after spending the afternoon at a beautiful private beach swimming in the indian ocean water, having conversations with the hustlers on the beach (they were very nice, and helped me out with my swahili when i struggled :)), and wave riding until we were worn out, we trekked through malindi in pursuit of something that seemed so foreign to us: italian food. there was a restaurant that we were headed for, aptly named ‘i love pizza’, and we were anticipating the taste of pasta and red sauce with much anxiety. unfortunately, we arrived, and they informed us that they were not serving dinner for another hour and a half, so we ventured elsewhere. that’s certainly something different here. when it isn’t time for a meal, there is not too much food readily available. it seems like the constant consumer culture (especially with food) is something that america can take pride in, even though it’s not something to take pride in in the first place. the rest of our night was simple, we just hit the sack after dinner. we were preparing for an early morning.
we arose before the sun at 5 and headed back to mombasa for the day. i am actually still there right now. we picked up a friend of ours who has been helping us out with mombasa connections to HIV/AIDS care and the like. she took us to a place in the slums called ‘universal children’s center’. the building itself looked absolutely no different than any of the mud houses around it, except that it had a tin roof and cement floors and walls. quite humbly it presented itself, and we walked in not knowing what to expect. the main room that we were taken into was slightly moist and slightly dirty, with bedroom doors connected to it from the sides. there was a blackboard on the side with some arabic writing on it, but other than that, there was nothing more. we saw a few children at first who looked at us with some caution. i’m sure they were wondering who we were, where we had come from, and why in the world we had just walked into their home. after some introductions and small talk, we were brough plastic chairs to sit in, a simple gesture of kindness, but coming from a child who had nothing, it meant the world. the number of children continued to grow around us as some of them came in from outside and they eventually brought out two rugs to sit on. the children sat in the middle as we sat on the perimeter, and they began to interact with us. once mwalimu broke the ice, a bold child of about 14 told us a riveting story (i think it was about a goat…it was in swahili and i didn’t understand everything), and then the children joined together in singing quite a few songs. it was intriguing to see the traditional african call and response reflected in their singing. the more they sang, the more excited they became, and the easier it was to interact with them. eventually we were just talking amiably with them, smiling and laughing as they were given tea and bread. we spent some more time with the children, and they showed me their sorry excuse for a soccer ball, saying that they don’t have a real one, and the short connections that i made in that time are still heavy on my heart. a particular girl by the name of kashi was my buddy while i was there. we taught each other how to spell our names, and she educated me further on how to talk in swahili (oh, how much there is to learn!). kashi, nitarudi tena!
after we left the slums, we were told that oftentimes, the orphanages and other community organizations that are present in places like that are run by people who themselves have nothing, but yet they are still trying to help. how incredible. to give more than everything, and trust that everyone will be provided for. during the week, around 250 children come to that center to eat lunch each day (food provided by bomu) and there are about 50 children who actually live at the center. they seem to function, even though they have minimal resources, and the kids go to school down the hill from their home. we are looking to build a partnership with the center with owu or any indepdent contributors once we get back home, creating something similar to compassion international and organizations that sponsor children. but that is definitely a grass roots effort, and it will be built up once we return.
we then interviewed our friend, and we are about to go to another interview, finally to return to malindi tonight. mwalimu is here now, so i have to go! bye now.