One of my favorite feelings is when you realize that your cheeks are aching because you simply cannot stop smiling. Despite the realization that every muscle in your face feels numb and stiff, you cannot wipe the grin off your face. Working with the Muchui Women's group leaves me feeling like this each and every time we work in the greenhouses, or give a seminar with the women.
This morning we went to the Business Center an hour early to help the group's Champs prepare Chapati and Mokimo and Githeri for the audiance of our seminar to try. These women are awesome cooks and prepared all of these meals using tons and tons of fresh veg as we requested and it was all incredibly delicious. The seminars with the Muchui group always go smoothly and they always make it well known how appreciative they are and you walk away feeling as though you might have actually made a difference and that our recommendations will not only be taken to heart and followed daily, but will be shared amongst the entire community. Today was our last Family Nutrition Seminar at Muchui and it went just as well as the previous 2 had. At the end of the session, we presented each of the Champs with a Khanga (also called lasso) as a token of our gratitude for their generosity in donating their time and kitchens for our seminars. They all put them on right away and danced and sang for us to say thanks. We also received a gift of a dozen eggs from a women whom we had purchased something random for at the church fundraiser. Unfortunately, I was in charge of these eggs and ended up breaking like 3 of them in my backpack and made a huge yolky mess of everything.
After the session, we headed into Meru to attend a Continuous Medical Education Seminar about "Infant Feeding in the Context of HIV/AIDS" that was being put on in honor of world Breastfeeding Week. I think it was actually the first week of August but had been postponed in Kenya due to the referendum. We had been invited by Helen, the Nutritionist at the Meru District Hospital, but unfortunately her baby was sick and she was unable to attend. I'm not exactly a breastfeeding expert so I really learned a lot! It made me realize that I am so not ready to head back to into the classroom at home to take notes and listen to lectures though, my note taking skills are severely lacking. I have however, improved my doodling skills since I got here. The seminar was held in a conference room with a lap top and projector and actually made me feel like I was in real life again. Kind of exciting! It was really cool because although we're in Kenya, we still ran into a few people at the seminar that we knew and weren't expecting to see!
We are starting to feel like part of the community here in Kiirua. When we walk to the Business Center or even just down the street to buy bananas, people are calling to us by name everywhere. The kids are on break from school so the students from the schools we worked with remember us and a trail of "Kaylynne! and Christina!" seem to follow us where ever we go. Teachers from the schools, women from the groups, students from the schools, nurses at the hospital and random people we have been introduced to all remember us and stop us to shake hands as we walk by. Feels a little bit like living in Pleasantville or being the real life Truman Show.
Tomorrow is our very last Family Nutrition Seminar of the trip! It's actually insane how fast time is flying by. We're giving the seminar to the Ruuju women's group but we are hoping it goes better than our first to the group. The first session we had at Ruuju went terribly; the women were chatting the whole time and were not listening at all. They did not seem to be taking us seriously at all. The questions that were asked seemed to be asked simply to get a laugh out of the rest of the group and the answers weren't even listened to. It was really frustrating and made me realize there is no way I could ever be a teacher. It's so defeating to be standing in front of a group of people and feeling as though no one is listening, no one cares what you have to say and that no one actually wants to be there. Made me feel a little guilty for all the classes I've dozed through or all the times I've chatted with the person beside me through a lecture!
Our fingers are crossed that tomorrow goes better and that we can end the Family Nutrition Seminars with a stellar final session!