Saturday, 21 June 2014

Soccer Tournament

Today was the day of the soccer tournament which occurs for about 8 weeks during June and July.  Stephen (Maurice’s brother), Job, and Julius were supposed to come and pick our stuff at 8 am so we woke up at 645 am despite knowing that people are often tardy in Kenya.  They ended up coming around 9:30 (sigh).  They helped us to carry the equipment and then we headed over to Obambo primary school. What I realized so far after 2 days is that people tend to say “How are you” before saying “Hi”.  Also, because we are foreigners, they call us white people,  mzungu in Kiswahili.  We asked them if Rashma and I would be considered a Mzungu because we are East/ South Asians.  The high school boys immediately identified Rashma as a 'Hindu' and me as 'China'. We laughed. 

Stephen in bright neon shirt, his friend Ernest in the centre and Julius on the right

Our friend Peter making a funny face

Obambo Students

The high school students seem more interested in the topic of HIV/ AIDS than the younger kids which makes sense.  This is the age when they gradually become sexually active. This one boy had a lot of questions.  He asked about the rate of HIV/AIDS in the world and why the prevalence was so much higher in Africa.  He asked if it was because many were illiterate.  We told them because there is lack of education in HIV/ AIDS and resources in Africa, which causes lack of awareness and also ignorance.  I mentioned how it is important to learn about HIV/ AIDS so the children can protect themselves and also their partners.  Currently, Kenyan government is ignoring the fact that students engage in sexual behaviour even though they can clearly see it happening.  HIV/ AIDS rate is higher near the lake.  Also, the Luo people's culture involve(d) polygamy and wife inheritance.  The government wants to focus on "behaviour change" and abstinence but is this possible? I don't think so. As children go through puberty, they become curious and interested in sexual behaviours.  Let them be. We must make sure to educate them so they can make safer decisions.  

The girls were definitely more shy about the topic so we had to go up to them and start the conversation.  This one group was very quiet so I wasn’t sure if they understood what we were saying.  Rashma and I tried to talk about how to say NO when someone wants to have sex with them without a condom, because you’re a very important person and it is crucial to protect yourself. 

After every 2 games, we asked some questions to the kids on the public announcement system. When they got the answer right, we gave them a pencil.  Later on, this one kid was following me around and asked me if he can have a pencil because he doesn't have one to use on Monday.  It was disheartening to say no to him but I had to because if I give the pencil to him, every kid from the community will expect a pencil from us.  Even though it is not much, it is not a good idea for to depend  on us.  It will start from a pencil but then it can develop into larger things. For sustainability reasons, it is important to be watchful of our actions. 

We hung posters on the wall and convinced the students to come and talk to us about HIV/ AIDS.  Some just wanted to talk to us.  Some just made fun of us because they think we talk really funny.  For some reason they think we talk nasally, so they pinch their nose to sound like us which I find extremely weird.  I went with it and pinched my nose and talked nasally as well.  That made the students laugh.  Many actually asked questions about Canada.   Two kids asked me what Canada's staple food was.  I never really thought of this before so I said we eat everything.. This kid asked if we had villages in Canada and I said we only have towns and cities and he stated that everyone in Canada must be rich.  I clearly stated that we were not. 


I got to talk and interact with the students which was a great experience.  We have 3 more weeks of soccer tournament left so I imagine that we will be exhausted every Saturday but it was definitely a worthwhile experience.  I feel very fortunate to be here.  Tomorrow is Bank day so both economics and nutrition team will be busy.  We still have to talk to Maurice to get our Health team project started so we decided to visit the Bank day and see what they are up to.  Maurice will be there tomorrow so we’re going to set up a meeting with him hopefully on Monday/ Tuesday. 

Serving bananas, quenchers and samosas for lunch

My little friend Leon. I met him for the first time at the soccer tournament.  You will see him very often in my photos. The children here roll tires and use them as toys.  

Kenyans don't smile in their photos. I had to really force them to do so here.
 Bwonjo (Smile)!

My kids. I can't remember everyone's names but from left to right.. unknown, Sophie, Leon, Dadi, unknown, Brian

Thankfully, I haven’t been sick and adjusting hasn't been difficult except the heat. We are right by the equator so it sure does get toasty. I am really enjoying the food here even though we basically eat the same thing every day.  Bananas taste so “meet” (delicious in Luo).  They have this specific taste I can’t really describe.  For most meals, we eat rice, kale or cabbage, with beans/ green grahams.  It may sound plain but it is extremely flavourful.  Mama Siprose cooks for us and she is such a sweet heart. 


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