Wednesday, October 20

Calls to Kenya and Jakarta

I like to think that I know a little something of the philosophy underlying service, having written a thesis on the subject and whatnot. Reflection is one of its core tenets. There is the reflection in the midst of service, identifying where one is doing good, how one could be doing more good, what one is learning and so on and so forth. Then, perhaps even more importantly, there is the reflection that follows service that asks all of these same questions as before but tries to integrate them into the rest of our lives and not merely allow the service to exist in that one time in the past.

I haven't been doing so well with the latter. I have excuses. Preparations for weddings, weddings, weekend trips to other states and cities, settling into a new city and finding a new job have all required my attention, but I am starting to get back into it a little, staying in touch and staying involved. This week I am writing an article about my experiences in Kenya and Indonesia for a travel magazine. Last week Demetra and I hosted a fundraising dinner for IHF. I cooked rice complemented with Indian spiced beans and lentil and potato curry. She invited her friends and professors. We called the centers on Skype, so our guests could see the children, and the children could have a performance. You'd expect something culturally relevant, something traditionally Javan from the Jakarta kids. Nope. They did a dance entirely appropriate for an American talent show to Shakira's "Waka Waka (This Time For Africa)." If nothing else, I guess it was a prime demonstration of globalisation as Indonesian children danced to a Colombian's song for South Africa.

There were some problems, and we didn't manage to call Nakuru until two hours after our guests had left and dinner was cleaned up. Surprisingly, they did go for a Pokot song and dance replete with a leader and ululations and shuffle steps and everything. Afterward we talked for a while with the old director as some eight children huddled around her, watching us and their reflection in the camera.

Things continue on in Nakuru. There is bad and there is good. That was unexpected. What was less expected was how much I missed it. Life in Nakuru was some of the toughest I have known. I had about an hour of privacy a day after the kids were locked into their dorms. There was an emergency once a week. I never felt completely comfortable in Kenya. I was always exhausted, but I have been gone only a little more than half a year and can already see the children growing, becoming less round and more lanky. For almost a year Nakuru and the children were my life, and now I couldn't feel more apart from them. It shouldn't be like that. I will not go so far as to say I want to leave right now and be a director again, but I want to see the kids again and make sure they are doing well, are happy and safe.

Anyway, if you would like to help make more good than bad in Nakuru and at the rest of our centers, please consider sponsoring a child. Thanks.

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