Wednesday, March 17, 2010

JAMBO!! i can't get into my sympatico mail, which is very frustrating, but for some reason this blog website is free! So here goes, it's been a week and a half since Diana, Jamie, Matt and Brian took off, and i miss them terribly....someone asked me today whether i could live over here permanently and for sure, i have to say no, though i have spent almost 10 months of my life here, most of it in this little village of mto wa mbu wedged beneath the awesome rocky strength of the Rift Valley, which stretches all the way from Egypt down to South Africa - so hot and dusty this year, this little place, windy, the fine red dust sweeping up dirt potholed laneways, into my eyes, skin, freshly washed hair. HOt, like nowhere else i have been over here, the locals are complaining, and they never do..|I realize that i am okay as long as i stop focusing on my discomfort, once i do, i have had it, hot flashes way beyond my time, coming in waves from the inside out, the little band of tiny red ants making their way each night horizontally across the grouting of my small tiled bathroom, towards the toothpaste, the soap, but then in moments they seem to disappear. Spiders motionless in shiny robin's egg blue toilet rooms at ICA,little fires alongside the road en route from where i stay over to \mi Casa everynight for my hit of rice, greens and a great sauce, with a glass of white wine, mostly on my own, a flashlight, and these days engrossed in Three Cups of Tea, if you haven't read it, it is incredible!
Ah...but the days are wonderful...a half hour of yoga reminding me of Zoja my pilates teacher back home, wherever that is...a cup of espresso like instant coffee mixed with freshly pumped and boiled milk, a kitembuo - a small round fried rice bun and omlette, with two eggs...and off to the office. Charles intersected me the other morning over coffee - my subconscious swelling micro financing, we hit the office admidst 80 members of the four People |Living with HIV AIDS groups, mostly women, all getting together to amalgamate themselves into one big group, strength in numbers. I have seen these women coming in and out of ICA over the past four years, have assisted a few of them into small businesses, have visited their homes. WE stand there in the middle of it all, and it occurs to me that why not set up a micro financing program right here in the midst of all this energy, these incredible people who have endured so much. Many of whom have been thrown out of their homes, by families with small children in toe, weakened by the disease, distraught now without support, their jobs lost, their money gone, and no where to go. They end up at ICA, and here find support from others who understand only too well what they are going through. Months later, they have been tested voluntarily, HIV positive, and are now working their way into a life long process with the Anti Retro Viral drugs, free of charge, which cannot destroy this deadly virus, but which can keep it at bay, allowing them a life of renewed strength and hope.
So....we started, two days ago, interviewing each of these people, one by one, with the idea of creating a Micro Financing program, to enable those without credit or credibility now, to borrow a small amount of money which will enable them to expand and embellish the small businesses they now work at.
I've spoken with 55 people over the last two days, each interview taking about 20 minutes, a pic and they are on their way. All are doing well, health wise, striving to raise enough money to send their children to school. Basic needs, food, rent and education, that is all that is important to these women here, working long hours out in hot fields as temporary farmers, growing rice, maize, beans, or small vegetable plots with tomatoes, onions, carrots...bent over in half chopping at the ground with rough hewn hoe, hour after hour, and taking home 2,000 a day, the equivalent of just over a dollar US, it is impossible for me to imagine. And some selling bananas along the side of the road, sitting in groups of five, ten, on top of plastic buckets, selling to locals mainly, little stalls of vegetables, beautifully displayed, the tomatoes perched pyramid style on top of each other, carrots lined up fat and plump, everything is organic here, no processing or food colouring, fresh and clean. A daily wage of 2,000 or 3,000 is quite normal, shocking, even the waitresses at Mi Casa, the same thing,barely making a pittance, except for tips, a few pennies here, and there...
So another project is born.
It all fits together, with Majengo, and children, and trying to assist the most vulnerable and poor here, who have no chance to better themselves, with a little help from loans, to be paid back with 12 % interest over a period of 6 months, and then hopefully a renewal of even more to borrow, perhaps this will give some of them a chance to rise a little above the poverty they now endure. Children, each one of these women, or men interviewed today, are looking after to 5 kids themselves, mostly without assistance from anyone. Grandmothers, whose own children have died of HIV AIDS, leaving them with three four or five little ones to look out for, and these women themselves stricken with the disease, coping with so little, i hope we can help, and believe we can, and will...
This seems to be my job now over here, not running around the countryside as i once did at the beginning but to hone it deeply, to come across situations i know well, and to figure out, with Charles, how we can best be of assistance.

Majengo...working out our new budget...and after extensive interviews with our 8 staff members, figuring out how we can help them with their kids education..taking a load off them, thus ensuring for ourselves, that these great people will be with us for a long time. Dancing with the kids the other night, singing, taking pictures, teaching English..oh i wish everyone out there could come to visit, if even for a few hours, just to see what their donations have given.
And figuring out too, a mini micro credit program for our staff as well...
It takes time, verifying, checking numbers, checking school involvement, checking families, numbers of kids....before making our decisions as to how and where we can best spend our money...

This post has been dry...i am buried in a dark windowless room down the road from To Wa \mbu which i have just discovered..they are charging tourist rates for this machine, but a blessing to know it is here, i am close by..
hey..coming home soon...looking forward to it, and i know, when i am there, that i will long to be back here too....but dying to see my kids...those grand kids....and my friends, wake up in the morning as spring breaks through, hey, even a hit of winter would be great now...less than a minute to go!!
talk soon...xx\L

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