I’m in Kakamega, Kenya. It is Tuesday, the 22nd, and I arrived on Sunday late
afternoon. The bus ride was wonderful – through beautiful green country with lots of planted trees. I read Wangari Maathai’s autobiography this past year and I see the results of her bid to replant her country. She received a Nobel prize for this. I liked the feel as we climbed more or less steadily up and away from Nairobi, out of the Rift Valley. I passed the ‘Pink Flamingo’ lake by the town of Nakaru – but either I’m colour blind (which I am) or they weren’t there. Needs exploring.
I have full run of a large duplex attached to Norm and Cheryl’s. Their home doubles as the office. We will be working together next week. Cheryl is a bio-chemist and last worked as a lab-technician at the Penticton hospital while Norm, a chemist, was a horticulturalist with the Naramata co-op. They also had an orchard on the Penticton bench. Not sure retired is the word; they changed focus, sold the orchard, and have been coming here to volunteer for 6 or more years.
I will help out with the interviews with the new girls applying to get 4 year Canadian Harambee scholarships. This should take me through February. Not likely I’ll be needed much after this as Norm and Cheryl can handle on their own. I’ve got this week to learn what to do, how to contribute. The girl’s interviews begin next Monday once the results of their final primary school exams are published.
I went shopping yesterday – Monday – and am cooking in my new home. Fully equipped kitchen. Fabulous home really. I bought dog biscuits for the two dogs. So nice to be able to pat a dog.
I have a new phone # as I had to switch to another server: 0719 466 112
It was more than time to leave Arusha such that I loved the trip here and I like it here. Nairobi was nice too and not as terrifying as I thought it might be. I felt very comfortable on the streets. Helps that everyone speaks English. I am on edge horribly when I can’t speak the language. Many Africans I meet are multilingual.
People are as capable here as anywhere. I really haven’t much to offer here but what I do have is important. What I will lend with these interviews is impartiality. The parents of the girls are more likely to trust a foreigner than a national with a decision of a life time. It is excellent that the 4th year school graduates do the initial screening. Finally a bottom up approach. Vying for limited scholarships is highly competitive and some families will fabricate need and even supply counterfeit grades. There will be way more applicants than positions. Only 60 this year. Successful applicants rely on funding, mostly from Canadian donors and the Canadian International Development Agency. The students commitment is to honesty, to hard work and to maintain their grades.