Monday, May 23, 2011

East Africa Day 8: The Garden!

Took my Kenya book to a shady spot outside of the garden gates this morning. (The sun was extremely strong today.) I wanted to help in the garden, but Alice won't be back until Monday. However, a few minutes after I'd opened the book, three students showed up to work in the garden! I brightly asked if I could help and they gave me unsure looks - like "you really want to work in the garden?" It was cute. Joyce and I started weeding the beans section with hoes. Here we don't get on our knees and pull out the root system of each root - we just chop them down and leave the weeds there to wither in the sun. Much easier:)


I had a great time working with Joyce. She told me that she enjoys working in the garden because her family are pastoralists. The 2009 drought killed all of their cows and some of their goats and sheep, leaving them with just a few sheep and goats for milk and meat. Her family doesn't sell what the animals provide. They get their other staples from community members. She said that she is the only student from her village at Daraja. I asked her what she likes about Daraja, and she said that she enjoys learning about all of the students' backgrounds - students here are from a variety of tribes.

After I took this photo of Joyce, she asked me if I would give her a copy, and if I would take another photo of her on Monday in her uniform. Of course! I was surprised because this was the first time that a student had expressed interest in the photos that I take. Most of the time, the students do not look at, or smile into the camera when I focus it on them. I still haven't gotten used to that.

After a while Joyce and I were joined by the other two students who have been assigned to work in the garden each day this month. I don't know their names and was too embarrassed to admit it by asking them for their names. (I've been here for a week today.)


The student in the blue button-down shirt and I had a great conversation while we worked. She told me that Wa and someone else from Daraja came to her primary school to tell the students about Daraja. The students who were interested completed the application and were then interviewed by both Daraja representatives at the same time. This student was the only one selected from her primary school. I asked her why she wanted to go to Daraja, and she said that she would not have otherwise gone to secondary school, because her family could not afford to send her. But the first reason that she gave was that she likes that Daraja empowers and educates women. When I asked her why this was important, she said that educating women will change the world, and that educated women will provide educational opportunities to their family members. She said that she wants to be a doctor because there is a female doctor in her village. This doctor is a role model for her. The doctor's mother had not gone to school, but made money selling tobacco and sent her daughter to school. The doctor was sponsored through university by an MP - a man. The doctor sent her siblings to school, too. This student told me that her family farms - maize, beans, and one other crop which I forget. So she is used to working in the fields. She was so cute - as you can see from the photo:)

Pamela and I had a really special conversation with one of Daraja's staff members after breakfast this morning. I am so thankful for everyone here who is so willing to share, teach me, and answer my zillion questions:)

This afternoon we had QUITE the Kenyan "rainy season" rain storm. I shot video of it from the screened in porch off of the cafeteria - will post when I have a good internet connection. The students, Pamela, and I were out on the porch when the storm came, sorting through beans to pull out the imperfect ones and pebbles. The students do this activity every weekend, on top of their other daily chores. They are super stars!


A handful of students participated in a public speaking contest for area students today, in Nanyuki. I saw them when they arrived back on campus after dinner, and they excitedly told me all about it. All but one of Daraja's students placed in the Top Three in their respective categories, which means that they get to participate in the next round of the competition on June 3. The students are not used to public speaking - just participating today was a big accomplishment - yay!

I wanted to run this evening but the campus grounds are slippery and wet from the heavy rains. Instead I read with and fed the cat that Maria and I are looking after. You saw a picture of our cat in yesterday's post. She and her sister arrived on campus as kittens, where they were adopted by two members of the Danish staff. The Dane who owned this particular cat left Kenya and didn't take her cat with her. The cat didn't have a name until tonight, when Maria and I named her Cali. Maria and I both came to Daraja from California - we are very imaginative:)

The students were having a dance party in the dining hall tonight, after dinner. (Saturday night activity.) Leila came over to chat (she is so cute) and asked me who my favorite musicians are. She didn't know John Mayer or Jack Johnson, but says that she listens to Taylor Swift on the radio. (That's who I'm listening to, as I type this.) Her favorite is Chris Brown. When I gave her a blank look she said that he used to be Rhianna's boyfriend. Ah, right:) Another student brought the novel that she is reading to dinner. I took a quick look - Goosebumps:)

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