Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Jambo again

Hi Everyone,
well, I have decided to change the internet place I use, whilst the guys look after me well, I cant get anything done as the system is so bad. I am in one behind the shop called Ukwala (those that have been here know!) I walked in to find the room full of Europeans (posh posh ones) judging by their voices! I have never felt so lonely, how strange is that, a room full of my people and I know no one and listening to them not sure I want to. Whilst here I have discovered that people who travel aren't all worldly wise and considerate to their surroundings.

I was asked by a Kenyan recently, how come children crowd round me just to talk to me, how come animals like me, how come everyone wants to say hi and greet me, I HAVE NO IDEA maybe it is because I am NICE! They have even told me that they have been observing other 'visitors' and they don't get the attention I get, maybe its my aura???? Not odour hopefully.
Today I got a reply email from my friend Ailsa who is back in Scotland getting to grips with things like, work, shopping, familiar surrounding................ nothing she has said has attracted me to get on a plane home!!!!! I will just not yet.

I hope everyone is well and the weather is getting nicer......... it is so changeable here, cant decide what it's doing, this morning I was freezing covered with goosebumps, they don't know what they are over here - goosebumps that is, they come and look at my arms when I am cold as they think it is funny that all the hairs, that I have and they don't on their arms, are standing at attention!! Such a simple but taken for granted thing that our body does to counteract the cold. Takes some explaining.

Mind you recently one of the boys had a bad gravel graze on his face having fallen over, when the blood and gore started to heal it was replaced with white skin, he was very upset that he was turning 'white' he even took to colouring it with a felt tip.......... luckily for him after a few weeks it coloured over and he is proud to be completely black now.

It has also been remarked why are the whites of my eyes white, theirs are quite speckled brown with white. In Nakuru also many people have brown stained teeth due to too much natural fluoride in the water, not sure what can be done about that, any budding dentists out there????? Will it correct itself if they move elsewhere or is that it now? These are questions that I deal with most of the time, thrown at me like I am an encyclopedia.

I keep being asked to shave my hair so they can see what I will look like as a white Kenyan, I opt for no one that one! Talking of hair, I managed to get a quick trim at a friends hairdressers. Not the usual type, she had only ever done afro hair......... she washed it carefully, wow what a great massage, she then took ages combing it straight then took out a blunt pair of scissors and bit by bit picked up bunches of hair and cut, oh well, it took of the split ends, not sure anyone at home will touch it now.........!! No matter how much I condition my hair it is like a dry bush...... even tried a hot wax treatment I found in the bottom of my wash bag.......... still looks like a dry bush!

I have been looking to find a cheap car to get around in.......... um that is a hard thing to do, those that I can afford will not last 2 mins, not on these roads, I have been shown so many minis which are all the rage here for the English.... however, my worry is that with these pot holes one day I will be driving round and disappear forever into a hole and not come out again! I have also been watching how they repair vehicles at the workshops, the only tool you need apparently is a HAMMER and I have one of them, they use it for everything, just BASH it and it will work!!! Sounds like my kind of repairs!

Forgot to mention today is a BIG day in my shamba - I picked my first crop of new beans........... not sure I will get any as all the staff are now aware due to someone (the old gardener) telling them so I have been having to divi them out. When I told the gardener I wanted a shamba he laughed, he laughed when I was preparing the ground, he laughed when I planted seeds, when I weed, when I water, today however, I laughed when I walked up to him with a big bowl of beans................ maybe he will get a few but not today..... let him wait!

What else do I have to say........I am back teaching, or did I tell you that already!! English to the boys who went to China only 6 of them but from various levels of education, (that makes it difficult). Making them come to class is more difficult, these boys think they have been abroad now and don't need schooling....... their first exercise says they certainly do!!!!!!! It took me hours just to mark one boys work and they have a lesson everyday at 8.30...... spent all night marking!
Ok just realised how much have written. POLE SANA - sorry!!
Will be in touch again soon. xxxxx

Wednesday, 23 May 2007


Hi Everyone,
sorry for the lack of emails but everytime I come to the cyber cafe the system is either down or so slow it doesn't pay me to try and send anything as it will fail.

I hope life is treating you well and you are all happy. Things here have settled down and I am able to get on with life as I should. I have been asked for more information regarding the boys that went to China, sorry I forget what I have told you and what I haven't.

Last year a group of 6 of our acrobats were selected to go to China for a year 'all expenses paid' for circus training. They have just come back to Kenya and we are dealing with many many issues that have arisen as a result of them being let out into the wild world of China!

The boys whilst they worked long hours training they were given a lot of freedom that they do not experience here in Kenya, they had 'girlfriends' were given lots of gifts and allowed to spend allowances they were given on whatever they wanted. It was like paradise to them. They performed in fabulous theatres to Presidents and the like. Their world was tipped upside down, the down side is the returning to normality. Unfortunately, they arrived the day before the main management group from Scann left for Canada.

I have spent many hours listening and talking to the boys, they have all refused to go back to their schools as they have now surpassed their classmates, as schooling was high on their agenda whilst they were training. We have allowed them a few weeks to settle back to the routine of SCANN. As as result of their refusal to go back to their schools we have developed a learning programme that will keep their minds busy. I am doing alternative English (based more on daily requirements, reading, writing, form filling, public speaking etc) as opposed to text book learning. They are also to have maths lessons (not taught by me.......!!!)

The boys have come back with so much as far as personal items is concerned we have no where to store all their possessions as their lockers are too small. They have also come back with big big ideas that I am not sure can be fulfilled. They have cds with their performances which are fabulous, I will copy and bring back with me when I come. Hopefully more travelling will come their way as they were very highly regarded at the Circus School, who in fact wanted them to stay longer but problems with unrest in the country caused them to return.

I have, other than this, been busy with Dickson the boy (20 year old) who has TB. I get up every morning to ensure he takes his tablets on time and then have been counselling him as they required him to take an HIV test which he refused as he was too frightened. It has taken two weeks for me to listen to his worries and talk to him and reassure him that it is a good thing to know your status regardless of if you have TB or not. Yesterday, Dickson, his friend Peter (23) and I all went for HIV screening. It was an emotional event that no one else knew about, at their request, so in my break yesterday we went to the local VCT clinic which does testing. We sat through 45 mins of counselling, condom demonstration etc etc. We are all pleased with our results and the boys are now promoting that their friends also get tested, something that is frowned upon here, people would rather not know. I am teaching the fact that to know is to move forward responsibly with their lives, many of the boys have little family history, or family left to ask, so it is not a given that they are clear as they are not sexually active!

Well, this is a heavy email for today. To lighten the mood, my shamba is expanding, the Squash is taking over my patch, I have small fruits growing. My beans are all flowering, the potatoes too, I have tiny tomatoes on my cherry tomato plants and have since sown carrots. Everyone laughs at me in the size 8 wellies whilst I am tending my plants.

They all know that I am the crazy shosho!

Anyway, thanks for your emails.
Love to you all,


That's all for now folks!

Saturday, 12 May 2007

Oh what a week

Hi All,

where to begin. Hope you are all well is always a good start, and happy would be good!

About a month ago I took one of the older boys to the doctors with a chest infection, he was given the usual round of antibiotics and that was it. His chest insisted on not getting better. On Monday I wandered back to the doctors who requested a chest x-ray. In this country this is not an easy thing...... You go to the hospital and 'q' this is a very lose affair and you have to watch out as everyone 'jumps'! After the x-ray was done we asked for the radiographer to 'read' the x-ray, he wasn't in till Wednesday!

We walked into town to get it read privately at an X-ray clinic. Another 'Q' with a 2 hour wait. Results were not good, shadows on the lungs. Back to the doctor with the results which were in short hand and difficult for me to understand. The doctor said he needed to go to the TB clinic at the hospital. As it was late in the day this would have to wait until the next day.

Bright and early we set off, book, bottle of water, x-ray in hand. When we arrived walking to where we had been told Block A, we heard the voice of a preacher giving a sermon. Unfortunately for us he was preaching in the waiting area we were to sit in. Apparently when the preacher is preaching nothing else happens, everything stops. We waited for 20 minutes, it was so long, he had already been there for 20 mins apparently! When he had finished we were asked to sit and wait to see the Daktari. We did, however, being 'hospital doctor waiting room virgins' we were not aware of the antics performed by other patients when the doctors door is opened, apparently pushing, shoving, tripping are all part of the system for getting to see him. There is no system at all. Eventually I got my head round the system and glared down the woman who tried to push in front of us.

The doctor then looked at the x-ray, gave us a sputum container and asked us to take a sample to the lab NOW! The lab would then give us two more containers one for 5 am the next day and one for 6 am, then back to the lab, with the x-ray and sit and wait for the results.

Unhappy we duly complied with this request, the next day we also did as requested. We were told that the results were not going to be ready until 3pm, it was then 9am! I took Dickson into town we had chai and a cake and went back to the centre. In the afternoon the doctor confirmed he had TB. Dickson took this as a death sentence, it took a lot of talking to him to make him understand that because he was not very sickly the treatment would be fast acting on his complaint, although it is an 8 month treatment of 4 tablets at a time. They also request an HIV test to confirm there are not additional problems. He refused, but has since agreed to go back and have it done after a long long long long talk to put his mind at rest!

The doctor told me to take the boys who sleep in the beds beside Dickson for screening and also any boys that have any chest problems. I duly did this the next day, he suggested early. We were there by 9am, I had 4 older boys in tow. We were greeted by the preacher again..... at least it was a short sermon this time, but the Q was bigger. I was now versed in the antics of 'q-ing' no one was going to 'jump in'. Except for the soldiers who kept appearing with guns and prisoners in tow..... I decided I wouldn't argue with them it would not be appropriate!

We eventually went in, all he did was talk to the boys telling them if they feel ill go and see him! So much for screening, what a waste of time, as if I have nothing else to do. I gave him the glare from hell, when he said he wasn't going to test them.

We all went into town and had chai and cake then back to SCANN........

I now go into the dorm and wake Dickson everyday at 7.15 so that he takes his 4 pills at 7.30 as the doctor said without fail at the same time of day between 7.30 and 8.30! Dickson being a usual 22 year old sleeps late! I will invest in an alarm clock for him!

Ok that is all for now think that is enough reading for you.......... maybe more another day.

Love to all

Monday, 7 May 2007

Jambo from cold wet Kenya

Hi Everyone,

yes that's right cold and wet, my veggies are doing very well with all this rain! At this rate will have to go and buy some warm pj's!

I cant remember where I left off last time other than it wasn't good! Things have settled a bit now although I trust no one! Problems never get dealt with here they just let time heal them and they just disappear (NOT!!).

Yasmin and her management team leave tomorrow so I am ready for the games that will ensue. Our 6 boys are back in the country from China and I am looking forward to seeing how a year intensive acrobatic coaching will have changed them, they should be in Nakuru this afternoon.

I cant remember if I mentioned that Scann were pledged a free day trip for everyone, we had it last week on Tuesday (it was labour day which was an official holiday here) At 5.30am ten shuttle buses appeared at Scann and were loaded with boys to go to Nairobi to visit the animal orphanage at the Safari Park. It was a long trip but so much more comfortable than the last trip on the back seat of the school bus!

The boys had a great time, after the safari park we went to a shopping mall and wandered round then had lunch, not a small feat when there are 130 boys and staff to cater for! We all had a great time, I think the highlight of the boys day was finding that there was a lift in the Mall! They crammed as many of them as it would take and spent ages just going up and down. Nakuru only has one lift (as far as I am aware) and none of the boys have ever been in one!

On Thursday the gardener at Scann who speaks NO English came and tried to have an animated conversation with me. It didn't work too well, I later found out that someone had been harvesting all the crop from outside my house and it wasn't him!! I told everyone that it wasn't me either, just how much kale do they think I can eat! I let the gardener know with actions that I would keep an eye open for the culprit!

At 4am Friday morning I was rudely awoken by what I thought was a riot!! There was shouting, and many many people running around my house. I pulled on some clothes and went outside, apparently they had seen the kale thief and were in hot pursuit. Can you imaging 130 boys and the night staff running round trying to catch a thief in the dark, it was madness. There was no more sleep to be had that night, it was like the world cup all over again, so much noise.

In the morning I went to sign on duty only to find the thief had been locked in the office, he was a very old man and had taken a beating from everyone.... apparently that is how they deal with thieves here, apparently he was lucky to be still alive. I am so glad about that! I was a little distressed to see such behaviour that I spent all morning in my house doing last minute sewing for the boys as they are back to school this week. The thief was taken into custody but not after all the day staff who arrived on duty gave him a good thumping....... whilst many things here are developing punishment is still very brutal!. Many get hanged by mobs when caught!

About two hours into the morning a fight erupted between the gardener and the karate coach, apparently the gardener said the karate coach was also stealing veg, however the coach said he had been told he can have it in return for his services. A good punching match began but was soon dispersed. Apparently there were so many bad spirits at Scann that day! I was glad it was the start of my day off and I was headed to Nairobi (Again).

My trip to Nairobi was good, I had to get my taxi friend Jenga to book me a room at the usual place (Parkside) as I couldn't find the phone number. When I arrived in Nairobi I offered to take him for a beer to say thank you. At 8.30 we headed out for a drink............. then another and another, I did point out that I did say one drink! He took me to many local bars that had live music so I could experience the differences! It was great, as usual I was the only non Kenyan! Everyone wanted to dance with me, men and women. Eventually got back at 2.30 am after being told to drive the taxi as he couldn't! He was very impressed with my driving and said that it was OK for me to buy a car if I wanted to as he wouldn't be worried that I would struggle with the driving in Kenya!

I did actually look at some cars as I was told Nairobi was the cheapest place to buy a car. James the acrobatic coach from Nairobi met me on Saturday having set up some car viewings, not quite what I had in mind, one was a custom job on a mini clubman! it had a garden spade attached to the boot door instead of a handle! It was blue and white with a union Jack on the aerial! Can just see me bombing around in it! Crazy woman in the mini!! Anyway am biding my time as I first need to get a Kenyan driving license.

Whilst with James he showed me around the project he is attached to the Nairobi Slums, it was really well organised, they only have 60 boys there, and do the same as Scann, educate, house, feed, cloth. They do however encourage their creative skills, doing drama, dance, acrobatics, art, crafts and many more. They have created various workshops and train the boys in them, wood crafts, mechanics, welding, furniture making, it is really good, I suggested this for Scann last year but it wasn't acted on. They get the skilled people from the community to help by offering them the use of the equipment and workshops in return for teaching skills, all produce is sold in the community and various craft outlets.

I am keeping my options open as far as what happens when I decide to leave Scann!!!!! I will think further on this subject!

Anyway, I hope you are all well, I had a bad throat infection this week but a short course of antibiotics has wiped it out. The cold weather is dampening my spirits. I forgot to mention my trip back to Nakuru started with me sitting in the Mololine shuttle office having booked my seat at 10am yesterday (Sunday) I then sat for 4 hours waiting for an available shuttle to come ......... I forgot as the schools are back this week it is a very busy time for the shuttles! Boy was I tired, 4 hours wait and 3 hours of bumpy roads back to Nakuru, only to find when I got here the heavens had opened and I got totally soaked! I arrived back at Scann with an aching rear, headache, looking like a drowned rat, all I wanted was a hot chocolate and a hot bath, neither of which was forth coming! Mind you, I got the hot chocolate before I fell into bed at 1030pm! I woke up this morning still exhausted.

I decided to come to the internet early as it always rains in the afternoon and I get cold and wet and miserable, so here I am bright and early. Also as the China boys are due back this afternoon I think a great deal of mirth and merriment will be forthcoming and don't want to miss the boys excitement.

Love to you all, take care, be well.


Hugs to everyone.

People here scare me they all keep asking if I want another baby..... have no idea what they are on! DRUGS maybe! I keep saying I have a child that has a child and I have another who could have but doesn't want...... NO I DON'T WANT ANOTHER BABY!!!!!!! I think its a compliment as they see how I am with the kids here, they think my talents are wasted and I should have a football team!

Ok going now! xxxxxx will try and be more regular on the emails as sorry for the long one.