Saturday, September 19, 2009

Kids having (or not having) Kids

All too often teenage girls come to the hospital for an ultrasound and find out they are pregnant. Girls becoming pregnant at 14 and 15 years old is a common occurrence. If it’s a 17 or 18 year old pregnant I feel like, “Oh good, you waited a few years before getting pregnant good job.” Lately, I’ve seen an increase in teen pregnancies thanks to the one month holiday the school kids had in August. Their isn’t much to do here in Karungu, its not like you can go to the movies, the mall, or a restaurant, so instead they spent time having sex. I’m convinced that if Karungu had some kind of entertainment pregnancy rates would drop dramatically!
The saddest part of this is that many of these pregnancies end in abortion. Staying in school and having a baby isn’t an option. A girl can’t breastfeed and attend classes, and baby formula is too expensive for most people living here. This is why you see a woman with a 7th grade education, and four kids by the age of 23. They get pregnant, drop out of school, and become a housewife for the rest of their lives. Even if the girl doesn’t go to school she may decide to abort because she can’t afford a baby. If she cant find food and shelter for herself how is she going to care for a child?
Upon finding out about their pregnancies many go to traditional healers (witchdoctors) in the community for an abortion. Oftentimes they are given poisonous herbs to kill the baby or it is manually extracted with unsterile instruments. In both situations we see girls return to the hospital with complications such as poisoning, hemorrhaging, or infection. (Side note: abortion is illegal in Kenya but the law isn’t enforced just like many other laws here.)
These girls are scared out of their minds when they discover they’re pregnant. They never want to reveal who the father is. Either they don’t know because they’ve been sleeping around, or they are afraid to tell because of what the father may do to them. Its not always consensual sex; uncles, brother-in-laws, classmates, and even school teachers are to blame in many cases. Yes, even teachers get school girls pregnant!
As these girls leave the ultrasound I just want to yell, “Your baby has a beating heart and fingernails. Please don’t kill it!”

Saturday, September 12, 2009

eHarmony...Kenyan Style

Daily Nation is the Kenyan national newspaper. It covers the sametopics over and over, political corruption, famine, cholera outbreaks,road accidents, and bogus health advice. Its unreliable and repetitivebut it’s the only news source I have so I occasionally read it.However, I am a faithful reader on Saturdays because of the singlesads that are featured. No, I am not looking to find a husband out ofthese ads, but they give me a good laugh. Here are some of my favorites. Enjoy!

Women looking for men:
-I’m a born-again professional lady of integrity searching for asingle, God-fearing man, financially stable man between 50 -58 years,with or without children, for a serious relationship leading tomarriage. Flashers, married men, jokers, and prisoners, don’t try. HIVtest a must.
-Polly, a single lady, 34 years is seriously looking for an honest,caring, God-fearing, and financially stable black or white man who issingle, a widower, or separated and aged between 35 and 65 years. He should be ready for a serious relationship leading to marriage. He should be from Kenya, USA, UK, Canada, Australia, or any othercountry. I have a 9 year old son. I’m HIV negative, so a HIV test is amust.
-Phenny, 36, HIV positive, simple business woman, committed Christian,and very healthy would like to meet a handsome, focused Luo* man aged37 and 45 years of the same status, with or without children. He must be a committed Christian, resourceful, and ready to commit to a relationship that will lead to marriage.
- Jean, 20 year old, university student looking for a man aged between 43-48 years for a relationship. He must be financially stable, from Nairobi, and willing to go for a HIV test.

Men looking for women:
-I’m a fun loving, ambitious business man and single parent of twoteens who is prayerful, tall, caring, lonely, healthy from CentralKenya, living in Nairobi. Are you a committed Christian, of good character, mature, medium height or tall, brown, a homemaker, a business woman? Then you could be my gift from God. Please text your profile to me for a blessed, lasting relationship and adventure.
-A professional man with a lovely child, medically fit and a Christian who is in his early 40s seeking a mature, down to earth,caring, loving, honest, humble, and God-fearing lady for arelationship leading to marriage. Full medical test a must. Serious ladies can send their details and MUST include a full size recent photo via email.
-Are you a God-fearing, supportive, cute, caring, humble, financially stable, big hearted lady from Nairobi? Paul, 27, a barber, well built,medically fit, romantic is looking for you! Age and tribe don’t matter.
-I’m Owen, 40, an engineer with a one year old daughter, looking for a mature, elegant, successful, self-confident and independent lady for a mutually respecting, no strings attached, intimate friendship. Herreligion, tribe, or race are not an issue.
- 30 year old Kikuyu* shopkeeper in Kwangware is looking for a seriousbrown** lady aged between 20 -30 years to start a true relationshipleading to marriage. She must have completed high school, honest,faithful and business minded. If a single mother the child should be a girl not aged more than two years old.

* name of their tribe** a light skinned African is referred to as brown, not black

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Census Survey or Senseless Survey?

Every 10 years Kenya does a national census. This year happens to bea census year. Surveyors were suppose to come on August 24 between 6pmand 10pm. They ended up counting Christy and I on August 27 at 3 pm.Fashionably late as usual. An accurate national count is almostimpossible because some homes are so isolated. Homes can be miles andmiles apart from each other, and its not like they have street signsor addresses directing you where to go. The census was suppose to bedone in the evening when people were home from work. I definitelywouldn’t want to be a census worker wondering through the bush bymyself in total darkness. Anyhow, the census worker found us at work, she had a questionnairefor us to answer and decided it would be better to return to our houseto complete it. It was completely unnecessary to return to our house,I just think she wanted to see where the white girls lived. She seemeddisappointed when we opened our front door and she found a tiny flatwith bunk beds, metal folding chairs, and a cement bench. Nothingspecial here. First she introduced herself. She is Emelda from Rongo, Kenya. A 28year old school teacher from the Luo tribe. She’s single and doesn’twant to marry a Kenyan because she fears getting HIV. She’s appliedtwice for a US visa and was rejected both times. Her next plan is totravel to Uganda and Rwanda to get more stamps in her passport, thenapply for the US visa again. Apparently, this shows you travel a lotand still return to your home country which increases your odds ofgetting the visa. She even whipped out her passport and showed it tous. Is this really pertinent to the census? We should be at work rightnow. Finally she gets to the census survey. The questions started outpretty normal; name, age, place of birth, religion, tribe, and numberof children. Then it got more interesting when we got to the livestockcategory. Do you own any of the following: chickens, cattle, donkeys,goats, beehives, or camels? No, I don’t own any livestock but we dohave many spiders and chameleons in the house. Next category wastransport. Do you have a bike, car, bus, motorbike, of tuk-tuk(like arickshaw)? No, we walk. Emelda told us we should buy a car and give itto her when we go back to America. Yeah, sure. The last categoryincluded things like computers, TV, and refrigerators. She was shockedwhen we answered ‘no’ to all of them. “You don’t have a refrigerator?How do you keep things cold?” We don’t keep things cold like the restof this community- no perishables, and no leftovers. Then Emelda got on her soapbox about getting to America. Can I goback with you as your visitor so I don’t need a visa? No. Do you havebrothers or friends I could marry just for a month until I get mygreen card? No. Can you find a sponsor in the United States to send meto a university there? No, its not that easy. When you go back to theUS can I have all the things in your house? NO! I just met you 30minutes ago and now your asking for everything in my house? Howprofessional. Of course by the end of the conversation she asked for our contactinformation so we “won’t forget your dear friend Emelda,” as she putit. Usually I use the line “My American phone doesn’t work here and Idon’t check my email very often.” But I gave her my email, she shouldconsider herself lucky. Hopefully “our dear friend” Emelda surveyed other homes quicker. Atthe rate she was going everyone will be counted in a year of two. Ithink the actual results will be published in December. I’ll be sureto update you with the findings. I’m sure all of you are interested inthe number of camels and beehives in Kenya!