Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A farewell to Kenya

It is soon time for Vionna and I to leave Kenya, although I don't know how this can be. It seems to me that we only arrived here a short while ago. The summer has just sped past leaving nothing but memory and an assortment of souvenirs. I have purchased baskets. We have discovered that I have a problem when it comes to baskets. They are so cheap and so beautiful here that whenever I see a street vendor with a pile of them I can't help but stop. I keep imagining them full of fruit and bread and yumminess. I have three so far, and I'm quite sure there will be another purchase before we fly off into the sunset.

We have been back in Nakuru since the beginning of August. It seems fitting to finish in the same town we started in. Vionna and I have developed a sort of a presence in the town. People here recognize us and the vendors don't try to trick us into buying nick nacks at outrageous prices anymore. I laughed when, on the first day, one of the market people thought he chould induce Vionna to buy a small basket for 3000 kenyan shillings. Vionna is a marvel when it comes to bartering. She got him down to I think it was 400 Ksh. Had it been me he would have taken me to the cleaners. I would be a great deal poorer if I didn't have Vionna to do my bargaining for me. I am horribly gullible when it comes to estimating an items price. The vendors I think must see me coming from a mile away and smile to themselves. They are always VERY happy to see me.

We have spent the past two weeks working at Rohi which is a privately funded charity school that takes in street kids, or kids that would have become street kids had they not been taken in. It truly is an amazing place and I am so fortunate to have met some of the students there. It astounds me the breadth of knowledge that these kids have and how polite and kind they are. In the context of their good nature, the life stories that come out of their mouths are surreal to say the least. One boy was telling me non-challantly that for the first 12 years of his life he lived off the streets and was addicted to opium and glue. Vionna and I have enjoyed working at Rohi so much and I think we have actually made a difference.

Rohi is a self sustaining school. The kids live on campus in dorms. They grow their own vegetables and keep their own livestock. Any extra produce is sold at the local market. Troy Sammons ( who we have been staying with) is the resident missionary veterinarian and we have been helping him in his work around the farm. I feel like I have learned so much from him since we have been here. Vionna and I spent the entire first day in study. It was clear that a wide breadth of knowledge would be required to look after the Rohi farm animals. I felt very ill equipped at first. We learned how to sort laying from non laying hens (the width of the pubic bones if anyone is curious), how to dehorn goats, how to castrate goats, spay and neuter cats, palpate cows, and how to raise swine properly. We have done all of these things since we have been here. It has been an eventful two weeks to say the least. However I think the most rewarding aspect of our stay has been the work we did with swine managment.

There is a community in Nakuru that squats on a very thin, rocky strip of land that surrounds the local dump. I probably don't need to say much more about the living conditions of these people. They are incredibly clever, however, in that they have capitalized on the food waste of the dump by raising pigs there. None of the farmers had ever had much formal training or education in swine husbandry however. The swine were allowed to roam at will amongst the refuse of the dump and their access to clean water was very sporadic. So Vionna, Troy, and I, along with a whole slew of Rohi students, put together a days worth presentations focused on how to raise and care for swine. Most of our first week at Rohi was spent in preperation for this conference which was set for the following tuesday. We had no idea how many, if any, of the farmers would show up. However, after setting up the chairs and having a delightful sing song to summon the flock, 50 to 60 people appeared and we had a very full house. The talks included: housing, nutrition, breeding, farrowing, water, disease mangment, zoonotic diseases, and record keeping. The talks were followed up with a quick field trip to one of the local farmers who started off at the dump with a single pig. He now owns a piece of land and raises more than 20 pigs. Quite a success story. However the real success story came a couple of days later when one of the Rohi social workers told us that the people at the dump had already started putting some of our tips into action. The farmers are not allowing their pigs to roam anymore, and they are also constructing more appropriate housing for their animals. I was blown away to think that change had been implemented so quickly. It was the crowning point of our summer for sure.

And now we are leaving. Tomorrow we will say goodbye to the Sammons and to Rohi for good. We have printed off copies of pictures taken during our stay here to give to some of the kids that we got to know quite well. After we make our goodbyes, we will spend the night at a lodge by one of the local lakes, and then return to Nairobi on thursday to fly out friday morning at the ghastly hour of 4 am. Thank you to everyone who made this trip possible. I know I can speak for both myself and Vionna when I say that it was truly life altering. We will miss all of the wonderful friends we made here. I now have a list of about 20 emails that I must add to my facebook account. To my family and friends in Canada, I miss you and I'll see you all soon!!


No comments: