I have been waiting for a normal day so I can tell you exactly what it is I do on a daily basis, but my days are rarely normal so I am just going to tell you what happened today.
This morning my alarm went of at 6:45 and because it is so much harder to wake up when I have to, I snoozed until 7:05.
I went directly down to the kitchen, in its own separate little building, and poured myself some chai. This morning I chose a blue plastic cup with flowers because the super hot tea cools to drinking temperature faster in plastic, and most of the ceramic ones have lost their handles and have as many chips as a bag of Lay’s.
wearing a lesso
I sat there sipping, wiping the sleep out of my eyes and Mama Gloria came in and told me there was bread this morning. So I took three pieces of white bread (not so normal #1) and enjoyed them thoroughly, letting the crumbs accumulate on my lesso.
Then Mum came in, shook my hand like always, and said Habari (How are you?) and Mzuri (good), greeting me with the little Swahili that she knows that I understand. Mama is about 71 years old and only speaks Ki Kamba.
As I was finishing up my breakfast Mama Gloria came back into the kitchen with her 1 year old, Grace, and Mama Muimi. Both of those mamas are my host sisters. Mama Gloria lives in the same house and Mum and I, but Mama Muimi lives in a separate house her husband, two kids, and nephew.
Mum asked to see a picture of my family, so I showed her one on my phone. She said that I look like my dad. Then she accidentally switched to a different picture that had the dog snapchat filter on it. I then showed them how snapchat’s filters work and everybody was laughing. (Insert picture?)
It was already 7:30 so I had to leave to take a shower. I shower in Brother John’s house that no one lives in. I got all of my stuff and filled my basin with two jugs of hot water (heated on the fire) and two jugs of room temperature water, and went to take my shower in that house. Today was not a hair washing day. I love hair washing days. I then came back to the Mama’s house where I live and “prepared myself” as they say here.
Some students in class 4 and 5
I then taught CRE (Christian Religious Education) to class five because for whatever reason their teacher for that period, wasn’t around. This happens pretty often. I let one of the girls lead the class, having her ask multiple choice questions (they are through with the syllabus at this point). She made sure to call on everyone and the class was a lively productive one. Then it was time for PE the period right before tea break.
I went down to the kitchen which is a one room building right next to the field and playground where the kids play. I greeted the two cooks who are technically my host sisters. However, since they are married they don’t live in the same circle of houses that I do. The two sisters are very kind and work hard. The one called Mwende speaks broken English freely with me. She gave me a cup of porridge and as I sat on a log sipping teacher Mercy came down and took a cup to. She is 20 years old, fairly young for a teacher, and she is one of my closer friends at the school. She finished her porridge first and went to start games with the girls. I finished quickly and went out to the field.
As I was meeting the girls I saw Kikombo, one of my most challenging students, by himself at the tree, away from all of the rest of the boys and thought, “I will go over there in a minute.” My non-psychologist self would diagnose him with ADHD. He has a very hard time focusing, among other issues. I played what I would call “camp games” with the girls for what ended up being a while. Unlike America, when someone loses a game here, they have a “punishment”. I was told to give a girl a punishment, and I decided to tell her to go all the way over to the un-expecting Mwende and give her a hug. It was adorable and hilarious. After this I even taught them one of my favorite camp games Zoo. They caught on very fast. Then the bell rang to go back inside and teacher Mercy saw Kikombo, and went over to him while I stayed with the girls. Once it was clear that something was wrong (not so normal #2), many of the girls followed Teacher Mercy. I walked the rest of them back to the school building for tea.
As I got to the office, Kikombo was being carried in by Teacher Mercy and some of the girls. Apparently he said that he felt like fainting. They brought in a mattress from the nursery and he laid down there. At first I was really worried that he had fallen and hit his head, or had a seizure. I checked wether his pupils were dilating normally and they were which made me less worried. One of the teachers called his mother to come get him.
I asked other teachers and they said that this has happened before. They also said that it is Kikombo and he could definitely be pretending. I had no more classes to teach that day so I decided to sit next to Kikombo on the foam mattress to just be with him because there wasn’t much else I could do.
As I sat there many different teachers and staff came in and tried to talk to him. Some of them were gentle and kind, and some were rough and just kept yelling his name like that would help. Can you sense my annoyance with the rough teachers? The longer I sat with him the less worried I got. Something was definitely wrong, but I began to see that it was more mental than physical.
He was crying so I wiped his tears and asked him if he was in pain. He looked directly into my eyes and I wanted to cry as well. I think he feels hated and unwanted by his peers and superiors. He has told me before that “everybody hates me”. I made him more comfortable on the mattress and made sure that his mother was coming. I continued to wipe away his tears while we waited even though I knew that he could wipe them away himself. She came about two hours later and took him away on a motorbike, and that was the end of that.
Lunch followed and I brought up mental health to the teachers I was eating lunch with. Their first and somewhat continued response was a hearty laugh. Our conversation did end up going in a somewhat positive direction when we ended up talking about the ways in which we could help Kikombo. This included things like putting him in charge of something, and not letting him have the satisfaction of irritating you.
My school day ended with me reading on my Kindle instead of going out to recess. I didn’t have the energy to play. Being able to read fantasy novels and have that as an escape has been very good for me. I walked the [100 steps] back home with my host nephews and niece and we were greeted warmly by the littlest niece Grace. She is ridiculously adorable. I recently taught her to spin around in a circle. I spin first and then she copies me.
She is not that good at walking yet and she does this funny thing with her eyes where she looks really far in the direction she is spinning, so obviously it is hilarious. [picture]
I talked with Mama Gloria for a bit and watched the kids play. Then I washed some clothes. I actually really like washing my clothes. I think I like it because the cleanliness of my clothes is something I can control, and there aren’t very many things like that around here. It also makes my hands really clean.
I then ate the (very) normal dinner of githeri which is made of maize and beans. I ate in the kitchen and very few words were spoken to me. There are a couple of women that I live with that aren’t very warm towards me and they were also eating in the kitchen. I was experiencing some intense nostalgia as I ate the staple meal. Slightly discouraged (normal) and feeling homesick (not so normal #3). I went to bed and started typing this blog in my notes to get some of the feelings out.