The Magnet Effect!
March 25, 2010 § 8 Comments
Hello Family and Friends!
I have to start by thanking all who have written such loving and encouraging notes since I arrived. They mean the world to me and I am very grateful to have such an amazing network of thoughtful and inspiring people behind me!
Each day it seems I am learning more and more about how everything moves and breathes here, and I am finding great joy in even the smallest ways I have worked my way into it. I have learned the masterful art of hand washing and hanging clothes, boiling water for a bucket bath, gathering rocks for my home-made gym, being resourceful, being creative, and accepting that nothing goes as planned so always carry a book.
Since I am unable to upload pictures in Njabini, I have linked two YouTube videos below to give you an idea of where I am living and the people I am blessed to be living with! The first is a partial walk through of our orphanage and the second is a video promoting our new school, which will be completed in June!
To clarify the current situation, since I may have explained it incorrectly to some of you, we have fourteen kids living on our site and sixty some children who we bus in each day to attend our day school. We are currently building the new school on six acres of land about twenty minutes from where we are now, and eventually this is where our entire operation will be moved, housing 150 orphans. An African Camp Reed of sorts!
For the time being, I am grateful we are dealing with smaller numbers though because I have already grown very close to several of the children, and they really are beginning to treat me like family, as I am them. Today for example was “Parents Day” at school, and of my many Parent’s Days, I remember the excitement of showing my mom and dad my classroom and cubby or whatever it might have been, so it was very special for me today to have a few of our children come grab my hand and ask to come see their desk and class. I felt a sense of ownership and pride in being the one they asked! It was amazing.
I will try and “introduce you” in a way to many of the children through these posts, and I encourage you to read about some of them on our website. They are actually watching Home Alone for the first time as I am writing this, and I have had to leave twice to go and videotape their reaction! It’s as funny as the movie!
For this post, I need to tell you about my job! It has been an exciting week for me in this arena! Instead of leading the Oasis Project, which revolves around assisting in the development of other local orphanages, I am now instead managing an initiative focused on finding community run organizations in Njabini that are impacting everything from agriculture, education, environment, health, infrastructure, human rights, women’s issues, etc. and assist in developing their business plan. The second part of my job is to find donors to invest in these organizations, provide conditions and oversight for the use of these funds, and keep donors up to date on projects, so they can invest confidently. This means my job essentially is to learn as much as I can about the community I now live in and support it in every way I know how. It’s perfect!
A man named Teacher Francis, who is employed by Flying Kites as a sort of “on-the-ground manager,” is my right hand man. He arranges and attends the majority of my meetings and will essentially be my partner and translator in almost all matters. He is a very animated, upstanding man, who teeters the line between leader and preacher; a very excitable and motivating character. I feel very blessed to work with him. I spent the majority of my week shaking hands and setting up meetings for the variety of projects I am now assisting to develop, including a rabbit breeding project, an HIV education program, a mental health initiative, a chicken breeding project, and assistance for single mothers. I have met a variety of community leaders, government officials, and even met today with the Chief of Njabini! It sounds much more glamorous than it was, but I got to sit in his office and talk with him (mostly about how great he is) and in the end he “granted me safety” and even gave me his cell phone number. It was like something from a movie.
I am also in charge of a major event on June 16th called International Day of the African Child, a day dedicated to raising awareness for the improvement of education and promoting human rights in Africa. With the help of Teacher Francis, we will be leading a march of over 1000 area children and teachers from downtown Njabini to the site of our new school. It will be led by a band on the back of a truck and end with a festival featuring a number of community speakers, teaching children about their rights. I have especially enjoyed my work on this project so far, because it allows me to dip back into my experience and love for event planning!
All in all, it has been a wonderful week! I am sleeping sound, even through a few lightning storms, and I am settled into my own little routine. My job has motivated me to continue pushing my comfort zone and become as much a part of the community here as I can. I am otherwise trying to bring as much joy and guidance as I can to the kids, drag them into some projects with me, read, write, exercise, explore, and send word to you all again soon!
Thanks again for checking in! Feel the blessings and feel the gratitude!