Tuesday, January 16, 2007

My House in Malava

My House at St. Teresa's Parish

My Sitting Room

My Bedroom complete with blue mosquito net and laptop.

Lately, I have been very busy with orientation and I haven't had much time to post entries or pictures on my blog, but much has happened since I left home and I will have to catch up in the next week or so. Orientation has been very thorough. I spent a week in Baltimore meeting the other volunteers and started my training, I took the 20-hour flight to Nairobi and spent a week there for more training and Swahili lessons, I've made the 10-hour bus ride through the Rift Valley to Kakamega, and now I'm finally in Malava. Malava is a small village in Kenya's Western Providence 45-minutes from Kakamega that I will call home for the next year.

The house my roommate, Ryan, and I are living in will take some time to get used to. It has plenty of space for two people. It has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a guest room, a sitting room, a kitchen, and a courtyard. The house is completely furnished and includes nice hardwood furniture made by the local craftsmen. Our bedrooms include a bed with sheets, pillows and a mosquito net; built-in shelves for clothes and personal items; and a desk for my laptop or place to write letters. The kitchen is actually in a separate building across the courtyard and includes a two-burner gas camp stove, a very old small gas oven, a refrigerator, and a small pantry. It's a comfortable place.

But before you start thinking about how great I have it you must first consider a few things....there is no running water, we have no television, and the electricity and internetare un reliable so they can go out at any time, sometimes for up to three weeks!

The water that we use at the house comes from the rain. When it rains the water that flows through the gutters on the roof of the house is collected into a large tank. From the tank we must fill buckets of water and bring them into the house. This water can be used for washing hands, laundry, showering, and flushing toilets. To make the water suitable to drink we must filter it for several hours and then boil it for ten minutes or treat it with a chemical.

Having no running water makes the simplest tasks very difficult. The bathroom is always a tricky thing. Our toilet is a porcelain hole in the floor and our flusher is a bucket of water. We must always keep enough water in the bucket to flush everything down. We keep a small plastic basin filled with water and soap for handwashing. We each have a "solar shower" which is a plastic sack that can be filled with water and set out in the sun. When the water becomes warm, it can be hung from the ceiling in our bathroom and a tube with a small plastic shower head can beopened to release the water.

We must also try to conserve water because a drought might leave us with very little water in our tank. To do so we always try to use every little bit without wasting it. For example, when we take a shower we must stand in a bucket to catch the "run-off" which can later be reused as "flushing" for the toilet.

It's all so very complicated at this point.


Erin Miesmer said...

Tim...so what you are saying is that you are getting used to the finer way of life???

Glad to hear you are settling in. It snowed here yesterday finally! Good old Michigan!

Take care and God Bless!

Malia said...

Dear Tim,

You have done a wonderful wonderful job in putting all those deep sharing and nice pictures on your blog! WE(Sissy and I) were so touched by your great effort in making that blog so accessable for us to learn about your mission works and the place that you are visiting! I love the picture of that Matatus, since I have heard it so many times, but haven't seen it. I hope you don't mind if we link your blog to our ndmva.org website and also may use a couple of your pictures as the NDMVA International's homepage pictures.
Take care and God Bless!

Thistle Stop said...

Hi Tim, great pictures -- keep 'em coming! When I was in Kenya, it was before the age of hip-hop, so the matatus didn't have 'chronik', etc., written on them, but the sardine-can description was just as true then. The drivers were famous for taking crazy risks (passing lorries on a blind curve, for example) and running people down if they got in the way. And the pickpockets are an old 'tradition' too! Put your valuables in a pouch around your neck, and keep it under your shirt. Wishing you God's protection, Cyndi