Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Final Blog From Kenya

November 29, 2014

Last Blog From Kisumu, Kenya

Dear Friends and Family,

This is my last blog from Kenya before I return home in two more days. It is also the first blog without photos, so hope you will still enjoy it.  Actually, I am now home – it is December 2nd.

I have decided to return home about 3 weeks early because of an upsetting incident that happened to me earlier this week. A Kenyan visa is only good for 90 days, and so I went to the Immigration Office to renew it which I have done several times before.

I was directed to the Office of Registration for Foreign Nationals where I was “interrogated” for 5 ½ hours and my Passport was taken from me. I finally called the US Embassy who noted my situation and spoke to the Immigration Officials. Finally, my Passport was returned, but I was not allowed to extend it nor register as a Foreign National. Before I was handed my passport back, a friend of mine who was with me – a Kenyan whose passport and ID was also taken – had to “help” the Immigration Official. The reason my friend’s passport and ID were confiscated was because she was “rude”!!

I was told to go to Nairobi, and extend my Visa there. Thus, I had to fly there and after a couple of hours of going from building to building and office to office, my passport was extended without any problem and without a fee.

Never the less, I think it is time to go home, and I am leaving here on December 1st and see many of you soon.

One of the most unfortunate things is that I will leave my volunteering at KMET a couple of weeks early, although I have for the most part finished my work. My colleagues will follow up.

OK – enough of that.

Even though I have been in Africa so many times – about 12 or 15, I still can’t get used to Africa time which either doesn’t exist or is often hours behind my sense of timing. The result is that planning is meaningless, and my to do list just goes on and on. Oh well – maybe I will still learn but somehow I don’t think of I will ever get used to it.

The KMET Building construction is way ahead of schedule. Yes, that sounds strange given what I have just said, but I think part of it is my own sense of timing. I have been able to get the electrical power cables put underground which KMET had talked about but never did. It is now much safer since the overhead power cable was touching the new construction. Whew!!

The last time I went to the Kenyan Power Company, I found several of the workers sleeping at their desks. It probably happens in many government offices all over the world anyway. Maybe it was just a “power nap” Hahaha.

One of the people I know here is Everlyne Obama. She and President Obama are first cousins. Their fathers were brothers. Obama is a Luo name, and quite common around here.

The other night I had to go out of the house for a few minutes, and Tammy, a nice dog who lives here ran to greet me. Except that she was wearing a leash and ran around my legs several times and suddenly there I was and couldn’t walk. I yelled for help and in a moment from friends came to save me. Luckily I didn’t fall.

After some 3 or 4 years of being broken I was able to get the KMET soda refrigerator repaired. But, in the process, I introduced the KMET Canteen Director to the Coke people. The way I did it was to actually drive to the Coca Cola HQ, find a repair person, drive him back to KMET, let him find the problem, drive him back to Coke with the broken part, and bring him back to finally fix it. And then finally take him back to Coke. Well, it worked, and now I think they understand the saying, “If you cant bring Mohammed to the mountain, bring the mountain to Mohammed”.

I complained that my TV was not getting a good signal, so the caretaker came to my house and put scotch tape on the antenna which promptly fell off. Finally they gave me a small internal antenna, but there is nothing worth watching anyway.

So, another ending to a volunteer stint. Did I do well? Yes! Did I complete my tasks? Mostly. What am I proud of? Mentoring and teaching some of my colleagues and the KMET Construction. What I am disappointed in? Too many people relied on me to do things, and not enough people learned as much as I would have liked, but I did the best I could and that is what counts. You can’t do everything, and as one of my favorite sayings goes: “If you save one life you save the world” Well I did that, so I am happy.

Bye and love,