Jambo Again! Part III

Categories:Kenya

Jambo means “Hello” in Swahili.

As we drove in every day – in addition to savoring the amazing beauty of the landscape – we encountered handsome people out in the bush – mostly shepherds (boys and men) tending and feeding their livestock. I’m guessing that three big buses full of white peeps rolling down the long dusty road isn’t a super common sight because the kids would start barreling towards the road, waving – many times with both hands. We would lean and wave and smile big toothy smiles and yell “Jambo!” in return. It was so fun…


On Monday, we split into our service groups. Some treated the feet and hands of those affected by jiggers (condition where a small black flea embeds itself in dusty, dry skin, lays eggs, and feeds on the flesh and blood of its host; this is a monumental issue because many of the kids don’t have shoes. at. all. Affliction with jiggers can lead to the loss of fingers and toes, paralysis, and social ostracism – a modern leprosy, so to speak). Another group worked to roof a water tank that is going to radically change how people live and feed their families once water is gravity-fed to many villages who currently walk great distances to the nearest water source. I was a part of the group who worked in the schools with the children. We were allowed to play with them, make crafts with them, shower them with affection and attention, and teach ’em straight Jesus, which was so fun…

When our big white bus pulled in to the school yard at Uasonyiro Primary School, all of the children were outside drinking their porridge (there is currently a government-subsidized feeding program in the schools because the area has been in drought for an extended length of time; enrollment is up because food is provided. The government plans to end the program soon, and the reality is that fewer kids will have the luxury of attending school when food is no longer distributed). There were around three hundred and fifty or so of them, and they quickly encircled the bus. We stayed put while James, one of our trip leaders, went to discuss plans with the teachers. The children stood around, looking up with interest and curiosity – giggling, laughing, and waving shyly. After a couple of minutes of us watching and smiling at them and them watching and smiling at us, a guy on our team yelled a hearty “JAMBO!” from the back of the bus, and the entire group of them yelled “JAMBO!” back in unison 🙂 It was on after that…


We all began conversations from the bus with small groups of kids standing closest. “What’s your name? What’s in your bowl? How old are you? How are you?” Their striking faces and their British accents could melt butter. They would reply and question as well. “My name is Susan; what is your name? This is porridge. I am fine, thank you.”


James returned to share the plan for the morning, and then we prepared to join them on the ground below. When the first person from our bus descended the steps, they corporately and spontaneously erupted into a cheer of excitement and approval.

The older school – up the road a bit – walked over to join us all. Five hundred sweet African school children. My heart be still. It was definitely a bit overwhelming because they all wanted to see us, touch us, feel our hair, hear us speak, (lick one of our team members; she smelled tasty :-), etc… Eighteen of us to five hundred of them. Some of us had lotion and fingernail polish, and they went nuts. I know that I didn’t make it ten steps from the bus for a good hour. “Cutex!” they called as we painted (which you probably know is a brand of nail products – great commercial that would have been!). They would stand in line (boys and girls) to be polished; then they would go scratch off that color before it dried well and get in line again for a new color from a different nail technician. Very funny.

After painting just about everybody a few times, we put the polish away to play. The guys had taken out jump ropes and soccer and volleyballs, which were an ENORMOUS hit! I looked over the playyard to see a game of duck-duck-goose over here, singing practice/performance over there with teacher Helen, ballgames and races in different patches here and there. Again, I was pretty stationary as I was receiving an education in the discipline of partner hand clapping/slapping games to great fun songs that I couldn’t understand the words to. I loved it and would sing the sounds I heard but had no clue what I was saying. They were patient with my learning and would practice with me over and over and over and over again at my request. I was determined to master what they had to teach, even though they laughed at my goofy flubs…

Class 2 - You're gonna love 'em...
How do you say Part II in Swahili?

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