Friday, June 17, 2005

Your Tax Dollars At Work

Hello from Kenya! As most of you know, I've arrived in-country and I'm finally settling in and getting into the swing of pre-service training for the Peace Corps. I finally have an internet connection that's somewhat useable, so here is my first mass email to say I'm alive and well and enjoying kale and maize a lot. Apologies for everyone who received my last email as a weren't "forgotten"; the computer kept dropping my connection so I only had time to email a few people.

I got a cell phone! Please send me text messages if possible; this is the cheapest for me and probably for you too, though some providers in the U.S. seem not to
accept my text msgs (sorry Joyce, Lynn and Phillippa; I sent you sms and looks like you didn't get them or you're ignoring ;p). You can also call me; I will try to keep my phone on between 7pm-9pm Kenya time.

And since email here is pretty unreliable, please write me (send envelopes, not boxes as large items tend to get opened, raided, and/or taxed heavily), send snacks and other small goodies because getting mail is truly a slice of heaven here, as are Snickers and Twix bars and any type of ethnic food/snacks. Will someone please send me a folding map of the world as well? Keep mail small, though, i.e. send only 1-2
items at a time.

[my name], Peace Corps Trainee
P.O. Box 30518
Village Market, 00621
Nairobi, Kenya

Things are going really well so far, I'm slowly learning Swahili (Eric B, it's "pole pole" not "apoly apoly") and accepting the fact that by Kenyan standards I'm a complete failure as a woman b/c I can't wash clothes, peel sugar cane, pound maize with a mortar and pestle, sift grains in a straw tray, make chapati (a local flatbread like flaky greasy naan), mop the floor, carry 20 Liters of water on my head, wash a baby or light a charcoal stove. All of these moments of self-discovery were accompanied by a chorus of Kenyan laughter since the whole village always
comes out to watch when a rumor circulates that I'm doing any of these things.

This past week we started going into the community and talking to locals about public health and HIV/AIDS. It has been interesting to hear firsthand what community
members know and don't know about the disease, as well as about some of the local customs and values. It's really true that many people, especially in rural areas like the town we are training in, believe that AIDS either doesn't exist or it's God's way of punishing people for something, and the science of transmission and prevention isn't something they are willing to accept. The good news is that there has also been a lot of progress made in educating people, and most people have some notion of how AIDS is spread. There are also lots of campaigns to educate kids in schools, but most of it is abstinence-based. Pole pole (slowly slowly) as they say here.

Anyway, my PC buds are waiting on me for dinner so I'll sign off for now. Hope all is well! Will try to write again soon.


Post a Comment

<< Home