A month after I got to Kenya I considered writing a blog about what a typical day of working in a children’s home looked like for me. I think I gave up the idea of writing that blog when I was standing in the grocery store that day trying to buy food for a family of seventeen kids and the power went out. That was seven months ago, and I don’t think I’ve had a typical day yet.
So what is typical? Nothing really when you help take care of seventeen kids everyday but some things become slightly more typical, well, at least for the most part. So, I’ve decided to stop waiting for a “typical” day and just write about today. Today was anything but typical. The kids are off school until Friday. Two of our staff members were gone over the weekend saying bye to a friend who was leaving for America.
The day started at 5 am when one of the kids woke up with a headache. We’ve been waiting weeks for his glasses to come in, but we’re still waiting. After giving him some Tylenol and a glass of water I went back to bed for a couple of hours. The one nice thing about the kids being off school today is that I was able to set my alarm for seven instead of 5:30.
Breakfast was easy. I made chai and Richelle, our newest staff member, got out jam and bread that had been cooked earlier in the week. After breakfast the group assigned to dishes started to clean up and Alyssa, Richelle, and I came up with a schedule for the day. We told the kids they had free time until 9am which gave me a small window to wash my hair in the girl’s bathroom sink and then try to scrub the paint off my arms from the weekend’s operation paint the wooden play ground structure before the slides arrive. Only two interruptions later, I even had time to brush my teeth before making it back to the living room by 8:59.
The three of us divided up the kids and the chores in order to make the day run fairly smoothly. Richelle took the youngest kids out to weed around the carrots, I worked on tutoring three of the middle boys in English all while working on braiding one of the younger girl’s hair. Alyssa worked on composition with the oldest three and a second group of middle aged kids worked on finishing up a landscaping project that they had started on Saturday.
As lunch approached, I heated up left over rice and gathari (beans and maze) from Sunday’s dinner. Alyssa cooked up some cornmeal porridge for when the leftovers finished. Once the kids were full, we saved the rest for afternoon snack. Vicky, who cooks for us on weekdays, showed up right before lunch. We chatted for awhile, and then I got chai and a plate of food for two of the people who work for us.
After lunch it started to pour. I mean really pour. It let up for awhile but then started to pour again. The kids did a fairly good job of entertaining themselves. I finished up braiding one girl’s hair and then helped a different girl take her braids out. Sometimes taking tiny braids out takes as long as putting them in. After playing for awhile the younger kids went down for a nap. We worked on a shopping list while the kids played or helped Vicky roll out chapattis (a nice treat). After that we, hung out with the older kids until dinner.
Since there is no school tomorrow, the kids asked if they could watch a movie promising that if they did they would sleep in until 8am. We took a vote for which move to watch and the second Chronicles of Narnia movie won. After family devotions, I left the kids watching the movie with Richelle and snuck away to try to get this blog written so that when we head into town tomorrow to do grocery shopping I can quickly post it while I have good Internet access.
Half way through the movie I heard the generator make its, “I’m almost out of gas noise.” Since there is no way to get more gas before tomorrow, we paused the movie and had the kids quickly get ready for bed before the lights went out completely. After giving out some cough medicine and praying with the kids they were all safely tucked in bed. Now I’ll probably stay up and watch a movie until 11pm so that I can wake up our bed wetter one more time before going to bed so that she can make it through the night without having to change her sheets.
Just a typical day rolling with what life brings and making memories along the way. Life is never boring when you live with 17 kids, and it is usually anything but typical.