To the ends of the earth…and back!

Karibu, Welcome, & Bienvenue!

Surprises come in 3’s

1. After a busy few days of large tours last week, I noticed some bricks were missing from their normal home near the mill machine building. Likewise, the door to the machine room had been closed with a rock set in front of it. Mama brought it up to me first and said they’d just received a pig as a gift! Mind you, figuring this out was not nearly as simple as the aforementioned sentence…Mama couldn’t think of the word for pig in English, so instead said the Kiswahili term “afd;kj”. Ellen sort of remembered the word and then after I literally snorted a few times to confirm “pig”, we all erupted in laughter.

2. This same day, one generous couple returned to us after having just left on the last tour. The woman, Cecile, ran out of the car to me and gave me a wad of cash that she and her husband had just withdrawn from the bank…the donation was a lofty sum.

3. Thursday was a bit intense in the sense of information overload and lack of communication abilities. Not only was I still reeling from the pig update and the consequent groundbreaking on the animal’s pen, (apparently the mason and the carpenter do not quite understand the difference between “collecting estimates” and “giving payment”. Ah, the joy. Anyway, Friday was just as intense, as Ellen had just returned from Arusha with the internet-capable phone and we were sitting down with Mr. Nnko for some English clarification. As we finished up our conversation, I mentioned something about a computer. Moments later, Mama reappeared with a “Macbook” box—the same type of box in which my computer had arrived. Skeptical and a bit jaded from the past few days, I thought out loud, “It’s probably not a Macbook, it’ll be an older machine.” I ate my words as Mama handed me the box and I opened it to find a brand new Macbook which had been donated from one of Shalom’s largest donors. Even more dumbfounded was I as the computer turned on and all of Windows XP plus Microsoft Office had been previously installed.

Bienvenue! I have studied French for about twelve years now and actually majored in it at NYU. Over the past two years since graduating, I unfortunately lost some of my speaking abilities, as I was out of practice a bit. I’ve brought some French books with me as well as some learning CD’s and it’s a good thing because last week two French tourists on safari visited Shalom. As I walked out to greet them, I immediately welcomed there and introduced myself, all in English. As they blankly stared back at me, their guide Freddie informed me they’re from France and speak English on un peu. For the next hour and a half, I would have made my parents proud (having paid for my education). Luckily the couple was quite patient as I tried my best to explain details about Mama Warra and Shalom. Freddie was always tri-lingual, Kiswahili, English and French, so he translated for me when I hit a bump in the explanation. Again, luckily the couple was patient! It was really exciting and also really great for the couple to have someone who could speak to them, as I’m positive it was probably quite unexpected. C’est la vie!

“How are you?…Thank you!” So different yet so similar I have really been trying to learn Kiswahili, especially key phrases like “Sit down” “Don’t eat that, spit it out” “What happened and who did it?” and of course the common responses to greetings. It’s a slow walk that I am on, but I am getting there! Recently Saning’o, a lovely Maasai warrior, has been awarded the task of protecting Ellen and me and all others at the volunteer house. Saning’o is wonderful and never without his giant spear and a reassuring smile, so we, of course, feel safe. Anyway, I realized just a few days ago that Saning’o and I are not so dissimilar. Yes, there are obvious differences such as Maasai vs. delicate flower and his insane staring abilities (he’ll stand outside of our porch and just stare at us for ten, even twenty minutes at a time without breaking concentration); however our language abilities are about the same. Here is our normal conversation:

EK: Hello Saning’o

S’o: Hello Eliza!

EK: How are you?

S’o: Thank you!


S’o: Jambo Eliza!

EK: Jambo Saning’o! Habari

S’o: Nzuri insert some Kiswahili with a smile

EK: Asante sana!

Since Ashley and Courtney brought a guitar with them and both Ellen and I had ours, we had a jam session a few nights ago after dinner was over. As our trusty Saning’o stood watching from outside the grills of the porch with Teme, Shalom’s Maasai guard, I offered over my guitar to them. Within moments both Maasai were busy strumming the instruments. I must say, Saning’o has quite a knack for it…yet another similarity! Don’t worry, I will not be seen bearing a spear any time soon! Hakuna Matata friends!

Lastly! All of those interested in child sponsorship: we are still collecting the exact figures needed to create the proper programming and get all of this set up. I promise to have some additional updates within the coming weeks–thank you so much for your patience!

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