Sunday, July 28, 2013

Goats 101

Last week after walking for 2 hours up hill I finally met Gertrude and Wayne for the first time. Gertrude is a beautiful female goat, 3 years of age who gave birth to baby Wayne a month and a half ago. There was no doubt in my mind that we were met to be. I brought them back from the mountain with the owner and we then proceeded to build a proper house for the two of them on the school ground. The kids were so happy to see them and Junior Wayne just loved all the cuddles and hugs. Mother Gertrude is more reserved and prefers that all keep a fair distance, although she will come around for a tasty bit of greens. I learned many things about goat farming very quickly!
-Never tie up two goats together
-Branches need to be hung, they like to reach up for their food
-Never leave goats in the hot sun for too long
-They need a block of salt and just a bit of fresh water when outdoors
-The house needs a double floor to keep the poo away
-Giving medicine in pill format is almost impossible
-Baby goats will go everywhere and follow anything that moves including children and poor Georgia
and I continue to learn more everyday and I believe that I would really enjoy goat farming when I retire from teaching! I love their strong and mischievous personality.....
I came to school the day after we got the goats to find Junior Wayne with his head in the big huge pot of porridge, lapping it all with great delight, his face all covered in sticky mush.....
Otherwise a lot has happened that has required immediate attention. More visits to the assistant chief and chief, police office in Mudate for countless hours.... hospital trips to schedule surgeries.....
Lots and lots of frustration but I always come back with a smile after kissing and playing with my children,
they are and always remain the reason I am doing what I am doing.
thanks for reading on my friends.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

My best friend

I reuinited with my sweet dog Georgia !! At first I thought that it was one of her babies from November but then I saw the little scar on her nose and knew it was my old girl!! She was so skinny, ribs showing, not one ounce of fat on her body. I gave her a bath with my lemon and honey soap and put a ribbon around her neck et voila! The cutest little mama in North Maragoli! She is always very close to me and people in the village find it very strange to see me walking around with a dog by my side. Dogs around here are not pets but working animals. Georgia is both. She is my guard dog and loyal companion. I made her a bed in a basquet and put a small pillow covered with a towel. She curls in it just like a cat and loves the comfort. At night I bring her bed to my room and place it beside my bed. If I make any moves or sounds she immediately perks her ears and stares at me. I know that she would protect me with her life. The children at the school were afraid of her but they are getting to know her and see that she will not hurt them. It will be very hard to say goodbye but hopefully we will see each other next year. In the meantime we are making the best of it!! I need to get bones the next market day and I plan to treat her and some of her friends to a feast! The place where she was staying before I came has another female dog and 3 beautiful little puppies!! I need to restrain myself, one dog is enough and I am too busy to deal with small puppies.
This weekend I will looking for goats. I have been asking around and I have a couple to visit. It is really difficult to find good milk goats in this area. Most of them are raised for meat only. Otherwise, I have been busy going to the hospital with children and today with Grace, George's mother, who will need to have a surgery. She is extremely weak at this time and I hope that all will go well. George has been a wonderful son as always and it is such a pleasure to have him around. He has planted beautiful flower bushes around the school for me as promised and will do the same around my little rental bungalow.
I am in the process of reorganizing the administration of our school and trying to get in touch with the officials to register the school. I had to let go two of our staff but all ended well and no hard feelings. I find this part of my job very difficult but it needs to be done. I have paid most of the oustanding bills this week but will need to use my own funds to pay the staff and food for the month of August as I have no access to the bank account in Canada and our bank account here is almost depleated.
The yogurt kitchen is back in business and all is running well. The electrical bill had not been paid in time in May and the power was cut. Therefore the probiotic culture was lost and all operation had to stop. Hopefully it will not happen again!!!
We only have a small number of children attending the school at this time. The teachers strike is still on and our children are either too sick to come or under the assumption that our school is closed as well. The staff is making community visits to ensure that all is well. I have no idea when the local teachers will be back at work, negotiations with the government are not progressing. They have been on strike for almost a month at this time.
Went to Kisumu with 3 of the staff yesterday to get supplies and we had a great girls' day! I came to school this morning with special wistling lollipops for everyone!! The children were so happy!!
Please send me comments if you can, It is always so nice to hear from my Canadian friends.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Our beautiful children

This morning I was really excited to go to school and see the children and staff. The building looks so clean and well cared for. Thanks to the Australian mamas we have our logo on the front of the school and also a mural with many kangaroos playing around the Australian flag! One exterior wall has the hands of the children in bright paint colors I just love it! Wonderful work Australian Mamas! I really miss you .......
The children were all in class when I arrived and my heart just melted to see them all looking so engaged and happy! I was asked for balloons right away but they were happy to settle for a special treat of bread and jam. So many have grown since last summer unfortunately there has been a lot of sickness as I mentioned earlier and I plan to go visits some of the children who are too sick to walk to school.
Later on in the day I came to Mbalee to go to the bank in order to pay some of the bills. What a surprise to run into Zipporah, our social worker, and my "dancing boy" Hudson. They were coming back from the clinic where he had a very big abcess on his finger opened and drained. No freezing of any kind of course and the poor child was in tears. It was time for a special treat, I took him to the local diner and he had a big Fanta with beef and chapatis and for desert a bag of crisps. The smile returned to his face and the pain a bit forgotten I hoped. I just adore this little man, he has a very special place in my heart.

When it gets a bit frustrating

I finally decided to fly to Kisumu as I was able to get a cheaper flight, although the trip by taxi to the airport is always costly. When I went in to check my luggage I was told that I had spent more than 24 since my arrival from Amsterdam so therefore I could only have 22kg. Of course, I had another bag that weight lots.... Spoke to the assistant manager, then the manager, then the super manager but no luck I had to pay $89.00 us! So much for the cheap flight.. I hope to never fly Kenya Airways again!!
I took a car from the airport and did some shopping for food and other necessities before heading for my little house. Although I had told my manager to get the house ready of course it was not. I had to move everything around and get dishes and stove from the locked closet...... I was not very happy but I did managed to make my bed in time for nightfall. My sleep was disturbed by the big birds hitting the tin  roof again and again and I needed an extra blanket , I did not remember the nights being so cold. In the morning I went out to fetch some water to boil for my "bath". Of course, there was a padlock on the water tank! I found a hundred keys in the house but none that fitted the lock. So I just brushed my teeth and used a wipe to clean up a bit. I just had to smile and remember that this is my Africa!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Habari!! I left Canada on July 5 and arrived in Nairobi on July 7 at 6:30 am. I was so tired when I arrived in Amsterdam that I splurged and rented a room right at the airport at the Yodel. It was fabulous! I would recommend it to anyone having a long lay over at the Amsterdam airport. The room was just a small cubicle but very cosy with a great bed and a shower. I woke up, had breakfast and was ready for the next stretch of the journey.  My friend was not able to meet me at the airport, he is really sick with pneumonia but I made it safely to my cheap little hotel in Nairobi. The staff as usual is very friendly and helpful and I had a great night sleep, 14 hours! I just woke up off and on to have a drink. I drank a big 1.5 litre of water throughout the night. I will be staying tonight as well and will either fly or take the bus tomorrow afternoon to my final destination. I am a bit concerned about taking the bus as my suitcases are very heavy to carry around and I need to purchase some food for the house as well. I will check on the price of the flight and the car rental to make it home. Everything seems to be a bit more expensive this year in Kenya. Both inflation and unemployment are quite high at this time. There is a teacher' strike on and it seems that it might be a long one. Both primary and secondary teachers are protesting against low wages and poor work conditions. Our little school of course is not affected as we are private. I guess it will mean a lot more kids running around in North Maragoli and I can expect many little visitors at my house and staring through the fence to check on Mama Louise. I will need to make sure that I have lots of candies for my friends!
The weather is quite cool at night and early morning but as usual it really warms up under the bright sunshine. I had my coffee on the little terasse of the hotel this morning facing the busy downtown street. Nothing has changed since last summer except for a big walking overpass connecting the downtown with the university. I am planning to use it this afternoon to get a bit of exercise, and then back to bed for a mid day nap! I know life is hard in Africa!!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Late Night Stroll...

Last Night after a thanksgiving-like dinner involving copious amounts of food prepared by Blake, including a stuffed rotisserie chicken, green beans, and red skin mashed potatoes(facilitated by our beautiful toaster oven) we embarked on a late night adventure. This was because Gillian had to do some culturing in the lab. We warmed ourselves with chai and left in the dark, only returning home twice because of things we left behind - thank goodness for our shiny new gum boots! (since the mud was as thick and sticky and clay!) We were guided by only a small flashlight and the amazing light of the stars, we made it to the school without tripping or falling but that's not for an lack of close calls! After many attempts of trying to tap the gas tank we realized that the gauge was faulty we needed to bring the autoclave and the probiotic culture back to the house to use our gas stove and we transformed our little kitchen into an impromptu lab! Two hours later (around 11pm) we accompanied Gillian back to the kitchen to put the bacteria into the incubator. This last journey was much colder and darker and our pace was quickened by the howling dogs in the distance (they're not all as gentle as our little Georgia!). Today after some lab training we are to meet with Natasha (Another Western Heads East Intern)who wants to film the goings on with the Kitchen and accompany us on some community visits. It is wonderful that she will also be here on Saturday for the Kitchen's grand opening so it will all be well documented. Blake and Gillian are Mama Louise's heroes right now, their patience and dedication are highly commendable! This project could never have happened without their contributions! Oh La La! Asante Sana! Mama Louise

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Let There Be Light!

Merembe Everyone! Its Blake here again writing for Mama Louise, After two months of waiting it has finally precisely 2:58 p.m. Kenya time on this Saturday afternoon we were graced with the benevolent light of the Kenya Power Company! It has taken a long time and a lot of anxiety to get this far, but all of us here are overjoyed with the results... and nobody even had to stage a protest in front of the Power company! Although, our electrician indulged in a very early happy hour and every step on the makeshift Maragoli ladder increased our anxiety, but in the end all was well and the day can be considered a great success! Due to the heavy rains our planned concert from George's band this afternoon had to be postponed until tomorrow. It would have been nice to celebrate our electrical victory with some wonderful music, but I guess that will have to wait. Speaking of George, I was hard at work this morning engineering two small plastic feeders for him to put in his Chicken Coop. George is so thankful for all the help from Mama Louise that he has volunteered to plant flowers all around the school to show his appreciation! Mama Louise has also just made a breakfast request for Sunday morning... my soon to be famous French Toast (It looks like if all else fails I'll be able to become a personal chef) It looks like we will be celebrating this electricity for thew next few days at least! I hope everyone is enjoying this wonderful last weekend in July! -Blake