Posted by: hilarycole | November 21, 2007

At Home on the Farm

Who would have guessed my mud hut would have laminate flooring, an area rug, wicker furniture and a chest of drawers? Really, don’t feel sorry for me. I thought about coming to do this program in Kabula nearly two years ago, but something in the universe made me hold out until they installed the water pump, rain-water flush toilets and one mother of a generator.  Every night (okay, most nights), the lights go on in the “big hut” – a massive mud-brick gazebo with enough chairs for all 25 of us. 

Yes, 25.  Besides building the big hut, ICODEI has also added a “mansion” – a large sleeping hut for 12 to add to their smaller four-person huts.  Thankfully, I’ve just got three roomies. (The bigger the hut, the bigger the dramas.) Most of us are volunteers for ICODEI programs, and we range from 23 to 50-something.  But 14 are student teachers from the University of Indiana. Besides being there to make me feel extremely old, they’re getting credit at the end of their teaching degrees. They’re a lively, fun bunch who are generous with their advice and direction, having pre-dated me by a month.

I started teaching the Empower HIV/AIDS program my first day here; there was already a 6-day class in progress with John, my formidable American counterpart and mentor, so I joined in and gave him a little reprieve. That class was comprised mostly of young men and women. They were all extremely bright, which necessitated some really in-depth teaching on the physiological stuff. At first I was surprised at the level of questions and how far they wanted us to delve, but I’m starting to get an idea of just how important, let alone relevant, this information is to them. They take it very seriously for a reason.  That group of 20 all passed their tests (with flying colours), and posed for a zillion photographs with their certificates.

We teach in churches, as those are usually the only structures in a community that have the capacity and benches to sit on.  The churches, like most structures in this area, are made of mud, with mud floors, and either a thatched or aluminum roof.  (The hut I sleep in is the same – I love looking up at the vaulted grass-and-stick ceiling through my mosquito net.)

We don’t teach on weekends, and we take a day off between classes, so yesterday, I was a tourist.  I took a bloody long matatu ride with one of the young student teachers into Kisumu to visit the craft market.  It was fairly exhausting, and I think my travel partner needs a chiropractor after his six-foot frame was crammed into the back of the 12-passenger vehicle with 18 other lucky travellers for three hours. No live chickens this time though.

Today was the first day of a new course, and I’m on my own with our wonderful Kiswahili interpreter Mary for this one. My co-teacher, John, is HIV +, and while this makes him an invaluable teacher and resource, it also means he’s prone to bouts of extreme fatigue and, unfortunately today, seizures.  He was well taken care of at the hospital this morning and is back at the farm with the Lubanga family, resting for what will probably be the next couple of weeks.  (Those of you who are so inclined, say a prayer please.)

This new group of learners is also young and keen and full of questions, and I had the painful task of turning away four people today as we passed our maximum number.  It’s likely that ICODEI will send someone back to the same area to teach again within the next few months.  In the meantime, this is a teaching-the-teachers program….



  1. hello, i love your pictures. i miss home!! goodluck with everything. say hi to my family for me. stallone and everyone.
    this is edwin

  2. Edwin – I’m so sorry I didn’t get to meet you, the last Lubanga! I’ve heard a lot about you. Stay tuned for many many more pictures of your family and home after Christmas. I’ve got a doozie shot of your parents and another great one of little sister Wendy. Good luck in Italy. Take good care.

  3. ciao!!! cool thats great…keep posting them.
    yes i am doing cool out here just in exam seasons. i thought of coming but it looks like i wont make that is in february.
    how long are u there in k-town
    keep me posted.
    thanks and i am sorry too we couldnt meet but who knows
    maybe we will see each other in europe or out there!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: