Tuesday, 12 September 2006

Home...




Hi Everyone,

just to let you know that I arrived home safe and well. I think that it became obvious from my emails that I would be looking to return to Kenya and Scann. I have managed to secure a temporary contract with MOL Shipping until Christmas, during which time I will be trying to sort things out in the UK for me to return to 'my boys' in early 2007.

If any of you wish to have any more information regarding my trip then drop me a line and I will arrange to provide you with as much detail as I can, if any of you are interested in sponsoring or donating any funding to SCANN or help with my next trip please let me know, anything would be gratefully accepted.

I found it very difficult leaving SCANN when I did, as James Mwangi who is a very frail 4 year old fell ill during the week before I left. I arranged to take him to a doctor who arranged various tests, mainly as there were no parental records available we weren't sure if there was any hereditary problem.

I paid for blood and HIV test, also x-rays. The X-rays gave no indication of TB which was a worry and luckily the HIV test came back negative. Mwangi was however showing he had malaria, as he is so small and not strong enough to fight any slight childhood illness, malaria will cause him problems.

The Monday before I left Kenya I spent all morning at the hospital getting the X-rays, in frustration had to sit through a power cut which prevented the films being developed, eventually got the X-rays only to be told that they needed to be 'read' and confirmed diagnosis by a radiologist elsewhere as the hospitals one was off site that day. We got boda bodas across town with X-rays in hand to wait in line for the radiologist to read the films at a cost, of course. We then had to get a cab to the doctor who had initially requested the tests. Mwangi was put on antibiotics for a chest infection and malaria tablets to help his illness.

Luckily SCANN has a doctor who has agreed to provide services free of charge to the project, however, any medicines, tests or hospitilisation has to be paid for, this is one of the reasons why they take so long to decide to take anyone to hospital or for testing.

Whilst things like this are frustrating they are part of everyday life in Kenya, everyone there accepts that this is how it is, people rarely moan or complain.

James Mwangi is only one of the 130 boys at SCANN. They all have their own story, their own burden, they are all lovely, happy and determined boys. Whilst SCANN provides food, clothing, a place to sleep, education and an upbringing the staff there struggle to give 'quality time' a shoulder to cry on, a hug, an ear to listen when advise is needed, some of the older boys just want someone they can confide in. They seem to have chosen me for this role, whilst it in itself is a burden I am happy to help.

The four months that I spent there made me realise how impatient we have become and how dissatisfied we are with our lot, everything here has become so materialistic the small things that can give pleasure are rarely noticed or appreciated. I liked the feeling being in Kenya gave me, don't get me wrong, it was no holiday, no tropical paradise, it was the hardest work I have done and other than having my children, it was the most rewarding. Kenya was somewhere where I began to realise how to appreciate life again. I liked who I was there.

Sorry to ramble on but I felt that I needed to close off from my journal and when my emotions were high before I left, it was not possible.

Thank you all for keeping in touch and going to the trouble of reading my emails, some of them must have sounded a bit crazy.

Hope to catch up with you all soon,
Susannah

Friday, 1 September 2006

See you soon....

Hi everyone, sorry that I have been very quiet recently. Emotions running high at the moment and am very very busy trying to sort out lose ends.......
Will chat to you all soon. Know that am thinking of you all and will be home soon!! UK on the 6th to be precise but don't expect me to be out partying, I think I will sleep for a week!!

Kimberley make sure the bed is ready for me to fall into and there is plenty of HOT HOT HOT water and bubble bath for me to have a long long soak!!!!! Ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm been dreaming of a bath for the last 4 months!! Will send you my flight details by text when I can find them!! OOPS

Bye for now, closing my chats to you.

Susannah Signing out!

Saturday, 26 August 2006

Bead Lady...

Jambo everyone,

Well its been a while and I cant remember where I left off on my last email.......

I have been even busier than before, my feet haven't touched the ground. I have been working with Richard and some of the boys getting designs for cards and putting them together, as well as working with the boys to make beaded necklaces and mounting them on cards too, for something different to sell. We are doing this to raise awareness of SCANN in Kenya and to help with funds. It has become a full time venture. I am going blind if nothing else. The lady in the bead shop asked when I was coming back to Kenya as I am now a regular customer and she is worried that her selling levels will drop.

I have been taking time out one afternoon a week to work with Ruth the bead lady in the market. Well what a crowd drawer I am, I sit on a stool in a designated parking space beside her market stall, Ruth sits beside me and we do bead lessons. People come up and stand around talking to me, some pull up a stool, some just sit on the ground, they all want to know who I am, why I am here and why I am learning the art. Some come over every time I attend lessons and just like to exchange stories and life styles. I have to change my times though as I go on a Wednesday afternoon at 2. By 4 it is windy and raining so we have to retire to Ruth's friends travel agency business on the 5th floor of a nearby building. Last time we were there we all got chips, the friend made chai (milky tea) and had a real woman's group, it was great, and it was a great view of the market from there, even though it was pouring with rain. Must go back soon with camera on a clear day and get some shots. Ruth said I am a very quick learner and is now worried that I will be competition. Unfortunately, whilst I am sat at the market everyone comes and adorns me with their wares so I end up buying things too..... not good!!
Ruth's friend in the travel agents has offered to help me with a letter so that I can get a work permit as and when I return to Kenya.

I am not sure if I told you all that I eventually bought my sewing machine. I have been waiting
for a tailor that I met and wanted to volunteer his time, to come and work with me showing me how it works. Unfortunately, with most people here he is rather unreliable, and hasn't shown up!!! I did a long teach myself lesson, I kept sewing backwards which wasn't really practical! After a lot of hard work I can now use the machine and spent a whole day working with it. I sit on the veranda of the computer room sewing, the boys love coming and talking to me whilst I am sewing, they sit and chat and sometimes when I am bored I get them to sing for their sewing!

On Thursday the heavens opened and my sewing machine got soaked, we store it in the corridor of the computer room, unfortunately, the roof leaked. Yesterday, I spent ages, dismantling the machine to dry it out. Today I will oil and reassemble, my usual problem is that I always end up with a part that finds no home!!!!! Um that maybe interesting! Needless to say the boys have bought me a mountain of clothes, pictures were taken to prove it. I have put up a paper sign "Susannah's Tailor shop, welcome" they thought this was great but many of them who came with their clothes apologies that they had no money to pay for the sewing. I told them they were to pay with prayers that I can return to SCANN, they said they would pray very hard.

Today we are having a SCANN Fun Day, we have arranged a party and sports day-------- I will need to come home soon as I am exhausted, the party will finish me off!! The boys are getting very upset at the thought of me leaving so I talk to them as much as I can so that they get used to the idea, (and so do I). My last day at SCANN will be Saturday, I fly on Tuesday 5th back to the UK, I am taking a few days to distance myself before I leave, it will be so hard.

Ok, I need to go now as tears are welling at the thought of leaving.

What a looney I am.

All of you take care, see lots of you soon.

Big hugs.

Susannah

Tuesday, 15 August 2006

Celebrate with me...

Hi Everyone,

where to start, today I took the new volunteers to see Yasmin (Trustee in charge of SCANN) to introduce them. It was a good meeting, I have ordered a new sewing machine to pick up tomorrow YIPPEE the nice lady in the shop said she would show me how to use it and I also have a tailor who said he would come to SCANN and volunteer a few hours to help out with sewing!!!! (Fingers crossed).

Another reason for the meeting was to discuss the ideas and selection of designs for the cards to be produced for SCANN was this afternoon and we had no suitable designs, I arranged for Richard to visit SCANN this morning and had a different random selection of boys sit with wax crayons, coloured pencils, watercolours and pencils, what a fabulous time we had with some great pictures that we can work with and the boys are desperate for another art session, I think I have found our artists!!!!! Richard helped with technique and encouragement, we were all so relieved with the outcome, the pictures were still wet when we arrived at Yasmin's but she liked them. I still have to get the boys to string beads as another suggestion, that should be fun!!

I designed a card, I know i can't draw but it was fab, I may not be an artist but I have some good ideas, I needed to be able to draw faces, as I couldn't and I saw that the boys couldn't I reverted to using my lesson material, a magazine called 'Drum' which had the great stories about the Rainmen and others. I used the pictures to produce a collage of faces, what I actually want to use is the pictures I have gathered of the boys, from the computer to make into a collage. Anyone who thinks they can help me when i get home, it is a project for my return to the UK to produce, my prototype looks fab even though I say so myself!! Yasmin loved it!

Not only have I seriously been offered a job here but a friend has offered to marry me if it would enable me to stay here!!!!! Ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm....... will take some thinking about. Tempting, but you all know my stance on marriage.

I have discussed using one of the computers for the library, which would appear to have mislaid over 900 books over the last approx 7 stocktakes by various volunteers!! They use random pieces of paper to mark down books exiting the library, it is mad, and they are surprised they are missing books.

We are going to organise another party while the boys are off school, (um that sounds funny as they are actually doing a full timetable at SCANN). Watch this space for news!

I am actually really worried that I am running out of time and seem to be getting busier. Luckily we have a new male volunteer arrived today who is here for two months so hopefully I can pass on the 'knowledge' and he can continue the work until he passes it on and I come back!!!!!!!!!

I have a meeting on Friday with a hospital doctor to see how my volunteering in UK can link with them here, should be interesting, hope its fruitful. I am also still trying to get Ruth, the bead lady to meet me to teach me bead work, the reason for this is I have bought a fab ring with the aids ribbon on it, in beads, I want her to teach me so I can make them, and other items, at home to sell to raise funds for my volunteer project at home.

So much to do and so little time. The second layer of paper mache in the baby art class went better than the first although the boys were so upset they thought they were getting the balloons, (by now these had shrivelled and died!!). Took a bit of explaining that what we were after was the hard paper thing on the outside! It will remain to be seen if they like what we are making!!!!!!! Not sure what that is yet...... sounds familiar....... wing it!

Ok I hope you are all well, just off now to see a man about a bracelet, a 'nice' man called 'Sammy' who thinks I am fab, but wouldn't be interested in me, if you get my drift. He wants to give me a bracelet to remind me of him and Kenya the place that 'really appreciates the work I am doing', not sure I told him what I was doing though!! I bought all the art materials from him.... so he was happy.

Then it isn't off home, I need to go back to SCANN to collect my bags, now I am a true 'bag lady' everyone takes the micky.......... I carry my classroom round with me, including sewing kit, medical kit and school books, including the exercise books for me to mark..... how crazy am I.

OK time to go, on a roll............... just as I am leaving things are falling into place.

Love you all. If there is a wedding I will give you all adequate notice......... kidding!!

Biggest hugs.

Susannah

xxxx

Friday, 11 August 2006

Pace is hotting up...

Well what can I say, talk about the pace hotting up........

I have been so busy this week my feet haven't touched the ground. The Creative English went very well, I was so pleased to get to the next lesson take and find the boys had enjoyed their lesson. I set them a task to write a story from a different perspective, they did but what they didn't know was that I got them to read their stories out to the class. Some were reluctant but they enjoyed being proud of their work (I am not sure how the older boys class formats are out here so I had to 'wing it!!') They appear to be looking forward to their next lesson unfortunately I have to hand over to the other two volunteers to handle that one, they sat in on my last lessons so know the format and I have prepared a passage for inspiration.

The arts lesson was mad, DO NOT do paper mache with 3 - 8 year olds its manic, I ended up with more paste on me and in my hair than was on the balloons. The last half of the lesson we did clearing up...... we needed alot of time, we then found we had nothing to do for the last 10 minutes so we got the boys to chose a song and they all sang songs, it was lovely, they sang with such gusto, I just wish I had it on video but I was unable to get to my bag without disturbing them.

I have done sewing every evening until 11pm..... I am going blind, I actually borrowed one of the girls headlamp and sat sewing navy blue shorts (the overhead light at the apartment is useless)!! Everyone thought it was funny, at least I got the garments finished...... until the next day for the next pile. Sewing machine will be bought this weekend, that is when I can decide if I can work a treadle machine. One of the long term volunteers (male) has said when I go he will step in and do the sewing if I show him how! I was so impressed, he said I had been doing invaluable work that needed to be continued as he is there for a year he will try, if nothing else to pass on the knowledge. Another short term Kenyan teacher (male) sat helping me do hand sewing today after I taught him back stitch, he thought it was great, he then told me he was leaving next week, what a waste! (He did neat stitching too)!

Went out for a quick drink last night as one of the volunteers from another project is leaving...... there were 8 white females in a bar....... needless to say we were pestered non stop by very 'worse for wear men'!!!! Everything from marriage, dinner, a drink and worse!! I am 'mother hen' all the girls (in their twenties) look to me for their guardian, (me can you believe it!!) so I ended up intercepting the advances and leaving early...... no not with someone, I couldn't bear their beer breath any longer!!

I am in SCANN tomorrow helping log the library books on to computer, something not attempted before......... this is Laura's project but she is going stir crazy so I said I would help...... not sure she will offer to do any sewing in return though!!

I am at the moment working with older students and street card artists to try and get a design for a new SCANN greetings card (they sell these to help promote the project and raise funds). The artwork from the boys today indicated that we didn't get the message across too well. Oh well back to the drawing board, so to speak. I have got two of the artists coming in on Tuesday, hoping they will be able to help. We have only two weeks to fulfil an order, not sure we will manage.

Ok got to go for dinner now, we have all turned veggie, a new volunteer is one and we decided that as the meat was so tough and nasty that we would opt to make cooking easier by joining her. Interesting being a veggie!

Beginning of next week is very busy so will try and get an email out soon.
Love and wishes to you all.

Susannah

Monday, 7 August 2006

One month and counting...

Hi Everyone, (Debbie and Megan remembered I needed to email you so thought I would throw you in on my email list!)

Well, as you already know I have extended my stay a month and am now on final month countdown and things here have got busier than ever....... Now the older boys have finished schooling and are at SCANN the place is just buzzing.......

I did little teaching before now as there is a policy in place that prevents volunteers taking the class if the paid teacher is present, so other than when they are off or helping, there has been little done. I asked that when the holiday timetable is drawn up can the volunteers have allocated slots. Um that sounded Ok in theory......... We have been given lots of craft sessions with the pre-unit and standard 1 (the boys aged 3 - 5) we struggle with these boys as they understand very little and are difficult to find enough to keep them busy for an hour let alone the 2.5 hour lesson I had with them this afternoon - it eventually dissolved into bedlam...... no one died or killed anyone though. Just got lots of random pictures......... well sort of!

Tomorrow morning i have a 1.5 hour lesson with 18 x 16 year olds for Creative English, I have spent most of the weekend looking for inspiration.... (a good thing when doing creative english!) I have probably managed to cover about three lessons so far. Mind you tomorrow will be a test of my skills as it is the first lesson, at least they have a good command of the language!! Just hope what I give them enables them to get enough out of the lessons..... I think they should find comparison between TV weathermen and traditional Rainmakers (I found a very interesting piece about both in a local magazine......) I poached alot from it and will use it for question and answers and discussion sessions. Watch this space!!!!!

In all they have given us about 8 lessons a week, one being a triple one (they obviously couldn't do anything the fill the boys time for that one!!

I know have no time to do sewing so will be bringing it home to do.....um still waiting for the sewing machine that was promised, not sure when that will appear....just in time for me to see it before I leave no doubt!

I made my brother laugh on Sunday, I had sat on a very hard matatu seat for four hours on the way back from mt Kenya, I was tired, hungry and carrying a very heavy rucksac (thanks Les). I had left the matatu station and walked to Taidys for a quick refreshment of a cold Stoney (Ginger beer to anyone other than Kimberley!) I thought I had sent a text to my friendly taxi driver Nick asking if he was about could he pick me up........... a while later I received a text from bro saying that he would but it would be a bit costly!!!!!! Um. needless to say I then called Nick who was out of town, followed shortly afterwards by Sam my Tuk tuk man (also out of town)! There were no other taxis or Tuk tuk in sight. I walked past a boda man who offered, but I couldn't take up his offer, i was struggling to carry my bag let alone him carrying that and me, (no matter how much weight I have lost!) I decided that I was quite capable of walking........ um should have thought of using the toilet before I decided on walking. It was a very long way, in an interesting area on a Sunday afternoon........... by the time I had picked up the keys, climbed three flights of stairs, I just couldn't get the keys in the lock fast enough....... Good job no one else was in the apt!!!!!. I stripped on the way!

Today at Scann has been busy, preparing the last minute items for teaching......... doing craft work.......... playing with the slum children outside the project. One little boy who must have been about 4 came up to take my hand, i took his and gave it the friendly shake...... he then held on to my hand, raised it to his lips and kissed it........ what a gentleman..... if only he was about 40 years older!!!!! I gave him a nice hug, he was lovely.

I have checked the size of my bag I can probably get about 4 boys squeezed in, back to the Uk, not sure how quiet they would be but at least they would be company for each other......... I don't think I will be allowed to leave here, you might find that there are no more emails and texts from me as I have been kidnapped!!!

Love to everyone,

i am sure there was something else I was supposed to say.................... I will blame it on the Larium!! Oh, today it was so cold went to Scann wearing a thermal top Megan had left behind under a T-shirt that I had, together with a long summer skirt and a rain mac, as you can imagine a sight for sore eyes! I had to side saddle on the Boda, half way to Scann I lost my flip flop, some guy ran up the road with it as my Boda man ignored my shouts for him to stop. As you can guess I have no warm clothing. I froze all day, yesterday I did a huge wash not realising that I had washed not only my trainers but also all my trousers!!! BAD BAD move!! I looked like a bag lady today! Apologies to any of you that are in that profession!

Hope you are all still enjoying these emails, if any of you want removing from my list, tough, don't know how!!

Monday, 31 July 2006

Have I got news for you...

Hi Everyone,
I hope my email finds you all well and enjoying the lovely weather I hear you are having. The temperature here has dropped, actually got a spare blanket on my bed as the nights are now cold, the days are still warm but not hot!!

Ok the News!!!!! I have extended my placement by a month I am now back in the UK on 6th September..... I know some of you will be so disappointed but you will just have to accept that I am doing alot of good work here and there isn't enough hours in the day for me to make a big enough different. I am sorry if I am missing any strategic social events and but I am sure you can manage without me.

I forgot to mention that the Kimberley's first week here we went back to the baby orphanage, we went loaded down with baby toys that my sister had sent across together with the toys from the computers at work (P&O Neddloyd) that had been donated and well washed! The children were delighted and loved playing with the new donations. I am so pleased to say that Zippy is now well on her way on her Aids treatment and the improvement was astounding. She was up and about (although very wobbly on her pin thin legs) she was now showing signs of wanting to play and we sat on the floor where she helped folding a pile of nappies and liners for the children. I was so pleased as for a while her condition was extremely serious...... I will try and keep you posted on her development.

I have had a busy time, I had a meeting with Yasmin the lady who co ordinates and supports the SCANN project, she wants more work done with the children on a craft level, getting them to produce cards and bead work for selling ready for Christmas. I have arranged with a lady in the market that she teaches me how to do beadwork for making badges and bracelets. Apparently she will take about a month to show me, a day a week.......... maybe able to use this when I get home!! Found a nice Aids ribbon ring that we bought, hope to find out how to make them.

On Wednesday afternoon I went in search of a sewing machine, had a manic beginning of the week. I think the boys were so pleased that I was back from my week away that they showed this by providing me with a mammoth pile of sewing. Some of the boys actually felt sorry for me sat on the steps sewing all day that they asked for some cotton and needles and helped, got it on camera too. One of the new volunteers sat and helped for a little while too. Yasmin saw me with the pile of sewing and has decided to get me a sewing machine, but I have to find one first, all seem to be treadle types, will have to learn how to use it.

On Friday I went off to Nairobi to extend my visa that was a trip and a half, in total spent 8 hours on a matatu, the weather was very bad, rain, heavy fog and very bad roads. I did managed to cause a stirr though...... one of the teachers at SCANN has just had a baby girl (GRACE) and I went out and bought some knitting needles and wool and sat in the front seat of the Matatu knitting all the way to Nairobi, I managed one and a half bootees. At least I made good use of wasted time. I think they the locals think that we buy everything and have no skills, so me knitting was a bit of a distraction. I could have done more knitting on the way back but it was dark and I couldn't read the pattern!

Today I was supposed to have a meeting with Aids workers to talk to them about the work that they do here. Unfortunately, the man in charge was called away so the meeting has been changed to tomorrow. I am hoping that I can link them with the people back home for exchange of information and support.

After a busy day Friday I decided to relax on Saturday and went shopping with Ailsa (who has a cold) I found a fab pair of shoes for under 8 GBP just like Sex in the City ones. Wore them out to Summit nightclub on Saturday night, got in at 4am... a little worse for wear. Sunday was spent easing my conscience by relaxing all day, but, I spent the day catching up on the hand sewing that the boys had given me which were all the items that needed throwing out and not repairing, I repaired them and dropped them off in the afternoon. Nick the Taxi driver popped round as I hadn't paid him for the trip to Summit as I was supposed to get him to pick us up and pay him, we got a lift home instead. I had also left him with my IPOD to listen to as a treat, he loved listening to the salsa music...... and came round to drop it off. He ended up seeing the sewing and asked me to show him how to do it. He very quickly became proficient in blanket stitch, he stayed for dinner and then shot off to pick up a fare.

Ok think I am pretty much up to date although am sure there are things I have forgotten.


Off to SCANN now to see if there is anymore sewing that needs doing, will wait till I get that machine!!

Love to you all, take care and big hugs. Apologies if this is a bit disjointed was on a time limit today..... so much to say not sure what I have missed.


Susannah xx (o)

Saturday, 1 July 2006

Billie No Mates...

Hi Everyone,
I just realised you will all have to invest in some paperback books when I finally get back to the UK, as what are you going to do to fill the time taken by my bulletins??!!***

I am glad to hear you are all well, I went to bed exhausted last night at 6pm and missed the last night drinks with the Irish Boys, they left today. My remaining room mate Kati woke at 5 this morning to go to Masai Mara..............................I am home alone ...............sob.

Back tracking a little, on Thursday, cant remember if I told you, I hijacked my tuk tuk man Sam for two hours, he picked me up from the DHL depot (it was way out nowhere), I then asked if I could have him for about 2 hours, he was thrilled (apparently it does his reputation good to be regularly seen carrying me!!) I then went shopping for items needed by the project, took some finding, metal lockup box (still looking), key fobs, (found but not what I wanted.... I had to do a bit of Susannah alterations to them) I also went to the Lake Nakuru National Park office (down a very very long road with lots of (sorry David Ainscough) sleeping policemen (not a good ride in a no suspension three wheeler vehicle!!) They gave me such a look when I arrived with tuk tuk Sam all the other vehicles at the gate were big safari ones. At least I am still able to make them laugh out here!! Not alot of luck with mywomanly cunning, they quoted shocking prices for the trip (well by Kenyan standards). I was then taken back to SCANN where Moses and I drafted a letter to the Assistant Director.

On Friday having got the Company Secretary to type the letter (she is in town and not at the project) it came back with her own interpretations.....ummmmmmm. Moses and I walked to Lake Nakuru Office and took the letter in, Moses thought that if he spoke instead of me it would be better........cheekie. Needless to say nothing was accomplished...... we have to wait for a reply from them. Tuk tuk Sam came to pick us up, we sat watching a whole family of monkeys playing. I then went to find some firewood for SCANN's kitchen. For some reason they have a quota for firewood, this quota has been used and they have no resources until the end of July, no one will tell Yasmin the Chairperson. No firewood means no food, the cook has been cutting down the wooden fence surrounding the project, this is how things are here TOTALLY MAD. Moses negotiated wood prices, none of them delivered and Sam would not have been happy messing up his vehicle, so we then went in search of a hand cart man.......... found one he was totally drunk and useless, but he kept saying he would be fine....... luckily someone walked past with a cart and we collared him. I went back to SCANN with tuk tuk and Moses walked back with the cartman. We now have a supply of wood, no one has asked where it came from.......ummmm.

After that escapade I went into town to collect the parcels that Nathalie and my nieces put together, what a mad Post Office system. They sent a card to say that items had arrived but put someone elses name on it, so the woman who owns the flat said it was not ours. On Thursday night the housekeeper dropped the a card on my bed with my name on it which said 2nd reminder......ummmmmm and bring money as there was a charge. When I eventually found the parcel collection area, down a back alley, through an old iron gate and through a door into the sorting office..... the q was enormous, when I was eventually seen the woman said......SO WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN. I replied that I had been no where and this was the first card I had received...... because I disputed the storage charges I had to see the boss man, she had no authority to waive charges. He already had a drunk waiting to speak to him...... I unfortunately got to sit beside him whilst he told me he hated the post office, its staff and sitting where he was waiting, this went on for a bit, and I had to hold my breath for a long time......... he had his turn and shouted alot. By the time I got in I was very tired, out of water and very hot......headache brewing. The guy listened to what I said and said he would go halves on the charge as there was no way the first card didn't have my name on it....ummmmmmmm. I agreed only so I could leave, so with shopping in hand and two boxes later I called......you guessed it tuk tuk Sam, he must have thought it was his lucky day........I got to the apartment and it was locked, I didn't have the energy to walk down the road to get the keys from the keyholder, so I sat, opened the parcels, read the letters, ate most of the sweets (that were for me!!) and waited for someone to appear......1.5 hours later, I had had a nap...............but needed painkillers for a splitting headache. I crashed.

Just realised how much I have written.....will continue today's fiasco tomorrow or Monday..... bet you cant wait.........

Bye for now,

Billie-no-mates
Susannah

Thursday, 29 June 2006

Good afternoon...

Hi Everyone,

I know I have been neglecting you recently, no I haven't been lounging by the pool sunbathing.....I have been so busy at SCANN and sewing in the evenings that I have been really tired and rushing around.

We are nearly ready to issue the bicycles to the older boys, what a saga that has been, I think they have decided it was my 'project' having numbered all the bikes, arranged a welder to come to the project to fix the '40ft container door' those of you in the know will appreciate that it will be an ideal storage facility, only problem was that is didn't lock as the locking system was broken. Now fixed, two huge padlocks bought, key fobs and labels for the fobs later (use as a checking in and out system for the bikes, only the boys handing the over the key fob will be issued with the corresponding bike. You would be amazed what lengths these children will go to to get a bike.

I have had to do a survey of boys as to who travels furthest to school, who has had good grades in their tests, who has show good behaviour these ones get the bikes, we are holding back 9 bikes which will be used as incentives to other boys to work hard and behave to be issued with bikes. It has been a nightmare, as well as this I have done the nurse thing, teacher, sewing lady and also community visitor!!

This afternoon I was supposed to find a lockup cupboard to store the bike keys in but got side tracked, will have to see what happens tomorrow, after all this is Kenya and everything is on Kenya time!!

I have bought some nice hand painted cards from one of the street artists and since speaking to him on every visit to town I have decided to commission him to do me two pictures, I asked him to take me to his home to show me his work, I met his wife and three year old daughter, they are a very nice family who live not too far from Mark in the Shambas, as they have no power he does all his work at night by kerosene light. It is good work and so he is doing me pictures, hope they come out well, I asked for specific designs with alterations to the colour schemes to co ordinate with my lounge and bedroom. (Hope you will see the one in the lounge, invitation only to see the one in the bedroom!!!!) Kimberley, I said you would come with me to visit when the pictures are ready, they want to meet my lovely daughter. (sorry Paul-Simon you miss out on that visit, although I will take photos next time so they can meet you)!

This weekend I am the only one at 'home' Megan has left to visit Uganda with Debbie, Kati is off to Masai Mara Saturday morning, and the two Irish boys are going home...... Billie no mates...... Oh well I am sure I have loads of sewing to do, am looking to buy a treadle sewing machine to use as my fingers are raw!

The weather has changed, the evenings and mornings are actually showing a keen chill, a cardie was a good idea, glad I have one. Mind you the cycle to the project warms me up a treat. All the SCANN boys are dressed in polo necks, fleeces and coats! Apparently July is positively COLD! um will have to see about that....... cold compared to what.... not UK standards, everyone thinks we are mad for walking round in Tee shirts and flip flops.

Planning to take 30 younger boys to Lake Nakuru National Park on the 11th July it is proving to be a bit of a project too........ no bus available, and am busy negotiating on price, apparently children cost 100 KS, resident adults pay 200 KS, non residents 2,950KS they don't have a volunteer price, so sending a letter to head office asking them to reconsider their rates......... whilst it is not alot when you add the 8000 KS for the bus and paying for 30 boys it soon mounts up! Should be a good day out if we can get it off the ground, and yes Kimberley you are included!!

OK will have to sign off, all of you that have provided things that I have asked for many many thanks, those of you sending well wishes they are gratefully received. Having a fab time, will be stir crazy when I get home....................um.

Love you all,

Friday, 23 June 2006

Back.....23 July 2006 11:32:00

Hi Everyone,

well after spending Kimberley's first week at the SCANN project doing things, this week we have been travelling, managed to get to Mount Kenya for a few days of relaxation and reading, (mind you got tickets to get there on a shuttle only to find we were put on a bus instead it was manic), left there on Wednesday back to the apartment in Nakuru after a hellish matatu ride (I have decided any travel here is an adventure I prefer travelling with the locals much more interesting!! Kimberley finished packing her suitcase ready for our trip to Naivasha and then down to Nairobi.

Chickened out of getting the shuttle to Naivasha and sweet talked my friendly Taxi driver NICK into driving us there........ couldn't face lugging ruck sacs and Kimberley's suitcase on two shuttles that don't have room for baggage. We had a great ride to Naivasha stopped for lunch and then arrived at Fisherman's camp. This time we had a Banda instead of a tent (way back you may remember the trip with Megan and her new friend Mark, he had no money so we had to share a tent, it was very very cold.) A banda is a wooden structure which had a double and a single bed, cooking facilities on a jiko stove (like a small charcoal cooking stove) shower, toilet, sheer luxury..... although couldn't get the shower to run hot, maybe the wrong timing for that.

We bought wood and built ourselves a huge roaring campfire outside the Banda after we had dinner in the clubhouse where we sat by the huge fire. Must admit the campfire took a whole box of matches and the match box to get it started, I think we need more practice at the campfire thing.......even managed to boil the kettle on the fire for a lovely fruit tea.

Slept so well compared to Nakuru, all that we heard were the birds, fabulous! I got up at 5am to see if I was going to see the hippo who usually appears early and also in case I was going to get a repeat of the sunrise...... disappointedly I got neither, but Kimberley did eventually join me at about 6 / 6.30am for a mother and daughter sitting and contemplating session. She went back to bed and I then attempted to relight the fire, having scrounged the neighbours matches. I failed bitterly, unfortunately he had been watching my attempts which was the 'Kiss of death'. When he and his family had finished with their jiko stove he carried it over to me still lit and blazing, I managed toasted rolls and a cuppa, it was great. I actually managed to keep it well stocked until Kimberley woke up about two hours later and had her own toast.

We managed a trip to Hells Gate, by car this time, didn't think Kimberley would survive the bike ride. Walked the gorge, it was just as great the second time, although Kimberley got a soaking whilst trying to avoid the hot waterfall......! Oh well it made up for the lack of morning shower. As we left the gorge the heavens opened and there was flash floods across the roads, I am glad we weren't still in the gorge as the whole gorge apparently fills very quickly!!

We got the Matatu (not the locals bus this time) in Naivasha town to Nairobi, I think I have got the Matatu hawkers sorted...... I wrote a post it with a little message saying that 'we're Ok and didn't need anything, thank you'. This caused quite a commotion as there was a gathering of hawkers reading the sign and laughing, don't think they get alot of interaction from the tourists, they thought it was great, I even started offering them things in my bag for them to buy to show them how we felt (needless to say they didn't want anything (well not to buy anyway).

By the time we got to Nairobi and had dinner in the Java House, (and pudding) Kimberley and I were shattered, we lounged around until the taxi picked us up for the trip to the airport. Unbeknown to me the airport isn't one that you can sit and wait with the travellers, I know Kimberley was really pleased that I suggested she get there early as I had to leave her at the door to the airport!! The Taxi driver Jenga also wasn't pleased as he was ready to drop her off but i told him to park not realising, it took us about 45 mins to get out of the car park, there was almost fistycuffs.

Got back to Nakuru after spending the night at the Parkside hotel, quite a good nights sleep, surprisingly. Spent the rest of the day at Hotel Merica chilling by the pool, was chatted to by a guy who asked me if I minded if he talked to me as he has no interaction with white people at all. I said fine, BIG BIG BIG mistake 2.5 hours later and he is still picking my brain, invited me to his rural town to visit him at his house, a traditional round hut with straw roof, made of cow dung, and beds of animal rugs, he said it would be very good for me to try to sleep in one for experience, ummmmmmmmm not sure what he was suggesting!!!!!!! Talked my way round to I will be in touch if I get any free time in the next two busy weeks!!!

Was out last night for a drink with another local that I met at Hotel Mercia, very interesting indeed The evening went from a drink and a chat to, God sent him to me for a purpose and he loved me....... boy do they work fast out here. Needless to say I am very cautious of going to the pool today, I sent Ailsa ahead of me and she said there is no one fitting his description...... this is why I am sat at the internet and she is sat by the pool. Must admit may have to wander over there to top up the tan, very interesting tan lines, mainly brown arms, face, neck and feet, the rest is white (how attractive).

I was called by Mark, the cook at SCANN who said they had missed having the nesquick this week, so I promised to make it tomorrow, will have to pass on my knowledge to the new volunteers or stay here longer, ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmm .

Ok time for the pool, maybe if I put my headphones on I wont get chatted to!! My bikini is in a plastic bag having washed it last night, it isn't dry......... don't you just hate that, putting on a wet swimsuit!

Hugs all round,

Susannah

Wednesday, 21 June 2006

Hi...

Hi there, getting confused with the travel emails so decided better to date them!! How are you all. Well so much for my leisurely weekend last weekend.... The Saturday was great had a whole day at the pool, lunched and drank cold drinks, swam..... boy was the pool cold!! The temperature out of the water was hot hot hot!!! When I left the pool I went back to SCANN to collect my bike, while there the boys gave me a few items of clothing that needed 'the breath of life' breathed into them, they didn't need repairing they needed throwing out.... but as requested I spent Saturday night watching 'Memoires of a Geisha' and something else, everyone else went out to watch football and drink....... Home alone was very pleasant after constantly having people around who want to watch whatever football match is on, two of the guys coach football and insist on watching everything!!

Sunday morning I got up and went to SCANN early firstly to catch some of the older boys before they left the premises for activities (I needed photos for their sponsor profiles) and also to make sure that the boys had been given their medication for ringworm which is spreading like fire at the moment! Guess who is in charge of medication!! I am now chief nurse!! Whilst I was there I hung around for a bit.... bad move.... I sat and finished some of the sewing off, when I next looked round the boys had done a mad runaround and piled clothes at my feet that needed 'mending' I sat for two hours and only managed to get through three pairs of school shorts, I had a huge bag full left to do. I decided that I would pack up my things and head back to the hotel with pool. Needless to say I was a sad sight sat on my lounger by the pool in my bikini (YES BIKINI) sewing boys clothes, many of which had not been washed before I received them and were in a very sorry state. I, in the process lost my thimble in the grating by the pool side, my fingers were raw and still not made a hole in the pile of repairs that need to be done although I worked on them all day, I was to say the least stared at!! I dropped back to SCANN again to drop off the boys school shorts as they needed them for school on Monday!!! Got home at about 7 greeted by cold dinner. Slept well. ANYONE GOT A COUPLE OF SPARE THIMBLES THEY COULD SEND ME, everyone looks at me as if I am mad when I ask for them in shops!!

The week has been spent finishing off the sign writing on the bikes, they decided they wanted the word SCANN and the number repeated on the crossbar of the bikes too, I am now proficient in the art and going blind, have a crook back and knees!!

Today was Megan's last day at SCANN she is off to climb Mount Kenya tomorrow back for a flying visit next week and then she is off to Uganda with Debbie our other volunteer. I am holding out on trips until Kimberley gets out here. so working hard in the meantime and will be well deserved of a break when she arrives! We had a send off for Megan I got the boys to sing songs to her, we used the other penyata that we had made and also produced a huge vat of hot chocolate for the boys. The other volunteers have gone off to the baby clinic, but I was rather tired and in need of time out, so came here instead to catch up and then back to SCANN.

I am busily buying medication for coughs, boils, and fevers at the moment together with a huge box of medical gloves for the ringworm ointment, I look like a pharmacist!

I have been told that Zippy has started her treatment and is having a hard time of it, she was so weak from the TB anyway, I am hoping to maybe go to the baby orphanage at the weekend to say hi. Will update you then.

Ok got to go now as too much time spent on here today.
Love and miss you all,

Susannah

Saturday, 17 June 2006

Sorry it's been so long.......17 June 2006 09:27:12

Hi Everyone, Roger and Ugoh welcome, sorry whilst I did put your addresses in the list I didn't hit the save button, so Karibu!

Where to start, the internet has been a real pain and each time I have been here this week hotmail has been down, so frustrating, so today I am here before I head off to the hotel with pool!! I have done some work first though, went into SCANN already this morning and its only 11am!

Ok last week was a bit of a mad week with the Lake Navaisha trip Tuesday,Wednesday and Thursday (stayed an extra day as it was lovely) on getting back on the Thursday tea time I discovered that the Masai Mara trip was still on (Debbie who was arranging it was unwell so it might have been postponed) I had enough time to unpack and pack again, I was picked up at 6.30am on Friday morning!! (Yawn yawn!) Needless to say I wasn't too much of a party person on Friday. It took us about 7 hours before we arrived at the campsite, the journey as per any other we have had was long, dirty and very very uncomfortable, pothole city!

As soon as we arrived at the campsite we 'dropped off' (literally) our bags and went on an evening drive round the Mara (yet again bumpy and we were by now desperate to get out of the vehicle and stretch our legs) not permissible in the Mara you have to stay in the vehicle. It was a fab weekend, although the sleeping arrangements were three girls to a two man tent..... yes was in the middle again..... the two boys shared a one man tent, cosy! We had our own cook who we had as part of our party, a driver and Joseph from Mount Kenya who we had booked the trip with. (He gets about a bit). We saw loads of animals which eventually became a bit boring as it wasn't what attracted me to Kenya!! We went out on an early morning drive and saw three lions kill a buffalo, nasty but compulsive watching how the animals worked together to catch the animal, got a bit nasty when we were so close you could hear the tearing of flesh and crack of bone....... Yuck. We visited a Masai village that was interesting, colourful and smelly they use cow dung smeared on the house as 'plaster' and they live with all the animals at night in the compound. Lots and lots of photos and movie clips.

The whole weekend was spent trying to sleep, the German family who gave us a lift at Hells Gate I saw at the Mara and they appeared at the campsite on the Sunday night that was a weird coincidence and we all laughed at the chance of that happening.

When I got back to Nakuru very very tired, numb bottom and in need of a soak in the non existent bath........I had to work very hard on Tuesday as there was the annual Trustees meeting at Scann and they had wanted lots of bright things done with the children to show what they have been doing, Tuesday was a mad frenzy trying to get stuff finished. We attended the meeting it was three hours long, interesting but also hard work. I got invited to be a guest at the Nakuru Round Table meeting on Tuesday, everyone wants to be seen with us, its mad. we were asked at the Scann meeting if we wanted to speak, needless to say we declined!! (no speech prepared).

Talking of speeches, I got a call from the old retired lecturer who was sitting next to me on the bus to Navaisha, not sure if I mentioned him but he asked me be available before I leave Nakuru as he wanted to gather together the Church Elders as he wants me to talk to them. I didn't think I would hear from him but he called last night to say he would be in Nakuru on Wednesday and wants to meet me to discuss the 'talk' not sure I am the right man for the job!

Yesterday I spent all day painting large numbers on the 26 bikes that were donated three years ago and have been in storage ever since, i bought a pot of paint a brush and started work, did the last 6 this morning, and even if I say so myself not a bad job...... the manager asked if I was a sign writer before I started and I told him that as I was all he had, then he would have to accept whatever I managed to produce!! They now want me to paint on the bikes the word SCANN so now back to work tomorrow..... more painting, these bikes will be allocated to the boys before I leave even if I have to do it myself. The older boys walk an hour to get to school, come back for lunch and then go back in the afternoon, they are exhausted............

Ok I am off now to the pool, think I have earned it............ I have been treating the boys for ring worm which has spread round like nobodies business, they have accepted me as person with many hats, seamstress, I have a whole pile of sewing the boys bring me daily, nurse, artist, crafts person, 'mother' and teacher, so many hats!!

Ok take care all of you.

Susannah

Thursday, 15 June 2006

A Quickie...

Hi there,
sorry been so busy since Kimberley got here trying to cram into two weeks the experiences I have and want..... um.

All Aboard!
We took the boys to Lake Nakuru, that was fun, we only took the boys that are at school at SCANN as the older boys have been, so 33 boys, two teachers and three volunteers later, and two hours of checking they were in uniform to get 50 shillings discount, checking papers, and getting passes, later we were in, we had hired another schools bus which had room for 24 passenger's, bit of a tight squeeze, but we had a great time.

On the Bus
At the Lake
I wasn't quite sure how I ended up with the boy who vomited the whole trip, must be something to do with that mother instinct... I was the only one with none holey plastic bags and wet wipes..... you know me ...... in case ofs are always packed!! As there was no room for me to deal with him at his seat he sat on my lap at the front of the bus where Kimberley was also sitting with a smaller boy already on her lap, safety does not come first out here!! The driver tried very hard to make it a smooth ride so that he didn't vomit too much but it was no use, the roads were like most in Kenya, pitted, potholed, and rough. The animals on the other hand were great, giraffe, white rhino, antelope, gazelle, ostrich (still only got two legs, Nathalie), flamingos by the thousands, what a fab time we had until we stopped at a deserted picnic site for lunch. We got everyone safely out of the bus, some feat in itself......... managed to get the food and drink out too, noticed some baboons lurking round and were aware we needed to be careful, they circled us and one shot forward at Debbie who was holding the huge bag of bread rolls, a tussle ensued as she was determined the boys needed feeding more than the baboons, unfortunately the baboon won and ran off with half our rolls. We speedily piled back onto the bus, shut the windows and divided up what we had left, needless to say it was hot hot hot, and we were boiling. Managed lunch all except of Julius of course. We then hurried back to SCANN, as the bus had to be back to do the school run............ we were exhausted but had a great day.

Strawberry Nesquik
Since then have been at SCANN with Kimberley we have made a vat of strawberry Nesquik for the boys, we have chopped skumaweeki (no idea how you spell it)!! it is kale chopped into thin slivers and boiled. I stepped in one day in the kitchen when the cook was detained in town I cooked a huge vat of Ugali, it ends up like cement but thicker, it was so hard to mix and stir that I pulled a muscle in my neck and shoulder doing it, apparently it was well received as no one has taken the initiative before and helped out so much in the kitchen..... I now know why, it nearly killed me, got photos to prove it, not cooking like we know it.

Kimberley and I are off next week so wont be much news from us as we are heading to Mount Kenya for a few days, I am taking her to Lake Naivasha and then to Nairobi to fly home on Friday, busy busy, and little chance of getting to internet connection.

Love to you all,
Susannah and Kimberley,

Thursday, 8 June 2006

I'm back for a flying visit....08 June 2006 13:22:02

Hi there,

well what a few days I have had a Navasha Lake and Hells Gate...... Megan, Marc (a friend of Megans) and I shot off for a few days away, actually it was supposed to be on Tuesday back Wednesday night...... we just got back (Thursday). The trip there was horrible, the bus was packed, as usual it wont leave unless all seats are full. I had an elderly gentleman beside me who talked for Kenya, he was a retired teacher now lecturing at the university two days a week. He wanted to know my views on life......um Families, children, wedlock, polygamy, same sex marriage, same sex marriage and the couple having children....etc etc. It was quite interesting and his views were still very stickly governed by his religion, although polygamy is allowed out here!! I said in the Uk who would want more than one wife, apparently they all live together in a community here, and the first wife is the one the others have to look to as the one in charge. He wanted my mobile number as he said he wants to phone me so that before I return to England he wants me to attend a meeting of the Church elders and talk to them......... such the wrong person for that job. None the less he wouldn't take no for an answer, just waiting for the call!!!


The Fisherman's Campsite was fab, got up early and have fabulous sunrise photos, yes I said sunRISE!! Got up at 5am hoping to see hippos but they didn't arrive instead the most spectacular sunrise. We had hoped to stay in dorms at the site but they apparently had only recently sold off that bit of land so we ended up camping, three in a tent, snug!!

Went to Hellsgate yesterday. hired bikes for the long trek, um... bad idea. The roads were about a foot deep in lose dust in places and we had to walk a lot of the way. Unfortunately, this devil on wheels also took a flying fall when I was cycling and the bike got wedged in a rivet of dust. Megan and Marc had cycled some great distance ahead and I was left alone, I flew head long off the bike, landing on my chin and chest, I lay with a mouth of dust unable to breath for a while. When I got up I was black, my face, my whole front was covered in black dust. My chain had come off the bike in the fall and I ended up walking for about 10 mins until I caught up with the others who by this time had decided something was not right. My yelling 'Man down' hadn't worked. The chain back on the bike, my mouth washed out with water, a nice graze on my chin with embedded black dust and dust burns on my knees, to top this I had a lovely dust impression on the front of my tee shirt of my breasts where they landed in the dust.....um must sell that design when I get home, I will call it the 'splat'!

We arrived at the Guide centre and had our packed lunch, dust an additional freebie! We took a guide and were walked down into a gorge it was fab but very hard going especially with heavy rucksac, bad knees and bruised bones...... It was so hot, we walked and leaped like gazelle across the gorge bottom, at points we were straddled from one rock face to the other with water below, spider walking so ensure we didn't get wet. We were shown hot springs that burnt our fingers. The next bit was hard we then had to climb to the top of the gorge to see the spectacular views, it nearly killed me, the guide felt sorry for me and offered to take my back pack but I said it was OK, wasn't going to let a bit of weight get the better of me. Wow what a lovely view. Walked back to the rangers station to the amusement of the rangers, they thought my T shirt looked lovely!! ummmmm. Got a lift back to the road as my bike had kinked the back wheel in the fall also and was so hard to ride, besides which it was such a long way back, I really couldn't face another 'angel in the dirt'!! Some German tourists gave us a lift, thank goodness. The bike man wasn't happy that we had left our bikes with the rangers although they said it was fine and happened all the time, he said they would play on the bikes and wreck them. Oops, no way I was going back for it!

Had dinner at the lodge steak medallions in a cream and mushroom sauce, nice, saw lots of monkeys, zebras, but sadly no hippos.... The ride back today was hellish.... the last two mornings I have had terrible nausea, bit like the morning sickness again, couldn't sit with the others while they had their breakfast so popped the amazing airport pills, they helped but took a while to take effect. The bus ride back, yes I said bus, we thought we had paid for a Matatu until we were ushered onto an old bus, we were packed like sardines, the ride was less than pleasant as they squeezed three of us on to a seat that should only have had the capacity for two, nice. It took over two hours of total bone rattling pain, just outside Nakuru the bus knocked someone off their bike, the bus eventually pulled over, we sat for about 3/4 hour, deciding to join everyone else and get off the bus as it looked as though it could have been a long wait. We walked into Nakuru, much to the amusement of the locals, I am wearing what was left of my clothes, from two days ago, needless to say my ensemble was not in a fit state to wear again from yesterday, I did was my trousers but they didn't dry in time, so I have on a strappy top, covered with a sleeveless shirt,and a Kanga ( like a sarong) that Megan bought yesterday, we are filthy and weighed down with our packed to the top rucksacs, {{ THANKS LES IT IS REALLY HANDY, ALTHOUGH A BIT BIG, I SEEM TO BE ABLE TO FILL IT WHERE EVER I GO, IT IS GETTING WELL USED}}

I didn't mention that as we thought we were sleeping in dorms we had taken out sleeping bag liners but nothing else, we hired a tent, mattress and blanket (thin as I was later to find out!) The first night, i put on all my clothes, it was freezing, I couldn't sleep at all, I kept trying to roll up in a ball on my side to keep warm, but my hips were so numb on the thin mattress and cold ground that it ended up painful, I eventually ended up putting the pillow bit of the sleeping bag liner over my head so that my breath would warm me up. I got no sleep and eventually got up at 6 and watched the end of a nice sun rise, I saw a neighbour had built a fire and sat with him, having a nice cup of tea, he is from California, (a nice man) the next evening he appeared with very very thick blankets for Megan and I, I nearly cried, I had a fabulous nights sleep last night, warm as toast....... I joined him again for a cup of tea this morning and then we left.

Megan and I decided that as we were in town we would do our emails, so smelling, dusty, sweaty and looking as though I have had a couple of rounds with Mike Tyson, we are here. I have to go back unpack and pack again, Debbie and a couple of other volunteers have booked us on a Masai trip this weekend, we leave tomorrow. Busy week only got to the project on Monday, but it appears they are pleased for us to take time off and see their lovely country, says it helps us tell stories and relate better to the projects.

I will be away for the weekend and come back on Monday evening ready for the boys fresh and early on Tuesday, I have missed them, how crazy is that....... especially Mwangi, he is a tiny character who is bonding well with me even though he is shy.

Ok must go as just saw the price of this session, thanks for the emails.
Susannah

Saturday, 3 June 2006

Part 2 from yesterday...

Hi there,

Well as I am here means my leg didn't fall off, it is still a bit swollen from the bites but I am sure now that i will survive. I didn't mention sleeping under a mosi net is a weird experience a bit like being in a net womb, whatever you didn't take inside with you you have to fiddle about trying to reach when the net is up, its a nightmare, must admit always wake up knowing where I am which was something I was worried about, waking and finding myself tangled in the net!

Ok so where did I leave you, ah the famous bike thing....... well, it would appear that when you buy a bike in Kenya you don't get it roadworthy, that is an extra that you have to ask for (as I have found out to my peril), they supply the bike from the manufacturers without any checks, so nothing tightened or oiled. That explains why mine started falling apart on the second day of use. I spoke to the cook at the project and he said I was mad to have ridden it without a service, I proceeded to tell him that no one had said it needed one it was a new bike after all. He took me to see his friend who is a bike mechanic who laughed himself silly along with the other 6 people who were waiting around, apparently I am a very funny mazungu (white person). Who would try to ride a bike without tightening the bits first. We negotiated heavily with the price and I think I got a good deal as I made them laugh and they appeared to like me. Mark cycled back to SCANN and I got one of the guys from the repair place who was a boda man to give me a ride. I have never heard a man with such a laugh, he laughed all the way back to the apartment, i am not sure how he managed to cycle with me on the back and laugh so much. It was a bit embarrassing as his laugh was like someone in a looney bin!! He said I had made him laugh so much it was good for the soul.

Last night we went out as my roomies left today, we had a few beers and when we arrived at the club i had my camera with me, I was told that they didn't like cameras, so I said that was ok, he asked me not to take pictures of anyone other than my group - I confirmed that if I took any photos it would be of the 'mazungu' only, he seemed to appreciate this as I got a funny hip hand shake!!

Today I got up early and went to collect my bike with Mark from Scann, he cycled and I grabbed a passing boda man, he seemed pleased for the early customer. We arrived at the cycle place with a great welcome from the man himself, he told me that I now had a 'fine bike' and he would guarantee the work for 24 hours, (generous!!) I said if anything went wrong now I knew where to find him.............. My bike is now a great bike, it feels so much better, I think Megan will be back next week with hers for a service.

When we left the cycle place Mark said it would be an honour if i would go back to where he lived and meet his family, he said that the area he lived in was very poor and the people had not seen a mazungu before. The trip was a test for my bike alright, what a distance we covered on roads that were just dirt tracks. The area that he lived in he called the Shambas, there was no water or power to the dwellings, I cant call them houses as they are barely dwellings. They live in basic mud and wood huts that are divided inside to form rooms with hanging newspapers stuck together to form a screen.

I felt very humble that he invited me to visit his neighbourhood, the children whilst they greeted me from afar were not keen to come up close. They were so poor that they had only one item of clothing each so either a top or bottom and in the small community of dwellings that Mark lived in there must have been about 8 families, all the children gathered at the commotion of our arrival. I ended up approaching the children who ranged from about 1 to 7 years old, the older girls (7 yrs) were looking after the younger ones.

I was left playing with the children, they had got me a stool to sit on, they all eventually came up shook my hand and introduced themselves, not that I can remember their names there were about 20 of them in total. I played 'round and round the garden' with them, and tickled them they found this very very funny and kept coming back for more. Mark (25years) introduced me to his younger brother who is working very hard at school and is top in his class, Mark supports his family as he is lucky enough to work at Scann. Marks brother made us some hot tea and provided some mendazi, (a type of donut), we all talked for a while about life, Kenya etc, I felt so moved that someone who has so little goes out of his way to make sure that he provides something for his 'guest'.

I said I would visit the children again, I would take Mark shopping and buy some flour, fruit and basics for his community, it was the least I could do, I don't believe giving money is the way to go. The children were so made up with just having me there playing, one little guy cried when I left, he had been especially clingy, not leaving my side. The ride back to my apartment with Mark made me reflect how lucky we all are to live the lives we do, although these people seem to be happy and they have nothing.

I moved all my belongings today into the apartment two floors up from mine. As my roomies have left I am now going to be sharing with Megan and Lorna, (my room with Jo and Mad was enormous compared to the one I have now to share. We have three junior beds in a room that is smaller than Kimberley's box room (those that don't know...... its tiny and wouldn't take a double bed if you tried) I have one shelf at the bottom of a two shelf cupboard, so most of my things have gone under the bed in bags. So much for travelling light. The apartment I was in was on the first floor this is now on the third floor. When water is short, the first floor apt gets water but the pressure isn't sufficient to reach the third floor so we have to carry it up in bowls, nice for the toilet!!!!!!! There is a big agricultural event in a months time and they use the water to provide for the event ground, this reduces the pressure so for the next month we have limited use, something to look forward to, wish i could have stayed in the other apt!!

All of you take care, I am regarded as a heathen as i don't go to Church, I keep being told that i should consider going back to the flock as its not too late....... um not sure about that!!

Big kiss all round, sorry it was another long one, that is why i broke it in to two parts!!
Love you all
Susannah
xxx

Friday, 2 June 2006

Oh what a week .......02 June 2006 13:29:43

Hi Everyone, and welcome to Ugoh and Roger, (my circle is getting ever bigger)

I know you have all been waiting for news of Michael, I am sorry it has taken so long, he came out of hospital on Tuesday having had a scan and they found nothing to show any sort of clot or bleed. He is slowly getting stronger and they feel that it was a virus that affected him so badly, his memory will hopefully come back now he is back with his 'family' at Scann.

On Sunday I spent the day indulging myself by the only pool that I know of at a hotel called Merica (we all call it America) We had a lovely buffet lunch there and then back for dinner in the evening Plantain stew! Unfortunately, I woke in the night with stomach cramps and spent the whole night in the loo!! OOps hope none of you are eating! Monday I staying in bed all day, I also did some preparation work for school and planned the party. (So it wasnt wasted)!

Tuesday Megan and I went and bought bikes, that was a scream, the bikes we bought were a bit big (mine especially) however as we were donating them for the school boys who are very tall I thought I would manage!!!!! Unfortunately, when the salesmen got our bikes out on to the road, we loaded up with our supplies, I found that the cross bar was actually three inches too high for my inside leg!!!!! It was too painful to explain, I walked the bike back into the shop and bought what looks like a kiddie bike in proportions....... it was also alot more expensive! We left the shop having drawn a crowd, as women, other than in very rural areas dont ride bikes and we were white to boot! We managed to cycle off with a barrage of laughs and mutterings from a large group of boda boda men who had gathered to see us off!!

Half way to the apartment Megans chain came off, we turned the bike upside down (as you do) and tried to fix it, it was home time for the local schools and we were surrounded by kids all laughing, one boy offered to help and put the chain back on. Two minutes later it had come off again, bits of my bike were coming apart and the handle bars came loose, so with tail between legs (so to speak) we walked the rest of the way with many many comments, nice new bikes and we were walking. Opposite the apartement is a guy who fixes boda boda bikes and we got him to sort out the chain and mine two, he offered a service but we declined as we said these are new bikes why would they need a service......... (you will find out later....)


All week we have spent doing craft things for the party, masks, penyatas (Mexican thing that you fill with sweets and get the boys to hit with a bat until it breaks, not sure how you spell it) we did two covered with crepe paper flowers, looked great. We also did some paper mache creatures for the penyata but it was taking too long!!

The party was yesterday and it went very well, all 150 boys and helpers had a great time, I will give you more infor tomorrow as now I have to go as I have reached 100 shillings on the internet and need to go get my bike FIXED!!!!!

I am still alive although I have two huge bites on my leg which are causing concern, only received them last night, but they are swelling badly!! Thanks for the emails, they make me smile, a bit of home, its great here, very manic and very very very different, so hard to convey.

Love to you all,
Susannah
Next installment to follow tomorrow hopefully if leg doesnt drop off!!

Friday, 26 May 2006

It's Friday...

Hi there,
well, sorry to hear the weather there isnt too good, as usual its hot hot hot and no rain in three days now. Everything is so dusty.

We have had a great week, I have helped in numerous classes including a PE lesson yesterday when the pregnant teacher went home. When I asked what lesson they were supposed to be having I wished I hadnt asked. Apparently half the class go up to another school for acrobatics and the ones left were due PE. I took them outside and organised a dribbling line for them to slalom through I even timed them, they thought this was great but even better when I joined in. They love football so much I did tackling skills and then played goalie (a bad one!) We also did some shooting the hoop with a net ball net. By the time I got back into class I was filthy and very very tired.

Today we turned up for school to be told that one of the older boys, Michael Okoth (16 years old) had collasped at school yesterday. He had been taken to the private hospital just up the road from SCANN. Apparently he fainted after doing some sport and hasn't regained consciousness since. They have been doing blood tests and will probably do a body scan later today. Debbie and I were sent up the road to see what was going on, they felt that we may have more authority than them. I explained that neither of us had any medical background, but we went anyway.

Michael is on a saline drip and is still unconscious, whenever they try and revive him he has fits. The nurses care isn't very good so we are doing a rota of sitting with him for a few hours at a time to make sure he doesn't vomit and that the iv is ok. Doesn't look too good. I am on afternoon duty from 3 - 5.30 then again in the morning at 9. It is a scary place the hospital, very antiquated I hope he pulls through apparently he is a very academic student and they know he will go far.

I have managed to get out of my trip this weekend and will go later in my placement. That leaves me free to help out with watching Michael.

This morning before we went to the hospital a teacher hadn't turned up for her class so I set some work for one of the classes to mark on Monday. Whilst I was writing on the board they were all whispering my name and calling me Mamma ( I think they were glad I was there, they actually hunted me out to take their class). They are so eager to learn that is is amazing. We have been asked to do lots of craft work with them next week as there is a meeting of the trustees in two weeks time and we are looking at putting their work on the walls to make it more lively.

Debbie, Megan and I are arranging a party for Scann children on the 1st June which is a holiday over here. I did some invitations last night and photocopied them this lunchtime in town. We are planning party games, there is a lady called Yasmin who is a strong business woman who helps fund the centre. She runs a supermarket chain and is meeting us on Monday morning to provide us with food and gifts for the party.

Will keep you posted on Michael's progress. Tomorrow night am planning on going with the girls to spend the evening at the baby orphanage, they invite the volunteers round on a Saturday night for video night, so will be doing that after helping settle the babies down for the night.

Will be in touch again soon, sorry still forgot the piece of paper with the address on it, will definitely send it to you tomorrow after my stint at the hospital.

The girls I share with have gone away until Monday so I am home alone, its very weird, firstly getting used to sharing with strangers and now being there alone. It isn't an unpleasant thing as I have lots to do as I bought lots of hand crafted post cards from boys in Nakuru who walk around selling them, so I have loads of writing to do, also preparation for the party, we are making hats etc.

Ok time to go now as need to get back to the hospital.

Hope you are all well,
Susannah xx