At the meetings, the women discuss and do bookkeeping on their enterprises, they have opened 3: the bike rental shop, Duka la Baiskeli; a retail store, Duka la Kazi na Sala; and a money-lending fund. The Maasai women also make jewelry. They are also now building a community meeting hall which they will rent out. Me, I just sit on the side, observe, take pictures and notes, which Bosi throws at me in English. And smile a lot. At the end of this meeting Bosi announced that it was my last, to which there was a big roar of disappointment, they wanted to have a goodbye ceremony for me. So, we were told we had to wait as one woman ran off, coming back with a piece of folded wax cloth. They all draped it around me and starting singing, “wewe ni dada yetu kwa dada…” you are our sister in sisterhood… I was totally surprised and so touched. I feel that I have done so little and what I did do, i.e. donate, was thanks to many of you. But such an honor to be honored by them.
But then was goodbye to the bike ladies, and that was tough. Only three of the five were there but there were enough smiles, and tears, for all. Again, I did much less for them then they for me. I am so privileged that they shared their lives with me. I have completed all their stories and will post shortly, but here is Martha, Rebeka and Suzanna. Such amazing women, strong, courageous and open, thank you for keeping me humble.
Aptly fitting, an office tradition is to ask a staff member or volunteer to give a quote each week. This week’s was from Mother Theresa, “Not all of us can do great things, but all can do small things with great love”. Thank you to the Kazi na Sala women for showing me great love.
A final morning trip to the gym then an evening walk past Love (Upendo) Street under a glorious sunset (and final peek at Mme Kili, who popped out her head one last time for me J). Dinner with my roomies then soiree at the neighbor bar for a last night of dancing to Bongo Flava music.
I am now in Zanzibar, enjoying a few days of solitude. Zanzibar, an island off the Tanzanian coast in the Indian Ocean, was once a separate state, but now part of the Republic of Tanzania. Yet culturally and historically it is very different. Founded by Arab traders, the architecture, food and life is very much the orient, colorful, lively and vibrant.
Staying in a very remote place, Kizimkazi, in fact got a bit worried coming in wondering if the taxi driver was taking me into a trap… five thatched roof huts, each 50ft from the ocean. Mornings are a swim in the ocean and/or walk on the beach, long meditations, a late breakfast and then a trashy novel. Hung with a group of young Czechs last night (here making a totally cool multimedia, interactive travel site) eating just-caught fish, and then dancing the night away with them and 2 Masaai to East African music all under a spectacular canopy of stars…alas, every time I think I’m alone in life, the universe responds, “what the?”. I am always surrounded.
Will take a ferry ride back to the mainland to spend a day with a friend from Paris who now lives in the capital city, Dar es Salaam.
Then a few days in Nairobi to visit with another girlfriend who I know from Abidjan. She’s half American and lived in the States, but now back in Kenya where she is raising her gorgeous 5 yr. old daughter and newborn son (2 mos). So I’m looking after big sis while she plays nursing mom and hopefully giving her a wee-bit of rest J! Then, the long haul home, 40hrs (and 2 more Covid tests at $100 each, Pharma is a racket!). Going through Frankfurt, 5hr layover (but it’s a great airport), then straight shot to Denver ( ugh 12hrs on a plane), then home Friday night, April 15th. First things first, haircut, massage and chiro visit, but pencil in a party soon thereafter, there will be rice pilau, wali na maharage, sukuma wiki and I might just try my hand at chapatis!
On a final note, a few of you already know, but wanted to share more widely and ask for your thoughts and prayers. I befriended a young man here, a very gentle soul. He just suffered an absolutely horrific attack. A friendship of his went sour, someone he trusted. In vengeance, this person hired a motorcycle taxi driver to throw battery acid in his face. He was severely burned and has lost his sight. I have visited him in the hospital and his face will heal with some scarring but not disfiguring, but he can only see shadows and his eyes are still gravely damaged. It is not known if he will see again. I will stay in touch with him and try to help long-distance if needed, but ask all of you to keep him in your thoughts. His name is Tariq.
Upendo, mwanga na thank you for following me on this journey,