It’s funny that after three months in one place, you suddenly have 100 things to cram into the final three days. If it weren’t Christmas, I might have extended a bit, to see a few projects completed, but even with family gathering aside, it feels like time to go.
Being a visitor in this country has at times felt like a great privilege, at others like a mammoth exercise in patience - the latter when in transit or trying to achieve more than one thing on the to-do list in a day. The former feeling comes when in a Kenyan’s home. The more rural the location, the more rock-star the treatment.
It’s not that mzungus are all that rare – Kenya was a British colony for a long time – but maybe that mzungus who hang with them, eat with them and work with them is still a novelty. So there’s a sort of reverence they hold, and a constant expression of gratitude I’m quite sure I don’t deserve. It’s like a strange kind of reverse prejudice. That goes both ways though – the seat next to mine on the bus was often the last to be filled.
Before coming here for the first time two years ago, I would have thought there would be some bitterness or resentment towards white westerners with their cameras, iPods and multiple college degrees, especially given colonial history, but that simply isn’t the case. I like to think the innocence of isolation allows their true natures to dominate. That said, I’m looking forward to not being an anomaly.
On the news front, we have water! After three months of trying to push the borehole well project at Christ Cares Children’s Centre toward the finish line, I finally saw it gushing out with my own eyes, 22 hours before my departure. The power company is the latest cause for delay, telling us the type of controls we need to have electricity connected the last 10 meters is out of stock. So, using a generator, the drilling company ran a pump test yesterday. I have no idea how word gets around in a place where there are acres between homes, but by the time Mama Mercy and I arrived, there were six or eight people
hanging around, waiting to fill up their jerry cans. I’m not holding my breath, but my guess is three more weeks before the tower is completed with a 10,000-liter storage tank and water pumping every day.
My last major, serious task was daunting, and a heavy weight of responsibility on my shoulders. With enough money to purchase a dairy cow in the bank, and almost enough for the shelter and feed, I found myself facing a room full of children to…. choose the cow’s name. The votes from the (phenomenally fantastic) PayPal donors were fun and varied: from Daisy to Nukkha, Iman (the supermodel) to Mudita (Sanskrit for “infinite joy in serving others”). We decided to use secret ballot to choose.
It was a tense half hour, the margins were slim, and Mama Mercy and I were out-voted; the choice of the children was….
There were about 20 children in Mama Mercy’s house to say goodbye to me yesterday, even though it was Saturday and they wouldn’t be getting lunch there that day. They sang before they left: “We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Hap-py New Ye-a.”