Friday, July 27, 2012

The Beautiful Faces of Children

The best part of my day is often my walk to school.  It is about a 15 minute walk to St. Catherine's where I teach.  I walk along a dirt road that weaves its way around fields and up and down hills.  Most of those I meet on the road are children.  They are on their way to or from school and they love to greet me, especially the nursery aged children.  There is almost always a crowd of kids. They all stop and stare at me, not quite sure wether to smile or not, and then one of them will  put out their hand for a shake.  I don't just shake their hands but I make a big circle with or go way up and down which makes them all giggle with delight.  Then everyone has a laughing smile and wants to shake hands. 
Other times while walking I will meet a girl-child carrying a plastic container.  Almost as soon as girls can walk they are expected to fetch water from a well or a stream, find fire wood for cooking, and care for younger siblings.  Their is no complaint or frown on their face but an acceptance and peace about life as it is.  Life for young the girl-child has improved-it is now no longer common practice to be married at 13 or 14- going to school or receiving some sort of training after elementary school is more and more common.  The young women of high school age are strong and courageous, willing to defend their right to education. 

As always for me, God is in the faces and encounters with children.  Really, the pictures say it best...

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Initiation and Graduation

It has been months since my last posting...there's no way to write about the many things that have occured since then. But I will try to share a few things
 Just after the new year the boys who were undergoing the ritual of their Pokot rite of passage came out after a month of seclusion.  It was a great celebration for the people of our village.  The photos above give you an idea of the celebration.  The rite of passage occurs every 3 to 6 years for the Pokot, this year was chosen by the elders and so boys all over our area were undergoing this long ritual of becoming adults in the tribe.  There are boys who do this experience in "the bush" and follow the old traditions of the tribe and those who are chrisitian who have an experience that is adapted to reflect christian values. I was able to witness the celebrations for both groups of boys.  As an outsider, a muzungu, I wasn't sure how the Pokot people would respond to me but the people could not have been more welcoming.  They were so happy to have the sisters celebrate with them this momentous event in their life.  I was very touched by how gracious the people were and how they welcomed me to witness the celebration of their Pokot rite of passage.

In February the young women of our poly tech graduated with their certificates in Dressmaking and Tailoring.  These are strong young women who have great courage to better their life.  For most students, going to a poly tech school  is what they do if they do not make it into secondary school.  The young women range from having no formal education at all to a few who have completed 8th grade.  This year I have the joy of teaching English and Business in the poly tech school. One day I was talking with them and they asked me if I could take them to the nearest town, Makutano.  None of the 27 students have ever seen a paved road, none of them have ever been out of the village and to a town or city, but they are eager to have the opportunity to learn and grow.  I'm hoping that later in the year we will take a trip down the mountain to the nearest town so they can glimpse more of the world around them. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Nativity Play 2011

Christmas in Chepynal was a very different experience than any other. Christianity is still young here... so December does not focus as much on Christmas as it does on the traditions of the Pokot. December is the month when young people are initiated as adults into the tribe and for the boys this is a particularly long process (more to come in the next blog). The December camp invited the younger children in the town to take part in activities focused on Christmas. The children learned some Christmas carols, made decorations for home and church, and practice a short Nativity play. For over a week we did many simple activities to help make the season beautiful for the kids and families here. The children performed their play on Christmas morning before mass. The children all arrived at church on time (a small miracle) and were very excited. The play brought alive the story of Jesus' birth and was a wonderful way to evangelize.

For me, seeing the kids up there singing and giving glory to God was Christmas, Jesus coming into the world again.