29 January 2009

Hot Shower!

After two weeks of struggling with the solar shower, I was able to enjoy my first actual hot shower since Nairobi.  We have had some warm showers, maybe two.  Mostly it has been slightly above or at room temperature.  When that comes from a small shower head (or I should say, a plastic cone with about 10 or so holes attached to plastic tubing whose pressure is based on gravity) the shower is miserable and leaves you feeling marginally cleaner.  I can now say that this is the cleanest I have felt since in Malava.  It also happens to have been on my busiest day of work.

The morning started early, 6:30, with a bathroom call and a terribly unsettled stomach.  Most mornings, I wake up to my stomach doing its best flu impersonation.  This had begun to subside until yesterday, when it started at 4:30am.  I was able to hold myself in a small ball, which is probably big by most standards, and sleep until 7.  Today, I was awakened by my stomach wishing that it was the rooster or the cow as the cause.  I considered resting, but I figured that I would pop two pepto tablets and get on to work.  Thankfully, this was the right choice.  By the time I arrived at the SJC everything was back in order.  Some pangs lingered, but I was put to work immediately.  Judi arrived with a bunch of lumber and beckoned for the Toms to get to work.  Tom and I, I am not schizo  Tom is another person, were put to the task of making new stairs for the center.  Before today, to enter the property of the SJC you had to hike up a short but steep incline.  There are a few foot holes, but as the mud begins to take over the dirt each step becomes one closer to a face plant.  If it is trouble for able-bodied individuals to make it up this incline that it is nearly impossible for the children with CP to ascend.  The morning was spent sawing wood for the steps, applying a stain, nailing the wood together, cutting the steps, placing the frames and adding struts.  I can say that for the first time chai time was an actual break from constant work.  I finally earned my chai and mendazi!  After break we finished up the stairs.  Monday we will build a plank/bridge to span the distance between the road and the stairs.  All the roads are severely crowned due to the rains that will come in a few months.  I am told that the sides will be two full rivers of water because of all the rain.  The bridge will allow people to cross the water and access the stairs without getting wet.

As if that was not enough, I finished the work day by spending time with Joy and Neto to learn how to do the monthly finances.  Since we are not open on Fridays, today is the last day of the month.  We totaled the receipts for the month, checked them against the logs, and checked that against the money.  All basic accounting tasks that are now under my control.  I am now to keep the books, manage the accounts, and administer travel expenses to clients.  All in all today was a great day.  I will then get the petty cash expenses from David next week, log the information in excel spread sheets, and finally enter all information into Quick Books.  It is a nice feeling to have a bit of responsibility, let alone the task of operating and monitoring the day to day finances.  I am not the one that will pay employees and things like that, but I think that I have a nice niche at the SJC.

The afternoon was left to some laundry, boiling water, and reading Infinite Jest (just keeps getting better with each sentence).  Our friend William, who I have mentioned without name in previous posts but I now feel it is fine to say his name, came by to say hello.  We spoke of Kenyan politics and he taught me a bit about how the system here works.  Although the circumstances of our friendship began under rather un-ideal means, I have been enjoying hearing what he has to say.  I have privy to conversations between adults about Kenya, but it is important to speak to someone who is my own age.  He has lofty goals of making it as an MP.  I hope that his strong beliefs will not fade and he will justly serve his constituents.  He will return to Uganda soon, but I am sure that he will remain in touch throughout the year.

In news, the Nakumatt in Nairobi suffered gas explosion.  Nakumatt is the Kenyan Walmart.  They are building one in Kakamega, which I hope will be open within the next few months.  A gas pipe burst in a loud bang and ignited shortly after.  The fire trucks arrived 30 MINUTES after the incident.  Traffic on the Uhuru parkway prevented the trucks from arriving at the blaze in a timely fashion.  When there, it was discovered that most hydrants did not work.  As a result the building burned down.  I have heard of only one death and five people missing.  It is really sad when something like this happens and the structures in place prevent help from arriving when it is needed.  I can't help but feel a bit concerned when I hear about these stories in Kenya.  I am not confident in the country if something was to go wrong to me or near me.  I am not one to generally worry, but it is not terribly reassuring in the least.