Saturday, November 6, 2010

Now We Are Six

Rotary House is a remarkable place, as any of our former or current guests can attest -- and Emmah is a remarkable hostess! She is now "mothering" six of us with equilibrium: Andrea from Tennessee via Kentucky, Charlotte and Elke from Amsterdam, Sarah from Colorado via Florida, and Jessie (our YASC volunteer) and me from "all over."

We've had fun celebrating a spate of birthdays together recently -- starting with Nan's and Gerry's in October, and "finishing" soon (only because most of us will depart in December) with Jessie's and Charlotte's. Along the way, we've shared a few Kenyan birthday balloons, too. I'm afraid our neighbors are beginning to adopt some of our decadent western ways...
Add ImageIt was Carolyn from the Comprehensive Care Center who first shyly hinted, "I'll be 22 next week, and I've never had a birthday cake." Then Jessie had a small party for Ruth, who cooks at St. Philip's, after which Doracas -- who teaches at the college -- had a party for her own two children. (It was actually Christian's 8th birthday, but 4-year-old Nema needed a celebration, too!)

Emmah explained to me a few years ago, "We don't celebrate birthdays here." Many Kenyans don't know when they were born. Dates of all kinds weren't especially important until NGO funding and computerized forms arrived on the continent. Until recently, most people simply had to invent their birth dates, as I learned firsthand when I tried to document children's heights and weights for a USAID supplemental food program.

A new law in Kenya this year makes birth registration a requirement. The legislation created a real problem for folks born before 2010 who now need birth certificates to enter secondary schools, universities, etc. Implementation of any new law is a challenge, at best, here -- especially in a rural hospital with only three functioning (but as yet un-networked) computers.

Perhaps we can rationalize birthday parties as being the flip side of that "challenge"? In any case, we're saving our biggest and best party for Emmah. Wish her a happy birthday in your hearts on November 9th! (Photo in her birthday kanga and "flowers" were added post-party.)


chief said...

It's an interesting blog with superbly written stories. Keep it up! FM Mchana, Maseno uni.

Dianne, Dee, Mom, Granny said...

Asante sana, neighbor! It is a gift to be here. I learn something new every day so your wise counsel is also invited.

chief said...

You must be celebrating your holidays overseas by now, aren't you? Your labour in the Lord will not go unrewarded. May 2011 be to you all a year of God's blessings and renewed strength as you purpose to serve Him even the more. Happy new year!

Dianne, Dee, Mom, Granny said...

Happy New Year to all of you in Maseno, too, and Barikiwa!