Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Tie-Dyed Carport (posted by Elizabeth)

Yesterday, our group gathered under St. Anna’s carport to begin the first step in tie-dying prep for Saturday’s seminar. Yes, we came to Kenya with enough dye to color the 120 GIS t-shirts we brought in tow. It turns out that tie-dye works on carport concrete just about as well as it does on white cotton t-shirts. After our librarian/chemist (we affectionately call her Ahh-Dell) began her water and powdered dye brew, we knew we were in for some serious coloration. The morning work took a bit longer in clean-up than it did in preparation, but we left St. Anna’s with perhaps only a hint of turquoise on her concrete floor. So, we are officially one step closer to Saturday’s GIS extravaganza.

In the afternoon, after a quick jaunt to the market or two or three, we visited Archbishop Okoth Ojolla Girls’ Secondary School. We met with the principal and then had a brief moment to introduce our group to the 9 Umoja scholars living and studying at the school. We were very impressed by the boarding school, and were excited to hear about the girls’ daily and weekly routines. It is our hope that someone from Umoja may begin to visit these girls on their “visitation day,” which comes around each month. As orphans and vulnerable girls, they often do not receive visitors on that day, which we feel must be difficult for them.

Later that afternoon, we traveled back to St. George’s Sianda Primary School to meet with some of the female guardians from the many different Umoja schools. They shared with us about their concerns for the girl child. Much of what they said echoed what we have been hearing … that the girl child is often overworked and underappreciated, that many relatives or guardians do not see the benefit in educating her, and that she is often forced to turn toward men (many times, bad men) for economic support. We also discussed the information allowing girls more rights in the new constitution, and like in many other places, some of the women seemed aware, while many seemed uncertain about what the new bill of rights means for them. The women also differed in their understanding on the girls’ reproductive health education. The women were passionate and truly opened up to us. We are so appreciative of their trust and desire. They hope that the day’s meeting may be the beginning of a regular gathering for the guardians to discuss such issues.

In the evening, we met Umoja supporters Tom and Philip (Dave Berry: Philip says hi!) at a Chinese/Thai restaurant for dinner. Plenty of food was eaten by all. It was the UN of dinners, Americans and Kenyans gathering around a Chinese/Thai table. A great close to a good day.

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