aids project to work on in my community. I will start attending first Thursday meetings of a group of 10-12 organizations that deal with HIV/Aids in town to see what I can help with. This is an area that scares me a lot – not that I might catch it, but my total ignorance as to the depth and despair that it has on Africa. Even though Peace Corps provided us with a font of information during training, it is still overwhelming.

One of the sites we visited in Nairobi is a recycling center. Plastic bags are everywhere – litter is a part of every landscape, but there are some folks trying to correct this. My community has had clean-ups in the past, but no one has organized one in a long time. Another project to look into to. Anyway, the point is, this recycling center in Nairobi collects clean plastic bags, gives them to weavers who make them into great baskets. So if my community can collect and clean bags, they should be able to make a few shilingi by selling them – or even better have some mamas learn how to weave and make the baskets to sell.

Some of the projects others are working with are beekeeping, harvesting butterflies, tree planting, irrigation, farming practices and on and on. If someone could figure out how to turn dust into water – they would make a fortune and save a nation.

As a reminder, my mailing address is:

Pat Novak, PCV
c/o Kenbric Vocational Training Centre
PO Box 539
Tala 90131

The Peace Corps address in Nairobi has changed, so mailing to Tala is the best way to go. I appreciate all the cards and letters you have sent – it makes my day when I walk to the posta and there is something waiting for me! I finally received Katie’s Christmas package (mailed Dec. 8) last week. The biscotti was still edible and the M&Ms tasty!

My best to all of you in the US – from my little township in Kenya. Life continues to be good. Kwa hereni.

An early morning ps – we had rain last night! Basins and buckets were put out again to catch the water falling from the roof. It has now stopped, but hopefully will start up again today. I will gratefully don my clean tennis shoes and walk to Tala in the rain! Take care my friends.

1 comment:

MikesTrips said...

Hi Pat- I think I posted to your blog some time back. I am a RPCV (India, 1965-67). You mention mamas who weave baskets. Are there many in your town? is there a weavers group which markets baskets in Nairobi? do you have a local contact who has a "in" with weavers? I am very interested in "kiondos" (baskets in Akamba, I believe), the kind woven with sisal, not plastic. Feedback will be appreciated. My wife Stell and I plan to visit Kenya either going or coming back from an Agra, India reunion of our old group scheduled for Nov 02-06 this year and hope to travel around paying brief visits to members of your group. Best,

My Great Family

My Great Family
Katie, Shannon, Lucy, Pat, Russ, Betsy

Contact Information

My email address is:

My snail mail address will be:
Pat Novak, PCV
        PO Box 539
        Tala   90131