Monday, February 16, 2009

Strangers, Roomates, & Freinds

Before going to Africa, I had met two of the fifteen team members. Emily and Ashley were part of the group who climbed Kings Peak last summer.

The other twelve I had never met until we got together to pack our humanitarian supplies. It was at that time that I met a stranger by the name of Marilyn Stewart. She was a nurse mid-wife and a case manager for the LDS Church.

There were so many differences between us. She has two masters degrees, I most definitely don't. She is LDS, I am not. She is sixty-five years old, I am fifty-five. She has six children, I have two. She is divorced, I am married. She had been to Africa before; I had not even really been out of the country. However, the first night in Kenya at the gross hotel, Shosho paired team members up. Marilyn and I became roommates from then on. As we sat on our beds we talked and giggled like a couple of young school girls. Marilyn told me all about her family, her job and why she wanted to return to Africa. I in return did the same. We both seemed to have so many differences, but yet so many similarities.

It was in the hotel in Nakuru, that we really became close, as there was one room for two people not a big deal, but there was also only one FULL sized bed for two people. It was a good thing we were both so tired that we were both glad to sleep closely on that full sized bed.

I will always have so many fond memories of the days and nights I spent with Marilyn in Africa. I got such a kick out of the faces she would pull at the thought of eating another PB&J sandwich. I cringed at the sound of her gasping when she was taking a cold and I mean cold shower. After being a mid-wife for forty years, she ran around naked a lot. She said she had seen enough women's parts, that it didn't bother her. ( I suppose she didn't think it bothered me either, after all if you have seen on butt, you've seen them all!) I will never forget her trying to ban-aid the window in the hotel shut so the mosquitoes didn't come in. There she stood on the bed in her garments with twenty ban-aids on the window. Needless to say it didn't work. So together we "Jimmy Rigged" it shut with my camera electrical cord.

Though Marilyn and I started out as strangers, ended up being roommates, and it two weeks, in a third world country we became really good friends.

St. Catherine's School

Our last day at St. Catherine's School was unlike any day I have ever spent in a classroom in the USA. We spent the day teaching ALL school aged children about HIV, though I am convinced those children probably knew more than we did. HIV is so wide spread in Africa, that twelve million school aged children have lost one if not both parents to AIDS. Women also account for sixty-five percent of adults living with this deadly viral disease. HIV, is the leading cause of death in Africa. While teaching there was not one child who had not been affect by AIDS, either in their family or a village member. Many children are raising their siblings as their parents have died from this deadly disease. While teaching my heart ached for these innocent children, as they never really have a chance to be a kid, as the kids in the US do. No matter where one lives, life at times doesn't seem fair, however, fairness in the US really has a different meaning than in Africa.

After teaching I had an opportunity to tell the smaller children all about my Lil' Buddy and how much I love him, just as their Grandmothers love them. Before going to Africa I choose to buy books to donated to children who might not have any. The best part was Brykn went with me to pick out the books. I thought a variety might be nice, but Brykn wanted ones with horses on them, imagine that. As I presented the books to the children, not one child had ever seen a horse, boots, or a cowboy hat. Funny that is Brykn's daily wardrobe, because as he says, " me is a cowboy." It was fun to have Brykn's help me with this project, and it was fun to see the smiles on the faces of children a world away.

These children love school, and were so cute as they sang "One Little, Two Little Three Little Kenyans." actions included. I had taken Smarties to share with the children, some held on to them for dear life, while other ate them like they it was candy!

From Mom: This afternoon we went back to St. Catherine's School to finish up some of the projects that we started a week ago. We also did age appropriate HIV teaching, which is so prevalent in Africa. After the teaching, I was able to show all the children under 12 Brykn's picture and tell them how much I love him. I then gave the kids the books that he helped me pick out, of course, they had horses on them. I got to explain how Brykn has his own horse and wears his boots, and cowboy hat. They giggled and loved his picture and the books. I miss you all and yes, I am excited to get home. Love ya!