Tuesday, September 12, 2006

September 1 update - a bit later

Here is a blog update I wrote the last time I was in Kisumu but there was a problem with the network and I didn't have time to upload it before I had to leave to go home. So, here it is.

Well, I didn’t write any updates during the last week. I’m definitely getting going on research and staying very busy. I visited a youth group’s meeting on Saturday and sat in a pit helping them fill bags of dirt to start tea seedlings, while talking about the group and about life. We talked about the culture of getting married and waiting or not to have children in Kenya and the U.S. We talked about AIDS and abstinence. I tried to encourage them that there are a lot of good things in Kenya and even in the village, and that life is not perfect and easy in the U.S.

On Monday, I addressed all the community members at the village council meeting and introduced myself and explained a bit about my research (all in Swahili!) People seemed to appreciate what I was doing. On Monday afternoon, I met with one potential research assistant.

On Tuesday, I spent most of the day waiting for the electricity to come at Khumsalaba so that I could charge my computer and the photo printer so that I could finish printing the pictures for the youth group. For everyone who is participating in my research by talking to me or showing me the work they’re doing, I’m taking a picture of them or them with their family to give them. Most people don’t have cameras, so people have only a few pictures of themselves. Anyway, I got to Khumslaba and there was no electricity, but I decided to wait because I knew it was the only day I would have a chance to go. So I wrote a letter to my brother (which I had planned to do anyway), I read a little, I greeted everybody who came and went at the shop. At lunch time, Benina, the shopkeeper fed me, and then I went to the post office and talked to a number of people selling food in the market. After that I helped Benina weigh and bag sugar, sold sodas and flour and got change for people. It was fun, I felt like I was able to be a bit helpful, and overall I wasn’t feeling too tired and impatient. I was supposed to meet with the second potential research assistant that afternoon, so my host dad sent both of them to Khumsalaba. I bought them sodas and mandazi and we talked again about what I was looking for. As soon as they came (about 4pm) the electricity came and I was able to mostly charge one of the batteries for my computer and the printer before heading home before dark.

On Wednesday and Thursday, we (the two research assistants and I) spent all day at a capacity building seminar for community groups in the location. It was very interesting and everyone learned a lot, including me! After the first day, I was able to explain to the girls a little bit more the importance of having good notes in research and the kinds of things that are important to write down. On Thursday they did an excellent job and I think together we’ll be able to do some really good work. I also think that we’ll be able to be good friends, which is what I was praying for. On Thursday, I had a chance to talk to the group (for about 45 minutes, in Swahili, after having a 30 minute discussion outside during the break about development and Kenya vs. the U.S. in Swahili!) when I explained my research, answered questions about it (and explained exactly the ways that I could and couldn’t help – ideas, opportunities for reflection, etc and NOT with money. In fact I started to say that I wish I could help with money, but then said that I wouldn’t want to bring lots of money because then they would depend on me and not themselves.) Then I discussed with the group the best way for me to learn from them about the work that they’re doing in their groups. They had some good ideas and we made a plan for how to proceed. Hurray!

So everything’s going well. It rains every afternoon. This is good, though annoying sometimes when you need to go somewhere (like home after a long day!) and have to wait an hour until the rain stops, because it means that people can finish planting maize and that the maize that’s been planted will germinate and grow. I’m still getting used to not being able to go anywhere after dark. At home, so many things happen in the evening and it’s a time you can see people – like for dinner. There have been at least a half dozen people who have tried to come see me this week only to find me gone. By the time I get home, it’s almost dark. Around here, everything has to be done between 7am and 7pm, including work and socializing. I’ll definitely have to work on finding a balance between all the things I need to do and the times of the day in which I can do them. Please pray that I would not be anxious about the things I need to do, but would be able instead to plan well and then let it go.

Well, I’d better go. There was more I wanted to do and it’s time to go. Love you all,

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