June 12, 2012

Today was the day I’ve dreaded for as long as I’ve been coming to Naivasha—Fr. Kiriti has packed up his things and officially moved out of St Francis Xavier Catholic Parish.  It’s hard to keep the tears from coming.  He has been the whole parish and such a part of my experiences here.  What it will be like when the new pastor comes I don’t know—because the bishop in his wisdom (?) has not announced the replacement, leaving the parish leaderless.  I’m now told the official “handing over” will be Friday—having been postponed from today.  I assume this person will be nameless no longer, but I am mystified by this indecision.  Fr. Kiriti is totally frustrated by not having someone to tell all the details, like, where is the extra key to the sacristy, what day is this meeting, where is the secret button needed to start the cars, what’s the secret to turning on this and off that.  There are 1000’s of details that the new guy will have to discover by himself.  DUMB!!!!

But my day began much earlier when I went to the Safaricom office to find out why I couldn’t access the internet and email with my modem.  The system here is prepaid and access is through a device looking much like a flash drive.  Everything seemed to be in working order, except that the last step, in which it connected, didn’t connect.  A very nice young man tried to figure it out, but seemed pretty clueless.  No one here knows anything about macs.  However, he persevered and removed some mysterious “impediment” and voila! 120 new emails in my inbox.  Most were political requests for money or to sign petitions, but there were also many to answer.

Off to SFG, an hour late b/c the modem process took so long, I didn’t get to teach Maureen’s form 4 class.  However, Christopher grabbed me to teach his 12 o’clock form 1A class.  Walking to the room he told me the girls had complained I’d not greeted them yesterday.  When I walked in they were all smiles and some “yeah”’s.  This is my first contact with 1A and I have yet to meet 1B.

Problem solving in the US isn’t so rote, so my methods are often different from what they’ve learned.  I wasn’t sure they understood, but Christopher was very pleased with the way I showed them to find common denominators (by factoring).  The method taught here is a long algorithm, which I never liked.  We reviewed (revised) a variety of topics, and mostly my ways are easier.  The girls seemed very bright and at least claimed to understand.

Back in the staff room I was getting ready to come back home for lunch with Judy and Jecinta (social worker).  But one of the teachers insisted I must eat some of the food.  When I questioned him about why he said there is something special about sharing food (translation—rude to refuse), so I had some greens and potatoes then came back down to deal with the emails.

Fr. Kiriti and I had bought  a car which I drive when I’m here and he will use other times.  In his new post he has to have a vehicle appropriate for very rough terrain, which this care couldn’t handle.  The diocese will provide that car so he’ll actually use “mine” only when he is in town—about every 2 weeks.  He loves to go to Mombasa, look for used cars and drive a hard bargain.  He also loves Toyota RAV4’s, so that’s what I’m driving.  Very sporty and powerful.

Of course I’m again having to make the transition from right side of road to left.  Mostly I’m used to the roads right around here, but sometimes I have to think, “Keep to left, body in the middle”.  Last year when I got back home I had to become a right-hand driver again.  Hard on one’s automatic system.

After deleting most of the emails, unread, answering the personal ones and sending off blogs 1 and 2, I retired to my bed to begin this.  Shortly a shy knock on the door.  “Come in.  Who’s there?”  In came Joseph, the youngest child here in the orphanage and his best bud, Jackson.  I had met Jackson on Sunday when he came to sit with Judy and me in mass.  He snuggled right up to me, although we had never met and when I put my arm around to cuddle he snuggled even closer.  His clothes are tattered and in need of a bath, as is his body, but he is so engaging those issues don’t seem to matter.

As they appeared in my door way, holding us 3 or 4 each of books that Judy brought and has left on a chair in our entry for anyone to read (and bring back!), they looked so cute I asked, “Would you like me to read you a story?”  Jackson reads very well, but Joseph has not yet deciphered the coding.  He’s in first grade and everyone is concerned about it.

Two heads nodded.  “Take off your shoes and climb up with me”, patting each side.  Shy giggles.  Off came the shoes and soon we were settled in, reading books about bridges, bears who became friends, “A is for Africa” and one of my favorites, “The Little House”.  Here they are, as they were leaving

Joseph and Jackson

I first met Joseph and his older brother, Lucas, last summer when they came to join us at Mji Wa Neema.  Their father had died some time ago.  Mother was HIV positive and died last summer while the 2 boys helplessly looked on.  Neighbors had notified Jecinta, who collected them and brought them here.  Joseph used to run to me for a hug whenever I’d appear in a doorway, spending much of the rest of the time crying and sucking his thumb.  Now he is in school, still sucks his thumb, but finding Jackson seems to have alleviated some of his loneliness.  Lucas had been a wonderful brother to him, but is dealing with his own loss and grief.

Stories like Joseph and Lucas’s really bring home the tragedy of the AIDS crisis in Africa.  J&L are among the lucky ones, landing in a loving environment, where school is encouraged, food is plentiful there is a very loving group of (now) older brothers and sisters who have taken them under their collective wings.  There are literally millions of children who don’t have a loving orphanage, with a warm bed (don’t have to share, even) sufficient food, clothes, school and lots of love.  They even all got new shoes this year, paid by money donated by many of you.  Boy, are they proud of those shoes!

Dinner time.  More tomorrow—or the next day.

Love, Margo

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