Friday, September 23, 2011

Hey everyone!

It's already been a week since the last mama-mtoto meeting, sorry for the late update! However, in the mean time, a lot of other exciting stuff has happened here, so I will update you on that as well!

Honestly, I was a bit skeptical about having a Mama-Mtoto meeting with the children of the mamas present, since the mamas could not just bring their 4-6 year olds, they would bring all their kids. Which would mean a minimum of 60 people (15 mamas with a minimum of 3 kids, but most of them have more!). However, Esther and Maria were really enthusiastic, so we decided to go ahead with planning this special meeting. Instead of our normal MM day, the meeting was on a Saturday, so that the children would be free from school and Maria arranged a couple of women to come and cook rice and beans for all mamas and their children. Esther picked up a big party tent from Maria's farm and about 30 chairs, and we were ready for Saturday morning!

When the mamas and their children arrived, it was great to finally meet the children the mamas have been telling us so much about over these past few months. Around 11:00 we decided to start and more children and mamas came in as we were going through the assignments. After a round of introductions and the usual opening prayer, Esther asked the children if they could perform the plays they prepared (which was the assignment for the Elangata Wuas book). The result was amazing, some of the children had worked together during lunch hour at school and had come up with new endings and extra characters for the stories. Three children even prepared their very own story, which they recited in front of the whole group! The mamas looked on proudly, clapping and laughing at every play and story.

After the plays and storytelling, we went over the assignments for the new book, “The Hyena and the Fox”, from Garissa. This book tells the story of a hungry fox, who eats all the sheep in the area where nomads live. The community decides to set a trap to catch the fox, to punish him for stealing their sheep. When the fox is caught, the people tie him to a tree, dig a big hole and fill it with firewood to burn the fox. The fox cries loudly and a hungry hyena passes by to find the fox still tied to the tree, as the people have left to let the fire get hot. The fox explains to the hyena that his uncle tied him to the tree because he is too thin and wouldn't eat the sheep his uncle had caught for him. The hyena decides to untie the fox and promises to eat the sheep. The fox quickly flees the scene, as the people return and ask the hyena what he is doing. When he explains, they decide he is too foolish and greedy and burn him instead of the fox!

The Garissa book was illustrated by Sammy Wafula, and printed in 3 languages: Kisomali, Kiswahili and English. The kids and mothers really liked the story, but they were getting hungry, so we decided it was time for lunch! As the children ate their rice, beans and greens, Esther and the mamas discussed the coming computer lesson meeting (on the 22nd). The meeting was this past Thursday and it was very exciting to see the mothers working on the computers, for some of them it was their first time. We dealt with some of the basics – what is hardward/software?, how do you use the mouse – and I taught them a little bit about how to use Microsoft Word. You realize how difficult seemingly easy things can be, such as making the text bold or underlined. However, I do know the first time I started using a computer, it was all very alien to me as well, so practice makes perfect!

Before the computer meeting, this past Wednesday, Esther and I visited 5 of the mothers at their homes in Mayenge. These mothers live the furthest away from the library, a 2 hour walk, but Esther and I took a piki, which took about half an hour. The mothers were very hospitable, and I drank enough coca-cola for a whole week! At every mama's house we talked about when the mother reads to her kids, which is their favorite book, how the program has impacted their day-to-day routine and what they would add to the program if they were the directors! Overall, their answers were very helpful for the report I'm writing and it was also just great to meet the husbands and other family members of the women that I feel I'm getting to know a bit better every day.

Finally, Esther and I have been working on the celebration meeting (October 5th) already, deciding on the guest list, meeting with the district commissioner, who has promised to be our guest of honor, and creating certificates for the mamas, besides other logistical issues that need to be figured out for the big celebration!

I will keep you updated on all our progress, but for now: Kwaheri and have a good weekend!

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