Sunday, July 7, 2013

Eighteen year old youth

I was asked to sit down with an 18 year old the other day to encourage him to go back to school. It turned out that the Ember field officer in charge of his case had already set into motion a possible solution to the urgent problem, though not to the underlying ones.

It turns out that he dropped out of school in April - 6th grade! He was discouraged and embarassed because he was regularly caned for poor performance, and had requested that Ember help him get into another school. He'd like to finish 8th grade, which is a marker here, so that he can get into a polytechnic and study machine mechanics. He said he doesn't know what happened, he used to be a pretty good student and now he always does badly even when he tries to study. He lives with an elderly grandfather who doesn't work, so the kid does the home chores, cooking, etc., as well as trying to go to school, where they beat him. My friend Robert Barasa, who runs Ember, is looking for a way to have more regular counseling for the kids and grandparents, and mentions his concerns about PTSD, among other issues.

Imagine that he's not trying to drop out, despite being so much older than the other kids, and struggling financially, physically, and psychologically- he just wants a school where the teachers don't beat and embarass him so he can get his 8th grade diploma.

His field officer is meeting today with the head teacher of a primary with a good reputation for caring teachers.  Ember makes such a difference!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

June 26, Visiting the Luanda Team

Well, I thought I had the glitch figured out and made it quite a bit of the way through labeling photos until it froze again. Big thanks to Becky for the certificates, by the way! The group photo should be labeled "Sarah, Dorcas, Joyce, Lydiah, Eddah, me, Priscillah, Matt, front row Magdaline, Seith and some neighbor kids". After the meeting we drove back through an extremely rocky area, where one local guy in particular (who is part of a discordant couple and supposedly his viral load is now zero but is almost certainly just undetectible, which is great, of course) paints a lot of HIV awareness slogans on the rocks. End of the day helped Felix with his reading, and Matt made guacamole. A good, full day! Next morning we said goodbye to Joyce and Magdaline.
We pass through Chavakali on our way to Luanda - they have a pay toilet. Iko toilet means toilet here.

Matt took some photos through the window at Priscillah's house , where we always meet. Basically all Kenyan homes have bars on the windows. Reminds me of what Elizabeth Warren says about how wealthy people (and really all of us) benefit from the taxes we pay for security, among so many other things.

 Back in the kitchen, preparing our snack and lunch!
 Chicken house/cage.

 "Snack"! Eggs, bread, water and tea.

 The meeting - we talked about challenges and accomplishments.
 Then I gave out belated certificates, from their training in 2010. Certificates are really important, for stature and credibility.

 From left, Pricillah's daughter Sarah, a currently unemployed Early Childhood Education teacher, DorcasJoyce, Lydiah, Eddah, me,  Dorcas,

Visiting Five Ember Locations

Uuurggggh! Why won't it let me scroll down to write about each photo?? Anyway, at the first location we had a big group, and saw a play with grandparents and grandchildren. The grandmother actress in the blue blouse plays an orphan who tricks her grandmother, meets with her boyfriend, and ends up pregnant and HIV positive. Moral of story: don't lie to your grandmother!?

As the day progressed, we saw another play which grandmothers and grandfathers, orphans whom they're raising, and Judy and Sarah of the Wholistic Team had written and then performed and together. It even involved a witch doctor (the girl in the feathered headdress, who was a WONDERFUL actor), a bar, dancing. . . and of course the granddaughter who made bad decisions and went to a bar with bad boys from the area ended up - you guessed it - pregnant and HIV positive.

We saw four short dramas, heard several plays including one written about me by the pastor in the area about how I'm a pillar of the community and teach about family planning, entitled "Kathy"!, and enjoyed lots of singing and dancing from both grandkids and grandparents.

We also watched part of a "football match" (Kenyans use British English), as I had supplied soccer balls last year so they could form an Ember team. Capper of the day: Matt was presented with a chicken, which he subsequently named "Legs", by the beautiful daughter of Sarah, one of the Wholistic Team members. Sarah made sure that Matt met Leah a couple of times, and told him not to forget her. Next thing you know the family will be asking how many cows Matt is supplying for their dowry!!