Every day in Kenya we set out, wondering if today can possibly meet the experiences of the day before. And, so far, Kenya has not disappointed! Or I should say, the people of Kenya in particular have not disappointed.
My group was starting the day at Michaka Primary School, where the other group was yesterday. As you may have read in the youth blog, it was a very tactile day! The kids loved touching their hair and skin – and they warned us to bring a brush.
Well, no need for a brush because at one point, I found myself kneeling down, surrounded by a group of about ten kids braiding my hair. They started on a couple of the other girls and I thought – hey, when will I ever get the chance again to get my hair braided by kids in Kenya? The photographic evidence is below. I think the Kenyan school staff wasn’t quite sure what to think about my hairdo. But I love it!
We did do some serious work at Michaka. The soil there is rocky and very dry. We did some planting and digging and were covered in some serious dust by the end of about an hour of work. The garden is now planted and we look forward to updates from Mwenda to see how it grows. (Stephen Mwenda and Salome are two FHF employees who help with horticultural projects, including schools.)
Michaka Primary is newly twinned with a school in Quebec so I made sure to take lots of photos to pass along to them. And as with every other school we’ve visited, the kids love looking at themselves after we take a photo! If you take one picture, you pretty much have to take a picture of all of them. Usually in large groups, but you definitely have to do it!
We had another great lunch, hosted by the school. And then it was time for football! The group yesterday had given the school 5 new soccer balls. And we happened to mention (!) that we would like to play soccer with the kids. And when the head teacher mentioned football, there was a big cheer. There was no turning back.
The students at Michaka had also received jerseys from Central Queens so one team was wearing those. It was Daniel, Carm, Kelsey and me versus Kelly, John and Mwenda, plus the kids from Michaka. The grass was long, to say the least, and there were even cows in the pasture! Plus we were playing at a higher altitude than we’re used to, under the equatorial sun. Despite the challenges, it was an epic match!
Our team scored first on a shot by Daniel, with an assist by me. I actually had a shot on goal before that and almost scored. I’m happy I didn’t because the poor little keeper may never have lived down being scored on by a “Mzungu” (foreigner) female with braids in her hair! Then it was almost time to go and our van was waiting in the driveway. Kelly passed it to Mwenda who took a big shot and scored. The game ended a tie, much to the delight of everyone. We left Michaka Primary after another huge round of high fives. I’m pretty sure we high-fived everyone of the 100 or so students. Possibly twice each.
Then we were off to the Naari Dairy to meet up with the UPEI vet students. The two Canadians (Krista and Emily) and two Kenyans (Dennis and Joanne) gave us a great introduction to a Kenyan shamba, or farm. The vets are working on a five year project looking at small scale dairy farms and what can be done to improve the cow health. The Canadians are spending 3 months in Kenya and then the Kenyan PhD students will be coming to P.E.I.
We learned about the way nutrition affects the health of dairy cows in Kenya. For example, the calf at one farm was much smaller than one would be back in Canada. We saw how the vets check for and then treat mastitis, or infected cow udders. And then the moment we had been waiting for. We were given the opportunity to stick our arms into the cow’s rectum and check out an unborn calf in utero. Only Carmelita took up the challenge today, along with Tessa and Sadie yesterday. Destined for vet school, we wonder?
School was just getting out as we were making our way along the rural roads and back to the highway. It seems as if there is a school every ten minutes or so. There is a constant stream of kids walking along the roads in their uniforms. Everywhere we go, the kids smile and wave, and sometimes even run along beside the Combi. Even the adults along the rural parts of the roads often wave and smile now.
On the way back to the guest house, we all saw elephants! One group saw one big male. The other group saw four. As John pointed out, we have seen an endangered species 3 out of our 4 days in Meru. We are very, very lucky with our timing indeed!
Tomorrow we are spending the day with the Muchui Women’s group – for a kind of “day in the life of a Kenyan woman”. Stay tuned for that!
One quick note for anyone who met Stephen Mwenda, one of the Farmers Helping Farmers staff people in Kenya, who was on P.E.I. last summer, learning from Charlie VanKampen. On our way back from the shambas, Mwenda waved us over to the side of the road and went into a building. He came out with his fiancée, Caroline! It was great to meet her.