Monday, July 13, 2009

My First Market Day

In the afternoon we went to the market at Akala, which was a lot of fun. Some drunk guys tried to get us to hang out with them, and I made friends with a whole group of little kids and gave them mangoes. Clarice made friends with a woman named Joyce, who walked with us around the market. The unfortunate thing is that everyone is selling the same things, so the competition is fierce. No one has a competitive advantage, other than the location of their table shop. If only there were a way to collect their goods and sell much of it in bulk. The rest could be sold in a central location so that everyone would have access to food all year round, not just immediately after the harvest. It would be more like the villagers going to a grocery store. This would prevent a lot of food from going to waste because whatever isn’t sold on a given day must be eaten or left to rot since there is no refrigeration.

We picked Steve and his dad up from the airport and then ran our last errands before returning home. While we were there, I met the Prime Minister’s son, Fidel. He calls Clarice “Auntie Moremba” which means Auntie Beautiful in Swahili. She was embarrassed, but it was so funny. We ate soon after we got back to the house. I really like the food here so far. We have lots of good salads, chicken, tilapia, beef, rice and so many other delicious things.

Agri, who is also Clarice’s nephew, is the caretaker of the lake house. He stays here all year and keeps the place up. Then there is Solomon, who also works here, but mostly in the front area, keeping the area between the entrance gate and the gate to the front yard looking nice. Agri seems to be about the same age as me. Clarice said that he has been educated up through high school, but he isn’t able to go to college because his family can’t afford it. And over here, it’s not like the government is going to help you.

Even many of the young people who are college educated can’t get jobs, so there are a lot of idle youth in the country. Many strive to get to Nairobi because anyone who has a child in Nairobi has bragging rights almost. Little do they know that most of their children end up in Kibera, the largest slum in Africa, home to about 700,000 people. Everyone in Kibera lives in a tiny, one-room house with their entire family. They have no access to clean water or toilets, and they mostly work as casual laborers or in the factories. There is basically no industry outside of Nairobi, so anything manufactured is made there and shipped to the other cities around the country. And so our work becomes more complicated. We are limited in terms of what types of materials and fabrication techniques are available in the area. I’m sure we’ll figure something out.

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