Last week Shem and I went for an evening walk. As we went we came across five fluffy little German shepherd puppies that were living inside a tunnel and gutter next to the road. For about 20 minutes we sat there playing with them and talking about how we could carry one home. Because I cannot keep a dog in my room at Mwix and Gideon’s place I was asking/begging Shem to take two so that I could help raise them and we could rescue them from the street. But since it was getting dark and puppy-taking was not in the plan for our walk Shem said that we could stop by tomorrow again and see it they were still there.
That night, as I was thinking more on the dog thing, it entered my head that why not me- why couldn’t I have “my own” puppy but just keep it at another person’s house, if someone was will. So that next day I started telling others about these puppies…and my friend Moses Naftari agreed! We decided then that at 4 pm Moses, Shem, and I would go to the gutter and Moses would pick one and I would pick one and we would raise the 2 brothers together. Later that day we set out with 2 cardboard boxes. When we got there we found the puppies and lots of kids that had just left school for the day. After asking further it was clear that no one owned the puppies and that they are street dogs, yet surprisingly healthy.
Max and Hunter
So we chose our puppies and headed back to Shem’s place. The puppies were shaking and scared. We found tons of fleas on them and also in some places the fur was falling out. So thorough washing happened that first night plus a big bowl of milk for their bellies. First night was at Shem’s then after that they have slept at Moses’s place and during the day I come to visit them at the shop closeby CTM. Moses has become the puppies’ father for sure… having them on a strict schedule of 2 baths per day, 3 meals per day, reading up on how to train them properly, and even deciding to de-worm them this Saturday! I get the “grandma role” of coming to play with them and feed them treats.
Even I don’t like pets much, people back home who know me know that. But this little guy, Max (Maximus in full), I am telling myself, even willing myself to like him and make him my own. I’ve never had a dog of my own and being in another country can feel lonely sometimes so having a friend that I can call my own, even if he isn’t staying with me all the time, is still a comfort.
So, as you might recall, there is a great birthday tradition in Kenya to wash the person who is having a birthday with buckets of water on their special day. The house where I live is a very dangerous place to be on these special days because Mwix (the mom of the house) loves throwing buckets on birthday victims. But guess whose birthday it was this time around? 🙂
Last Saturday after I finished sculpture class Moses, Shem, and I met in town over lunch to talk about how to wash Mwix thoroughly. Our strategy? We station buckets of water at both gate entrances to the house plus one bucket in the middle by the stairs. I lay down on the cement outside the gate of the house and pretend to have fainted. Moses sits by my side fanning me with a book. Shem runs upstairs to Mwix telling her “Kaylie is feeling sick and dizzy and has fainted outside.”
Did it work? Well first she wouldn’t come out and the only witnesses to my fainting were passersby and my little sister Gabi. I tried my hardest ever not to bust out laughing. Finally Mwix came out and then we both got a bucket of water in our face! She was washed properly! After the first bucket I jumped up laughing and Mwix grabs me to use me as a shield against the second and third blow of water! Haha, it was great fun and so far I have been washed on all birthdays- mine, Shem’s and now Mwix’s. Next is Gideon’s!
After the washing we had a party for Mwix with many friends and family who came to celebrate!
I just decided that we needed a party, that’s all. I have overlooked recognizing and celebrating the kids birthdays long enough and so this past week we had one big party. I passed a sheet of paper around for them to write their birthdays. One third did not know the day or month of their birth so I explained to those kids that they got the excitingly special job of picking their own birthday- a day where we could celebrate who God made them to be. Many of those kids were smart and picked a day in June so that they get to be celebrated as soon as possible! Haha!
We started off the class as usually- motto, rules, names, good and bad thing in your week, memory verse challenge. Then I had the kids get into 2 groups- the Cheetahs verses the Red Devils! Trivia Game was our first thing. After this came donuts smeared with peanut butter on a string and a no-hands eating contest. That was awesome!
Another highlight was the kid’s very first pinata. I had saved a paper mache balloon after our paper mache mask project and so that day Emily helped me stuff it with lots of candy and tie it high above the kid’s heads. One by one I blindfolded them, spun them around and then gave them a drum stick to hit the thing with. They loved it!
We had chai and chapati for the kids too which was a huge treat and we invited many other children who haven’t been a part of the class to come join us. Then at the very end I told them our party couldn’t be complete without some kind of sculpture since this is sculpture class after all. I pulled out peanut butter, milk powder, honey clay which I had mixed up the night before. I had them sculpt animals with their clay and then in the end we ate our animals!
These kids are so special, I can’t express it enough how dear they are to me. We always have a good time in our class, but this time I was particularly excited just to give them a good time for no other reason than because they are great people. I want to do this every once in a while, to have celebrations just for fun.
About 2 weeks ago we celebrated Kenya’s independence day, called Madaracka Day. I decided to celebrate in my own unique way and do a fun experiement along Olympic road in Kibera, around where CTM is. With a blue grocery bag, a few shillings, and a perminant marker SHem and I headed out on a mission to find the best chapati along Olympic. We went to 6 different places, bought one chapo at each and labeled it with the name of the place before slipping it into the bag.
Our Candidates: Abondos, Terminus, Bredan, Olympic Hotel, Mama Joni’s, and some hotel that starts with a K but I know where it is.
We took them back to the house and I chopped 2 pieces of each, put them on plates and labeled where each chapati was from on the bottom of the plate right underneath it. Then we tasted… one at a time, taking careful “tasting notes” as we went… which is the softest, tastiest, sweetest chapati on Olympic? Shem and I rated each one and put the six in order from best to worst. We agreed on all except 2 for the final lineup. But we agreed on the top 2…
Best Chapati- Olympic Hotel, Second Best- Brendan
I’d say this experiment was a huge success because the 2 top chapos were from places I’d never eaten before. Plus the answer to this question was pretty important since I am always in Kibera and my favorite food is chapati- so now I know exactly where to go to get the best! Next food contest will be to find the best coconut scone in town…
Leading up to my birthday I heard this phrase, “nitakuogesha mtu” increasingly; People telling me “I am going to force someone to take a bath” and that someone was referring to me! The day before my birthday I made a chocolate cake with Samara and Gabi and then the next day I went to church in Mathare where I was able to celebrate with a cake, mandazi, and biscuits that Moses so kindly had bought me to celebrate. We went out for lunch to Ronaldo’s which is a wonderful place to get fish and brown ugali. They must have know it was my brithday there because Ronaldo’s saved me the last coconut fish on the menu.
Afterwards I eventually made my way home to spend the evening with my family. This is when Mwix began trying to convince me to go 2 floors up with her to wacth a short movie in the TV room until dinner was ready. I was completely skeptical and could feel her plotting in her mind how she would dump water on my as is the Kenyan tradition. Yet I deicided to go up anyways since it was hot and getting alittle water splashed on my dress sounded nice. So Mwix and I and the girls and Shem all marched up the steps. However on my way, passing through the balcony to get to the TV, Gideon’s sister, Martha, had strategically placed huge buckets of water on the stone porch so that once I reached the balcony I was cornered. Shem grabed one bucket, Mwix another, and they just heaved these huge buckets right at me! I was expecting a cup of maji, not the whole sufuria! I only stood shocked in my sopping wet clothes for 2 seconds before realizing my new advantage and oppurtunity to return the wet favor. So they all ran and I chased! Two flights down and I had them trapped and gave everyone- Mwix, Martha, Shem, Gabi, Samara, and even went across to see Mwix’s sister Alice – hugging each person till I was satisified that I had gotten them wet.
After changing clothes we sat down to dinner and then cake. The girls helped me blow out my candles and Mwix’s sisters, Alice and Rose, came to take chai and have some cake. Who knows what 24 will bring me- so far it has brought many new and surprising things.