Tuesday, May 12, 2009

On the farm

“Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.”
Robert Louis Stevenson

I have returned to life in my farming community. When I first arrived I nearly let the matatu driver keep driving because I did not recognize it! Gone are the fields of yellow, a product of rains that just refused to come; now green, lush farms cling to the hills. There is an ambiance of hope shared amongst people, and true appreciation of the rains that usher in new possibility. Everything is alive.

With this new sense of life, I have decided to give my shamba (farm) another shot. Last term I planted late and did little more then stick some seedlings in the ground, and to my dismay the many chicken that reside at my school promptly ate them. This time I have sought advise from my lovely neighbor who suggested some plants that (supposedly) chickens don’t eat. I am certain I provided entertainment for the school when I asked for a hoe and began working. The crowds gathered to watch the mzungu farm—luckily the students finished class and they all wanted to help me. They all took turns plowing the soil, dirt flew all over us all and as we picked through the weeds--tilling, ripping and scratching the earth soft. We finally unearthed a soft and quaint shamba! I never really pictured myself the farm type, but with dirt everywhere and a piece of straw hanging from my mouth, it certainly fit the bill. I have to say there is merit to a hard day of physical work, a pride that no one can diminish.

Well I guess I was on what you could call “farming high” because I decided to continue my manual labor. My area is known for snakes, so much so that the Sign for Embu is basically mimicking a snake biting your hand. The grass has grown to at least 4 feet—I am almost unable to see the school! This provides perfect cover for my snake friends. Luckily medical has provided me with a venom sucker that will basically suck the venom from the wound if I am bitten, but like that saying, “ an ounce of prevention is worth a pound in treatment” I decided to take away their cover (at least close to my house). Cutting the grass has a taken on a whole new meaning, as I literally had to cut each blade with a machete. Gone are the days when I have to hear “ back in the day I used a push mower, now that was work” standing bent over thrashing at grass for hours—that is work! My watchman friend helped me after awhile and we got a good portion my “yard” to a reasonable size—lets just hope the snakes get the hint. After detoxing from my farming high came the pain! My hands swollen with blisters, my back rigid, arms shaking uncontrollably, still I was triumphant.

On a completely different note:
I would also like to offer my sincere and deep appreciation to my family and friends Francine and Carly for sending me packages. Already the materials I've received have helped tremendously in teaching, and the students are so appreciative and excited to have colorful and different teaching aides. More then just the items to know the thought and time placed in sending them makes me realize how fortunate I am to have people who love and care about me; which really makes a difference out here. With that said another thanks to everyone who has written; I am one very lucky, ridiculously happy Volunteer.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Coast and such

Scuba Diving close to Kilifi
Thanks to Matt's underwater camera!

One Love Island Sunrise


Fort Jesus by night

Indian Ocean and Fort Jesus

Walk to the Elephant Orphanage, Nairobi

Orphan Elephant