Saturday, January 21, 2012

My thoughts thus far

Part 1 – Somebody has just got to hear my story.

For those who know me, know a ‘Trevor’ story. For those who don’t, it’s just all around good. I’m start by building excitement o get everyone listening then I’ll forgot what to do with my arms, and usually realize that my story is not nearly as exciting as I’ve made it out to be.

Well I am realizing the stories I want to tell people, I want to tell in person. “I don’t really want to write this down. I don’t really want to take the time to write this down. I want to tell you how I feel.” –Mos Def. But it needs to be heard.

I love my life, my work, and my village. Everyday I have a moment I wish I could share. Like giving my home stay brothers a soccer ball; or telling my supervisor, and best friend here, that this country needs people like him who do work because work needs to be done, not because someone is paying them; or conversing with a deaf man in my village; or watching two kids run off with my bike so they can wash it in the stream for me. And it just feels good to hear my name or be welcomed within the community. The who time I’ve been at my site has been quick and long, I’ve been motivated and had days I didn’t want to get out of bed, I’ve been mentally spot on and also so confused that I cant speak any language, English or Swahili. There is a lot to absorb and a lot to be done. I wrote a story the best way I can describe what a day ‘feels’ like.

The leap
Remember what it is like to be a child. Take a moment and reflect was it was like. To run just to run. To wait all day just for a chance to feel the wind on your face as you run to the closest creek, or lake, or stream. To where trees where the only thing around, beside you. Just you. And all alone you take a look and see an spot you can jump the creek without getting wet. But it’s further than you’ve ever jump. The water is cold and you don’t want to make the long trip back home. But you do it. You take the chance. You grab yourself, make sure you have all of yourself and you squat down, push your in the dirt and go. You take the leap, just to see what is on the other side. For a moment you question how far you will make it, but then the moment passes and you land. Your body full of electricity. your heart trying to explode out of your chest. And you glance back at that leap. I did it, you say. Lets see what’s on the other side.

That is what my life is like. Everyday I have challenges, uncertainty. Fear and doubt. Every day. Can I really help these people? I want to, boy do I want to, but do I have enough guidance to make an impact. Can I clear the creek? I know if I don’t make it I’ll just get wet, walk home, and dry off and be fine and continue on. But I wont ever know what is on that other side of the creek and I won’t have made an impact in the village. What is out there? What my potential is. And what I can do. So I jump. I keep jumping. Everyday I rise to the occasion. And when I jump everyday, my life is a story of how I stood up.

Part II Wants
I like. I want. I need.

Ningependa. Ninataka. Ninahitaji.
I would like, I want, and I need. All three of these will get you a soda in my village. The Germans have a saying, child -“Ich will, Ich will” Mother -“Will ist Tod.” (“I want I want.” “Will is dead.”). The Germans don’t always have the nicest way of teaching (anyone read Grimm?).

I say, that your own happiness, in Kenya, living in a 3rd world country, in life, is under your own control. I have everything I need, I have more than I need and I see people every day with less. I ask, where does your water comes from, how did it get there. If I ask anyone here, they would tell me, it got here because of me. I carried it here. Some would tell me, I dug a hole in the riverbed till I found water, or from a man-made water reservoir and I filled my buckets and carried it on my back home. Daily. And it’s hard. This is village life.

The severity of life makes my work valuable; a little work can go a long way. My wants are to help, the same reason I’m here. I want to provide an opportunity for these people.

I have more than I need to be happy here. My happiness is in my control to find. I feel this is more difficult for me to realize in American, mostly because there are so many things telling us what me should want, or need or like. In the bush of rural Kenya, there are very few external influences and when the rain comes is the biggest influence here.

Part III Some will never get the chance<
In America there is access to almost any information. Any idea or topic, just pull the phone out and Google it. In rural Kenya, I can’t usually get past the google search page on my laptop, but there is still a lot of information, just one topic. Life. That’s all there is, is life. Life is hard. Famine exists. Water is far; drought is long. But people are living life.

I’m writing this blog to show two points of view. One the limited opportunities that exist in the village and the lives of the poor, and how many Americans will never get the chance to experience it. In the area, there are very few opportunities for the youth. If their family has a little money, they can get educated. If they finish secondary school, they are educated living in an area where 95% of the labor is small-scale farming. If the family has enough money the youth can move to a more developed area, but when families have multiple children going to school and their means of income is their farm, this is rare.

It is also rare that someone in America can really see how much we have. We have high levels of unemployment and its difficult to find a job, I cannot deny this and I still agree this is a large issue. We have schools that are underfunded and teachers that are underpaid, but our school system still encourages free thinking and to take risks (entrepreneurship). To live in this area shows how much life people have, not just the rich or the fortunate, but people.

To end I was told a Kamba saying that I really enjoy. It says that when you stumble, to take what you stumbled on and use it to build your house. I’ve got a big house to build.

nimapotea sana

i've been gone a while, mostly because internet is a difficult horse to wrangle. I am able to check my emails, with some effort and when i have accessed the internet at my house it involved standing on top of a pile of brinks in an open field at 10 at night. But any way i have a three part blog that i put on a flash drive and am here now, at an internet cafe. enjoy. sorry I dont have pictures. That may be my next adventure.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Story where he wrote love on his arm

This story is about when my friend Mattchew visited my site.

First we met in machakos, then I took him on the bus ride to my site. Once off the bus we had a 45 minute walk to my house.

On the way to my house we ran into my friend Jahap. Jahap is probably twenty years old, male, who lives in my village. We have new spoke together, but he is one of my best friends here. Jahap is deaf and is home from school. I usually see him riding his bike through town, sometimes with 3 jugs of water on it, and anytime he sees me, he gives me the biggest greeting I’ve had. He is always smiling and happy and excited to see me. Our conversation consists of hand signals, what we are currently doing, if we are staying here or if we are on our way someone else.

Back to the story. Jahap finds us, and gives us his typical greeting and conversation. Then he writes the word love on his arm and points to his arm and points to me and repeats this, to tell Mattchew that he loves me. Another moment that make my experience.

Day in the Life

This post will be about a day in the life of me, cause its incredibly exciting (I do wake up happy everyday).
6:30am –the time I usually wake up, from here I cant make any guarantees on how quickly I get out of bed, mom can attest to me calling still in bed and still sleepy.
7:00am –if I running this morning I’ve ate and gotten ready by 7. I’ve been running on a dried out river bed, I cant get myself ever do a “traditional” workout.(this includes inverted push-up, 1-legged squats or step-ups along the way when I get tired).
8:00am- I’m showered feed, and mostly clothed. I’ll usually clean my house or read until I leave for the day.
9:00-10:00am I start my way into town, if im walking this is 45 minutes and a dozen hand slaps, I can’t call the kamba high five a high five, because its so much more.
10am-3:00pm I could be doing anything, but its usually three things; I’m sitting through a CBO meeting, entirely in kamba, waiting for when they ask me questions, conversing with the town and snagging a few Swahili or kamba lessons, or I’m at my supervisors’ house watching his baby chase the chickens naked.
4:00-5:00pm – I might be taking chai at the obama ’coffee’ shop, then heading over to the water kiosk. Our community center has a large water reservoir that collects water from a near town and sells it, very cheap, to the community. I spend a lot of time sitting and watching the community collect their water.
7:00pm- By 7, I’ve finished everything, talked with the men who live on the compound with me and probably about to start dinner. –dinner has been bean/lentils/rice and soy nuggets with vegetables.
The night- ill finished my night reading and then talking a cold shower before bed.

Monday, August 29, 2011


Just like America, Kenya has weather. But unlike Oregon, when its Cloudy it isn't about to pour. I still am getting used to this. And after living in Kenya for close to three months, I've had one real rain.

Our training took place in Loitoktok, a quickly developing town at the base of Mt Kilo near amboseli nation park. During our stay there, it was cold every other day. In the town, most mornings where chilling, but around 1 or 2 it would usually be sunny and 85 degrees. If you go 20 minutes north, away from the mountain, it was usually much warmer. Also Walking ten minutes south, toward the mountain, was yet colder.

Waking out to Mt Kilo was cool. It really disappears into the sky. Most mornings it was very clear and we had a great few of it; a sky without clouds. Everyday around noon, clouds would appear and the mountain would hide in the sky.

Now i am living near Tawa (the closest posta). It is semi-arid, drought prone, hilly area. The hills cover the land, and most of them are filled with gardens, naturally irrigated for when the rain comes, I am told November at the latest. There is a good amount of green here, but I was also told that the entire area will be covered once it rains. When its cold here, its probably just below 70 and I get asked if I'm cold in just a sleeved shirt. I tell them there is not cold in Kenya.

The stars are different here. You can see them. I also knew that there was a milky way in the sky, the portrait you see in pictures, but i never though you could see it without a telescope. In kenya, you can see the sky at night and it is something else.


The Best thing I have every done.

In my opinion, you do not fully appreciate life, until you give two Africa children a soccer ball. Then imagine what it is like to teach them how to throw and catch a football, which I left with them along with matching soccer shorts. This made the pages of paperwork worth each hour. I would wake the next few mornings to the sound of a ball bouncing and Nuton counting, onetwothreefour……eightytwoeightrythree. I got woke with a smile.

To the Kenyans, its seems that I gave up so many things in order to life here with them. In church last Sunday, the pastor was talking about attachment to earthly positions and momentary satisfaction, a similar message I’ve heard in America. He said, “see our friend here (me), he gave up all that America has to live here and help people.” Thankfully this portion of the message was in English and not the local mother tongue, Kikamba, which I am learning, slowly).

The way Kenyans few America is, in their words, 'like heaven'. They see America as a land where life is easier and there are so many things we can buy and use to make ourselves happier. And really, this is the image we told them to think, because of our media leakage. I don’t disagree with capitalism or the media, but the message the rest of the world receives in incomplete. This topic reminds me of Thomas Friedman’s Hot Flat and Crowded, where American's consumption is dictating the rest of the world. (Again, I am not commenting on America's level of consumption, only their global influence).

Thats just life

Well first things first, I’ve been a little busy. I have just starting living at working at my site, I am located in a village called Kitile, near mbumbuni, south east of Nairobi and at 5500’. I have a very nice house, and as always much more than I need. I am enjoying myself. And that is what leads me to write my first real blog.

After living in Kenya for almost 3 months, I have a number of stories and just as many moments where I am in awe of the people here. When I first arrived at my home stay, I had just realized the depth of my adventure hit me. I was about to be living in new place, with new people for two years. It was a big moment and soon after, Simon, my home stay brother asked me, “Trevor, can you help me with math and teach me to write compositions with good adverbs and similes.” Life is good.

Simon and Nuton (13 and 7), my brothers, are a lot of fun to live with. Nuton was a little shy and wouldn’t talk much to me, but we just be excited to be around me. We would go for walks and he would be skipping with the biggest smile his face could make. Another good moment was when I left Nuton wear my sunglasses, aviators what fit my big head. He walked around town with his face held high, to keep them from falling, and another large grin on his face. We would also watch cartoon together.
Simon is a matured little man. He is much more studious than Nuton, who hates school, and does his chores on time. He also started breeding rabbits, Sungura. When I arrived, he had one rabbit but about a month before I left, he asked me to go with him to pick up another rabbit. 3 hours later, after getting lost through some hills, we got him a second and he could start breeding. I did miss the rabbit giving birth birth, also the goat.

My Mama is a very social, happy woman. She is very motherly, and one day, when I looked red in the face (because I’m a white boy living in Kenya) she insisted that I couldn’t do my laundry that day and needed to rest and eat a lemon. In the end it was a good story and I got lots of help the next to day to finish my laundry in record time (usually takes an hour and half). Mama also speaks very very fast with a thick kikuyu accent. The result of which taught me a very good ear for Swahili, so after not understanding anything for the first 6 weeks, I could now hear the language and I am very thankful for it.

Baba spent a lot of time working. He would go to Nairbo and buy kids clothing he and mama would sell in markets. He would also do the transporting of the clothing and set up the market stands. On a normal day, he would leave at 8am and come home at 9pm. And he would reply to anything he I had to say with, “that is very good,” he is a very nice man and always had a smile.

When it was time to leave, it was harder than I expected. There are definitely times during the home stay that aren’t easy. You have restricted freedom, a 630pm curfew and do everything in a new language. It is hard not to become attached to a Kenya family that you live with for 10 weeks. They seemed to like me too and Simon and Nuton even cried when I left. I was a blessing to know that I have two Kenya children that miss me.