Saturday, March 14, 2009

The good, the bad and the ugly

The start of second semester was delayed by a week and I took advantage of my last free days to visit the boys home in Nakuru again on Thursday and Friday. They have fifteen boys now, ranging from 5 to 16 or so, and they are truly a wonderful bunch. Running hugs, late nights studying, adopted big brothers - I see in these boys the best of young men who happen to be coping with the worst of situations - loss of family, former alcohol and glue dependency, and the continued struggle to keep them in clothes and school with extremely limited funds. I watched them stay up late with a local pre school teacher who came to tutor them Thursday night, and when I got up with them at 6 to take pictures in their school uniforms, many had been up since 3:30 studying. Two of the boys, all their circumstances aside, are competing for the top spot at their high school. This is truly no small feat! It breaks my heart to think of the challenges they will face paying for university - both Sammy and Bernard want to be engineers and they will work their tails off to achieve this dream - but like anywhere else, dreams cost money.

I would like to note that my little cousin, David, has decided that this year for his birthday he will ask his friends and guests to donate to the boys in Nakuru in lieu of gifts, and he will also be starting a penpal relationship with one of them. I'm so proud of his willingness to share his blessings and his interest in getting to know these boys who I know he would have so much fun with if they could all hang out in person! In the meantime I am continuing to look for donors and supplies for the home. I will take my parents to visit when they come to Kenya in June - so anyone nearby who has boys clothing, sporting goods or books to share please do. There is literally nothing that would go unused or unappreciated. The littlest boys do not even have underwear right now!

I returned to Nairobi having had yet another dose of perspective. My friend Rachel who is volunteering at the home has been using her own funds to get each boy a new outfit, school books, back packs and underwear. I see need daily in Nairobi, but I get to escape it in the evenings when I retreat to my beautiful home and the comfort of friends. Rachel is on the front line (trading street boys food for glue) - her experience reminds me so much of my time in South Africa and the desperate desire to make as much of a difference as possible. Still, I left the boys home energized by the pure potential and joy of the kids - it was great to help out at the home in the morning and get my hands dirty (literally - we cleaned and organized their exceptionally dusty bookshelves - clearing out such irrelevant titles as "Choices in Becoming A Woman").

My good mood (and the great nap I got in the matatu on the way home) inspired me to hit the town with friends and enjoy my last free weekend. A very fun night ended on a bad note as I got my purse snatched downtown. I let my guard down and hate to admit I was a prime target (I am normally extremely careful - in all my travels this is the first time I've been mugged). I don't think the guy was prepared for the three people who pursued him - a security guard, a friend of a friend and myself (I have not run that fast since high school track - and in heels no less!) but I got waylaid by a sharp corner that sent me into what I hope was a kind of cool tuck and roll (or maybe just crash and burn?) and the other guys lost him in the dark alley. We briefly got him on the phone and thought we could buy back my wallet and phone, but he didn't show at the appointed location. In some ways it's better that he wasn't caught - thiefs are often "lynched" by whoever witnessed the robbery - meaning they're beat to death in front of the victim. I lost an expensive phone and some money, but I'd rather not have someone's life be exchanged in their stead. It was a lesson learned and a true Nairobi initiation. Please do send me your phone number as I rebuild my contact list. Thanks!


Rog said...

Megs - Glad to hear you're upbeat despite the mugging. I'll try to get some gear to your parents before they leave. Maybe you could post a blog with a list of things they would find most useful. Also, if you ever get some down time in the next semester - check this guy's work out:

I especially liked his biography.

Take care,


Megan said...

Thanks Rog! I think I dropped my upbeatness today - you would have gotten a great kick out of the scene I made on the matatu today when the tout tried to keep my change. I think I'll write a post about it right now in fact. The things the boys could most use are:

-Sporting goods (balls especially)
-Puzzles - they love them!
-Books - good, inspiring books that explain how things work (many are interested in computers, engineering and mass communcations
-solar powered electronics (mp3 players, radios - these would be CHERISHED)
-Clothes of any size/type - though as boys they of course love things that are cool, branded or sporty.

You're the best!

(p.s. my word verification is "bities" for this comment. Thought that would give you a giggle for some reason.)

Anonymous said...

Hi Megan,
I Read your status on FB about your mugging, glad you're ok and thanks for detailing the event in an always entertaining way.

It shows your force of character and your ability for compassion towards others even those that do you wrong. For someone like me who doesn't know you, other then what I've read on your blogs, it once again demonstrates that those people who have the chance and opportunity to have you in their lives are very furtunate indeed.

I'd love to help with getting you supplies or with money, what ever you might need for yourself or the boys... I remember reading on your blog that sending goods isn't the best idea because they might get stolen or confiscated... maybe you could setup a paypal account for those of use that aren't near by but that would like to help?Just a thought... :)

Take care,

uncletravlingfil said...

And my word is "doner". Somehow I think Rog will get a giggle out of that one too :-)

Megan said...

Hi FN - thanks so much for the offer to help - it would be wonderful to have some additional resources to share! I think if you're interested in donating to Expanding Opportunities (the org that runs the boys home) you can do so directly through their website and indicate (or I can follow up with them) exactly where you'd like the money to go. If you trust me to do some on the ground shopping for the things I know they need that I can get cheaply on the ground here, I can see about enabling my paypal account to receive money. Either way, thank you VERY much for the offer!

Jamie said...

Hey Megan,
To add to the chorus - glad you're ok and yes also glad the thief wasn't caught...

I'm wondering if the boys' home in Nakuru needs extra hands? You could go talk to the MSID office in Hurlingham (Jabavu Road) in getting the home set up as an internship sight so they're regularly receiving interns...and every organization that hosts an MSID intern gets a "hosting" stipend's not much, but at least every few months they'd be getting a couple hundred dollars...

just a thought, if you're interested I can set you up with contacts over there...

See ya in a few weeks! Let me know if I can bring anything over for you!

Frank said...

Hi Megan,
I definitely trust you to do what's right for the boys and getting them what they need most. I'll send you a msg on FB so we can work out the details. :)

Kwa Heri,