Tuesday, February 9, 2010

the elders.

"I used to sit in the middle of the village with my guitar on one knee, and a beautiful woman on the other," said 73-year old Waweri, smiling, during my first community-assessment interview. I couldn't have picked a better Ebenezer member to start with. Waweri, confined to a wheelchair for the past 10 years or so (he doesn't really remember, and claims his paralysis from the waist down is due to "old age") was a hoot. He talked of working on the home shamba (farm), working for the Italians on a major peanut farm (a job from which he incurred various injuries...and he showed me all of the scars for proof, don't worry), but his emphasis was on the music he played during his younger years. Before his father broke his guitar in a fit of rage, Waweri played for the village he came from almost every night, which to him was a natural talent, but also came in handy when woo-ing the ladies. In fact, halfway through the interview my translator left me- and I was left with Waweri, babbling in Kikuyu, and playing an air guitar for me with a toothless smile.

Our asset-assessments thus far have been going very well, everyone is MORE than willing to talk to us (yesterday I had a line of people waiting), and most are very interesting to talk to. Granted, there are some very young, uneducated, single mothers that have less than one word to talk about, but that was to be expected. They are, in fact, the ones that we hope to help the most- by pairing and grouping them with more experienced, outgoing, talented older community members, so that they don't fall between the cracks and bring their children with them. Yesterday I talked to a variety of people, but three of the community's elders were the highlights of the day. One older woman (and I can't for the life of me remember her name) talked about how much she would like to give cultural talks to the community, because no one remembers where they come from, or what their tribe was (and is). She used to make traditional costumes, baskets, beads and loved to dance...While right down the road from her a younger woman also makes beads, but has not restarted her craft post-violence. Another young woman, my age actually, with 5 children, has had an onset of random illness (unidentifiable by doctors she said) since the violence occured. Ranging from headaches, to stomach aches, joint pain and nausea - the only thing doctors told her was that perhaps, it was ulcers. My non-medical degree would say, post-traumatic stress? Sometimes I forget what these people went through, but the results and effects that are not easily seen from the outside lie deep within. Some of the residents have been dislocated at least 4 times in the past 30 years.

Over the next few days I hope to compile a list of things needed, little pet projects that I have been thinking about over the past few weeks where I can help make a donation to the camp in a viable, but not entirely unattainable manner. Like a guitar for Waweri, so that he can give guitar lessons. Or the start-up funds so that women can have a knitting group. Or a chalkboard for the Nursery school. So everyone, look out! I may be asking for money sometime soon. Not a lot, just a little to go a long way.

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