We left for Kisumu at 8:30am on Sunday morning. Evans our fantastic driver, as well as Victor were waiting by 8:15. We piled in, Alex and I grabbed our back of the bus seats (all the cool kids sit in the back), and waited for everyone else to reach their seats. The wheels started turning and we were off.
This was a week we had all been anticipating since our first day here, and even longer. We knew it was going to be a great learning experience but more so it was going to be a great life experience.
We started the journey, having to stop a few times, then reaching our lunch destination. After lunch we completed the trip overall taking about 9 hours. We arrived at Kiboko Bay Resort, on the waters of Lake Victoria with Ugandan mountains in the distance and enjoyed a beautiful sunset, a great dinner, some heavy rain and LOTS of bats as we walked back to our lovely bungalows for the night. We would be spending this Sunday night and next Saturday night at Kiboko Bay. Since the drive takes an entire day, it wasn’t feasible to place us with our families immediately – plus it allowed us enough time to meet and discuss a few matters of business.
Of these matters was the matter of our Guides for the Community Health Diagnosis Survey. Monday morning the guides, as well as the local coordinator Osewe, came to Kiboko for lunch we met them, introduced the survey, paired up, then talked through the survey in great detail. I was paired with a young man named Joseph. More on this experience in another post.
After lunch we were told to go and get our things, it was time to leave. There were three small vans waiting, we all stood in line, were directed to the proper van then handed our bed net, two rolls of toilet paper, five liters of water, and a bag of assorted food (this would be our first gift to the family).
We were off to the families, traveling briefly through Kisumu town, then onto the rural roads where we enjoyed a bumpy ride to the Seme community. Seme is a rural area, with mostly Luo people who speak Dohlou primarily, a bit of Kiswahili, and finally some English. My primary language falls third in their language.
Finally we arrived at my drop location: outside of a local school. I jumped out of the van, where my host mother Hellen was waiting. I handed her the bag of food, grabbed my water and duffel bag, and started the walk to the house. It was around a 15 minute walk from the last road a car can get on to the house where I would be staying for the week. This came into play when I didn’t see any other students Wednesday nor Thursday.
It was time to start my week with my new family.
The first afternoon when I arrived at the home I met Catherine (Cate) age 4, Adrian age 9, and Rose age 12. I quickly set my things down, then Hellen told me she had a meeting to go to and asked if I wanted to accompany her. I quickly agreed, anxious to see more of the area and get a chance to talk to Hellen.
The meeting we went to was a group that meets twice a month, at a different members house, they all bring money, then contribute all that money to one individual. This was more than just a group of people giving money to each other, it was a group of friends who had recognized a way they could support each other in times of need.
During the meeting it started raining, and because almost every home has a metal roof the meeting came to a complete stop for about 5 minutes, because the noise of the rain was so loud.
After the meeting had concluded, it was time to eat. I was served a bowl with a whole fish in it (I swear it was looking at me) and a big bowl of ugali (it’s hard to explain what it is, but it is eaten with every meal and is a spongy like texture). It was at this point that I was asked by the group to introduce myself. I decided this was a great opportunity to show off my Kiswahili skills so I decided to use everything I was just tested on during my final, in this setting. It went surprisingly well, and everyone was happy to meet me. I was unable to finish my serving, which disappointed me but it was all too filling!
After the meeting, we got caught in a bit of rain (annoying at first, but something I would soon miss throughout the week), then made it home. Hellen started preparing dinner, which is when I was able to have my first interaction with the children. This was the first time I had spent time with children that I had 0 ability to communicate with. As it turns out (later in the week) Adrian could name things in English, but they weren’t really able to understand what I was saying.