by Through Inspiration

As I enter the last month of the program I am starting to become hyper aware of the subtleties that surround me. There are things I have gotten very used to and they’ve become a part of my daily life and daily routine. The streams of black garbage smoke that burn on the sides of the roads no longer make me wince and cover my nose. The over-crowded buses that are sticky and sweaty no longer make me feel claustrophobic. I am used to seeing men peeing on the sides of roads, mamas walking down the street with three little ones surrounding her and another slung on her back, music blasting from public bus windows, erratic driving, constant yelling, beggars and steaming kiosks of food that I know better than to go near. My snot is constantly black from the smog and dust, my hair is messy and my clothes are rubbed warn from hand washing- I’ve never felt so glamorous. I have also gotten used to being the only white person almost everywhere I go. “Mzungu, how are you??!” floats out of dark corners, porches and front steps. I already miss the children here; I have never seen such beautiful faces.

Other things, like the pure chaos of my three-hour commute to WOFAK I may never get used to. I don’t like being grabbed, pushed, pointed at and practically run over by drivers who are too aggressive to pay attention. It makes New York City at rush hour seem like a calm walk in the park. However, when I was pushing my way down the crowded, eroded sidewalks after work today I realized that this won’t last much longer. My days of maneuvering the Nairobi streets are numbered. It makes me happy to know that amongst all of this chaos I can manage. I’ve learned how to shove right back, yell for my change and jump off of the moving bus when they are too impatient to stop. I’ve learned to ignore the stares and laughs and I’ve learned that most of the time embarrassment has no place. As much as I sometimes want to get the hell out of here, I know that I will miss these unique aspects of each day. I can tell that I’ve grown, even in ways I won’t know until I arrive home. I know it’s a bit early to be speaking as though I am coming home tomorrow but I couldn’t help but have these thoughts on my way home.

As far as everything else goes, I am plugging along with my ISP. Working with WOFAK has been both great and very difficult. It requires a lot of patience and a real ‘go with the flow’ attitude. They have been so welcoming and helpful to me; I can tell they want me to get the most out of my time. I am learning a lot about myself and about HIV/AIDS. The more I learn, the more questions I have! My ISP is slowly evolving and changing. At this point I don’t even remember what my initial plan was. But like I said; go with the flow. The last two days working there have been life changing. The people I am meeting I cannot begin to describe. Their dedication, courage and strength are beyond inspirational. I am captivated, moved and either crying or smiling (hugely). I feel as though I am building a real community at the center. I love the kids, I love the workers, the guards and the cooks. The people in the community have even started recognizing me, and my stroll to and from the bus is a constant exchange of pleasantries. It is hard to imagine that I will have to leave this place and these relationships. I am truly honored to be welcomed.

Everything else is good. I still love my family, they make my days bright! Mama has been feeding me so much lately. I swear I will never eat any kind of white fried bread again. As much as I try to exercise and eat right sometimes it’s hard. I always eat what is put in front of me out of respect and sometimes the evening runs that I look forward to just aren’t possible. I got home a little early from work yesterday so I wanted to go for a run. Come to find out Scofia had washed my sneakers in a bucket of water and they were hanging on the line to dry! Well, no run! Maybe tomorrow. I just keep telling myself to not get annoyed, stressed or frustrated when I cannot stick to my personal routine. I will be home in no time eating salads and running up a storm. I’m still here now, and that is what matters. Well, I am off to eat more fried bread and potatoes. I will then spend time transcribing my interviews. I am headed to the jail tomorrow to sit in on an HIV awareness session-updates to come!

All my love.