24 February 2009


I made the decision to bring the radio to work today.  Not only was it a great decision, but it made the more boring points pass.  It also gave Sue and I different things to talk about and a well needed distraction from hearing more of 'Asante Sana Jesu' in the background.  With spirits high and some good BBC programming to get by, today was a breeze.  Today was mostly small children and infants so the opportunity to do some play therapy was few and far between.  I did get the chance to kick around a ball with one of the children, but he was too scared of me to have a sustained pass.  Children under the age 2 are either terrified or love me.  The terrified ones will run away and hide behind their mother, peeking behind her dress to make sure that they really did see me and to watch if I get closer.  I will stay away at this point.  This means that the child will just stare at me for the reminder of the time he or she is in play therapy.  The ones who have no problem with me will play and laugh as I make some goofy face.  The older kids are usually shy, but have no problem with me working with them.  It is as if they are at the stage where they are too cool to care that a Mzungu is there.  They put on their best act of indifference and go about as if I am not there.  I will not complain about these kids, it is nice to see some kids who do not go crazy when they spot me.

Some of the young pre-k kids that have school behind the SJC saw me today and began to shout the all too common "Mzungu, Mzungu, Mzungu!"  I have found that a reply of "Watoto, Watoto, Watoto!" (Watoto meaning Children) can be fun to shout back and will both make them stop and laugh.  The way I figure is that its better to have them laugh a bit at me than shout Mzungu at the top of their lungs.  Almost two months in and it is still strange to be the center of attention.  I think I have gotten over the whole feeling of isolation due to being a foreigner with a different skin color.  I walk around town and do not feel completely out of place.  I will never be a normal part of Malava, but I can get around and not think about how much I stand out.  That is until a child starts yelling Mzungu.  The reality hits and I remember that I am in fact in Kenya.  That about illustrates the cycle of each day.  There are stretches where I do not really think about where I am and I feel as if everything is going normally.  Then, SLAP somebody or some thing gives me a harsh reminder that I am very far from home.  It is not homesickness, it is just the truth.  I will always be an American in Kenya.  As much as I want to try to fit in, it will only be to a certain extent.  There will always be a gap between myself and everyone here that I cannot jump or even attempt to build bridge (despite my carpentry skills) piece by piece.  Maybe all I can do is just stand at the side of some great river, look across at the people, check out the fish in the middle and on occasion toss out a line and catch a few things from the other side.