23 April 2009

Language Barrier

Swahili lessons picked back up and I still have a long way to go with this language.  I felt semi-confident in Mombasa with the little I knew, but today set me straight.  As I learn more verbs I have come to understand more, but every time I think I am getting far it only takes a small conversation to prove that I know nothing.

The work week has come to an end via a slow but steady day at the SJC.  Sue had to pick up lab results in Kakamega, so I was left to my own devices in the office.  Doing both of our stuff kept me generally busy until it was time for chai and chapatti.  I am encouraged by the fact that the kids have grown to not only recognize me, but smile upon arriving and seeing me.  It has taken awhile and nothing more than time has been my greatest aid.  Being away for vacation did not set me back in any sense in terms of the centre.  I would like to get better with my Swahili so that I can better communicate with them.  Play is one thing, but that can only go so far.  The more verbal ones will try to say things to me and I can only smile and nod.  I will get a little bit here and there, but have no clue what they are telling me.  It is a bit of game at this point where we converse in different languages with each not understanding the other.

Upon arrival from work kids arrived just as I was unlocking the front door.  I had to send them away because of our lesson, but Michael has now dubbed afternoons as “T Murphy’s Malava Youth Centre.”  We will see how far this goes and if more and more keep showing up.  For awhile a group of girls sat in the courtyard and watched as Michael shaved.  We have had an audience for a lot of things, but I think that was a first.


  • Tons of new birds pour in what seems like every day.  I plan on going to the rainforest to see some of the ones that have migrated here for the rains and that I have yet to see.  There are numerous sunbirds and Yellow Wagtails (look them up, the yellow and black is stunning).
  • Packages can be expensive to receive.  I have been lucky so far, the same cannot be said for others who have had to pay as much as $40 in customs fees.  Do what my grandfather advised, stay vague.
  • Bought a Rose Muhando video cd in Kisumu, favorite purchase in Kenya, hands down.
  • Saw Obama cell phones at the Nakumatt in Kisumu, still open for orders.  Will work if your phone company uses SIM cards.
  • I got a haircut and it was done by a man who I am convinced thought himself to be the Da Vinci of hair.  He was precise and terrified.  I was his masterpiece that deserved the finest care.  The whole cut was done by a single set of hair clippers.  Do not worry, he took care of my beard and shaved it by rubbing baby powder on my face and then slowly shaving.  After that was a nice edge up, you know to make me have an official Kenyan hair cut with no widows peak.   An alcohol rub where the fine cutting too place. To finish up, a heated bowl of water, towel dipped in and rubbed on my head and face to clean the finished product.  All this for $1.25.