Sunday, October 11

A Year (or Two) in Kenya: The first three months

I'm not quite sure on what day to celebrate this three-month anniversary. I left the States on one day, arrived in Kenya the next and drove into Nakuru the day after that. Fortunately, a busy work schedule has solved this very minor dilemma for me by pushing the date of this post back until the three-month anniversary of my first full day in Nakuru.

In any case, happy three-month anniversary to me. I think it is high time for an accounting of that time.

A lot has happened since I wandered into IHF's Nakuru center bleary eyed, sleep deprived and severely jet lagged. Some of it's been good, some of it less good and all of it different. I've visited a UNESCO World Heritage Site, contracted malaria, been followed for hours through the streets of Nairobi, had food poisoning, stood watch over a captured cattle rustler, paid bribes, taught computer classes to children who have trouble with the concept of the laptop's tracking pad, applied for my resident alien card, watched a Kenya Premier League football match, hired two new directors, said goodbye to the director who trained me, managed my first international volunteer, taken some of the best pictures of my life, and had two breakdowns, not necessarily in that order. It's been a busy time, and the time, accordingly, has flown by. I find it very hard to believe that I have already very nearly spent the equivalent of a school term here and take this as a good sign. Were I miserable, I would expect the time to just crawl on its hands and knees and take far-too-frequent rest stops.

I've learned a lot, too. My Kiswahili has improved from hakuna to kidogo, and I now know the names and faces of about three-quarters of the children here. That's not bad.

They say call no man happy until he is dead. I would say call no IHF director's term of service successful until all the children have grown and gone on to become productive members of society and good people. Still, I am tempted to make a positive judgment of my time here. In the first place, no kids have died under my watch. That's a good start. In the second place, I'm happy. The hours may get long and the Children's Office may be a corrupt, but being able to make the kids smile does a lot to balance those and all the other problems out. I know that I will miss Kenya and Nakuru and the kids. That must mean a lot.

I have high hopes for the coming nine months. We are well settled in now, and the wanderlust has begun to set in. We have plans for day trips in more of Kenya's many national parks and long breaks in Mombasa, Uganda and Tanzania. We're getting it started off right with the arrival of Carol Sasaki, founder and very active president of IHF, in Nakuru tomorrow. Whee.

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