3/4/2011

I continued to wake up throughout the night.  I think sleeping in a tent along with a nap I took yesterday led to my inability to sleep well. 

A new day has arrived!  I haven’t washed my hair for 4 days… I feel like flies are living off my dirty hair.  Anyways, in the morning I met students from the SCHAP school.  I introduced myself to the students and in return they sang many songs for me. I really loved their songs except that they thought my name was Simee. :( So I had to correct them that my name is not Simee but SEMI!!! They are so cute and so proper.    

 The weather here in Matoso is dry.. very dry.  It hasn’t rained for the past 3 months and has led to food becoming even harder to get.  February and March is supposed to be the months when it rains a lot here but the weather is being weird. It’s so weird that the land of Matoso is so dry and infertile when it’s next to Lake Victoria.  Land that is next to a pool of water is supposed to be fertile…

Getting food was a little bit more expensive due to the lack of rain.  They asked me for 500 ksh for food when I heard that Kevin used to pay 400 ksh for the food when he was here.  Kevin (SCHAP dispatch director) and Peter decided to pay 650 ksh for food and water.

 Later in the day, we had a microfinance committee meeting. Everyone was supposed to come by 2:00 pm.  Even Paul, chairman of the microfinance committee, showed up around 2:40. I asked others why people were not coming and they said it’s an African time. When they say 2pm, they actually mean 3pm :)

The meeting was actually pretty interesting.  They discussed the issues that they were currently facing One issue they talked about was about people who did not pay their loans on the first day of the month.  People kept delaying their payment so they decided to set a strict punishment for those who didn’t pay back their loans by the first day of the month (They decided to deduct 10% of the money they were supposed to receive the next month).  Because people didn’t pay back their loans, other people such as Josephine could not receive any loans.

During the meeting, I took a couple of pictures and Maurice also took some pictures.  All of the sudden, Maurice started taking pictures of himself. I laughed so hard.. Maurice is soooo funny!

I haven’t seen any foreigners so far! I heard that there are two Americans in Lalmba(a health clinic), Canadians in Agape(a vocational center) and a German in Sea Lodge(a tour company) located near Matoso.  I hope to one day be able to talk with them.

During our dinner, Maurice asked me to tell him what I did for today. He said he likes to recall what he did for the day during dinner. I talked about my day and he shared his stories with me.  He shared with me that he went to the beach 3 times. The beach that Maurice is talking about is not the beaches we see in San Diego but places near Lake Victoria. It looks like a beach though because you can see waves at the lake. Anyways, he shared that he is resolves conflicts and counsels people. If someone has family conflicts, they call him to get advice and he also helps people negotiate the price of fish (when fishermen sell their fish).  Maurice also talked to me about his beach community that he’s serving for 3 years.  The beach community was founded by his father, Agono. He gathered people and made a community.

Maurice also told me that he was very worried about the person that was supposed to come to Matoso through SCHAP (which is me).  In his dream, he found out that a girl was coming…and that she will stay in Matoso for 6 months… I was amazed.  He shared that he was worried that I would be picky, unfriendly, or sensitive…. But he said he was relieved when Mary and Peter told him that I was completely the opposite.  Mary also said that I’m a very happy and optimistic person!  

 

3/5/2011

It was really hard to sleep last night again. It was even worse than the first night. The wind was blowing violently that I felt I was going to fly away with my tent.  I read my bible and then fell asleep. I woke up in the middle of the night and bugs were all over me!  I tried to go back to sleep but the sound of the bugs frightened me.  In addition to the bugs, the tent is very small and very hot.  It’s hard to sleep while feeling so sticky! 

In the morning, I went to the SCHAP community center and saw Peter cleaning up the center. I saw thousands of mosquitoes dead.. He told me it’s the time of the year when mosquitoes become abundant.   I saw hundreds of mosquitoes in my tent and had to clean them up.  I told Peter and Maurice that I couldn’t sleep last night because of the bugs.  Immediately, they gave me a room with a bed inside along with a mosquito net to protect me from the mosquitoes.  YAY! I was so grateful yet I felt bad that I was using one of the children’s rooms.

They told me that the children who studied in that room were away and they even thought about making it my room before I came.  I told them that I didn’t want to become a distraction to them so I told them to let me know if I made anything uncomfortable.  Maurice laughed and told me that he will.  I told Emily, one Maurice’s children, that I felt like I stole her room.  Instead she told me that it’s a guest room and I’m the first guest : ).  How sweet!!!

I really like Emily.  She walked 1 hour and 30 minutes to see me.  She is very curious about everything. She asked me what I wrote in my diary. I write my diaries in Korean so I read them for her.  Although she didn’t understand any of my Korean, she kept repeating what I was saying  I taught her “I love you so much” in Korean.  Emily is also very ambitious.  She wants to be a broadcaster in the United States.

We also had a dance time for dinner!!!   

Zingalo, zing~~~galo, sister Semi come to the soccer, put your arms up, feet down, zing galo, so finally we called gathered everyone together and danced.  Peter, Maurice, Emily, Victor(Maurice’s son) and I danced throughout the night. I sang a few Korean and Christian songs.  Peter brought a radio which played American pop songs. It was really fun!! They talked about SCHAP people’s dances! I expect to see your dances soon :)

I’m still learning how to converse with others in their native language.  When I try to talk to others in their language, they laugh.  Peter told me that others think I’m funny.  I’m glad that people like me :) 


3/8/11

I met Rebecca today.  She was supposed to be my assistant but she is pregnant going on 7 months. She is 19 years old and lives with her mother and brothers. Unfortunately, the father of her baby is not with her.

Because of Rebecca’s pregnancy, Ken is my assistant for the time being.  Ken has been very sick because of AIDS, but he is getting better.   I enjoy working with Ken.  I communicate with Ken very well.  I don’t want Rebecca to risk her and her baby’s health by trying to help me.  I wish her all the best!

I also met Domtilla who is in charge of sanitation work in Kochere Dam, Ongoro and Matoso.  Domtilla shared with me about the sanitation issues in Matoso.  She told me that people openly take a dump at the lake while they take a bathe.  This leads to children becoming sick due to the pollution that it causes.  At Kochere Dam, people have stopped open defecation but not in Matoso quite yet. Animal defecation is also a problem. Animals like cows roam around the lake and they take a dump everywhere.  It’s sad to hear that people drink and cook from the same water that animals and people take a dump in. 

Domtilla also shared about her worries about women not being able to use sanitary napkins. They use rugs and used clothing as of “sanitary napkins.  Therefore women get rashes.  I asked her if they clean their vulvas. She told me that they say they clean it but they actually don’t.  Talking with Domtilla reminded me of the old times in Korea when Korean people used to use clean white clothes as sanitary napkins.  Then they washed it with boiling water. I asked her to use that method but I am wondering what is the method that the WHO(World Health Organization) recommends.

 

Domtilla told me that she doesn’t have money to buy gloves and hand sanitizers when she works outside.  Even though she occasionally has had hand sanitizers to clean her hand, most of the time she isn’t able to wash her hands.   Talking with Domtilla was very precious to me.  I really began to understand the sanitation issues in Matoso.  I hope that I can be of any help!

Later in the day, I heard some kids crying. I asked the teachers why they were crying. They said the children’s parents were supposed to bring tea and food for the kids but some do and some do not. However there was a business woman who brought food for the children.  It was hard for me to see the kids crying because they didn’t have any food to eat that day. 


 3/11/11

Today wasn’t what I would call a good day.  My boyfriend called me and asked me if I sent an emergency email asking for $3000. What the heck... I thought he was just fooling around.  But since he sounded so serious, I decided to check my email.  I couldn't sign in...

Right away I remembered an email that I received yesterday. In the email, they asked for my Hotmail ID, password, date of birth, and my country of birth because they wanted to get rid of all my spam.  It looked so professional so I replied to the email sending them my information.  How naïve of me.. I always heard of similar instances when people gave away their personal information.  I never thought it would happen to me. I’m still in the process of recovering my hotmail account.  So if you received or should you receive an email from my hotmail account, please disregard it. 

What was a pretty bad day became even worse.  As I was trying to recover my hotmail account, I realized that I couldn’t find my wallet.  I have my passport and money with me, but I couldn’t find my wallet with all my credit cards and IDs.  The last time I remember seeing my wallet was at the airport.  I was very frustrated but quickly realized that these kinds of hardships will allow me to grow as a person.  I need to focus on serving the people here!  But I hope to find my wallet and recover my hotmail account soon!

Later in the day, Peter told me that he wanted to show me something. I went outside and I was surprised. A calf was dying and was gasping for air. People told me that they thought it swallowed something poisonous.  A Veterinarian came but it was too late so it eventually died.  After it died, people peeled off its skin.  The boys cut off its legs and the blood splashed everywhere. Eww… I couldn’t finish watching it so I went back inside.



3/14/11

I was so tired today. In the morning, I rode a motorcycle to meet a female farmer.  When Ken, Maurice, Bob and I arrived at her farm, she was busy working.   We asked her for an interview but she told me that she could only talk to me for a short time because she had to go back to work.   Her house was far from the field so we sat down next to a tree.

During the interview, Ken was translating for me but his voice sounded irritated.  He might have been tired because he was sick.  Moreover, the farmer seemed annoyed at me because she wanted to go back to work at the field.  Her attention was not at the interview but at the hole that she had to dig!  I felt bad for taking her time so I helped out a little bit after the interview.

Then I went to another farmer's house.  Ken, Maurice and the farmer talked a lot but I couldn’t understand what they were saying.  I asked them to directly translate what the farmer said. I hope I can communicate better with the locals in the near future.

I went to the Agape (Christian organization) and met Millicent for an agriculture survey. Agape had so many plants.  I wanted to take pictures of all of them.  Millicent is the daughter of the manager of Agape. She is well educated and knows a lot about agriculture. Our conversation was very fun but the time flew by. By the time I finished talking with Millicent, it was already past 3pm. I got home and had eggs, skumawiki and ugali, the usual for my lunch.  It was very delicious. I especially enjoyed the orange Fanta (it was warm). It was AWESOME!  I usually don't like soda (especially orange soda) but after a hard day of work under the sun, soda tasted like heaven!


3/15/11

In Africa, it is their tradition for men to have more than one wife. I learned about this while having lunch with Domtilla today. She told me her husband has 2 other wives including herself. I asked her if she was jealous about her husband having more wives and she told me she was not jealous. She then asked me if I would be jealous if my future husband had another wife besides myself.  I told her that it’s not acceptable for men to have more than one wife.  Moreover, if something like that happened in my relationship, I would immediately break up the relationship.  I was definitely shocked at what Domtilla told me today, but she was telling me like it was normal.  But where she grew up, she had been told ever since childhood that men can have multiple wives.

Domtilla also told me that in Africa, males are considered superior to females.  In Africa, if the wife doesn’t have a son, the husband should find another wife to have a son in the family.  Domtilla had a daughter so she had to allow her husband to find another wife.  Women in Africa are very shy and are considered subordinate to men.  In some families, women can’t even eat with the men. Women do all the house chores and don’t even have a voice in the family. Unlike the other families in Africa, Maurice has one wife, Mary. He does some of the house chores and gives Mary freedom. He really wants Mary to freely express herself in the family.  He allows the family to eat all together as well.  I can tell that Maurice really loves Mary! I really admire Maurice and Mary.

My conversation with Domtilla stirred in my heart a desire to help deal with gender inequality here in Africa.  I really hope that women will have the same rights and opportunities as men.  I really hope that I could do something about it…


3/18/11

Domtilla gave sanitation lessons to people at the beach vendor today.  There weren’t a lot of people when the lesson began but more and more people joined for the lesson.  To emphasize the sanitation problems in Matoso, Domtilla had people draw a map of Matoso with a white chalk. Then the people scattered orange powder on the map on areas where people usually openly defecate.  The whole map was covered in orange. 

Domtilla suggested 2 methods to handle the open defecation problem.  The first method she suggested was for people to dig a hole 3 feet deep, defecate in the hole and then cover it with soil. The second method was for people to use a bucket to defecate and then use it as manure for their farms.  Domtilla told them that open defecation causes diseases such as Cholera and diarrhea.  Children are actually more vulnerable to these kinds of diseases.  She added that receiving treatment for these diseases costs more than building a new latrine.  Domtilla talked about more but she explained it in Luo so I didn’t understand everything. 

 

After the lesson, Domtilla and I walked along the beach to find defecation.  Human feces were everywhere!  They were piled up around the trees where people took bathes.  I asked her how you could distinguish between human feces and animal feces.  She told me that the color and the shape are different.  To my amazement, she was even able to know what the person ate by looking at the feces She said “look at that one, that’s Ugali…” EWWWWWWWWW

 

According to Domtilla, people should not openly defecate even 10-15m from the lake since flies swarm around the defecation.  The flies carry the disease and bacteria.  Open defecation also affects animals because they could eat the grass that may be covered in defecation.  As we continued to walk, we saw 5 private latrines but they were all locked. They were completely filled with defecation and destroyed because of the quality of the soil.  We also saw a public one which was also filled with defecation.  The Beach committee started building a new one but they had to halt the project because of lack of funds.  The people here have asked for a new latrine and they even asked SCHAP to build one for them.  I thought emptying the latrines would be a better idea than building a new one.  However, people told me that it’s hard to find a person who can empty the latrines.  Moreover it is dangerous because the hole may get larger as they continue to empty them.

 

Many people blamed the leader of the committee for not leading others to help with the sanitation issues.  I told them it could be the leader’s fault but you can’t blame only the leader.  I told them that each individual has the responsibility to take care of their village.  They should be proactive in taking care of their health, their family, and the people in the village. 

 

SCHAP helped install 6-8 trash cans in Matoso.  Peter told me that there was a difference between before and after they brought in the trash cans.  However, from what I could see, there was still a lot of trash all over the ground.  I think the people here think it’s normal to litter everywhere.  Moreover I don’t think they know why these trash cans were brought in.  Maurice pointed out that the SCHAP team gathered children in town and had them pick up trash with gifts as compensation.  However they still don’t understand why they have to put away the trash.  They expect the team to come and give them prizes for picking up trash :(

 

3/20/11

 

Yesterday, I went to Agape to have bible study with Betty, Florence and Millicent. After bible study, Betty asked me if I heard about a husband who almost killed her wife.  I was pretty shocked!  While eating dinner, Peter told me more about the incident.  Her husband slept with a neighbor.  When her wife heard about his husband sleeping with the neighbor, he beat her up.  What made it worse was that the wife was pregnant and now she is in the hospital.  She’s eating through the tubes connected to her nose.  According to Peter, it’ll be hard for that husband to be arrested because there is no police here.  To think about it, I haven’t seen any police since my stay in Matoso.  So weird…

 

The neighbor who slept with the husband was a girl from secondary school (high school). The girl and the wife were even friends. The girl was beaten by people after they heard about this incident.  She barely survived.  That same husband slept with another lady. This lady committed suicide when she heard about this incident.  They found her on the road. She was thankfully survived. Wow.. So many sad stories..

 

 

Peter also told me that HIV is prevalent in Matoso. Matoso is right next to the lake so many people from other villages come to Matoso to fish.  The visitors seduce women with money and sleep with them.  Peter also told me that I would be able to see a long list of HIV patients in Lamlba.  Many students at schools also have HIV.  Fewer students in our SCHAP school have HIV compared to other schools.  About 10 students at the SCHAP school have HIV and 7 students need special care. Those 7 students that need special care are affected physically and mentally.  Matoso seemed like a very peaceful village, but I am beginning to realize that it’s not as peaceful as I first thought. 

 

 3/22/11

Ken and I went to see a farmer named John Kasam. When we saw him, he was busy digging to install a pipe connecting to his fish pond with 3 other friends. One person was overseeing the process, directing them what to do.  I was curious about who he was and later found out that he was one of the officers from the fishery department here in Kenya.  His name was Charles Borong and he taught people how to install and manage a fish pond. He explained to me how the fish pond worked.  It was exciting to learn about the fish pond since it was my first time seeing a fish pond.

 

I remember wondering why these people would want a fish pond when people from Agape told me about it.  I thought it was one of those things that rich people wanted to make for their leisure.  However, the fish pond that they were talking about is used as a means for their subsistence. John’s fish pond was about 300m in circumference.  It took them about 2 months and a half to make and it cost around 2500ksh. 

 

They had an interesting way of maintaining the pond.  They put cow dung into the pond because it fertilizes the pond and helps the water remain green.  By keeping the water green, it protects the fish from getting eaten by the birds.  If the water was transparent, the fish would be clear of sight for the birds to find them.  Putting cow dung into the pond also feeds the fish for about 2 months without anyone having to feed them.  

 

Most farmers that I interviewed didn’t know what kind of soil they used.  Some farmers said they only know it by the way it looks.  However, Charles knew how to distinguish the different kinds of soil and taught me how to do it.  If it’s clay soil, you could mass the soil into a lump and it won’t break into pieces, even if you throw it down on the ground.  Moreover, clay soil has a darker color than sandy or loamy soils.

 

The surface of the ground consisted of mostly sandy soil.  But the more you dig up the ground, the more you can see different types of soil.  There were various types of soil around the pond.  Charles told me that having a fish pond is more economical than farming.  A person can make around 875,000ksh per pond by selling fish in the pond.  Charles told me about a person who had 12 ponds.  So he must be earning 12 times that much! 

 

After learning about the fish ponds, I was curious about the pipe that was connected from the pond to the ground.  I asked what that was for and found out that it was to prevent a flood.  In case of a lot of rain, the pipe prevents the water in the pond to accumulate and flood.  Instead it will go through the pipe. 

 

These efforts are possible by the support of the government.  The Kenyan government gave a 5 million ksh grant to the beach community for the fish pond project and the sanitation project.  It also supported the project by giving John and his friends 1000 fingerlings (small fish) for free.  The fingerlings could give you a profit of 100ksh per fish!  People here are excited about the potential of the project.  It would prevent people from overfishing at the beach as well as help maintaining a clean economical environment.  I’m excited to see how the beaches here will change through the project :] 

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