“Ups and Downs”…then a few more “Up’s”

By Gordon Anderson, Work-study volunteer at IHF Kenya center

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“Monday” I say to myself optimistically as I wake at 5am and start getting ready to help with the morning’s breakfast and school preparation “what have you got in store for us?” I remember that today we have two more of our children starting a new secondary school (Jane and Willy) for form 1 as they have had to wait for funding to support desk fees and missed the first few weeks but, alas, they are ready to go for today! After the usual hustle and bustle, I start to get worried that the breakfast Mandazi’s have not arrived and after enquiring, I find out the local supplier has had to go away and hadn’t done today’s quota. This doesn’t bode well and the children are down about it as this means leaving for school at 6am and battling through hard studies till lunch on an empty stomach. So after tea and some encouragement, we get on with the day where I walk with Kamama to her school bus pick up 30mins away. Kamama has lost her sight at an early age and attends a school for the visually impaired however this does not deter her from being almost completely independent in familiar environments, she is such a brave girl and very playful too! On the way we discuss potentially going for a run on our football field when she returns from school today and this lifts her mood from not having any breakfast.

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But Monday hasn’t finished with us as we miss the bus. I have to negotiate with a motorbike driver to assist us to make it to school on time. I don’t have a leg to stand on and as he knows we’re stuck, he decides to charge me double the normal price (which is still quite good for mzungu prices)! So we laugh, I congratulate him and vow to get the better of him next time.

I return to find that some of the children have decided it is “Children versus Volunteer Day” with a few debates over school items and requirements. Boshra, Matron, Emily and I spend most of the day reconciling these issues as well as walking to different schools (with children in tow) to meet Head Teachers, aiming to explain some of these shortcomings. As I walk, I’m already strategising and preparing exactly what to say to each principal. After 2 hours of waiting in the sun, and after much stress, I come to the conclusion that I will just tell the truth!

My day brightens up at about 5pm when Krop arrives back from school and comes to greet me in the usual manner, which is a handshake followed by some pretend boxing moves before at least one minute of wrestling… He is only 10 and about 3ft tall so I’m very proud to say that I win nearly all of these encounters. We spend the next hour together doing an email to one of Krop’s friends from overseas whom was once a volunteer at the centre. The email is very sweet and we attach pictures too. I slowly start to forgive Monday and warn Tuesday that they better not think of behaving the same tomorrow.

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