Extracts from a volunteer’s Diary -Part 4

Culture bonding through cooking

I have found that the fastest way for people of different culture to bond is by cooking together. It has an added advantage if your host mom cooks the worlds best bread.

This week I tried my hand at baking with Mamma Kevo and Tina and the result was an awesome baked bread!


Step 1:

Mix together the flour, a little sugar, a pinch of salt and some yeast.

step 1: Ingredients


Step 2:

Knead the dough while sharing some gossip, stories and laughs.

Kneading the dough



Sharing stories


Step 3:

Leave the dough to rise while lighting the ‘jiko‘.

LIghting the Jiko

Step 4:

Bake the bread.

Baking with charcoal


Step 5:

Break bread with some of Mama Kevo’s awesome potato dishes.

Fresh Bread for dinner



Extracts from a volunteer’s diary -Part 3

Bonds that cannot be broken

“”Nimeshiba, “Nimeshiba”“, repeated Ian with pleading eyes. I tried ignoring his pleas and instead urged him to finish his lunch. I did not blame him for not wanting to eat , the lunch was terrible.  But there was nothing I could do to help him.

At the far side of the kitchen, Rose was force feeding the children who were having trouble finishing the lunch. It was not  a pretty sight. On seeing that Ian started trembling. My heart went out to the little four-year old.  I offered him a chair in a dark corner of the kitchen, hoping to keep him out of Rose’s sight as far as possible.

Unfortunately  the darkness could not help Ian for a long time. Rose eventually spied him and with a thunderous sound started towards Ian.  Her voice reached a crescendo and poor Ian started wailing.

Barely had Rose lifted her hands to strike , when Boniface, Ian’s older brother ran out of nowhere and with one single move grabbed the plate from Ian and put his hands protectively around his brother.

Boniface whispered something to Ian who with quiet tears rested his head on Boniface’s chest while opening  his mouth to receive the spoonful of beans that his brother fed him.

Rose’s hand descended to circle the brothers in a bear hug. I didn’t hide my tears either.

Boniface is 10 years old, tall with twinkling eyes. Boniface has trouble spelling, reading and counting.He sits in the same class as his brother . He sits in my class.

Boniface is mentally challenged, but no disability in this world can tamper with his love for his younger brother.

I am proud to be his teacher.

Extracts from a volunteer`s diary – Part 2

The bitter truth


Sometime I think Obrien does not really know what he is talking about. But today when he came up in front of the class , he seemed passionate about wanting to be a pilot. “So I can drive an aeroplane” , with that he concluded the assignment on ` On what I want to be when I grow up and why`.

I choked back a tear. You see I do not want to be a pessimist but I know Obrien may never realise his dream. He is mentally challenged.I feel ashamed for  sealing his fate even before he has graduated the sixth grade.

All the same I applauded his efforts with a Nzuri Sana while at the same time wishing that there was a genius out there who would do some medical miracle and find a way to reverse the effects of disabilities ; someone out there who would help the Obrien`s of this world fly airplanes.

Mwana Hamisa:

” But teacher what can I become”, she asks.

I look at her dull eyes and tell her that she can become anything she wanted to be. She does not seem convinced.

I stay a while at her desk wanting to help her with her assignment , in my own selfish way. But I sense she is uncomfortable with my presence. So I quietly move away.

She is the last person to walk up to the front of the class. She looked blankly at the class and said ” I want to be a pilot, teacher, doctor and nurse”.

I ask her why. She repeats ” I want to be a pilot, teacher, doctor and nurse”.

Does she really want to be any of these or did she write these because others in her class did?

Muhammed butts in” teacher she is a special student.”

As if that is reason enough!

With that she shyly walks away from the front and goes back to her place right at the back of the class. She seemed happy once she had sat down  at her place, far from her classmates, alone in her world.

I stood watching her thinking ” this is a cruel world”.


” I want to be President  because then I can have lots of money”.

Diana is physically disabled. Did she have to spend lots of time growing up in and out of hospitals? Did financial troubles worsen  her disability? Whatever be the reason behind your dream, I wish you luck Diana.

May you go on to fulfill your dream and may you show the world that disability is not inability and may you do Kenya proud.

Extracts from a volunteer`s diary- Part 1

#1: Water

” This is the water we use for clothes washing dishes washing, teeth brushing, drinking, tea making; everything, this is the water for everything”, concluded Mamma Junior as she closed the only tap in the compound shared by seven families.

As I watched the last few drops of water fall I screamed in my mind,” Drinking!! you are joking right! The color of that water is brown”.

A week later I still drink tea in the morning.

#2. Conversations

Llpena: Voice medium pitched but gruff, hands slapping the air, voice rising, tone from gruff to seriously bass, hips swaying to the left, Right leg stomping, voice falling,  a couple of snorts, a few deafening Mms; Now left hand to the hip, voice as high as an opera singer, both hands waving frantically, a final snort, the cadence reached.


Dennis: Lifts three fingers, all the while not taking his eyes off his phone.


End of conversation!

Me: Dennis, What was Llpena so upset about?

Dennis: < Still not taking his eyes off his phone > Oh! she just wanted to know how many kids have not had their lunch.

Me: Are you sure that is all she wanted to know?

#3: Color of the skin

Guide: I can also show  you to see a tamarind tree. It’s a miraculous tree. Lots of good things come from the tree. All this for only 1000 Ksh.  I no cheat you!

< Pointing to a frangipani tree> See there that tamarind tree. the flowers smelling nice.

Me: That is not a Tamarind tree!

Guide: Where are you from?

Me: India, where there are lots of Tamarind trees!

Guide: The color of your skin cheat me!