Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Email Home: 05/09/2011 (aged 26)

Kenya - Weeks 3 & 4

Hi all,

A quick note as the other volunteers have just arrived in the cafe next door for 'cake night', which is as amazing as it sounds. I'm foregoing 'Death by Chocolate' this week for a warm brownie on a sizzling platter topped with vanilla ice cream and hot chocolate sauce.

I'm now just beginning my final week in Kenya and it has just gone so quickly! This is the first week of 'term time' teaching, where we follow a set timetable and the days are much more structured (and longer). The classes are also much larger. As volunteers we teach the English and Science classes for our standard/grade, and I am teaching standards 5 (9-16 years old) and standard 1 (about 6-8). The huge age ranges arise since children can't progress to the next year unless they pass the year-end exam, meaning they can be held back (many years, it seems). The standard 1 children are mad, crave one-on-one attention and are very difficult to control so am lucky to be working in a duo. The standard fives are much calmer and the boys are generally more compliant than the girls.

From other volunteers and staff you learn how malnourished the children are. They never eat breakfast and dinner is generally deep fried potato (Kenyan food is VERY greasy). Many children come to school just for the free lunch (which itself is pretty crap, generally rice and boiled beans) so you do get a couple falling asleep in class before lunch as they're so hungry - at least that's what I tell myself. There are stories from other volunteers of children eating dried pasta from artwork and rice from musical instument shakers that were made because they're so hungry.

One of the long-term volunteers, who married a Kenyan lady and lives in the slum with her, has contracted malaria - not good. He's being treated and will hopefully be fine, however another volunteer had it a couple of months ago, so it's quite a real threat here. Today at the school I had to treat a boy who's toenail had come clean off - yuk! The treatment in question extended to some antiseptic and a plaster, but the fact that the kids are in flipflops and the dusty/sharp terrain means injuries are a hell of a lot more common here than at home.

A group of us went on safari last weekend which was great. We left on the Saturday morning and returned Sunday, about 2pm, staying at a lodge within the Tsavo East national park. The park itself is 13,000 square kilometres in size (!!) so I imagine we only saw one iota of it.

All in all, we ticked off the following animals: warthog, monkeys (lots), giraffes, antelopes, gazelles, grey elephants, zebras, three lionesses and their eight cubs (who came around three metres away from the van), red elephants, meercats, water bucks, cheeta, guinea fowl, digdigs, impalas, ostriches and water buffalos. So we were very lucky! Our truck had a pop-up top, so we could stick our heads out and feel part of the action. I had the songs to the Lion King film running through my head the entire time and the landscape was amazing.

I've made some great friends amongst the volunteer group, fortunately many of which live in London so hopefully will be able to meet up with many of them. There are some irritating ones too, but luckily there's plenty of space and time to escape!
Well that'll do for this week. I think this week'll fly by, especially as the days are packed so it will be 7.40am on Saturday before I know it! Hope to see you all soon.


Katie x

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