“Let’s go to town to get veggies, guys!” I shout to my kids across the house.
“Yeah!” they squeal as they come running to the kitchen to put on their shoes. I’ve packed a backpack with my cell phone, baby carrier, several plastic bags for carrying the vegetables, EXACT change for the public van (they try to overcharge me because they think I’m a tourist), water bottles for the kids, and the money I need for the market.
We padlock the doors, let the dog off the porch, and off we go. My children ages 2, 4, and 7 are good at walking fairly long distances without complaining now. We start on our hike through our neighbor’s garden to find a small, wooden, broken down gate that leads to her yard.
“I want to see the cows, Mommy!” Butterfly cries.
“Me, too! Me, too!” the others chime in. Each child gets lifted up to see the cows chewing on the corn stalks cut from the garden. One cow sticks her nose up to Makena and gives her a good sniff. Then she backs off as if she’s afraid to be touched by her.
“Honk! Honk!” Seven geese come chasing after us as we trespass through their yard. Andrew grabs a stick and swings it madly to keep them away from his sisters. If you turn your back to them, they’ll give you a good nip on the leg. Our neighbor says they are better than having a guard dog because they are so noisy and vicious!
We pass the skinny dog chained up in a little dog house, and a couple of chickens try running after us as we go through another gate. Then we walk down a tiny path that goes through the grass being grown for the cows. The grass is over six feet tall, and the kids love hiding in it despite my efforts to stop them. We reach the end of our ‘garden short-cut’. Each child hops over the small barbed wire fence, and we are on someone’s dirt driveway.
As we get on a bigger dirt road, we are only ten to fifteen minutes away from our destination, the matatu stop. Butterfly and Makena love looking for newborn sheep and goats on the way. This morning there is a brand-new baby sheep that can’t even stand up yet. We pause to watch him try his first attempts at nursing. Pretty soon he gets the hang of it as his tail wags in delight so we move on. It’s dusty, hot, and dry, but we are almost there.
Finally after crossing a busy road, we get on a matatu. Makena, Andrew, Butterfly, backpack and I all squeeze into one seat as we ride about 15 minutes to town. We stop every five minutes or so to let on more passengers. The people in front of us turn and stare at the children because they’ve never seen ‘white’ children before. They watch and stare as if they are thinking, “I wonder if they really behave like children?” Sometimes I think ‘if you’re going to stare, at least SMILE!’ So I always give them a big grin. Usually they smile back, but sometimes they just turn around and don’t look back anymore. Since I’ve never met a stranger in my life, I strike up a conversation with the person riding next to me. This lady is very friendly, and we talk all the way to town about breastfeeding of all things. I have lots of ‘15 minute friends’.
We arrive at the busy part of town, the matatu stage. The lady I befriended next to me helps me get the children and my bag off the van, and we are off to the market!
As we walk through the masses of people, a street boy starts following us saying, “Mazungu, buy me bread!”
He follows me for about 5 minutes pointing to each shop that sells bread, but I keep telling him, “If I buy you bread, you’ll sell it and buy glue to get high.” He gets angry with my persistent ‘No’s’ and finally stops following us. I turn around to see if I’d done the right thing, and there he is sniffing his bottle of glue just 2 feet behind me. My heart just breaks! I wanted to feed him so badly! It was so hard for me to say no. But I learned my lesson about the glue the hard way.
So we continue towards the market. We see a friend selling cabbages and buy an enormous cabbage from her. After we buy all the things we need, we get a phone call—Daddy’s in town and has a taxi waiting for us! So we walk as fast as we can. I’m carrying heavy bags on one arm and holding Butterfly’s hand with the other. Andrew is holding Makena’s hand and wearing the huge backpack that goes down past his thighs. Finally we make it! We see Johnny in the taxi. We load up, and go home!
There are over 800,000 orphans in Kenya according to the UN. We are trying to do our part by being a catalyst in the local churches in Kenya encouraging them to reach out.