Received the email below a couple of days ago. Parts of it broke my heart and made my cry. Have added an international calling plan to my phone and called her a couple of nights ago. Then this morning, my ex came over and we called and spoke to her again. She sounds good, excited but overwhelmed. Here is her email. I have put ****** at certain places that give out too much information.
"Jambo from ******! Just wanted to let you all know that I am doing well and settling in a bit now. I went on safari this past weekend with the Aussie's and had an AMAZING time! Friday we drove in and stayed in a tent– a really nice one, so don't think I was roughing it too much. We got to see some giraffes, chimps, elephants and many other wild animals within a few feet. Then Saturday morning we went on a lion chase with a tracker! It was pretty awesome. On our way out of the 90,000 acre Safari campground, we got to see a rhino named Max!! He was so cute! We even got to pet him! I have a video to show you later.
This will probably be the last time I will email any of you for awhile because I will [not] have access to a computer. The Aussie's are leaving tomorrow for Mombasa, so I will be staying here alone. I will miss them so much. They have been so nice and welcoming. They have also really helped me get use to the way of life here. The house I am staying in is absolutely gorgeous! The pictures won't do it justice and the view is even more amazing. Mary (who lives here) is extremely kind and very protective in the grandmother sort of way. The are lots of bugs and GIANT spiders and I probably won't have a warm shower while I'm here, but I really have nothing to complain about. Everyone is so kind and helpful. It's a beaufitul country with a beautiful culture.
I just started working at the ******** Special School on Monday. The kiddies are beautiful and happy. It is surprising as most have been raped and abused and/or abandoned by their family. Several of the childrens parents have HIV and are conscious of it. Thankfully, none of them have HIV. Although the children are diagnosed with autism, cerebral palsy, or mental retardation, I believe some of them just have behavior problems, disabled do to fetal alcohol syndrome, or just have some severe behavior problems due to drugs, nurishment, and most of all, from a lack of love. They are constantly reaching out to be hugged, touched, or simply want you to look at them. It is amazing how happy they are when you look in their eyes and smile at them. It's as if they've never felt love before. Again, it is surprising how happy they are. They jump all over me every time I arrive and those who have some verbal capacity will say Mazungu! Which means white man. In fact, all the children on my way to work, yell and point and stare as if they're in a trance at me. In a strange way I feel like a celebrity.
One of the first sentences I was taught in Swahili (sp?) was "sina pesa" which means "I don't have money." If I am ever alone with one of the workers in Mary's house or out in the community… even by the teachers at the school I'm working at, someone asks for something. The big thing everyone asks for is to be "sponsored" by me or one of my friends in the U.S. Some of them ask for specific things, like a phone, or clothes off of my back, and some just say "give me something." They see white and they see not only $$ but a life they probably cannot even dream of. I don't blame them though. They have nothing. The lack of rain hasn't helped them either. Many people have had to harvest their crops early in order to make any money. It is sad, and I still feel selfish saying no. I just tell them that I am here to help the community by helping the children and that all my money and effort is going towards them. Regardless, let's just say that for someone who has a very hard time saying no, I am learning!!
As far as what I am doing here… I really don't even know anymore. I want to help, but I am beginning to feel helpless. I don't even know where to begin!! The school, the teachers, and more importantly, the children, need so so so so much. There is virtually no organization within the school day and virutally no structured instruction. I'm just letting the first week go by until I feel comfortable giving my input. I would love to completely change the entire program and curriculums within each classroom… but I'm just some young mazungu to them, and this is their territory. Plus, the language barrier doesn't help. So, I plan to just ease my ideas in and try to make it as if they came up with the ideas. But again, I really don't even know where to start. It's hard enough to manage the kids behavior, let alone get any instruction in. Today for instance, one child wet and had to change his pants 3x within 20 minutes! During this time, two other students wet their pants and it got all over the floor and chair and its not like they use 409 or anything. Plus, the majority of the students don't have shoes, so they're just walking in it. Ahh… sometimes I just want to cry. I mean the teachers have nothing to teach with. There's no basic school supplies (markers, pencils, crayons, paper, paint etc). There's no computer or printer (which would be so beneficial for these kids since most of them can read pictures, not words). The educational toys are extremely outdated, broken, or useless. The bedding is pretty disgusting too. Plus, the parents who are still around can't even afford for their kids to live at the school… … And the students have been neglected for so many years that they just need constant love and attention to even reach an academic level… but they're so understaffed…. ahhh, the list goes on. So, its safe to say that I am super overwhelmed. Where would you start?!!!
So, I have bought several supplies for the school, but they will only last so long. The school really wants a computer and printer, so I am looking into buying that for them. But idk, is that what I came here for? To buy them some materials and technological devices and just leave? I feel like it's not enough and so insignificant compared to what they need. It just doesn't feel right. I'd rather teach the staff how to fundraise and advocate for themselves. That way, after I am gone, they are have some resources of their own to move forward. Ah, Idk… I wish I wasn't doing this alone.
Anywho, I'm looking into creating a website for them so that people can see the school and the beautiful children in hopes that someone will donate materials or money. I probably won't be able to get all this started while I'm here since I won't have internet access, however if you or anyone you know can help me with establishing this when I get back, I would be eternally grateful (and so would the kiddies). So far I've found that it costs around $30-$40 to set up a domain but then it's around $20 a month thereafter… i think!
Sorry for the longwinded email. I didn't even write about the amazing Beer caretaker, tusker beer, showering in a bucket, Kenyan clubs/DJ's, the street children who sniff glue, and a million other things! I will have plenty of stories when I return. 🙂
Love you all so much! Please call/text me if you can, although I realize international calls may be a bit pricey. My number is 011+2 *** *** ***** and I'm 8hours ahead of Chicago time. I think next couple weeks will probably be the hardest since my Austrailian friends are leaving and I will basically be the only Mazungu in *****!! I would love to hear from you.