Posts Tagged ‘pictures’

Ameena thoughts

Ian laughs every time he sees the picture of this little girl.  We wondered tonight what she might have been thinking when this picture was taken.  Do you think she was thinking, “Go away, I don’t want your help”?  I can’t imagine that she was.  I imagine that she was wondering what this white person was doing in her neighborhood/village, or what this white person was snapping at her OR whether this white person might be kind and help her?

Lucy, our 5 year old asked me today how to say Ameena’s name in Swahili.

I said, well, it already is Swahili.  It’s Ameena in Swahili and translated into English it would be “Amen” or it means honest and trustworthy.  She seemed so puzzled by my explanation.  In her mind, Ameena was just English and American like everything else she knows.

Using this name in our organization title has a history.  There is of course the whole bit about Ameena and the other babies all being born in the same place yet having different opportunities that I talked about here .  But there is also the drive of our Kenyan teachers pushing to use the name Ameena.  There is a deep connection between these staff and us.  In Kenya, as in other African cultures, relationship is everything.   The importance we  Americans place on doing, accomplishing, being efficient, and checking things off the list……it’s equivalent in Kenya….is how you treat and interact with others.   It is the highest honor and acknowledgement of relationship to name your child (or organization!) after another.  And then, there is the meaning of the name.  The fact that it means honest and trustworthy speaks to the values that we have in our relationships with the people we partner in country with, and with those of you who support us here at home.  We will work hard to be honest and trustworthy in the work we are carrying out.

With that being said….several of you have stepped in & have partnered with Ameena Project to support the Kiang’ombe preschool financially.  One family of teachers sent a donation to buy the educational supplies for the preschool program, another family used inheritance money to give a year’s worth of monthly support in honor of the grandparents who had passed away and yet another family gave a donation acknowledging that while they might never make it to Africa, it didn’t mean that they couldn’t be involved IN Africa.  Others of you have indicated that you are interested in supporting this project which is incredibly encouraging!  We are sending the first amount of funding for the teacher salaries and some of the basic supplies with the hopes that by the end of November we’ll have 50% of our annual budget pledged and received.  It really is important to those of us behind Ameena Project to know that we will be able to sustain this project for the next year.   If you’ve had the tugging at your heart that you would like to be involved in some way, please leave a comment or email one of us!  Your thoughts, words of encouragement, and financial gifts remind us that we are not crazy for embarking on this endeavor.

Ameena

Today we celebrate one wonderful year of having Ameena in our lives.  

What a full year this last one has been. 

Being pregnant while living in Africa was interesting.  I felt healthy, but had more physical symptoms than with any of my other children.  Crazy high blood sugar that I monitored much less than I should have—seriously, you think they have glucose meters and testing strips there?  I think the chemist laughed me right out of his pharmacy when I asked about it.  About 4 months into the pregnancy my in-laws were kind enough to bring a meter and strips…and I rationed those babies out til almost a month before the baby was born.   I perfected a pretty good routine of walking a brisk path from our house to the Centre office, around the playground and back to the house…generally before I started dinner as darkness falls quickly and routinely every night there by 7pm.  On some evenings if my sugar was especially high I’d lay on the thin rug covering our concrete floor in the living room and do the “bicycle” like I was escaping town.  I’m sure it looked humorous, but it was pretty effectively in bringing the sugar levels down.

I also dealt with some horrid lower back pain which was in no way helped by the fact that we did all of the washing by hand until mid November.  Unlike our Kenyan househelp who would come twice a week and stoop to do the laundry, I happily seated myself on our little green plastic stool to dunk the clothes in and out of the bin.  The laundry (aka shower room) was my home for good parts of the day.  Sometimes I’d go to stand, and would cry out in pain……it seemed like the only relief would come from going into the child pose.  Many a Kenyan walked into our home in the evenings and found me there in the middle of the room practicing some good ol’ yoga.

I also suffered a great deal more nausea than usual.  This was not helped by the schizophrenic driving conditions we navigated on a daily basis.  One day, when driving with Megan into Nairobi I had to pull over to vomit on the side of the road.  We had just passed through a rural town and I carefully picked the pullover spot to ensure that it would be free from the usual roadside gawkers.  I got out of our car, crossed in front of the car to the side of the road and bent down to vomit.  Out of no where  a group of school kids appeared and in broken English began to ask questions like, “Why the muzungu vomit?”  “Muzungu vomit?!?”  “What wrong pretty lady?” as they pointed at me.  Megan yelled from the car for the kids to go away.  They were unphased.  I quickly signaled for her to take the wheel and climbed into the car hoping to escape their curious stares and prying questions.  A staff member at the Centre later informed me that Kenyan’s have all sorts of beliefs about white people:  1)  We never vomit   2) If we are in the sun too long, our skin might melt  3) We can get anyone into the US and so on.

Even my delivery with Ameena was interesting and so Kenyan.  I was pretty determined to not have to have an epidural during this delivery…I mean I was at a nice hospital, but crazy stuff happens in a 3rd world country and I didn’t want first hand experience.   Having had my first two babies in the US, I was used to nurses coming in and out, checking the vitals, seeing how “far along” things had progressed, bringing in ice chips, wiping down your forehead, fluffing the pillows, telling you what a great job you were doing.  Pretty high standards.  While I did get a visit from my doctor at 9 am, I had labored all morning mostly alone and had walked my room (not a delivery room) wondering when someone might come to check on me.  I parked myself on that labor ball and counted the floor tiles in my room.  There were a good 30 tiles that I could count through on every contraction.

Same position for about 5 hours….and all I could get on t.v. was the election of a new Prime Minister in England. Torture.

Ian finally arrived back from breakfast (it’s never an easy trip in Kenya) at about 10am and after one good look at me went for a nurse.  She came back and decided we better MOVE!  We barely got into that Labor and Delivery room, had me on the ball and in a position to see a good 30 tiles when DANG that pain ramped up.  I started to panic and asked if we might put that sweet bathtub to use.  I’d always wanted to try it during labor.  True to Kenya again, the nurse indicated that it would take a while to get some hot water into it. I was willing to wait.

 
My body wasn’t.  My water popped like a good summer water balloon.  Ian and I later cringed over the thought of that birthing ball rolling over to the corner of the room without a second look from staff.  Gross.
 
I really started to panic.  No hot bath.  Was there anything else I could have?!?  PLEASE?  You know that moment.
 
The nurse started babbling about laughing gas, but that we would need a fetal heart rate first.  She got me up onto the delivery table, strapped that monitor on my belly and started to fiddle with the machine.
 
At that moment, I went a little CRAZY.  The pain was insane.  I starting that horrible writhing around and ripped the belt off of me.  The nurse (Yes, only one) was a little taken aback by my behavior and decided to check me.  “Just 7 cm” she pronounced.  I wanted to kill her.  7 freaking centimeters?  Was she high?
 
She proceeded to get on her cell phone (nope, no landlines, not even in the hospital) to call my doctor on over…..and as she did, I think I made some vulgar comment about either having a major bodily function happen or I was having this baby. 
 
“NO!” everyone (ok the nurse and Ian) yelled.
 
“Whatever” I thought….and you know what?  I pushed that freaking (sorry Ameena) baby out as that darn nurse about had a stroke (trying to hold the phone and put on her dang gloves) while yelling out into the hall and Ian jumped to keep this surprise from dropping on the floor.  The nurse  recovered, and quickly grabbed her goo basin to put at the end of the table and took over for Ian in holding Ameena.  Poor Ian slumped and an additional nurse who had just walked in grabbed his arm and a paper bag for him to breathe into.  Poor  guy.  Too much blood, too much gross, too much baby–all way too fast.
 
Not enough doctor.  She sauntered in 10 minutes later to check everything out.   All I could think was, “Man, I still have to pay her delivery fee and she didn’t even deliver the baby!  But then again, it’s a good thing we don’t pay them for how long they “attend” or some of us would have some ridiculous bills!
 
With all that said, it has been quite a ride Ms. Ameena.  The first 3 months of your life in Kenya have made these last 9 months in the US pale in drama, but I wouldn’t trade a second of it.  You are everything God intended you to be for our family.  Without a doubt I can say that we all adore you and are thankful for the gift that you are to all of us. 
 
Baby, you were worth the wait.
 

This is what I think about, sometimes.

This is what I think about (inside my head, not generally out loud like other people I know *cough, cough* LUCY).

Patterns, and pretty fabrics and the endless combination possibilites.

Here is one of  the two patterns I’m going to work on next:

I’m gonna make the dress on the left, but not with a flared sleeve.

These are the fabrics I have in my stash and am contemplating:

 

with a vintage pale blue with red and blue small little roses

and:

I’m still thinking of how I’ll combine them all.  So many possibilities.

Here are some great examples of what other people have done:

As you can see, the variations are endless!  I’m branching out a bit on my own with my own fabric combinations, we’ll see how my finished product matches up!

How can it compare?

You might notice that the number of blogs posted since our return to the States the first part of  August has been 3.  That’s about one per month.  That’s pretty pathetic.

I guess it’s just really hard to compare our life here with our life in Kenya….it all seems so mundane and usual and NOT blog worthy.  I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, just a REALLY different thing.

I  notice that I can drive for long distances here and be daydreaming the whole time.  None of that knuckle gripping tense driving that is par for the course in Kenya.  No need to constantly scan the environment for dangers.  No need to dodge people, vehicles or animals. 

So, I guess you’ll all just have to adjust your expectation of what this blog is gonna be now, and I will too.

No more amazing tales of African adventures.  Now you’ll be getting disgusting tales of baby, preschool and kindergarten kids, which can be just as entertaining, I’m sure.

I am thankful and adjusting well to regular life again.  Thank goodness we don’t have cockroaches, disgustingly large spiders/locusts/crickets/beetles, or random goats/chickens walking through buildings (or our house).

I am thankful for the wonderful group of family and friends who supported us while we were in Kenya, and that we know get to see some part of the group almost daily.  LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!

And now, for a few pictures that highlight our first few months home from Kenya:

Dubai!

In our hunt to find the cheapest yet safest flight home from Kenya we happened upon a stay over in Dubai.

We as in Erika Lee mentioned it, it sounded like  a fabulous idea that saved thousands even with a 2 night hotel stay over, we booked it!

I didn’t know much about Dubai except that I’d seen it on t.v. on the greatest engineering feats of all time.  You know, where they show them dumping load after load of rocks and sand into the ocean to produce man-made islands shaped like palm trees and other random things.  

Here we are arriving:

The kids waiting patiently at midnight in the glistening Dubai airport

 Our Dubai plan involved arriving just before midnight, staying over a full day, and then flying out on the 2nd morning after leaving Nairobi.  We had booked a hotel within walking distance of a mall (they REALLY take shopping seriously there) in hopes of spending some leisure time in an air-conditioned space.

Why air conditioning?

Uh, because it was the height of summer in Dubai, where temperatures easily were reaching 110 degrees Fahrenheit.  Our plane stewardess talked about her flip-flops melting on the sidewalk there.  I’ve heard of that happening in the US in Arizona and places like that when it gets really hot, but I wasn’t up for trying it out on this trip.

We started out the next morning after sleeping in and taking warm (hot water right from the tap!!!) baths.  We managed to walk across the street and one block down from our hotel before ditching that plan.  We were all melted and luckily there was a cab in sight who was more than happy to stop for our family.  We hopped in and asked him to take us to a mall.

He took us to the largest mall in Dubai.  Actually, it now holds the distinction I believe of being the largest mall in the world. I never thought that I could be overwhelmed by shopping, but I was.  If we had been coming from the consumer mentality of the US, it might have been manageable, but to step from a more rural area of Kenya straight into this….it was a bit much.

We managed to look around in 2 shops total, including the largest candy shop any of us had ever seen.  It was aptly named, Candylicious:

Perhaps this is why Eli now has a cavity

 We also decided to tour the aquarium that was housed in the mall.  We especially enjoyed the glass tunnel that allowed us to walk within a few inches of sharks and sting rays:

 

Checking out the rays

 After the aquarium, we sat down to a ridiculously priced lunch that would have cost half as much in the US and my first Starbucks latte in 15 months.  My latte cost 200 Dirham, which is about $7 here in the US.  It was good, but not that good!

We took pictures outside of the mall in front of the world’s tallest building.  This building has something like 165 stories and is 2717 feet tall:

It’s on the left there behind Ian and I.  It’s so big, you only see a portion of it, even in person because it disappears into the haze.  You can tell though that it dwarfs everything next to it.  Here is a picture of it from the web:

Later that evening, we went up to the roof of a sister hotel and Ian and the kids enjoyed some fun in the pool. It was wonderful to spend time outside after dusk.  This is something we were rarely able to do while in Kenya because of malaria and safety concerns.

A very happy girl!

Sitting by the pool sweating out the humid heat of the Sahara

 

A view of Dubai from our rooftop pool...there was a sandy haze all day

 We had a wonderful time together as a family in Dubai and were very thankful for the rest before our 16 hour flight to the US the next day.

Farewell continued

A farewell at the Centre usually means a tea party planned by the staff.  In the past this involved light food:  boiled eggs, biscuits, queen cakes and chai.  Ian and I decided about a month before leaving that we would like to throw the staff and residents a nice lunch for our farewell….with good food…..so we arranged to have a caterer for the party.  It was a win-win.  The Centre was able to not spend money on the party, we had wonderful food, and no one had to worry about set up or clean up!

But it’s easier to explain the farewell in pictures: 

Upon entering the party you must go through a tunnel of singing people

As guests of honor you sit up at the front while everyone sings & dances to their places

After announcements by the MC Hillary, the food line opens

Beef stew, irio, rice pilau, sukuma, and kachumbari. Anne's favorite is the green irio, Ian's is kachumbari (looks like slaw on the top)

After lunch the singing and dancing begins...complete with heaving us up on the shoulders

Ameena gets into the dancing too as Esther carries her around

I think it's safe to say Eli enjoyed the dancing

Esther with Ameena in her African party dress which came via Naomi's friend at St. Patrick's Catholic Church

Receiving the gifts...it's a really big deal to take a picture of the gift and giver!

Eli and Lucy thought presents on a non holiday were fantastic!

A special song prepared and sung by the day program teaching staff

Ian and I had to give "speeches" to the staff. I talked about how God has a plan written for each one of them & how much each one had contributed to the success of the Centre

It took Ian a moment to find the right words to express all that we had experienced in our 15 months in Kenya with this staff.

We tried to keep the end of the party light with a "guess the $ in the jar giveaway" & the promise of shopping at Momma Eli's duka (shop)

At the end of our party we took about 30 of this same shot, with a different staff member or resident inserted. We then printed copies for the staff as photos are a very treasured and special gift.

The staff & residents of Karibu Centre. In 15 months, we went from 4 staff and 0 residents to about 27 staff, 27 resident girls, babies and abandoned babies and about 120 children in the day program! We felt so blessed to be with these people day after day!

And that was our formal farewell.  More in the next few days of my “garage sale” aka Momma Eli’s duka & of our push by staff/friends to the airport.

A how to lesson

I’ve posted in the past about my love of kangas & how Kenyans use them to tie babies on their backs. 

Because some of you asked to see what it looked like to balance the baby on the back, I took a few pictures about a week before we were due to come back home to the states. 

Lillian, one of the house-mothers in the abandoned infant care center was kind enough to demonstrate with Ameena. 

Moving Ameena onto her back

Positioning Ameena on her back with the elbow up to catch her if she slips

 

Balancing Ameena as she readies the kanga to pull over her

 

Adjusting the kanga up under the bum

  

Finished, with a kanga as a baby carrier

I’ve tried this a few times now, always with someone there to catch Ameena as I’m not the most comfortable in my ability to balance her on my back.  Ameena has lasted on my back for about 5 minutes, breaking out into a squawk before long.  I got some interesting stares walking down my street in Portland, Oregon with her on my back.  You’d think this hippy town would be used to this kind of thing by now!