Sunday morning again, slept for 11 ½ hours last night despite the god conference going on ALL NIGHT and still going on now…I don’t know how people have the energy to sing and dance and pray all night long! I’m looking forward to some peace and quiet after they pack up and leave today. The music is very nice, African gospel, but it all starts to sound like one long song after hours and hours of it.
Last week of work and we are closing the office on Saturday afternoon for the week of Christmas and new year. Fanette and I are going to the Masai Mara for a few days. I hope I finally get to see a leopard, which I’ve never managed to see in all the time I’ve spent on safari. Should see cheetah too. Joseph, our driver, has a friend who works in the park who is going to take us to a Masai boma (small village) and meet the people. This will be a “real” boma, not one of the tourist ones that the Masai have set up in the park to earn money. I don’t like going to that type of “cultural visit”, it always feels a little voyeuristic and the people are often tired and phony, just give me my money and let me get this over with, which is totally understandable.
We have booked ourselves in for Christmas dinner at a fancy lodge near the camp where we are staying, which will be awesome. Real food! Not that we haven’t been eating well but it’s been African food, very healthy, tons of vegetables and meat only a couple of times a week, but I could really do with a change, and of course it will be nice to have a proper Christmas dinner. I miss home and family very much with the holidays approaching and my thoughts are with everyone and hoping all are safe and happy.
Fanette and I had a frustrating week with the IRS campaign, despite having a huge IEC campaign on Thursday to cover every single village in one subdistrict, meeting with the village elders and subdistrict chief to have them help us mobilize the communities, we still had a lot of people refusing to have their houses sprayed. Some people are not home, there are a lot of fishermen in this area who go off with their families for months, but some people simply refuse to have their house sprayed, despite being educated about the benefits, safety and risks of malaria. We have to keep reminding ourselves that our priorities are not their priorities. It’s difficult to understand. We need to figure out why people are still refusing as we need to have 85% coverage to achieve community protection.
Fanette also had another infuriating meeting with some elders, they wanted money to help us mobilizing their villages. Everyone wants money, understandable, but it is very frustrating to be providing a benefit, for free, and people are still trying to exploit us for cash. They wanted to be paid even for bringing chairs for the team to sit on in the village meeting place. Plus sodas.
I’m learning to be an “expert” on car repairs as the Programme Coordinator…We have one good Landcruiser and one piece of junk, it came from the programme in Garissa (northern Kenya) and obviously was not cared for. The engine is good but the body is falling apart. Joseph and I took it to the shop in Busia on Friday to have the body work done. I need to go along every time there is major work to be done and at least pretend like I know what I’m talking about and to bargain with the mechanic so they don’t rip us off. They stripped out the interior of the car and I was shocked. It is a short wheel base cruiser that has been modified for safari by extending the body. The only original parts are from the driver’s seat forward. Everything else has been cobbled together with pieces from various other vehicles and fiberglass. The welding where the body was extended is rotting through the floor. The undercarriage is completely rotten, I reached underneath and scratched it and it just flaked away, it’s being held together with mud. I went around the body and knocked on it and realized that it’s all fiberglass. I learned a long time ago that if you buy a car in Africa that’s the first thing you do, check to see where the body is metal and where it’s filler. If this car was in a wreck it would crumple like paper. They are going to do what they can to fix it by welding and we will paint it and send it to Nairobi to sell. To have basically the entire body rewelded will cost $600. Not bad. We’ll get another cruiser from Garissa that is in Nairobi right now.
That’s all for now I guess, my books for my courses from the London School arrived this week so I need to spend the day studying. It will be very challenging to find the time and energy to squeeze that in but I must. I hope everyone is well and getting ready for the holidays! Will try again to put up some pictures today as well.
view from the veranda
My friend Vivien who lives near our house