Greetings from Machakos, Kenya!!
I know it has been a long time since I've been able to update my blog, but internet in Kenya is certainly less accessible than internet back in the US. The good news is that I waste far less time on Facebook while on this continent, but the obvious downside is that online communication is sparse. But I've found a little bit of time in the midst of training to post a quick update.
Since my last post in Nairobi, only a few weeks have passed, but it's been the longest few weeks of my life. That probably sounds negative, but I really just mean that there has been so much to learn, so many new adjustments to make, and countless experiences that have added up, to the point where I can hardly believe that I've only been in Kenya for less than one month.
As for the basics, I live with a host family here in Machakos. I have a host mama who is AMAZING, and one host sister (age 13) and one host brother (age 12). My mama is divorced, which is pretty uncommon in Kenya, but since she went to University in Nairobi she has a less traditional outlook on cultural norms than many people in the country (or even in Machakos, which is a relatively progressive town due to it's larger size). That's actually been one of my favorite aspects of my homestay experience - my mama understands my Western mindset, and she's patient with my frustrations. In fact, she oftentimes has the same frustrations that I have. My siblings are great kids. My host sister is about to sit for her class 8 exams (more on the education system at some later time), and my host brother is pretty much like every other 12-year-old boy I've ever met. Super hilarious. The kids in Kenya are SO much quieter than the kids at home, though, so when I first met them, I thought they were scared of me or something. But I've decided they're just more reserved.
Our home in Machakos is really quite nice. I've become very comfortable there, although it did take a few days to adjust. We have electricity, but outages are common. We only have running water on Saturdays, so we fill up all the 100 L water storage bins (and any miscellaneous buckets we have) on Saturday and use that water for the rest of the week. We have a gas stove, but we don't use it all the time because gas can be expensive, so we oftentimes use a charcoal stove or a "jiko" to cook.
On most days, we have language training in the morning (for us, it's Kenyan Sign Language or KSL) at one of the homestay houses, and then we go into town for lunch. After lunch we have cultural sessions (or other pertinent sessions that will help us as primary school teachers) at a school in town. After that, we all walk home. We have to be home before dark (which is at 6:30 every day), so that's been an adjustment. Also, female volunteers are advised to almost never walk alone. That loss of independence has been one of the biggest adjustments I've had to make, but it's just part of the culture.
Unfortunately, I have so many more updates, but very limited time - so for now, I'll sign off, but I'll attempt to post again soon. In the meantime, feel free to send mail! :)