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Day 50

Today I visited our Mumias office again for a proper tour from the Coordinator there.  He just recently started; previously he had been working in the Nairobi slums with the street children there.  I got a full tour of the new building that will hopefully be finished soon.  It has space to house battered women in need of shelter, some of the street children and a health clinic.  There is also space to have meetings and trainings for the women’s groups.

I hung out with the boys at the drop-in center there for a bit as well; they love hamming it for the camera.  They just recently got new bunk beds and bedding.  Before their mattresses were on the floor.  When the new beds arrived he gave a hygiene and chores training for all the boys so they would understand the importance of taking care of themselves and their surroundings.  Many of the boys arrive in pretty bad shape.  The coordinator recently recruited a boy whose feet were so infested with jiggers, burrowing bugs, that he couldn’t walk.  They are all gone now and he can walk.

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He also took me to the mechanic workshop where we have three older boys apprenticing.  We don’t have enough money to cover all of the older boy’s expenses so WEAEP has been able to work out a deal with an establishment in town that the boys go to in the morning and in the evening.  There they do a bit of manual labor in exchange for breakfast and supper.  For lunch they come to the office and eat with the younger boys and they are able to sleep on the property of the workshop they train at.  It’s not perfect but they at least have a place to stay and food in their bellies.  Hopefully, when they complete their apprenticeship they will be able to be gainfully employed and self-sufficient.

Day 48

The other day I was in downtown Kakamega walking home from work and spotted a familiar t-shirt on a little boy.  It was one of the boys from the Ambalemba drop-in center.  He had his requisite bicycle tire tube and stick that all young boys have here to play with.  I called out his name to get his attention and the look on his face knew he was caught.  The drop-in center is about a half hour walk from downtown and he’s one of our youngest boys, seven or eight.  Clearly he was not supposed to be wandering around downtown by himself.  I motioned for him to come along, which he quickly did for fear of punishment and we walked back to the drop-in center together.

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His story is similar to many of our boy’s stories.  He’s from an area village and wandered into Kakamega because his home life was in shambles.  When home-tracing was completed it was found that his father runs an illegal brew distillery out of their home.  It’s not like moonshine of the olden days but more like the meth of the modern days.  Pretty much every chemical they can get their hands on is put in this stuff, including formaldehyde.  His mom is also alive but, as they say here, a drunkard.  Our social worker deemed it unsafe for him to be at home so he now stays at the drop-in center.

Day 46

Today we had a women’s empowerment event for the Makunga area women’s groups. About 250 women showed up to play legball, aka soccer, and netball, aka basketball. There were also sack races and bottle balancing races for the older ladies. The goal of WEAEP’s sporting events is to offer the women a day of enjoyment that breaks up their routine and also lets them play sports that are usually designated for men. It was a lot of fun, we had music for dancing and all of the women were having a great time. It was wonderful seeing these women play their hearts out in their skirts and bare feet. They were very serious, competitive and talented! We even had an announcer calling the shots that heightened the excitement.

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Most area villages have a soccer pitch near the school so we were able to play there. We borrowed school benches to use as spectator bleachers. The basketball court constituted two posts with metal rings nailed to them. The women used hoes to carve out the boundaries and the free throw lines. Given the huge number of community members present, a few area assistant chiefs came by to say a few words. Being the mzungu guest I got to address everyone at the awards ceremony as well. Afterwards we went to lunch with the assistant chiefs where I politely declined cow intestines and instead just munched on chapatti.

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