A visit to a Kenyan orphanageby kenya on Jun. 16, 2011, under Life
Dispatch from Kenya
June 15, 2011
Collin Maguire, St. Gregory Class of ’11
Kenya has helped to open my eyes to an entire new world – a world unconcerned with the luxuries of life, but happy all the same. This morning while Lauren Stern and I walked to school, one of our fellow teachers, Mr. Knighte ( ka-ni-te) spotted us making our way up the dirt road and offered us both a ride to school on his motorcycle. Riding three people to a motorcycle is not what I had in mind this morning, so we continued our walk, with many of our students in tow. Watching Mr. Kinighte riding up a bumpy dirt road, and thinking of me and Lauren on the back made my walk with the students all the more enjoyable.
This week the students have been doing standardized testing, so the days have been fairly uneventful. I am an official proctor! I have found that some of the students here attempt to share answers on their tests, which forces me to be the ‘bad guy.’ My discipline consists of soft taps on the back of the head with a rolled up paper. To dissuade cheating I walk up and down the rows holding my paper switch, and giving students dirty looks when I spot them leaning too far one way or the other. I think I have gained their respect now, for they don’t cheat anymore.
Today at lunch Lauren and I assisted in cooking the lunch for the teachers. We made ugali, which is a traditional Kikuyu dish that is basically cooked cornmeal and water. To go with the thick paste of cornmeal is a stew of spinach and onions. It is actually pretty good. The Kenyans eat the meal with their hands, molding the ugali into a small bowl and scooping up the vegetable stew. I have yet to attempt the process and am happy so use a spoon. The teachers laugh at me and tell me that soon I will be a real Kenyan and eat with my hands, like they do.
At the end of the school day, students have been practicing poems, songs and dances in preparation for a big competition tomorrow at a nearby school. Tomorrow morning we will walk our students to the competition at Irigithathi School, which is where Emily Hansen and Lauren Bolhack are teaching. All of the other schools will be there as well, so it will be a big event. My students are extremely excited and I am sure that all the work they have put into their performances and costumes will pay off.
After school I went with Christine, Alex, Athena, Emily, and Annie to Lipela orphanage down the dirt road. The children were very excited to see us and even happier to see that we had brought balloons with us. My arms are sore from all the lifting and throwing around of children I had to do. The strange thing about this orphanage was that none of the children were actually up for adoption. Some of the children at the orphanage had lost their parents to AIDS, others were brought there by parents who were no longer able to keep them due to poverty. There are 35 children at the orphanage, and all seemed so happy and lively.
Tonight for dinner we split up into two groups and went to dinner at the homes of two employees who work at Batian’s View. We were served traditional Kikuyu dishes of mukimo, which is mashed up potatoes, beans and corn, as well as chapatti, which is the Kenyan version of flat bread. With this were several cups of chai. The food was delicious and the hospitality was extraordinary. At the end of the night the women of the household taught us one of their songs and we all danced inside of her house. We just returned from her house and now I am ready to go to bed for I have an early morning ahead of me.
So long from Kenya,