We’ve been in Kisumu all of 4 days and have been referred to as “Obama’s Tribe” several times in passing. We have also been told to say “Hi to Obama” by people we meet on the street. Obama’s father’s family is from a village about an hour away from here and the locals really respect him and are excited about his success! I have to say, a smile always comes across my face when a child sings “Mzungu (foreigner)! How are you? I am fine! Thank you!!!” without a pause between any of the phrases. The kids in general are so joyful here and I know that all four of us Kenya Hestons are really looking forward to settling in with our homestay families tomorrow and getting to know the kids in our families and neighborhoods.
What has really struck me during our orientation to all of the KMET programs is the patterns of family dynamics here in Kisumu. First of all, Kisumu has the highest number of bachelors who marry between the ages of 30-40 and many of those men already have several children. And if girls are still in school while they are pregnant, teachers will mock those girls, often making them drop out. It sounds like sex education is present to the extent that girls are told “Once you start bleeding, stay away from boys.” But, often the girls take that to mean “I can’t sit at the same desk as a boy”. They are taught the what but not the why and how. And boys are barely spoken to regarding safe and smart decisions.
KMET really works to give student mothers an opportunity to go back to school. Their Sisterhood for a Change program works to train them in skills as well as empower the women to make good decisions and share their experiences. KMET also has remedial classes for those young women to attend and complete their primary school education. And while these women are in the programs, the early childhood development center takes care and starts teaching the children of these women. I am planning on interning within these programs to help teach and tutor in the remedial classes as well as mentor and help share the stories of the empowered young women. I’m so excited to get started!
On a side note, we had our first excursion today, when we went to the Kakamega Rainforest. We saw monkeys, butterflies, but unfortunately missed out on the forest cobra. I think we were all ok with that, though. The most hilarious part of the day was when we got caught in a very heavy rainstorm after we climbed a very steep path to get up to the look-out point. So, we slid quite a bit on the way down, grabbing onto to trees for dear life!