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.


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.



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.


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 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!!