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!!

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