Monday, 28 December 2009

Christmas 2009

Christmas Preparations….. 09

Well, a manic time as always but not quite the same as things back home.  My mission was to complete the allocation of the donated clothes to the smaller boys at SCANN before Christmas so that I could send back to the Hawes Down School the photos and information.

I chose the day that the doctor had come to give the all clear medically to the 26 boys who had been circumcised as part of their cultural right of passage. Part of this ritual is that the boys have confinement for at least 2 weeks with no contact with any females, which was the reason why my job was delayed.  I called the doctor to come and give the boys the all clear as the next day was the party by the Coca Cola Roadshow courtesy of the Nairobi Bottlers and I wanted all the boys to be present.  As hoped they were all fine and very pleased to hear they were to be let out of the dormitory.  I allocated the clothes to the boys that most needed them – finally the months of sorting through the boys clothes doing the locker lists paid off! 

The boys were delighted with their gifts from the UK, and if I go by the last few visits to SCANN I don’t think some of the boys have taken the items off!!!   The fleeces and sweaters have come in so well as the weather has changed and it looks like the rainy season has come at last ….. only 5 months late. The mornings start cold and the evenings come in cold too with hot temperatures during the day with thunder and storms followed by heavy, heavy down pours.

The Coca Cola party was like none we had had before, they came with a bus and mini bus with staff and a very large articulated lorry used for outdoor events, with sound systems etc on board and its own stage. They erected a marquee for the smaller boys to sit under, a bouncy castle and face painting, the boys were in ecstasy.  The Team spent huge amounts of energy entertaining the boys, providing lunch, coaching the older boys in ‘safe’ issues, playing football, we played musical chairs, and had dance off competitions that we were all encouraged to take part, me included!  All in all a great day was had by all. The whole neighbourhood gathered outside the walls of SCANN hankering for part of the action and dancing to the music that was on offer.

I don’t know about everyone else but I definitely slept well that night.

Christmas was a low key event, with Yasmine away we postponed many of the activities.  Yasmine is receiving radio therapy in India following her surgery and Chemo therapy here in Nairobi, we are hoping to see her back in a month or so.

The day before Christmas Eve I was informed that there was a Youth Group from Nairobi who wanted to come and spend Christmas Day with the boys playing football, interacting with them and doing workshops.  I was despatched to the  Director of SCANN to get approval and make arrangements for extra supplies etc.

On Christmas Eve I was running round town trying to find items for two of the older boys as they had been missed off the list I was given for gifts supplied by the trustees. I ended up changing the offerings this year and opted that the older boys got body wash and deodorant, something that they do not readily get hold of here after all while at college and university they become more aware of what is considered acceptable on a personal hygiene level. The school boys got geometry sets and the youngest ones got colouring pencils and drawing books, along with everyone getting a bag of crisps, some biscuits and sweets.  This was all collated and bagged up Christmas Eve into carrier bags from the supermarket and I worked with Catherine and Anastasia to get their names written on each bag so it was easier to hand out the items.  I also ordered a carton of milk and an orange for each boy which were to be handed out during Christmas Day, I also needed to include the 20 visitors in this so they didn’t feel left out.

Christmas Day was another thing altogether I was called in the morning and asked to bring my camera as the Youth Group didn’t come with one.  When I arrived everyone was in the dining hall watching a DVD made about a missing Street Boy called Emmanual, I sat and watched what I could then disappeared to help in the kitchen.  When the movie was finished all the boys headed to the field opposite SCANN to either watch or take part in the football tournament, Youth Group against SCANN, I took many pictures and as hoped SCANN won!

We then gathered in the dining hall and together with some of the staff on duty we handed out the 'booty' bags to the boys along with their lunch, sodas and oranges.  I think everyone was happy although due to a miss-calculation on the catering side, the staff ended up with no food.  I personally think it may have had something to do with the fact that the 'visitors' had increased in number as they had phoned friends to join in the fun. I considered this to be a little impolite as the staff had worked very hard to ensure the day went well and we were working to the numbers they had given us of 20!

As the day was to be planned by the visitors I decided that after lunch my presence was not needed as everyone was busy, so I left and headed home to spend the rest of my time with my dog, Kim and cat Paka resting after the mad rush getting everyone else sorted.

Hoping you all had a lovely time and are not now regretting eating and drinking too much.  I am pleased to say that not a drop of alcohol passed my lips nor a piece of chocolate, must be a record!! Will make up for it at some stage I am sure.  I am also managing a good nights sleep as Henry my guard went home for Christmas and I gave him my cockerel, Colin as a gift to his family for Christmas.  Henry told me they would keep it as a pet, but I think that is Henry saving me from knowing that Colin went in the cooking pot, hope he was tasty.  I decided that Colin needed to go before my guests come so they can get some sleep.

Oh and for those that I told about the party Christmas Eve, that I was so looking forward to. I didn't go as we had a power cut which lasted for some hours and I decided that I didn't want to leave the house as an easy target with no guard, no security lights and no one at home.  I think everyone at Cafe Guava had a good time, will have to catch me next time.

Love and festive greetings to you all, attaching photos of the boys from the Coca Cola event (hope you get them OK)

Susannah aka Santa Claus

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Merry Christmas One and All

I am asked by many boys at SCANN to pass on the festive greetings to my family and friends back home in the cold UK.  It would be very remiss of me to do so without wishing it from me too.

I hope that this Christmas is spent with people you love, is peaceful and full of great spirit and that 2010 brings a Happy New Year promising peace, love, happiness and less hardship to everyone here in Kenya and home in the UK too.

My love and best wishes to you all. Take care of yourselves during the crazy weather you are having, I hope you all stay safe on any travels that you are planning.

Home is where you heart is and mine is a very big heart, I will be with all of you this Christmas...................xxxxxxxxx


Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Housewarming at Last

Last week I promised Nick and family that they could come round for a meal to say thankyou for all the work he does for me when I am not around and I am unable to pay him for it.
I arranged with Sheila (his 'wife') that they come round on Saturday evening.  Nick on Saturday morning called to say his family was coming but he couldnt make it as he was busy driving round two Irish men who he was now committed to.  I had met these two men the day before when they were passing and Nick dropped in for a cup of tea and introductions.  I suggested to Nick that he ask them to come too as I was not too happy inviting Nicks family without him.
I went to SCANN saturday morning to do the clinic which was quite quick as not many patients..... I shot into town and went to the market (which is always open) it was closed, apparently the municipal council decrees that Jamhuri day is a an official closure day for the market.  I had planned on doing vegetable stew and rice with a pudding..... bit of a problem without veg! I ended up against my usual shopping trends at the supermarket and bought as little as I could get away with because compared to the market the prices are crazy and produce less fresh.
I lit the jiko at 12.30 and started preparing the food assisted by Henry who decided if he was to eat with us and join in he should at least help.  Now I got a call from Nick confirming that the Irish men were coming too, so I needed to add more rice (allowed for).  With two jikos fired up I started cooking, I think it was 5pm when I stopped and was ready to greet my guests, instead of the 4, plus the two irish men Henry and I, I ended up with another volunteer and Sheilas niece too.  We had just enough food to go round and the desert which I had used two packets to make the creme caramel ended up being a sharing desert, everyone was given a spon and took turns taking a spoonful, I called it a sharing pudding!
Things that I had not taken into account, the most I have cooked for is 6 and I dont have big enough dishes, bowls or saucepans to cater for this many, it took alot of gigging about to finally get dinner on the table, but I dont think anyone noticed and it would appear that a great time was had by all.  Even managed a dance too!
Sunday was a bit quiet though this allowed me to catch up on my sleep and washing.
Yesterday, I hired a car and went to visit Mama Sweetie and her brood of children.  I found that her children had gone to visit a relative leaving Mama Sweetie with the 5 smaller children that she is now taking charge of.  The orphanage building has stopped as the main builder has been unwell and nothing will be done without him, it is also now the Christmas season so everything would stop anyway as many people travel to their rural homes to spend the festive time with their families.  We had a lovely time, I took my laptop (charged) and let the children watch some childrens animated movies, they dont have electricity so this was a great treat for them.
I took along with me some ugali flour, bread, butter, cooking oil and a sack of oranges together with some of the clothes from Hawes Down School to provide them with some warm clothes for the cold nights.  The children thought, rightly so that it was Christmas, they loved the clothes (even though they were a little big) I am sure they will grow quickly.
I took many pictures and a couple of short movies to send back to the school in the UK.  The clothes for SCANN are still waiting to be given out as the boys they will fit have been circumcised, so it would be unfair to hand out some bits of clothes and they are unable to receive them and have photos at the same time.  I should be able to hand them out the begining of the week when their 3 weeks of confinement is over.
I hope you are all well and ready for Christmas, if you arent yet then you need to get your skates on.
The weather is still hot during the day and cold at night, Paka has taken to lying on me to keep me warm (Cat) regular fights with the mosquito net ensue and wake me up but it is worth the effort for the extra warmth!
Love to you all,
now I have had the housewarming, apparently my house is now blessed and protected..... I hope so!
I hope to be in touch again before Christmas but incase I get hijaked by Irish or aliens, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


Thursday, 10 December 2009

Rain Just When You Don't Want It


I know I complain when there is no rain and complain when there is.  Today was so hot and I left home early to get lots done at SCANN.  By 9am the sun was beating down and the earth was just piles of dusty dirt clinging to everything.  I had an early shower, hair included and decided to stop it getting too dusty put it into two plaits, looked just like a school girl.

I trip to SCANN ever eventful involved popping my head into a new internet cafe on the main road and finding it wasn't working then getting on a matatu who wanted to charge me 15bob instead of 10bob for where I alight.  He obviously decided it was better not to argue with me and just smiled and wished me a good day.  I avoided the group of young men who always give me a bit of hastle for 'breakfast' but never get any. Found a boda boda man and headed down the steep hill to SCANN.  When I got there it was cooler as always as it is surrounded by trees and in the shade, so temperature wise it was good workable temperature.

I got to work completing the forms that I was summarising and put the results on the computer, by this time it was getting towards lunchtime for the boys.  I sat in the dining room watching them eat their githerie (bean stew) and continued working.  Later I decided it was time to leave and headed to the computer room to put my paperwork away (so tired of carrying it there is so much and it is so heavy).  

I got caught by Kombo who wanted to go over the details for Christmas lunches etc, apparently my input was imperative.  It took about 30 minutes of discussion, when we had finished and I was about to leave the heavens opened, I was stuck at SCANN for an hour and a half.  Now today I had no sweater or jacket and definitely no umbrella, every other day I carry a sweater and a waterproof jacket, just my luck.

I sat with the boys in the computer room watching them completing new computer learning skills programs that have been provided by a college here in Kenya, they love them.  I waited patiently for the rain to cease, but it seemed to be here to stay, in a short period of less rain I ran to the office where Kombo was sorting out the clothes we are to give out for Christmas, I borrowed a Reebok jacket and legged it up the road.  

When I arrived in town I was walking along one of the small alleys to the main street, along the way there were two small children playing at scaring each other by roaring, watched on by their parents.  As I walked by I roared at them to join in, unfortunately the children were not amused and as I quickened my pace along I heard the children screaming in terror, I didn't think I was that scary.... obviously I am. There will be two more traumatised children who are scared of white people now!

I decided to sit in the internet and check my emails, still feeling guilty about the screaming children, but it is now warm and comforting to know that my friend Nick is free to collect me in about 30 minutes instead of fighting my way through the crowds to the matatu stage only to be crammed into the matatu for the bumpy journey home.    Don't you just love Kenya!

Love to you all, a rather damp and mouldy smelling Susannah

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Busy, Busy, Busy 8th December 2009

I am so sorry that it has been so long since I last wrote to you all, I bet you are getting bored with nothing else to read! No I haven't been busy writing Christmas cards, sorry not sending any this year......!

OK, I had a meeting with one of the Directors of SCANN who has given me various jobs, one of which to finish the job I started and another Kenyan volunteer took over which entailed logging all the clothes that the boys have in their locker. It would have been a good thing if the new volunteer had used the same format as I was following as it took a long time to establish how many different items of clothes each boys has. The list I have been given as the update has missed off many items making my life very difficult.... do I just go with her list as gospel or do I go back and fill in all the blanks giving myself double the work.

On that note I am still eagerly waiting to complete the above work so that I can give out the donations kindly given by Hawes Down School, but officially until I complete the work I am unable to establish who needs what. I can't wait to take photos and send them back to the school along with some letters.

In addition to this work which is gruelling paperwork, I am also given the job of arranging two parties over Christmas for the boys. These are not parties as we know it just additional items on the menu and if I feel good a dance party, which is crazy hectic especially as most of the staff are off and I am the only volunteer here at the moment. (At least last year I had Thomas to help).

Today we had a 'create our own Christmas decorations' session with two friends who came to help. It was a bit crazy lots of paint, glitter and glue but we had a great time, lots of stories and laughs. I am not sure many of the painted items will be recognised for what they are but they are all named and the boys are proud of their creations. I think more glitter was sprinkled on the boys than on the papers.

In addition to this I am behind on sending my emails and updating my blog, everything here takes so long, travelling to and from SCANN in the heat of the day, struggling along crowded 'pavements' (not as we know them) with bags of work and shopping, then fighting to get a seat on the matatu home when you have to share your seat with another person or sit in the gap between the seats and are still expected to pay full price....... I get exhausted but love it. No wonder I have no social life and fall into bed at 8pm to be awoken by the cockerel anytime from 2.30am!! He may well get eaten over Christmas before more guests arrive! If nothing else I NEED MY BEAUTY SLEEP!!

During the Christmas holidays there is no scheduled work done the boys are left without the tuition that they usually do during other holidays, so we play games, (outdoor and in). They watch movies, they loved the Jumanji and Night at the Museum that I came with, I am not sure how many times they have watched them. I have done no sewing yet as I haven't had the energy, but The Director has offered for me to have someone who does the sewing so I may just have to let them do so, as have little energy for anything else at the moment.

The water situation is fine now, no problem with hot showers, but the rain we had for a few days has now gone, the clouds build with the promise of a heavy fall but they move on elsewhere........ empty promises!

My house without Fatso is a great deal more relaxed, Kim enjoys time in the house when I am around and is great company. Paka is often a distraction when he comes running into the house with a bird in his mouth, Kim never quite knows what to do.... chase the cat or watch in horror as he eats the bird! So many feathers are left lying around for me to clear up, at least there are no gooey bits.

My love to you all at this run up to Christmas, hoping you have already done your shopping to avoid the rush.

Hot and sweaty in Nakuru,


Water, Water Everywhere... But Not in the Taps! - 18th November 2009

Jambo All,

Well so much seem to have happened and also nothing at all. I am busily keeping track of my ‘house guests’ Moses and Francis (the acrobats) whilst having drop-in visits from Sammy, Peter and a friend called Rono. People have heard that I am back in town and want to make sure I am Ok after my upsetting return to nothing last year.

I am being the hostess with the most’est and providing Ugali and Sukuma like a good Kenyan.

I visited Yasmin with Sammy, Moses and Francis on Sunday just before she left for Nairobi, she was due to have surgery on Monday, I haven’t heard the outcome yet, but hope it went OK. I was quite surprised to see how well Yasmin looked as in August when I left she was so weak and frail I thought it was the last I would see her. Apparently the reaction to the chemo therapy was extreme with her and affected her badly. I will let you know how she is doing when I know more. Yasmin will be in Nairobi for two weeks recuperating before she returns to Nakuru.

On a lighter note let me tell you a story, as you will already know my water situation is this, I get water via the mains pipe on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday supposedly, this water I pump into a large roof level water tank for use when there is no mains water supply. Now in theory this works Ok, there are problems when….

a) There is work being done anywhere in the vicinity.

b) There is an electric power cut this prevents the mains water being pumped from the borehole supply.

c) Someone forgets to flick the switch or

d) I am out and miss when the water is available.

e) No specific reason at all!

Usually these problems are not large ones as there is usually water in the storage tank. Last week however, Thursday to be exact I had no water supply and could not fill the storage tank, not a problem as we had water and just needed to top up which I would do on Sunday, or so I thought. My visitors Francis and Moses are rather meticulous with washing and wash everything in sight until is sparkles, so water is used in rather large supplies.

On Saturday I noticed a work team digging a large trench outside the property along the roadside, in approximately the same line as the water pipe. I presumed this was to supply the new property across the road from me with mains water, I jokingly sent my friendly water man a message to this effect saying that if there was no water on Sunday as a result I would not be happy!! I received no reply.

On Sunday, you guessed it….there was no water and the workmen as expected were no where to be seen (probably at church service). On Monday I notice another trench was being dug on the other side of the road and on walking into town I noticed that these trenches were in fact covering quite a distance and many people were out with jerry cans looking for water. Alarm bells started ringing and I went outside this morning and asked one of the workmen when were we to get water, he said it would be another week!

I left Francis and Moses in the house Tuesday morning and went to SCANN very early to take staff photos arriving there for 7.30am to make sure I caught the night staff before they left. I asked Francis and Moses to be careful with the water, on my return they said there was a problem and there was no water, I checked the tank and it was empty, I checked the mains and they were dry……….. I called my ‘friend’ at the water department and asked him if he had forgotten to tell me something important last time I spoke to him, as there was NO water. He said he would look into it and has been unavailable since!

I stood outside this yesterday morning looking at my wilting tomato plants and kale dreading having to water them…….. I needn’t have worried as there was no water.

When I found that there was no mains available I stood outside in a huff and did a rain dance asking for the heavy clouds to hesitate over Nakuru and drop rain!

About 2 hours later the heavens opened, I ran outside with every bucket and basin available and strategically placed them where they would collect the most water. I was relieved that I would be saved from watering the crops, however my pleasure was short lived when all the basins were being used outside and my roof started leaking inside. Nothing else to use but saucepans!

So much for having no water! Mind you this hasn’t helped the fact that I have only a litre of drinking water in my fridge and rainwater to wash and flush the loos with for possibly a week! I sent the boys out yesterday afternoon to buy me a large jerry can and a couple of supermarket bottles of water, they still hadn’t returned by 10pm but eventually arrived with water bottles as promised. Washing up sat overnight and was done this morning!

What I want to know is how difficult is it to put up fly posters to let people know what is going to happen so they can store water before they cut it off! They could even have printed it on the bottom of our last bill as this is obviously a large job that has been planned for a while. It isn’t as if water is readily available in the area!!

Ok that is my moan for now, at least it means that I won’t have to worry about washing and cleaning for a while, will think about that challenge when water arrives. More pressing is the fact that I didn’t shower night before last, no water to shower last night and haven’t washed my hair in 3 days, could be getting desperate enough to wander down to Hotel Mercia to use their facilities, basin washing is Ok but not sufficient.

My sleepless nights have been reduced by the fact that I have finally let Joe have Fatso. Whilst it was sad to see her go, things here are a lot more sedate, less jumping around and messing up cleanly put on clothes, she never did learn to keep her paws on the floor. Kim is settling into a routine of being around the house during the day when I am about, she is good company, and when I am out or at night she is on guard outside in the porch. I think that maybe the cockerel will be my next victim as he crows anything from 3am onwards but for him it will probably be someone’s cooking pot!

Just call me stinky from Nakuru!!

Love to you all, enjoy your turn of a tap!!!