Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Banana Milkshakes

House Fire

I was greeted this morning by Barbara at Compassion to find that she was going across the street to visit one of our project children who had had a house fire last night. House fires aren’t a common thing here, mainly because houses are built out of mud or concrete with ironsheets. They don’t have wall to wall carpet or any electrical gadgets to catch on fire. Half of this home, however, had a roof made of thatched papyrus reeds from the swamp which will burn. The damage didn’t appear too bad. Only half of the house had the papyrus reeds, the other half had the ironsheets which wasn’t effected by the fire.

The reeds had been pulled off the roof after the fire began and there wasn’t any structural damage to the house. This family is one of our poorest families. The father, despite finishing high school and even having some college, is mentally not all there. He’s a hard worker and he works as a cook at the secondary school across the street. The mother also works hard in the land they are renting to grow crops. I had visited this house before and immediately recognized the mother once I arrived. The day before I was heading into town to get my supper at Allen’s (where I eat for $.75 as opposed to sky blue which is usually around $2.50) when this woman was flagging me to stop. Every day when I’m out people are calling at me, clapping at me, whistling at me, so I wasn’t too surprised. Judging by her clothing she wasn’t someone from the village who didn’t know English, so I didn’t stop. As it so happened, it was the same woman, but the fire hadn’t occurred yet. The day before there was an incident which they had reported to the police. Apparently the man who shepherds the cattle for the secondary school had been allowing the cows to roam free and they were damaging this families crops. They corralled the cattle and went to the secondary school to report the man and to say that this wasn’t the first time that this had occurred. They then went to the police to report him. In the night they believe the man returned and set fire to their house, which isn’t even theirs but they live on land which is being given for them to use by the school. So, we are now in the process of writing a proposal to Compassion to get them land and a house of their own.

“People stop and stare, they don’t bother me…”

This line is from the musical My Fair Lady but the truth is, it does bother me. Just this morning I was riding my bike out to visit the house that’s being built for Mama Collins and a guy who had over 200 lbs of matooke (unripe bunches of bananas) on a bike was walking the bike down a very steep hill. Logic would say to just keep walking down and let gravity take it’s course, but no. If a white man is coming by on a mountain bike then we have to stop what we are doing and stare at him for the duration of while he’s within sight. For this reason I can’t wait to go home for a vacation where I’ll just blend in with all the other white folk.

“Agandi Muzungu”

This means “What news, white person”. I tried to ask the man who greeted me in this way if he would like it if I said “Agandi Munyankore” which is the equivalent of saying “What news person who speaks Runyankore” and he just shrugged and answered as if I were an old friend who had just greeted him. I just can’t win sometimes and I had to laugh.

Banana Milkshakes

Sky Blue Restaurant has some strange things on the menu. Things that they haven’t had in the nearly 1 year that Jacob and I have been here. Samosas which are actually quite good and consist of a fried tortilla wrapped around peas, rice or ground meat. Another item is a Banana Milkshake. As a joke, every day Jacob orders anywhere between 1-25 of these, knowing that they don’t have them. Well last night we had some. After asking and asking and asking, the owner bought a blender so they could make banana milkshakes. This isn’t like Steak & Shake where it’s made with ice cream, however. The ingredients: bananas, milk, sugar. It wasn’t cold and it wasn’t solid enough, but it was a milk shake, sort of, and it should get better as we try and tweak the recipe.

The Long Journey

I ran 10 miles this morning for my training. There’s a makeshift track around the Compassion building which I run on. Often I have to dodge cow pies and stones that are along the path. Again if anyone is around who can see me they usually stop what they are doing to stare at me. 10 miles on a 400m track is 40 laps. It’s straining but if you mentally divide it up into sections it’d bearable. I enjoy running on the track because there’s no traffic or people to shout at me while I run. I went to visit Mama Collins’s house being built this morning and I encountered a woman with a basket with about 50 lbs of something in it, maybe beans. She was no doubt walking into town with this basket balanced on her head, walking barefoot. I thought about my 10 miles and how it was nothing compared to this woman walking at least 5 miles into town, and she was doing it to sell the bag of beans for $2 or so for her survival, not for fun.

Dancing Singing and Acting Competitions

I went to the nearby primary school to see competitions this week. There were 16 visiting schools there. The kids dress up in costumes and participate in a variety of events. The dancing is superb and well choreographed. Each dance, drama and song is centered around a main theme: HIV/AIDS. Children start dancing, smiling and happy and then the HIV ‘monster’ dances with them to make them sick before medics take them away in pain. It reminds me of the dramas we used to do at camp centered around the line “Dance with the devil and the devil doesn’t change, the devil changes you.” I got some pictures and videos of it that I’ll put up.

Birthday wishes to Lisa who turns 29 again next week!! ;)


At 07 March, 2007, Anonymous Jennifer Noble said...

I read that yesterday was "Peace Corps Day" so...Happy late Peace Corps Day!


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