I came out of my “slump” pretty fast and I have some amazing community members to thank for helping me realize that I should not be wallowing in self pity. A few things happened that made my attitude change. First of all, the nyanya, seeing how sad I was about the death of my bunny, rounded up some neighborhood boys to find me a replacement. They came back with the world’s biggest rabbit (no magician would ever be able to make it disappear). It was actually more like a medium sized dog. It took some explaining, but I convinced them that this enormous animal would not replace my adorable (and normal sized) bunny. In reality, I do not think I would be able to feed and house a rabbit of that size! Alas, I remain pet-less, but my neighbors’ kindness made me feel loved:)
Another event that really helped change my outlook on life here was meeting the Onyenga Women’s Group. I attended their meeting today and was amazed at the work they have done for the community. They have started so many community projects (a waterhole that people come from 10 km away to use), a diary cow project aimed at teaching members how to successfully raise cattle, a health initiative counseling HIV positive community members, and many more small projects. They have big dreams for the future of our community. They want to make water more accessible, build a resource center to train people in computer literacy, and start an orphanage to aid the many parent-less children in the community. Yet they are also discouraged. They have sent out hundreds of proposals, innumerable requests for donations, and many pleas for aid. But the Kenyan government has too many needy groups (and hello, corruption!), so funding has cut their dreams short. While I do not have any background in grant writing, I hope to aid their cause in finding funds to start community development projects. I don’t know quite how to help in a sustainable, realistic manner. It seems like they have all the components of sustainability (community initiative, interest, enthusiasm) minus the money. Why does it always come back to that?
They initiated me into their group as a member (the youngest by a few generations!) and celebrated by planting a mango tree in front of my house. Here is a picture of the tree planting (which was accompanied by some beautiful singing in dhoLuo about the future growth of the baby tree). They also named the tree nursery Jenny Nursery to commemorate my arrival in their community.
I’ll put up more pictures this weekend when I am in town so check back soon!