Monday, January 13, 2014

forever

thinking of mum today
Sept 3, 2003

Is this knowledge or paranoia? I don't know anymore, sometimes it is difficult to distinguish one from the other.
Mummy died 21 months ago. It was a dark, California night, when the call came. What ensued was a 30-hour journey through space and time, cherishing memories, with a dreadful anticipation of facing death. I had never looked death in the eye till the moment I saw my mother's face, swollen yet so beautiful, serene yet so disturbing, perhaps hiding a pain I will never know about.
Three days later, after our roller coaster rides with hope and despair, she slipped away gently, forever.
It is a moment we dread, the moment we realize our worst nightmare is becoming a reality. Yet there is a hope that lingers on, for no apparent reason. That moment passes unnoticed, without an incidence, amidst dismal shadows. There's too much shock and disbelief to take in.
Later that night, Mini and I sat on the terrace and watched the stars. We ran out of words to say to each other, so we just searched
I have never known so much pain in my life. There's a deep sense of loss, which, I wish was as transient as the memory of her seems to be at times. I am merely beginning to understand what words really mean - lifeless, forever and it scares me.
The other day, I got up feeling the length of forever. It was spectacular.
It is a strange word - forever. Sounds like an eternity when I say I won't see her again and seems so finite when I say forever is not long enough to love her.
It seems like time is passing me by while I stand on the sidewalk and watch it get distant. I am still stuck in a moment in time and sometimes I want to escape, wake up and be normal again. But nothing seems normal anymore. The most difficult part is letting go.
And, those images don't get hazy. It hurts to imagine what she felt and even more, when I realize that she was incapable of exactly that- feeling. Life is what happens to you when you are busy making other plans. Death, too, perhaps...
I just wish mummy could come back and give me life, once again.

Friday, October 4, 2013

child's play

Its been a month of connecting, waiting, traveling, introspecting, reminiscing from 21 years to 86 lifetimes.

In the last month, I have concluded that reincarnation seems like fiction and Karma seems like non-fiction- an oxymoron indeed- for those who know the 3 kinds of Karma…
and that I should not be eating salads in Kenya (read a typhoid misdiagnosis scare)

As for village matters, for everyone who has heard my incessant talks about solar energy in the last couple years, here's an update:
In an effort to find the perfect lamp for sardine fishing, I met the 4 major players in the solar space in Africa in Nairobi and identified a particular product that might have worked well. Armed with a life vest (to venture out in the Lake at night again!), a handheld weighing scale, that "particular" solar lamp and plenty of patience, I arrived in the village only to find these efforts were, well, a bit redundant :)
OSRAM, who I have been in contact for 2 years now, decided to build a we-hub in "my" village :) So, in a couple months, there will be a computer center and solar lamps specially made for night fishing! well, more time to fish for me :)

My plans of teaching yoga and teaching at the orphanage have been thwarted by frequent trips to Kisumu to network with NGOs or to shop for upcoming projects (like right now). Every few days, though, I do get a chance to learn basic Swahili and teach basic English to about a dozen children, who show up at the house, and sit patiently through the 1-2 hour class. Sometimes, we follow it up by a skipping lesson outside :)

Lakeland Youth group is just as active as ever- responsible and hard-working youth who really want to break the cycle of poverty.
I have been able to connect them to Safe Water and Aids Prevention, Yes Youth Can! Nyanza and to Americans Friends of Kenya- AFK.
- SWAP is collaborating with them to make things like water purification tablets, mosquito repellent jelly, detergent, diapers, mosquito nets more accessible to the community. The youth group is dipping their feet into entrepreneurship- by reselling these items that they get at a discount, at retail price.
- Joram, the president of YYC Nyanza visited them last week and promised to connect them to local youth leaders for training and access to funds reserved for IGAs for youth groups.
- and maybe, maybe- one day there will be a library at Honge beach- just as the one in Siaya with the assistance of AFK.

The most exciting development of all, however, is the beginning of a conversation with Small and Micro Enterprise Programme (SMEP). On Monday, we will explore entrepreneurship a bit further- tilapia fishing, poultry farming, bee keeping etc. We have Reinhard from SMEP visiting Uhundha to talk about microloans for a small enterprise and we already have a number of youth ready to sign up.
On to bigger and better things…

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

from the morning

for the first time in years, we had a meal together.
m1 talked about perseverance, m2 demonstrated it.
I sipped on my ginger root mojito in the mid-afternoon, closed my eyes momentarily and experienced bliss- warm, familiar, comfortable.

it was a perfect day.
thank you.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Language Lyrics

I compiled a cheat sheet of Luo for anyone who is planning to spend some time in a Luo village in Kenya.

Monday, October 24, 2011

across the universe

six degrees of separation. i believe its less than that...
with the advent of social networking sites, sometimes i gasp when I find friends i made in opposite corners of the world as being mutual friends of friends a mile away.
the earth seems to be becoming smaller, yet a small village in Kenya or a small town in Missouri seems far away, maybe distance is measured in MB these days and data plans

Sunday, September 11, 2011

hell's heaven

"I am in heaven(zanzibar) at the moment", I wrote to a friend the morning of September 10, 2011.

The day before, Tim asked me if I could upload a photo story by the weekend in preparation for the Open Show Retrospective to be held on October 20 at Rayko Center in San Francisco. One of my photos has been selected to be exhibited.

Truth be told, my story on Joseph was (and is) incomplete. I never got that shot of him with his family -they loved the camera and I could never get a candid shot or that "last" shot I had thought of with a view of the lake.
So I looked for a photo story in my next destination, Zanzibar. On the morning of 10th, I went to the hotel reception for help just like I had the day before. But this time I found one and it was hell.

MV Spice Islander I, capsized in the Indian Ocean off Zanzibar at around 1 AM that morning. 579 people were rescued, 189 are confirmed dead and as of today, scores are still missing.

I was one of the very few photographers at Nungwi Beach, where the ferry capsized and where the victims were brought to shore.

I was also one of the very few who made it into the tents where the victims were wrapped, numbered and their belongings were placed on top of them.

I was one of the three who was given 5 minutes to take pictures in the identification tent right before the friends and family were allowed in.

sometimes, I discovered, you don't need press credentials to get close to the action, you just need a little compassion, respect and guardian angels who help and comfort you, when you need it most.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

time was

Nairobi, Kenya, Africa
It’s back to the hustle and bustle of Nairobi and clinking cutlery in the guesthouse dining room.

Its been 5 hours since I got here and while I wait for a room to check in, I am already missing the village- where the rooster started his daily chant at 4 AM, the cow occasionally chiming in and the sheep and the dog and the bats, and where Maurine’s much-loved radio stayed awake as long as she did- although I don’t miss the insane bat who ran towards the lantern (and hence me) in the evening or the one that was crawling on my bedroom floor one evening or the one that I found in the bathroom…
I have had an exhilarating and exhausting week, including a few 12 hour “working” days, where work included riding matatus, cars, motorcycles, boda-bodas, transplanting kale and tomatoes from the seed bed to the garden, teaching basic computer skills to a handful of youth group men, arguing with the chief, typing documents, waiting, waiting and more waiting for power, vehicles, people, printouts...

But all paid off on Thursday as Pamella, the treasurer, made the first deposit into St. John’s Uhundha Orphans and Vulnerable Children Center CBO bank account we opened that day- a CBO which was registered on Tuesday!!

My last day in the village, yesterday, I have yet another sumptuous feast cooked by five Lakelang youth group girls, who take charge of the kitchen the moment they enter the house-- fresh tilapia that George is sent to “hunt” for by Priscah for my ‘last supper’, as John calls it, and then a very emotional farewell by my friends and family at Uhundha. Priscah gives me a big hug adding, “You have a new home address.”

I will be back- it wasn’t the last supper there...