Kenyan Diaries – Day 17

Class today was pretty normal. We’ve started to see the quieter students start to shine, gain confidence, and get really enthusiastic about their ideas. People were volunteering to come up left right and center, and it was great to see them understand the more difficult concepts. About half way through the class, I noticed Moore, who usually sits with Erick and Lucky in the second row, move to the back, and take Henrys (our eldest student) chair. I decided to pull Erick aside at the break and ask what was going on if they were bullying Henry, and if so if they could stop. What he said next, however, was a huge surprise. He told me Moore had moved to the back because he couldn’t stand the smell of alcohol excreting from Henry and encouraged him to move to the back because he was distracting other students. It was surprising how wrong we had all read the situation, and I felt very proud of Moore for taking initiative and actually caring enough to try and do something about it.

After class, we took a bunch of photos as usual, and Josinta came up to me and asked me how much it costs for her to get to Canada. I told her it would cost around KES120,000 (USD$1200), and she immediately said Mzungo, you’re colour of your skin tells me you’re rich, buy me and my friend a ticket to Canada to make it fair. I laughed it off, but she got more aggressive, saying these things about my appearance and money that just made me feel uncomfortable. Rueben stepped in and said some things in Swahili that made her leave, and then told me about when he went to Italy, and he was the only black guy so felt like all of the eyes were on him. He told me that he understands how I must feel, but he will help translate for me whenever needed and told me not to worry, they are just envious and mostly joking around. I found that really sweet and it definitely made me feel more at ease having him around.

We gave feedback to each other once all of the students had left, which included suggestions for me to engage the students more, but mostly that I was doing okay and explained difficult concepts well. Then, we head home and lesson planned and ate yesterday’s leftovers before heading to church.

The church was… wow. Firstly, it was a large room with a stage and rock band type vibe. Electric guitars, big amplifiers, and a full set of drums, the preachers and choir sang song after song about the Lord and Jesus. The people were all in their own world, there was absolutely zero judgment, and you could see the energy radiating through everybody. To my left, a mom, crouched over her smallest child rocking back and forth murmuring under her breath prayers to the Lord, the father of her child next to her taking small steps back and forth while speaking his prayers. In front, an older woman in tears with both hands towards the sky, begging through her sobs to God. Another woman, sitting quietly with her head on the chair in front of her, just behind a man singing loudly with his hands thrown up palms towards the sky. I stood in the center, trying to absorb all the views without drawing attention to myself. The preacher told us to sit, collect our thoughts, and pray for something from God in any way that we sit fit. I bowed my head and intertwined my palms getting ready to try to pray. As I did so, I noticed my chapati bracelet bought for me by VJ, and smiled. I didn’t have anything to pray for, I was damn blessed and very content. Instead, I prayed for the students in my class. I don’t believe, but I know they do, so my thoughts were with them. I prayed for Diana’s financial burden and stress at home to be lifted, for Lucky’s illness to pass, for Moore’s well-being, for Erick’s business to prosper, for Audrey’s home situation to improve, for food on everyone’s tables and for general good luck in their lives.

What an amazing evening. Now we are relaxing because tomorrow is a busy day… again!

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