Friday, June 19, 2009

The Perfect Balance

Date: Monday June 15 to Thursday June 18
Quote of the day: How do we ensure we are doing more good than harm?

Over the past couple days it has been extremely challenging to balance having fun with the children now without harming them in the long term. We have started to bring out some small luxuries that we have: bubbles, the soccer ball, and our digital cameras to play with the children but the fascination in these items has been overwhelming. Our soccer game has grown significantly and we now have over 20 children playing every time. We are being a lot more careful with the toys that we brought for the children and I'm happy that my soccer ball is getting so much use.

The Project: Jen and I spent a significant amount of time at the Rachuonyo District Hospital going through hundreds of the study subjects' questionnaires to enter missing data. Although this process was very time consuming and tedious it was necessary for data analysis and the research portion of the project. Unfortunately we still have some missing information but the data is much more complete and we can now start to analyze and perform regressions on the subjects' information.

My friend and peer Rani Suleman has now joined us in Oyugis to work on the project as a third intern from The Richard Ivey School of Business. It has been a really great experience for me showing her around Oyugis and getting her adjusted to life here. This really makes me feel like Oyugis is home, and it is :)

Life in Kenya:

• A soccer ball is a bunch of plastic bags stuffed inside each other tied together with a string. This is the main reason why the soccer ball I brought attracts so many kids.
• It is extremely difficult for us to tell which children are using us for our soccer ball and bubbles and which children actually like playing and spending time with us. One child followed us on a walk for about 15 minutes and at the very end said "Give me money!" Many people and children are taught that white people have a lot of money and we are all wealthy.
• SCHOOL→ At Oyugis Primary there is 1,300 children and 28 teachers. About 3 or 4 children share a small desk and bench made for 2 at most and I even saw some children sitting on the ground. The children raise their hands and stand up when they speak. I was shocked and appalled when we arrived at the school and the Head Teacher was acting like a King sitting with his feet up on another chair beckoning the children to fetch us chairs and water for him to drink and wash his hands.

Most memorable moments:

• Finally meeting our neighbours→ the 3 girls who I always see doing laundry outside our hotel window. I absolutely love these girls because they are adorable, very well behaved, always happy, and always wanting to play with us. Tracy is 2 and a half, Sashabea is 8, and Evalyne is 10. Evalyne attends school at Oyugis Primary and Sashabea is at home with Tracy during the day. Sashabea should be in school at her age but I am guessing that she isn't because she has to stay at home with Tracy :( They are my favourite children!
o Tracy falling asleep in my arms on the walk home from playing soccer at the school
• Finding a pool table at a bar/restaurant....amazing!
• Photo shoots with the hotel staff. We really have to show and encourage them to make funny faces because they have no experience with that :)
• I saw a 6 year old with a 3 month old baby on her back in a sling wrap. Although we see young children carrying babies all the time I will never forget these two girls because they are the youngest I have ever seen doing this.
• Visiting two Oyugis Primary Grade 8 classes teaching them English and educating them about Canada. This was one of the most incredible experiences so far! I was so impressed with the children. Their questions were very intelligent, their English was really great and they were very well behaved. Many of the children do not speak confidently and tend to trail off at the end of their sentences making it very hard for us to hear what they are saying. I kindly encouraged them all to speak up and with confidence because they were all very smart. Some of the questions they asked about Canada which were very difficult to answer at times:
o Who is your President (of course we had to correct them)? How often are elections?
o What do the colours of your flag represent?
o What kind of transportation do you use?
o Food & industries
o Do you pay taxes? What is your health care system?
o When do people get married?
o What is a child's responsibility?
• Singing the Canadian national anthem twice and forgetting some of the words the first time! It was hilarious and all the kids were laughing at me.
• My neighbour Evalyne and I held the skipping rope for children to jump. I taught the children how to form a line so everyone could participate with equal turns and without pushing. I also counted the # of jumps for each child out loud to encourage them to keep going and to beat their personal best.

*Thanks so much to everyone who has been sending me emails and keeping up with my blog. I really appreciate it soooooooooooooo much!

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