“slowly, gently, softly, quietly; be calm, take it quietly, don’t excite yourself, never mind”
Everything here takes longer. We take longer to walk, to eat, to talk and share stories…even the sheesha seems to burn longer in Africa. As it was well put by a new classmate and fellow Strathmore teacher this week.”Krrreeese…I.A.T. Brotha. It’s African Time :)” So aside from Mr. 600, the name Chris sounds nothing like it does in North America. ‘Ch’ turns into a ‘K’, the R’s roll more than a Frenchman (trust me, the grease in my hair, and dirty moustach proves I am one) and the ‘isss’ from piss turns into an ‘ease’ from crease. Now, honestly, who thought longer than 2 seconds on the ‘Ch’ to a “K’. Wicked.
We were whisked away to Kibera for the evenings festivities, where Val had arranged a party at his parents place with some close friends, a special bottle of champaign for Steph (classy move on his part) and some delicious nyama choma, prepared straight from the grill. We got to meet Val’s parents and were treated like guests of honour – laughing and playing with terrible Kiswahili sayings we’ve learned over the last few days and generally sharing good nature stories of our friends and family back home in Canada. For those of you who 1) know Dorrow, and 2) have had the pleasure of having him meet your parents, I can assure you he was as weird as ever, hugging and kissing everyone in sight.
Now a little on some other adventures that have transpired over the last few days. First, we are booked for Safari! Yay! Of course we went with our friend Raphel’s company (remember that marketing inspiration from before?) and he was so grateful that we chose to do so. Understandable that this is normal hustle and flow, we still appreciate his sincerity and friendliness to no end. Even better news is that after booking (very important) safari the manager of the place overheard that I was looking to climb Kilimanjero and asked me to quote him a price. What I thought was lowball at $1300, he said he could beat and would throw in some of the gear as well. Chris was very straight faced and insisted that the Sauder safari for our team went off without a hitch, at which point we would return and discuss. I personally was near wetting myself with joy (that’s sweat for those who didn’t catch on) because this knocked off almost $500 of what we were willing to pay. Glad Chris kept a straight face because I was in no shape to contain any kind of emotion. It’s a good thing I have no emotion because I’m hair, but if I did have emotion I think I would have jumped across the table and kissed that man’s bald little head – or tickled it, I don’t know…what would hair do?
We started classes today with some of the University of Strathmore students that will be helping us teach over the next few weeks, and I must say they really are amazing people. I can’t get over how humbled over how many amazing people we are meeting along the way that truly want to make a difference. One character, Pato, you would take at first as a bit of a less serious, almost joker type of person. Then, out of the blue we find out that he’s from Kibera and started not one, but TWO social enterprises in Kibera. The first is GrannyNanny, which is a support network for elder women in the slums. The second is an education centre that helps single mothers keep their kids educated and away from substance abuse. He’s finishing an MBA in Entrepreneurship right now and then going to do his Phd in Children Psychology. Once completed he wants to start another business as a social worker / doctor in therapy help and awareness for youths who are subject to drugs and substance abuse, specifically alcohol since that runs rampant in Kibera youth. In class, he’s fun and playfull – in life he’s a god. Beryl, Sam, Edwin, Marvin, and Ryan all have similar passions and interests…all wanting to make a difference in the “pressured communities”. Funny, I came here to teach, but I’m doing ALL the learning so far.
We visited Kibera during the day today to check out our classroom and met some pretty amazing people who have been part of the Sauder Africa program in the past. We also got to meet a few students who will be joining us this year which was really awesome. All in all, considering life and love, everyone was soooo happy and really positive to be around. The little kids are hilarious too! They run around saying “howareyouuuu…howareyouuu” shaking your hand and bashfully giggling away to tell their friends that we were here. It’s pretty funny when you respond to them in Kiswahili… “mzuri, sana! Habari yako?” (Fine, thank you! How are you?) The kids’ faces lighten with joy and immediately start making fun of Dorrow’s terrible Swahili accent, all in good fun of course. Looks like he needs a few more classes before the kids let him play in the playground. 😉