Sunday, October 16, 2011

My Chief Is More Than A Chief

I wanted to give everyone a more in depth idea of the most important people I work and spend time with here in the village. These are also the people that I'm going to miss the most. So here is Bio number 1!

Assistant Chief Jilore Sub Location, Charles Mulewa

I wake up every morning and literally say, "I love my chief". His office is in the dispensary, so from my house I can see and recognize the sound of his motorcycle or piki piki. After my hellos to the dispensary staff, I head to his office and take a seat on the other side of his desk and my day begins. We talk about projects, people, issues in the community, upcoming meetings, his plans and schedule, etc. Mixed into our "business" talk is joking, laughing, discussing some people and their "habits", and some inside gossip. As a Mulewa, his last name, I'm actually part of his clan and in his family line with my Giriama name. He's some father's uncle's cousin's brother or something.....but in my mind it make me like in the line of royalty here, right? haha He also said he could forge me a Kenyan ID card too. hahaha

He is a happy man and very hard working. He is married with 3 kids. His laugh is infectious and he really understands my humor so we laugh together quiet a lot. He has a chipped front tooth and a round belly. Arielle (PCV) and I believe that ugali, the staple food of kenya, gives you a pot belly. We haven't really been proven wrong. He likes to have a few drinks after work each day at his brother's bar or the local "pubs" that sell the local brew of mnazi (palm wine). But never has this affected his work or performance as a chief like I've seen it do to others. Every day he is in the office at 8am and has never missed an appointment with me. The best part is that when he is "relaxing" as he calls it and he calls me after 7pm, he responds to my hello with "Hello, my dear". It's the funniest thing and I enjoy hearing it.

We joke about how I'm the Assistant Chief when he needs help with things. I'm always around when the relief food is delivered and help oversee the offloading into his office. The smell of maize (corn) reminds me of him and his office now I've noticed. And if I want some of the food, I just ask and I shall be given. Usually I just take a share for the Pastor and his family or like when we used some relief food while building the resource center for a "food for work" program. He is a great public speaker and really knows what to say to the crowd to get them motivated or behind something. The gift of public speaking is bred in to almost all kenyans, but he is entertaining too.

He always keeps me updated on the events and happenings of the village. I'm invited and attend leaders meetings with the chiefs, District Officer (DO), Village Elders, etc. He is my main supporter for any ideas I have for the community and we sit and discuss how they could work. He gives me honest answers since he knows the people here and understands their behaviors. He is the one I go to to vent or complain about anything. And he always says, "Don't worry, I'll take care of it." and he always does. And with the stress of some events that have just happened recently and one to come next week, he has depended on me for help and his venting and complaining also. It's nice to know that it can go both ways.

Many Peace Corps Volunteers don't even know their Chief let alone have a relationship with them. It a vital thing to have though because if the Chief isn't down with your work, project or ideas then it's a pain to get them to work and have the community own them. In some cases, if the chief isn't informed of something going on in his village, all hell could break lose. In other cases, the pcv's chief could care less. I think I got that perfect medium, with a bonus.

All dressed up in his official uniform...sorry no feathers here!
Tasting the food from the Solar Cooker Training
He has really made me feel successful in my work here by him doing things without me asking or even him having great ideas first to help with programs. I spend more time in his office during the day then I do mine own. His logic and problem solving is amazing and it just shows how great of a chief that he is. He knows how Kenyans are going to act before they even do it! He keeps me sane and I know that I wouldn't have made it through some days as well if it wasn't for talking out the issue with him. So I'll continue to say that "I love my Chief" and everything he does for me I'm so thankful for!!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Never Have I Ever….

I dedicate this blog post to Nicole, who has so patiently waited for this : )….
Never Have I Ever….A classic game that any teenager has played, but now for me…it has changed a bit…

Never have I ever been to Africa or Kenya before now. Never have I ever lived outside Arizona or the USA. Never have I ever been more comfortable in a skirt and would prefer to wear one compared to other clothing items. Never have I ever had wild animals like monkeys live in my backyard or have it be a common to see a giraffe or zebra on a road trip. Never have I ever had so many skin issues until coming and living in Kenya or have been on so many medications and at risk of catching diseases that will have lasting effects on my liver. Never have I ever appreciated Arizona’s DRY heat until after spending one hot season with ridiculous, un-godly humidity. Never have I ever been away from my immediate family for this long without seeing them…Mom: 1 year, Dad: 2 years, Brother: 2 years. Never have I ever understood two foreign languages going on in one conversation at the same time until Kenya. Never have I ever had a problem with goats or chickens eating my garden. Never have I ever craved Taco Bell as much as I have since day one of being in Kenya. Never have I ever thought I could add pest controller to my resume. Never have I ever had enough geckos in my house that I started to name them. Never have I ever had vivid dreams that are malaria medication induced and then induce me to talk myself out of thinking they actually happened. Never have I ever had to duck from bats flying around inside my house and then had to go fetch the pastor’s wife to come and kill it for me. Never have I ever worn Old Navy flip flops year round. Never have I ever had my hands be considered a “the Kenyan natural spoon”. Never have I ever seen the effects of a drought first hand and how hunger affects families. Never have I ever owned a phone this expensive or advanced as the one I have now in Kenya. Never have I ever met so many amazing people that have left lasting impressions on me. Never have I ever missed being lazy and watching TV all day. Never have I ever known that I should be here, doing this work, right now in my life because of how right it feels and how everything just falls into place. Never have I ever Facebooked stalked ALL of my FB friends so much. Never have I ever been SO excited to find legit, real Hot Cheetos. Never have I ever been able to know what time it was just by the sound of certain vehicles that drive by. Never have I ever been able to convert currency in my head. Never have I ever based my activities on when the mosquitoes will come out for the night and hide in my net until that time passes. Never have I ever been so crafty and look at containers and think “hmmm…what could I use this for?”. Never have I ever thought that an 6-8 hour bus ride is not a big deal. Never have I ever said “I love my Chief” on a daily basis because of what he does for me and the effort he puts into our projects. Never have I ever needed and wanted a fan so badly to prepare for this upcoming hot season. Never have I ever eaten a mango until Kenya (and then became addicted to them). Never have I ever lived without electricity in my house for this long. Never have I ever loved crunchy peanut butter SO much! Never have I ever lived this close to the ocean. Never have I ever had the best support system here in Kenya from my Peace Corps Family for all the rough times. Never have I ever not written a blog post for this long!

Ok, maybe the last one isn’t true, but I’ll try and keep up again… :)

Much love!