Week 3: Barack Obama

Today is our 3 week point in Kenya. This coming Monday is when we all go off to our sites for the rest of the year. 2 go to a small town outside Nairobi to teach at a high school, 1 is going to the coast of Kenya on the Indian ocean to be a Biologist, and I am moving to Karen which is northwest of Nairobi. The remaining 4 are staying in Westlands very close to the Supervisor’s house. Orientation has been a great bonding experience for the 8 of us and a great introduction to Kenya. We are all excited about going to our placements, but I think once we are there we will miss each other quite a bit, especially me and the coastal person because we will have to travel to see anybody else from our group, but it will provide a good opportunity to practice Swahili!

I have been asked about Barack Obama in the past 3 weeks frequently. Barack Obama is like a hometown star because Obama’s father, Barack Obama Sr., was a Kenyan who lived in Kenya all of his life except for college and graduate school in the States. However, Obama only met his father for 10 days when he was 10 years old in Hawaii and didn’t visit Kenya until his late 20s. So, Obama is a hometown star who didn’t grow up in his hometown/country at all which makes an interesting situation and Q&A sessions.  I’m sure that I will have many many more conversations about Obama in the next 11 months.

I did all of my laundry by hand for the first time this week. Apparently, in terms of clothing, I only brought 10 tops (T-shirts, long sleeve), 7 bottoms (Jeans, Khakis), a suit (2 ties), some socks and boxers, dress shoes, trail shoes, and chacos. I washed all the tops, socks, and boxers and it was an experience. I soaked, wrung everything out, and attempted to find places to hang everything to dry. My forearm muscles burned like crazy because of (attempting to) wrung everything out (reminding me of trying to beat a cake in Zambia and getting very tired before the job was done). However, I actually enjoyed washing everything by hand. The first time you do something it is usually more enjoyable than every time after that. However, I know that I will respect clean clothes more now and be proud of how clean/dirty my clothes are.

Sunday we went to church and then to the New Life Home. The New Life Home takes in orphans, especially those who are HIV positive, and gives them a place to be taken care of until they are adopted or find a foster home. There are currently 52 children there. There are babies (new-6 months), the “crawlers” (6-12 months), and the toddlers (1-3 years). We arrived right at the end of naptime and so all 8 of us grabbed a “crawler” and carried her/him downstairs and outside to go play. I spent an hour hanging out with 2 “crawlers” mainly. One would cry until I hugged him and the other would attempt to find anything to put in his mouth. It was good times. Then I went to hang out with the babies and ended up bottle feeding 2 and helping transport the rest to diaper change time and pajama application. It was a wonderful afternoon and we were all very happy afterwards. We have been invited to return whenever we would like and so I hope to do so throughout the year. I think it would especially be a helpful break during a stressful week.

If you have not already done so please check out the pictures I added this weekend in the next post by clicking the play button in the center. Have a great day and I will write to you from my site placement next week.

3 Responses to “Week 3: Barack Obama”

  1. Anonymous September 25, 2008 at 2:05 am #

    >Wonderful to keep up with you, Robert. Your writing gives us a great sense of your inner experience as well as how people respond to you. I know you are bringing smiles to faces there just as you do here.Peace,Neill

  2. Anonymous September 25, 2008 at 2:18 am #

    >Robert, Don and I are learning so much from your adventures! We really look forward to your updates. Take care and be safe.Steph

  3. Wendy November 21, 2008 at 1:03 pm #

    >Ok, I’m back to trying to comment on all your posts, now that my comments are showing up.I remember working at an orphanage on a mission trip in Poland, and it was such an amazing experience. The kids were older than the ones you were with. But it was great how much we could communicate even though there was a huge language barrier.

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