Been wondering what time of the year is the best time to visit? I found this info online and it’s supposed to be representative of the “temprate highlands” like our village. We were told it’d be in the 80s most of the time, so I’m hoping this chart is a little off for our village…
||Wet Days (+0.25 mm)
Here is my info for Kenya – feel encouraged to write letters. I figure if all of my friends wrote even just once at some point during the year, then I’d easily have a letter per week. Not bad, eh? Feel free to write more often, or to send photos, or to send newsclippings, or to be creative with anything that fits in a flat envelope. Airmail only takes 7-10 days. And remember… packages don’t arrive so I’d recommend against sending anything larger than an envelope.
P.O. Box 323
M a l a v a 50103 Kenya
The post office rates will increase Jan 8, 2006. Under the new rate structure, international post cards to Kenya will cost $0.75 and letters to Kenya will cost $0.84 for a 1 oz letter. Oh, and as I’ve said before, visitors are welcome and encouraged!
Drink (noun) Kinywaji
Drink (verb) Kunywa
Excuse me! Samahani!
Help me, please! Nisaidie, tafadhali!
I am angry. Nimekasirika.
I am traveling. Ninasafiri.
I am happy. Nimefurahi.
I can speak Swahili. Ninaweza kusema Kiswahili.
I can’t speak Swahili. Siwezi kusema Kiswahili.
I love you! Ninakupenda!
Sorry! (apologize) Samahani!
Sorry! (sympathize) Pole!
Thank you! Asante!
Thank you very much! Asante sana!
When? Wakati gani?
Where are you going to? Unakwenda wapi?
It’s not much, but is a good start. :) Funny to think that last winter I was learning little bits of Arabic and putting it into use on my first trip to Africa. I was in Luxor last year on Christmas and had a relaxing day taking pics, seeing sites, and enjoying the views along the Nile. This Chirstmas I’m listening to my new CDs from Caroline and starting the Swahili audio lessons. Wish me luck! And best wishes to you for a lovely holiday wherever you may be celebrating!
I’m the proud new owner and student of two handy Swahili teaching guides thanks to two very generous friends!
Lovely Caroline sent a 4-CD box set of Swahili vocab audio lessons. I’ve uploaded them to the new iPod and am already listening! I’m very excited to report that it turns out I know more Swahili than I thought! Two Swahili words I already know: Ice cream & Radio. (Apparently they’re the same word in Swahili… how fantastically easy!). The word for subway was really long, and likely irrelevant, so I won’t be committing that to the brain quite yet. The word for lunch was also very long… but I suspect I’ll actually want to learn that one considering how much I like to eat. :)
I’m also the new owner of “Kiswahili Book 1 for Peace Corps Tanzania.” A friend of mine used to be on Peace Corps staff and was a trainer in a number of countries. He lent me the book, I had copies made of the whole 277 page book, and now I’m ready to learn! It has awful drawings, but the lessons and workbook are relevant and look helpful. Page 73 has a helpful list of five helpful words… perhaps this is telling of priorities of Peace Corps volunteers?
mpira wa migue – soccer
barua – a letter
pombe – alcohol
bia – beer
rafiki – friend
Friends, and strangers and family now too, continue to amaze me with their unnecessary generosity! Entertaining to see many recent gifts focus on my (lack of) entertainment in Kenya. Here’s a highlight of recent birthday gifts that are very sweet and greatly appreciated:
- Grundig FR200 AM/FM Shortwave World Band Crank Radio and Light – The FR200 can function for up to an hour with only ninety seconds of hand cranking. Its built-in generator means that you’ll have access to local news and information–as well as to news from around the world. The unit’s four-band tuning receives AM, FM, SW1 (shortwave 1), and SW2 stations, and an included rechargeable battery pack provides reliable, renewable, internal power for everyday use. The radio houses a 2.5-inch speaker. A .125-inch stereo headphone jack offers private listening, a built-in light comes in handy during lights-out emergencies, and the unit’s fine-tuning knob makes it easy to dial in hard-to-tune stations. A 360-degree telescope antenna provides the best radio signal for FM and SW, while a built-in AM antenna provides high sensitivity for AM reception. (Thanks Laura & Ajit!)
- iTunes music store gift certificate – It’ll be put to very good use! I’ve actually been dying to pick up some old country (like the George Straight and Randy Travis stuff I used to listen to in the 80s), want some Los Lobos, and need that one “Hey Ya” song by Outkast. (Thanks Dieter & Emily!)
- audible.com gift certificate – books on mp3 for your iPod! I started listening to some of the samples and totally got hooked! Reminds me of my days driving back and forth from Houston to Austin and listening to books on tape… only with a much newer, more extensive, more impressive, more hi-tech selection than the outdated selections that used to be at the Edloe location of the Houston Public Library. (Thanks JD!)
- I even received a gift from a third stranger… always especially fun and overwhelming. (The first and second strangers were in Seattle). I’m now the owner of more mp3s for the iPod and of a very light weight day pack! I think they were goodbye gifts, not birthday, but the CD is music related so I’m posting it anyway. (Thanks Josh!)
- The talented Miss Cindy wrote me an IOU for one birthday song about me. Yep, she plays guitar and she sings, and she’s going to compose a tune just for me when we’re in Kenya! How fabulous is that?!
- A birthday check. My grandpa always says cash is always just the right size and color. :) And while not directly music related, it will be put to use paying off part of my iPod. :) (Thanks Mom and Dad!)
Thanks everyone! And thanks for the other goodbye gifts not mentioned here and thanks for the many emails and calls and songs and food and drinks on my birthday! Y’all really are too good to me! I truly feel quite blessed and lucky to have so many fantastic people in my life!
I also purchased the Women’s Marmot Driclime Windshirt last week… an ultra light fleece that’s wind proof and water proof. It’s quite an elusive jacket… REI no longer carries it (not sure why), other outdoor stores no longer carry it, and I had to search and find it online. And I ordered it a week ago. And got a note today saying backcountry.com no longer carries it and that they apologize for the inconvenience. Of course, you might not think it a terribly sincere email since when you visit the website to see if it’s updated but it still says they currently have 151 in stock. Hmp.
So anyway… I went to another website today and ordered another one. Let’s hope this website is more reliable and actually has 8, blue, size M in stock like they say. Wish me luck!
UPDATE: Arg!!! Just got a call from mgear.com and turns out they no longer have it in stock either! Despite their website that says they currently have lots in stock! Geez people… you’re killing me here.
UPDATE: I spent some time calling about a dozen vendors who froogle thought had it in stock. Turns out only a few of those actually have Medium. So I ordered a third one, from a phone rep who assures me they really have it, and hope it’s going to arrive on schedule.
UPDATE: Only now I’m debating the other brand that Josh mentioned. I like zip front better than pull over, but for $60 less, I might be willing if all else is equal. Must do more research. Oh, the saga…
On a less meaningful, but just as exciting note, I bought an iPod today! After much debate, I opted to go for the 60gb iPod video version instead of older versions since the 60gb will…
- Hold much, much more music
- Charge faster than the older versions (4 hrs instead of 5)
- Play music longer (battery lasts 20 hrs instead of 15)
I also bought an iPod cover, an AC adapter so I can charge it w/out having to bring my computer to Africa, and and an iPod FM transmitter (since it was free with rebate… I’m always a sucker for anything remotely useful that’s “free after rebate”). I’m still slowly uploading CDs to my laptop… though I tend to get distracted by other things and haven’t even made it through a third of my CDs yet. Current count: 1844 songs, 7gb. Wish me luck!
I believe you can probably learn a great deal about people based on their personal heros. So, here’s a little more insight into Cindy. She adores Wangari Maathai, and adores her for good reason. If the internet is correct and up to date… Wangari Maathai is a Kenyan environmental and political activist. In 2004 she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for “her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace” — the first African woman to receive the award. The Honorable Doctor Maathai is also an elected member of Parliament and is currently the Assistant Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources in the government of President Mwai Kibaki.
On that note, I’ll leave you with this quote that Cindy loves and that I also think is quite fantastic and very worthy of sharing.
“I don’t really know why I care so much. I just have something inside me that tells me that there is a problem and I have got to do something about it. So I am doing something about it. I think that is what I would call the god in me; and all of us have a god in us and that god is the spirit that unites all life, everything that is on this planet. And it must be this voice that is telling me to do something and I’m sure it is the same voice that is speaking to everybody on this planet, at least everybody who seems to be concerned about the fate of this world, the fate of this planet.”
- Wangari Maathai
Part I: Photos
Cindy – Then
Cindy – Now
Part II: Words
I realize that I’ve written things like we’re going to do this or we’re going to do that, but haven’t said too much yet about the “we.” Well, that would be me and Cindy. Just about a month ago my nonprofit hired Cindy as the other volunteer to join me in Kenya and I’m very excited about the choice. Not sure how much Cindy wants out here on the web for all the world to see, but she’s okay with seeing her name in print so we’ll just go with it for a minute.
Let’s start with the basics: Cindy’s great! I’ve known her for about 3+ months, which I admit isn’t that long in the grand scheme of things. However, I can tell you that we’ve worked closely together for the past few months, have spent much time together, and had many long conversations. I feel pretty comfortable with her, and do feel close to her, and on most days I like to fool myself into thinking I’ve got a fairly decent idea of what makes her tick. Not to say we necessarily share tons of common traits beyond a passion for youth work, social justice, community empowerment, and environmentalism. However, there are some additional things worthy of mentioning:
- Cindy lived in Haiti for 9 years growing up, and eventually moved back to the United States in middle school. I don’t think living abroad as a small child makes you an expert in cultural competence, power dynamics, or international travel, but I do think Cindy’s got a good head on her shoulders and believe she’s very committed to approaching life through a social justice lens. And as a side note, speaking of power dynamics, I think that’s Cindy’s favorite topic.
- Cindy worked as an early childhood educator and nanny for the past few years. In fact, we actually worked at the SAME childcare center at the SAME moment in history about four years ago. We even lived just a mile or two apart from each other and the childcare center was just two streets down from my old apartment. Quite a bizarre connection, eh? I don’t remember knowing her while working there, but others have confirmed we were both there at the same time. We do remember mutual coworkers and her friend Sarah apparently even remembers me. Crazy. As usual, Seattle continues to be such a small world!
- We both spent a couple of months in Costa Rica and have both traveled some in Central America. (We traveled about 10 years apart, but it’s still fun to have share some common experiences in life).
- Cindy and I both drove Ford Tempos at earlier points in our lives directly before going car-less in Seattle.
- I like Cindy, and I like this vocab word too as it relates to part of her role in Kenya:
in•cite, verb, “To provoke and urge on.”
- I guess more than anything else you should know that she’s a wonderfully competent employee and coworker, and more importantly is a wonderful person. I am genuinely excited about the idea of spending the next year living and working with her, and I’m thankful I’ll have her there looking out for me, challenging me, teaching me, encouraging me, and supporting me.
[Side note: It's a good thing that Cindy's laid back as I'm hoping for visitors who might stay for a spell at our house! Looks like Sameer is the latest brave soul to jump on the "It's cool to visit Cat" bandwagon! Yay Sameer!]
It’s not awful, but it is disappointing. The executive director last week retracted the original plan for 4 weeks of vacation in Kenya. I currently work for the same agency and recieve 4 weeks of vacation in the states, and it was supposed to carry over with the same amount (according to both the US executive director and the director of the clinic we’re going to work at). Apparently, that’s no longer the case. 10 days and holidays only. Disappointing to be sure, but not awful… Just means I’ll need to stay longer and travel after my service commitment is up.
I returned home from Baltimore tonight after 10 long days of training. The training went really well and was full of inspirational women who’ve traveled the globe working in peace, justice, and community development projects. I met women who’d spent 16 years in Peru, 19 years in Brazil, 20 years in Kenya, 10 years in the Congo, 5 years in Malaysia, etc. Inspiring really doesn’t begin to convey the dedication, conviction, perseverance, and commitment to social justice and change that these women demonstrate on a daily basis! It was great to hear their perspective on cultural competence, great to learn more about solution focused therapy, and great to get my mind thinking about tough topics. I’ll be working with youth with disabilities in a small village in a rural part of the country. One example of a tough topic: When you’re working in a community/culture that believes in Animism, doesn’t have access to health care, and doesn’t always accept youth with disabilities… what do I say to a parent who thinks their child’s disability is a curse on the family? What do I say when they think their child is God’s punishment for the parents sins? Other fun questions, though less tough, concern developing a fabulously healthy relationship when living and working with the same woman for the next 365 days (is there such thing as too much time together)? Anyway, the training was great and our hosts were generous and terrific as always.
Outside of training, C and I spent many late nights processing the training, and chatting about life, Kenya, dynamics, culture, fears, hopes, and so much more. We’re incredibly different than each other in many powerful aspects and we process very differently. It’s all very intriguing how the personal dynamics have begun to play out and will continue to play out over the next year. Some hours I think we’re not compatible at all, but the other 99.44% of the time I know she’s intelligent, gifted, beautiful, silly, and fabulous… and I genuinely couldn’t imagine anyone else I’d rather spend the year with in Kenya. Our plane ride back from Baltimore to Houston tonight was really nice and it’s crazy to think how close we are after only knowing each other for a few months. In the words of our executive director, we’ve “become fast friends.” In my words, she’s a weirdo and I love her.
Earlier this week, after dinner with a lay missioner, we rented a movie which gave me a healthy chance to refocus my energy elsewhere: poverty and despair in India. And hope. Born Into Brothels was amazing on so many levels. Intersections from my experience working with youth and education, my desire for international service work, women and children’s rights, my photography hobby, and my memories of my travels in India. Highly recommended, not just for photo girls doing social service with kids who want to go back to India. Sadly, this beautiful film isn’t helping me to squelch my desire to go back to India… makes me want to go, or to do similar projects in other areas, or to maybe join Zana (me and three million others I’m sure). For now, I’m thankful my partner wanted to get the movie the other night, and I’m thankful for my two new cameras arriving this month, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to continue working with kids this coming year in Africa.