Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Random facts and random stats

For those of you who don't know, I like stats. I've actually been collecting a few since I got here, for all of you to enjoy...

* Times water at home has turned off: 2
* Power outages at work or home: 5
* Times I’ve washed my laundry by hand: 3

* Number of mosquito bites I’ve gotten on the inside of my right leg, from my knee to the bottom of my foot: 14

* Number of mosquito bites I’ve gotten everywhere else: 6
* Pirate ships I’ve seen: 1 (Come on, humor me. Doesn’t that look like a pirate flag?)
* Times I’ve tried to get a picture of a lady carrying her baby on her back: 11
* Times I’ve succeeded: 1

* Hours I spent in the Yehu Senior Management meeting last week: 7.5
* Number of roommates (permanent or temporary) I’ve had here so far: 8
* Number of shillings we’re paying for each Swahili-speaking lesson we get from Adet’s wife: 250

Now, for some facts…

There is one word in Swahili for “aunt” and three for “uncle.” Apparently when it’s an uncle you need to clarify whether you’re talking about your dad’s older brother (baba mkubua), your dad’s younger brother (baba mdogo), or your mom’s brother (mjoba), but when it’s an aunt (shangazi), you can just go ahead and leave it at that.

The respectful term used for older women is Mama. There are two women in our office that everyone calls Mama Rose and Mama Rita. I’ve found it to be really endearing, whether or not this is the actual intention of such usage.

Kenyans are all obsessed with Obama. They sell kangas (A.K.A. sari, lava-lava, sarong, etc.) with Obama’s face on them, and women in the little distant villages in the bush wear them with pride. They even named a street in Mombasa after him. The upside for me: Since Obama is associated with America, Kenyans love all Americans. I think we can all agree that this is a good thing.

Work here has been quite interesting. In short, there is much work to be done and not enough people to do it. I'm doing what I can, though, to simplify the processes they're currently using. I've seen a lot of room for shortcuts, and a lot of possibilities to eliminate steps to make this system a little more efficient. Hopefully I can make some solid changes here that will last long after I'm gone. Next time I post, I'll tell you more about what the work environment is like at Yehu.

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