I started to write about day two in Kenya yesterday but was too tired to finish it all. Now it's early morning here. Cars are on the roads outside our guesthouse honking and the crazy boda bodas (motorcycles) I can hear whipping by. The roosters are announcing its morning. But what is keeping me awake this early is that while I sleep under my mosquito net - there's one mosquito in here too. One mosquito buzzing around taunting me. So I'm awake fully now as he laughs at me swatting at him - no where near him though.
So let's go back to yesterday while I do my best to ignore this pesky mosquito and pray my malaria pills work.
Yesterday after we met up at the workshop and visited there we went to the home of nearly every one of the Kenyan artisans we partner with. We wound up and down the muddy pathways in kibera slums. Ducking under low tin roofs and hopping over drainage and garbage. We turned sideways to fit down narrow pathways. And we entered each home as a welcomed guest. They love having us in their homes and we could not be more honoured.
The typical home we visited in kibera is about 12x12 in total and could house up to ten people. The walls are made of tin or mud and there is rarely a window. Making them so dark when there is no electricity. Which is often. There is no running water in any of the homes. No washroom. And the kitchen is a small charcoal cooking stove or an electric cool. There are yellow water jugs to fetch water and a stack of dishes. No refrigerator so all food is fresh and no leftovers stored for another day. When you enter a home you walk into the living room area which consists of a couple of chairs or a couch and a coffee table. Facing the seating is a drape which hides the one bed in the home. The edge of the bed is also used for seating. The walls are often decorated with fabric or lace and the chairs are covered with it too. Wall decor consists of posters of favourite football (soccer) teams or educational posters for children or a favourite inspirational quote. In one home there were photos on the wall of us on our last visit with the artisans here. Some have the family photos we gifted them for Mother's Day last year by a local photographer.
The homes are humble but the hospitality is generous. They are quick to offer us a seat - often running to the neighbours to grab a couple more chairs. They love to show us their homes and the few we did not get to visit yesterday asked if we could please visit their homes also.
As we wound through the pathways it's clear how well liked and respected this group is. People called out to them or came to give hugs and have heart to heart talks as we walked along. Consistently we see how they care for and champion for the less fortunate. We walk by a school for those with special needs and a student comes out to greet them. He is called by name and treated with respect as he's introduced to us. Even though he has a hard time communicating he is listened to as an equal. Later as we walk, we see one of our group walking hand in hand with another gentleman with special needs talking to him. We are introduced to community members who they share with and care for - those with disabilities and widows in particular.
The children of our group have begged parents to stay home from school today and some have joined us on our visits. At the end of the day my girls ask "who is Gift's parent?" As it is hard to tell when the entire group looks out for each child and cares for them as if they are there own. Even my daughter Madison noticed this.
Madison (age 14) said of yesterday: I got to see lots and lots of adorable kids in Africa today. Today I met Gift, Baby Krista, Natasha, Rachel and more. The cool thing about the kids here is that everyone takes care of them and each other. I am really pleased I get to met all these people (especially the cute kids.)
Their care extends to us. As the group always makes sure someone is on each side of us keeping an eye out for us. As one friend - we nickname Spoon - said to my daughter eden "I'll be your body guard" as he held her hand and walked protectingly alongside her.
The group is like a large family. Caring for each member and laughing and joking as they go along. We all enjoyed lunch together at one of the homes. They proudly presented a feast for us and we enjoyed their company and hospitality immensely.
These artisans are incredibly gifted in their craft. But it is the way they love and live that impresses me the most. I am reminded yet again the honour it is to be able to work alongside such people of character. I'm glad my children have been able to see such examples of lives lived well - despite their harsh circumstances.