Funeral customs and SNAKES!

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Linda’s Journal- 2014 Ellen and Linda’s Kenya trip November 11 to December 16

Journal 8
Saturday December 6, 2014 8:30AM

Ellen and I are both dressed and ready for the funeral today. Some guests have started to arrive but so far no one has indicated they need to come to the office/house. While we are waiting I thought I might as well start another journal.

I ended journal 7 on Thursday talking about waiting for Elly, the driver, to come for us. At about 3 PM we decided to ask Stephen, Paul’s, nephew, who lives with Paul and is going into class 8 to walk with us to Sarifa’s house here in the village. She is one of the 5 finalists. (If you watched the video I posted on Facebook of the finalists dancing- Sarifa is the one leading the singing) Sarifa is also the sister of Hasina the girl who won the award in 2012. Ellen had good news from her sister Nancy who has been following my journals. She wanted to sponsor a girl for school. We decided to inform her about Sarifa and find out if she wanted to sponsor her. She was very pleased to do that and also authorized us to purchase a set of revision books for her. Therefore we were walking to her home to tell her the good news and deliver the books.

When we arrived Serifa’s two mom’s and Hasina were outside the house making baskets out of papyrus. Sarifa was not home. We told Hasina the good news and she lit up with the most beautiful smile and bright eyes. We left revision books for both Sarifa and Hasina (starting form 3). They can use them until they finish school and then they are to return them to FIOH-Kenya to be shared with other students.

Stephen told us we were very close to Elly’s home so we stopped in. His sister was there and gave us his phone number. By now it was 4 PM. He was close by and came over to the office/house and we talked and made plans for the next day to visit our newest well in nearby Kajulu village and possibly visit the Grail center (more about that later). It was good to visit with Elly and we shared photos about our families. One of his sisters’ is a nurse and is working in Liberia with Ebola victims. He showed us a picture of her in full protective gear. Of course we could not see her face but I was glad to see the protection looked complete.

By then it was after 7 PM. We talked with Paul about our plans since he has been very busy with the funeral arrangements. You might wonder what they “arrange” for so many days. Well, unlike anything we do at home, they had to repair the road so the casket could be brought in; chop firewood to cook for the many guests. Paul was exhausted from all the manual work plus having to deal with his personal grief.

We went to bed listening to the constant music. I think we both slept poorly.
Friday, Elly was to come at 9:30AM to pick us up. However we found out he was going to be using the car that Paul uses and Paul was out on an errand. By the time we left it was 10:30AM. Paul called and spoke to Maria Juma, the caretaker of the Kajulu well and she agreed that we could arrive between 1 and 1:30PM to see the well.
Elly drove us to town and we picked up Felix, an FIOH-K Board member. He had been waiting for us over an hour. Then we went to the kiosks again to purchase some more gifts to bring home. That was fun. I bought a dress and an African top for total of about $20. I don’t think we can buy anymore because our suitcases will be too full or too heavy.

Right on time we headed to Kajulu. That was the end of our success. We arrived to the place Paul described. Maria was to come to the main road to meet us. However her phone was not connecting. We called Paul several times and he even tried an alternate number to reach Maria- no luck. We asked several people if they knew Maria or of a well – without any result. After about 45 minutes we finally gave up. Sooooo frustrating.

We headed out to visit the Grail center. Ellen’s Aunt Olive was a grail member and Ellen grew up visiting with Grail members from all over the world who came to stay at her house. The Grail is a secular institute made up of mainly Catholic women. It was founded in Australia but they now have centers all over. The overall mission of the Grail is to help empower women and children. When Ellen found out there was a center nearby she was very excited. Now this was a successful venture!

We met 4 grail members who stay right at the center. They sponsor projects that help the people of Kenya similar to projects that FIOH offers but on a larger scale. They also have a nursery school and primary school up to class 2. They plan to add class 3 and 4 for the 2015 school year and then continue to add classes up to 8 year by year. They also have a community college.

They greeted us warmly- we prayed together briefly and they served us tea and mandazi. Then they explained about their work. One of the members, Margaret, had traveled to the U.S. around 1985 and had met several of the women that Ellen knew. Ellen’s connection to the Grail is what gave her an interest in working in Kenya. Her Aunt had been in Uganda, plus Harlem in NYC.
They took us on a tour of their center. They have a wonderful organic garden and fruit trees of mango, papaya and banana. At the end of our visit we prayed again and they sang a beautiful song in English that I was able to record.

Aside from needing to put air in our tires and replacing on of the tire valves our ride home was uneventful. Last evening I put my photos on the computer and wrote journal 7. Now it is about 9:30 AM on Saturday and we are going to go to the funeral whenever Paul gives the word.

I forgot to mention a fun thing that we did on Thursday evening when we got home from visiting the water projects. Jane, Paul’s aunt and Pamela taught us how to make chapati’s using a jiko that heats with charcoal. Chapitis are made with white flour, water and salt. You mix the dough and then roll it out into a circle about 8 inches in diameter. This is place on the special cast iron pan on top of the jiko. You let it cook a bit and then flip it- and cover it with a thin layer of cooking oil- let it cook and flip again to cover the other side. They cook very quickly as the charcoal is very hot. I don’t know how well it will work at home using a frying pan but we intend to try it. Both Ellen and I like Chapati’s very much.

Sunday, December 7, 2014 12:00 noon

Continuing where I left off waiting for Paul to tell us to head over to Samson’s funeral. Stephen escorted us over about 11 AM. It was only about a 5-minute walk. There was a very elaborate set up when we arrived. There were at least 5 large tents that seat about 100 people each. One smaller tent was for the immediate family. There was an altar set up for Mass and the casket was there for viewing. We went to pay our respects to his wife and prayed at the casket. Samson was only 38 years old-and had been healthy until sometime in November. His three young girls were there all dressed in beautiful white dresses. My heart was heavy once again.

Paul then showed us over to the food tent. What a spread. They had servers at every station. All the tables had cloth tablecloths and the chairs were covered with satin type covers. We ate and then Ellen and I decided to walk back to the house to use the bathroom and get out of the heat for a few minutes, as the ceremonies had not started yet.

Around 12:30 PM the master of ceremonies introduced himself and many people including the choir. Everything was spoken in D’Luo so we could not understand. However emotion was evident. There were MANY speeches. Samson was active in a football club so many of his friends spoke. A representative of the Pipeline where he worked spoke and the chief of the area gave a very long speech. Samson’s mother also spoke for a very long time until the master of ceremonies gently indicated she should stop and the choir sang a song. People continued to arrive all during the speeches and there must have been at least 500 or 600 people!
The speeches lasted about 2 and ½ hours. The choir sang a few songs in between some of the speeches. Finally about 3:45 Mass began. Part way through Mass all the people in one of the tents started screaming and running. It was a snake! We were told a young woman was bit and they were taking her to the hospital. Things settled down for about 10 minutes and then everyone in that tent ran again because of the snake. Someone then managed to kill the snake. Ellen saw it being carried out on a pole. Ellen is very afraid of snakes and was not a happy camper. All this time, with a couple hundred people screaming and running the Mass just continued and the choir sang. This was around the time of the offertory of the Mass. Finally with the snake dead- everyone quieted down. Then a man started speaking about something that I knew was not a usual part of the Mass even though I could not understand him. I asked Felix what was going on. He said they were having a collection to defray the cost of the funeral. We had had enough! We had also already given a generous contribution in the days prior to the actual funeral. Ellen Felix and I decided to leave and walk “home”.

When we got home it was obvious that guests had been at the office/house eating and drinking sodas as soda caps and paper napkins were all over the floor. We cleaned up and visited and talked with Felix until about 6:30 PM when he headed home. I gave him about $45 to repair the bike I bought for him in 2010. In 2012 I had paid for Felix to start a chicken project. He said it was going well until about a month before I came. Then all his chickens got sick and died. That is a frequent problem here with chickens. You must keep them vaccinated. Since I had already paid for Felix to build the chicken structure and fenced the area I agreed to buy him more chickens. For about $60 he can get 8 hens, 2 cocks and also pay to have them vaccinated. It will be enough for him to start again. He also works as an accountant. He had a year contract that ended in November. He has interviewed at a local bank and is hoping to get a permanent job as a bank teller starting in January 2015.

Ellen and I relaxed the rest of the evening and read and thankfully both got a good night’s sleep, as there was no music. ☺

We decided not to go to church today, as we were there Saturday. When we woke up this AM the electricity was out. Paul stopped in about 11:30 to say good morning and stated that electricity was out in the whole of Kisumu and they were working on repairs. He had spent the morning working with others taking down all the tents and arranging for their return. We encouraged him to go home and sleep for a few hours as he has been up continuously for a few days. We agreed to meet together about 2 or 3 PM.

Ellen brought a solar charger that a friend let her borrow. We used it today to charge up our two “smart phones” and we are happy to report it worked. It is now almost 1PM and Ellen is just about finished with a shawl she is making for Milka.

End of Journal 8

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