Friday, July 16, 2010

Banana Planting!

Finally, after almost a month of laboring away on our laptops, entering data and filling in questionnaires and creating way awesome excel spreadsheets that calculate lots of things for us, we got to actually put all our data to work and visit the schools to give them our recommendations. We also got to go to a couple of schools to give Healthy Family eating seminars to the parents of the students in Nursery school.

Giving the feedback to the school was awesome. The staff at Kamuketha were so incredibly attentive and hung on to our every word, not once doubting our expertise despite only being students. It was pretty fun to be able to teach them things that they were excited to try. Simple little changes that will enhance the health of all the students. None of the changes are drastic, but they are realistic and achievable, which is the best part. It's too bad we can't come back next year, because when the new nutrition students who come next year go to visit the schools, they'll be able to see that what we have recommended is being implemented and positively impacting the students.

We went to Ruuju Primary school on Wednesday to give our very first family nutrition seminar to the parents of the nursery school kids. We called the headmaster the day before to see how many parents were expected to show up and he told us around 30. There are about 70 nursery school students so while we weren't thrilled with this number, we felt that it would be a fairly good sized group to speak to and to be able to facilitate a good discussion with. We were a little worried that the 30 expected would not all show, and we would be left with an audience of about 5 people. We weren't really nervous but couldn't help but have some butterflies as we stood infront of a room full of mothers looking at us expectantly. We had a teacher translate for us since we don't speak the language and many of the mothers do not speak strong English. We would say 1 or two short sentences and then allow the teacher to translate. We're not entirely sure what she actually told the women but it took about 5 minutes of Swahili (or Kimaru...not entirely sure)for every 2 sentences of English. We knew going into the presentation that presneting to women in Kenya would be different than presenting in Canada, but I don't think either of us was fully prepared for how extremely different it actually was. Women were trickling in in groups of 4, 2 or 6 throughout the entire presentation, often accompanied by crying children. Since the group of women quickly expanded from about 30 women when we started to well over 100 women by the end of the session, teachers were constantly coming in carrying more and more benches for the parents to sit on, shuffling the already seated women around completely and causing a ruckus as everyone jammed into the little classroom we were lecturing in. It was a little but frustrating to have so many interruptions every few minutes. With new people coming in, the existing audience members being rearranged, children on lunch break playing and screaming outside and children popping their heads through the window trying to get a look at what was going on, it was hard to focus on what we were actually presenting to the women. Luckily, we happen to be in Kenya, and I think Christina and I were the only two that even noticed the distractions. All in all it went really really well! We had the women fill out an evaluation form in three groups to get feedback on how they felt it went and the comments were overwhelmingly awesome. Everyone seemed really happy to have been invited and were excited to try out some of our tips at home. We even got thank you cards given to us with a standing ovation from the women. The card will be hanging on my bulletin board in my room as soon as I get home!

We had another parent session planned for another school the following day and were pretty excited about it since the previous one went so well. When we walked up to Kinyenjere, the school seemed awfully quiet. There are normally kids running around everywhere but there were only a few little kids playing outside. Turns out that there had been a death in the community and the majority of the school, including ALL the parents of nursery school kids, were attending the burial that morning. So we were a little disappointed; not a single parent showed up to our session. We rescheduled with a teacher for the following week and then went into some of the classes and taught the students about the 3 Kenyan food groups instead. Once the kids got bored of the food groups, we taught them all the hokey pokey which they found beyond hilarious. We eventually had a giant school wide circle of hokey pokey-ing going down which I would have loved to get a picture of. I knew that pulling out a camera would mean everyone immediately running towards me to look at the picture I had taken so I didn't even bother trying.

Martin came to pick us up in the afternoon on his way back from Nairobi with 2000 Banana tree seedlings in the truck. We headed to the Muchui Business Center where we were greeted by about 20 women who were waiting for Martin to arrive with the plants. We all crowded into the greenhouse, where polybags full of sterilized soil were all ready and waiting. martin gave us some instructions and we got to planting. it only took about half an hour to get all of the tree seedlings planted but that was more than enough time to get completely covered from head to toe in mud. Somehow Kenyan women manage to stay 100% clean 100% of the time, regardless of whether or not they are farming or having tea with the queen. Us on the other hand, had mud from our toes to our knees, our fingers to out elbows, and even smudges on our faces. The women were a little disgusted with us and ushered us to a water tap to shower off. They weren't quite satisfied with our bathing job though and kept giving us death stares, pointing to our muddy feet and speaking in swahili to one another. Oh well! I loved banana planting. Being able to work with the women in the farm was awesome, and made me feel like I was actually being useful instead of just giving sessions on what they should be eating. They find it so incredible that white people would be willing to help them do manual labour so they were all really grateful despite not even needing to be.

1 comment:

  1. Love the pic, KP! I kind of wondered why you wanted to do that, but it was a great idea to show that you are part of their community. And that you are willing to get your hands (and feet) dirty. The blog on FHF is great too. (The swoopy scarf on your head is quite Kenyan.)

    Your description of the nutr ed session with the interruptions will be a fantastic example to give the students in the Department.