We had an incredible experience this weekend. I promise new animals and unique encounters. Eric, what was your experience like?
But first, I think I found a job! One problem in Naivasha, and all of Kenya, are the “street boys.” Street boys are orphaned or impoverished boys forced to beg on the streets to survive. Their ages range from as young as four to teenage years. Many purposely become addicted to snorting glue because it numbs their sense of hunger. Most end up in gangs run by pimps who seize their pound of flesh if the boys fail to “earn’ their keep. For the boys, at least the gangs offer some sense of community and acceptance.
Although living on the street is an accepted way for Kenyan boys to cope with family poverty, girls are expected to remain at home. Mental health issues and family breakdowns have resorted in some girls moving to the street.
In 1999, Naivasha launched the Naivasha Children Shelter for street or orphaned boys, which is completely funded by donors. Below is description from their website:
NCS was founded to help with the growing problem of street kids in Naivasha. Initially launched as a feeding and teaching day-care program in 1999, we now have our own residential site with fifty boys between the ages of four and seventeen. The shelter is their home, their school and their career agency. Our aim is to rehabilitate the boys and enable them to integrate fully into the local community. We measure our success by the number of boys that we get into jobs, by minimal return to the streets and by the sense of belonging that the boys feel, not just while they are at the shelter but even after they have left and gone on to become independent. The shelter is and will always be their family.
I start my orientation process on Thursday, and if all goes well, I should start volunteering and teaching at the shelter next week. I think I’m going to be teaching English and social studies to the secondary or older children, but they said I can teach whatever I want. I better avoid the welding and carpentry classes, but maybe debate….
For more information, visit their website at http://www.ncshelter.org/index.php. The individual stories of each of the boys are especially moving.
Camille! I spent some time listening to Camille this week, and this is what I learned:
- Floss daily! So, the Kenyan government loads the water with fluoride to counter poor dental hygiene. The only problem is too much fluoride demineralizes bones and can cause rickets in children. There is a higher rate of rickets among children in Kenya, which Camille says causes “floppy bones.” On the flip side, poor teeth can make people feel rundown because they're constantly fighting dental infections, and can lead to ailments like heart disease. Keep the fluoride?
- Kenyan parents bundle their babies! Blanketed from head to toe, they are buried and attached to their mothers. There are always large, covered, presumably cute lumps on mother’s backs. There is a theory that such bundling is also connected to rickets. Bundled babies avoid the sun, the sun activates vitamin D, and darker skin already might not absorb sunlight as well, thus leading to a higher rate of rickets. Woah.
- I have been regularly running around where we live. Our house is on top of a mountain, over 7,000 feet high. These are not long runs. I run down, and then I run up. Today, I was puffing along when a posse of guys started clapping and sarcastically cheering me on. It is very important to try to out-impress each other when you’re in a posse of guys. I jokingly responded that the Olympics were approaching. They immediately stopped clapping and said, “Oh wow, okay.” Rio, here I come.
Animals! We traveled to the Oserian Wildlife Reserve on Sunday. Conservationists purchased thousands of acres of land to protect the wildlife in the Rift Valley. One of the most famous and largest reserves is Oserian. It was an awesome experience.
The short 45 minute drive there was almost as thrilling as the actual safari. Check how close these animals are to the road.
|The two impala males on the right started fighting.|
Eric found the fish pond at the Oserian clubhouse.
|Notice there is only one male in this harem of impala. This lucky, or maybe unlucky, male is the only mate for around twenty females. He fights off all combatants for as long a he can. And no, I'm not talking about the warthog.|
We saw rhinos for the first time. A record number of rhinos have been killed by poachers this year in Africa. 633 rhinos have died, leaving them highly endangered and only living in animal reserves. Poachers saw off the horns and sell them mostly to Asian countries, especially Vietnam. A rhino horn can be worth $250,000 dollars. Many in Vietnam believe rhino can be a cure for hangovers and even cancer. It is also a sign of affluence and a status symbol.
Rhino horn is ground and put into tea after dinner. Rhino horn is made of keratin, or the same material as our finger nails. If chewing on keratin is a cure all, then I should be the healthiest person alive. Instead, I somehow managed to catch Brown Tailed Moth disease twice in one year.
It is an atrocious act, but I empathize with the temptation in Kenya for people living in such poverty. Blame the purchaser or the provider?
Unfortunately, five rhinos have been shot in Oserian alone in the past two months. Oserian is trying a novel remedy as a result: removing the horns themselves. They are the first reserve to take this step.
|Cape buffalo leading their babies|
|A young Grevy zebra! An endangered species that was unsustainably eaten during African wars.|
|Our guide described wildebeests the following way: "God created most animals, but a committee created wildebeests." Meaning only a group of minds could create such a weird looking animal.|
|Mother and daughter|
|An eland, Africa's largest deer. He can jump over seven feet!|
|Ostrich with his gray baby to his left|
This giraffe wants to thank you for reading my blog. Have a great week!