22 January 2009

Work, Visitors, and the Butcher

After a rewarding day with Judi yesterday, I was treated to a dinner creation by Michael that he likes to call "Loaded Irish Ugalli."  LIU is mashed potatoes plus boiled tomatoes, hot dogs, onions, and carrots.  Thus far, this is a favorite of our creations.  Tonight's dinner involved our first journey into Kenyan beef.  There are plenty of butchers in town to choose from.  To be one, you must have a sign that says "butcher" and beef.  Generally the best ones will have it hanging in view so you can see where your meet is coming from.  Many of you are imagining meet hanging on hooks that is ready to be used as a punching bag by Rocky, but you are sadly very far away from the truth.  What hangs is not prepared, but fresh from the cow meat.  You can see how it once was an animal and smell that it is certainly no longer alive.  Do not worry, flies keep the it company as well as the butcher himself.  You order your meet, he lops off a piece of "fillet," weighs it, bags, wraps in newspaper, and hands over.  Thoroughly disgusted, we left with a heap of meat.  It was used tonight to make Kenyan corned beef and cabbage.  Once completed, we enjoyed boiled cabbage, potatoes, tomatoes, and rubber.  I can now say that I never intend to buy meat that is not frozen again.  Hot dogs were great last night and I am willing to pay the extra when I want meat.

As for today, Sue and I spent the day making notes on what we want to discuss for tomorrow's meeting.  The staff at St. Julie's waited for us to have their yearly planning meeting.  Fortunately, this will give us the chance to express what we believe that we can help accomplish with the center.  There is a significant need for organization of records and the acquisition of funds.  Sue and I believe that we are able to at least begin to move in a direction so that they can better help themselves.  We holed up in the office for what was a rather slow day in terms of clients, and brainstormed what we think we could accomplish.  I will not say too much about what we brainstormed because it was expansive and conjecture.  Hopefully, tomorrow I will be able to explain how these ideas have become jobs and tasks for the year.

On a lighter note, we had a visitor this afternoon.  By we I mean that I had a visitor and Michael came in at the very end to save the day.  A young man who introduced himself to us on Monday as a church member came over well dressed and and ready to do business.  I had a feeling that he was going to ask for a favor when he indicated that there was a few things he wanted to talk over with us, but I could not just say that he was an unwelcome guest.  So, he came and we sat down in the house.  He explained his upbringing, being one of four and having divorced parents.  His secondary education had been paid for by his older brother who is now an assistant principal, but now he wants to go to college and is in need of money to go.  To assure me of his credentials he brought a portfolio of work and certificates that speak to his dedication as a student.  He showed me his achievements, written work, and commendations.  A very intelligent and savvy guy, he wants to study to be a lawyer.  He also went out of his way to make sure that I knew he was who he said he was.  That brought out first his school id, then his Kenyan id, birth certificate with a copy for me, and finally his passport.  Of course, he allowed me to examine them.  Putting on my best Worcester bouncer face, I examined each document as if I knew what to look for other than his name, birthday, and birthplace.  Unable to come up with a reasonable excuse, I could only tell him that I would have to discuss with the rest.  But, just as we were finishing, Michael and Jean came back.  Knowing that it was best to leave, Jean darted off and Michael was thrown into the abridged version of the young man's story.  Being quick of mind and short on patience, Michael told him that we were unable to do any work outside of our sites as per our agreement with CMMB and NDMV.  With that an hour ordeal was ended with a very short response by Michael.  We advised him to talk to the Father, whom he knows well, and the SND's who may be in a better position to help him.  I do honestly believe that he wants to study, but somehow people continue to think that we are there to solve all the problems of the community.  In doing so, we are to help any person that has a need.  I wish that it was that simple, but we cannot do everything.  There are so many needs for this town let along the St Julie's Center.  Our focus can only remain on the task at hand despite what may be a honorable plea.  I really hope that he is able to get some sort of support to get a higher education.  He seems to be smart and driven to do the necessary work for college and beyond.

To change direction, the Daily Nation was covered in Obama stuff yesterday.  I forgot to mention this, but it was crazy.  The entire national section was just stories about Obama.  There was also a special insert about the inauguration.  I would estimate that a good 60% of the stories in the paper from yesterday were related to Obama.  There are a few articles that try to calm the expectations of the people, but when you have a paper that focuses solely on the American president, it becomes hard to make it seem as if Obama is not going to save Kenya.  Kenya must realize that it is a long way from the United States, and people will not all of a sudden flock to the homeland of the president.  That is not to say that this country does not have a lot to offer, but you can go to the beach and see animals for a lot cheaper than just the airfare to Kenya.  Europe, maybe there is a chance, but I really don't see American tourists jetting off to Kenya for a vacation.  This is also compounded by the fact that the Kenyan government is corrupt, Malaria is an issue, there is no drinkable tap water, hospitals are a worry (especially blood transfusions), and the infrastructure is rotten (to be kind).  I will be the first to say that this is a beautiful country with wonderful people and everyone should come who can, but it is just not reasonable.  All that will come of this is dejection on the part of the Kenyan people and further mistrust with our government.

Things continue to worsen in Zimbabwe and the DR Congo.....Keep your ears to the ground and keep reading the news.  This region of the world is hanging by a thread.  I think a significant amount of violence will break out in at least one country this year.  Even in Kenya, you can get the feeling that things are held together with Scotch Tape.  It will not take much for this all to crumble.  Somehow, the people have come to forget/ignore what happened last year.  When you mention it, every person loses his or her vibrancy.  What happened was terrible, but it just ended and life resumed.  Unresolved problems will always simmer under the surface waiting for the chance to boil over.

Witnessed a lightening cloud that was like the beginning of "It's A Wonderful Life."  Just turn the star angels that are speaking to each other, flashing with each word back and forth, into clouds.  A great conversation between who I can only imagine is Zeus and maybe Mars (I just like the name).  Either way, it was surely the Gods at work trying to decide if rain would come tonight (the answer is no thus far).

Good night and good day.

A bit random today, huh?