Sunday, June 5, 2011

East Africa Day 20 (Thurs June 2): Adventures in Town & Public Speaking Competition Final Prep

I went into Nanyuki today with Wa, Jacinta, and two of the students who needed to go to the government-run dentist and opthamologist offices today. Fatuma’s tooth looked like nothing I’d ever seen before – I can’t imagine how painful that was. It wasn’t just a cavity – it was a gigantic crater in the middle of her tooth. The dentist removed the tooth entirely today – it was broken into several pieces, in Fatuma’s mouth. She looked so happy when I saw her, when we met up to head back to campus! The other student, Jamaica, needed glasses. I think it was her first ever visit to the opthamologist’s office. I had fun asking her to describe her appointment, afterwards – to see it through her perspective.

When we first arrived in town, we pulled into the first government-run medical center. You cannot make appointments in advance for the government-run medical centers. You just show up and wait in line to register and then go see the doctor that you need to see. So when we pulled into the first compound, and then quickly pulled out, I learned that we were surveying the line for registration – which was much too long. The students and Jacinta then went to another center in town, where they were able to be seen much faster.

I was dropped off in the heart of downtown, where I went running off by myself to the government compound. (I should add that the first (and only) government-run medical center that I saw was set up in a compound style, just like the government compound. Each department had its own single-story building, and there is a grassy lawn in the middle of the quad. It’s a very pleasant and welcoming layout.) So when I first got to the government compound, I stopped at the Statistics Office to see if my contact Charles, from my previous visit, was there. Unfortunately I was told that he was sent to the Nairobi office, and no one knows when he will be back. Maybe early next week, or he might have to stay longer. I was told to come back next week. His colleague that he’d referred me to, turns out to work in the Labor Office (otherwise known as the Manpower Office) and I heard that I had just missed her in the Statistics Office. I found the Labor/Manpower Office, and learned that I had just missed her, there – she is now out in the community doing the survey that I needed to speak with her about. That’s the way it is! So then I headed to the Education Office, where I immediately ran into my contact, Hassan, who I had met with last week. He is so generous with his time and knowledge. He invited me into his office so that I could ask him even more questions:) I learned some intereting things before he had to run to a staff meeting.

I then ventured up the road to the Nanyuki Public Library. The buildling is lovely from the outside and inside, but there weren’t many books inside. I later realized that there also weren’t any computers. There were a good number of people reading books at the large library tables. But I barely got into the lobby – when I was informed that I couldn’t enter the library unless I owned an annual library pass (passport, 2 passport-size photos, and 5,000ksh required if you are not a Kenyan citizen), or 20 ksh per day/visit. I just wanted to learn about the process, and was asking the librarian how to gain entry if I were Kenyan, and he said “You are not a Kenyan citizen??” to which I replied “How could you tell?” He laughed but I generally didn’t think he was entirely entertained, and was taking it all very seriously. He then invited me to walk in and view the library (a single long room) but I had to leave my bag on a table right inside the doorway. I declined – but now I know what the library looks like, and how it works! When I got back to campus Leila told me that students must get a library card for the city where they go to school – not their hometown. Which she finds very frustrating because when she is home, she cannot visit the library unless she pays 20 ksh even if she only walks in with a friend, for a minute.

After the library I went to Barclay’s Bank to talk with a Loan Officer, to find out how students can get help paying for university. However I didn’t have time – had to go meet up with Wa, Jacinta and the students, to head back to campus in time for Wa to coach the afternoon football practice. Ah well – no rush! The research continues!
When I returned to campus I joined Victoria, Carol, and Sue for the final coaching sessions in preparation for tomorrow’s big public speaking competition in Nanyuki. We have thirteen students entering. We coached them in pairs of two, tonight. Each coach had their own room/station on campus, and the students rotated around in pairs (that they chose themselves), to get final reviews and tips. It was SO MUCH FUN!

I can't wait to see the students compete tomorrow – they are going to do so well! I asked a handful of the students how and why they decided to compete in the competition. I learned that some had done public speaking contests in Primary School, with their church, and one (Emily) had entered singing competitions with her sister where they did duets. So fun! Rosalia in the photo below on my right side has even competed at the national level in public speaking, before – she’s fantastic! My other friend in the photo is Jessica; she is so cute!

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