Today was an interesting day at the centre. I and the 2 other non-Kenyans in the office were told that today was our day to plan games and teach a song or two. So we had some ideas and I had planned on a fair amount of winging it…as you never really know how things are going to go in a new place and new culture.
So we get there and I wasn’t really sure for the first 10 minutes or so what was going on, but you could tell that something about the day was not typical. When someone finally translated/explained what was going on it turns out that the boy’s hadn’t eaten yet, and were not going to because they were being punished. Because they had no food, they said that they would not sit and listen or participate with us. The boys had refused to wash the floor (well, a few ringleaders did and everyone else followed suit) so the madam’s (the ladies who work at the centre and cook and keep house) were punishing them by not making them food. I was talking to one of the boys who said that cleaning the floor is woman’s work; that men don’t do that. That’s fine if they want to think that they are men, but I told him that men who don’t work don’t eat. They said that they were used to not eating from being on the street so it was ok. I felt so bad for the good boys who wanted to eat, and for the new ones who came over the weekend. So the hour or so we were there, while the TKW staff tried to iron out things and figure out what was going on, I tried to chat with a few boys, then played a little soccer…because chatting in two different languages can only last so long.
Come to find out, it was explained to me on the way back, that one of the security guys started the whole thing because he is having a quibble with the rest of the staff over wanting an office. So he told them not to listen to the madam’s and not to wash the floor. If this guy doesn’t respect them, why should they? And you could see the lack of respect. Going into the office and taking chairs, badmouthing. One of the gals I work with was saying that in her 3 years going to the center she has never seen the lack of respect this bad. The security guys are the ones who are supposed to be disciplining the boys, and it is an obvious recipe for disaster if they are siding with the boys. The City Council (who runs the centre) will have to get involved if things escalate. Which means less than gentle forms of punishment. We shall see what tomorrow brings.
In other news, my visa application is moving forward. Not uncrossing my fingers and toes yet because anything still could happen. Was happy to hear the unexpected good news yesterday though! Oh, and I saw 2 people riding a camel down a busy street on Sunday. And today there are monkeys in the backyard of the office…in the middle of Nairobi.
One more in the long list of reasons why I am happy to be exactly where I am.