Sunday, January 16, 2011

Alone in Kenya

Last weeks can get a general name as bad weeks. So, I start complaining.

Kenya made me a nice new year's gift - news that somebody had stolen everything valuable from my mudhut, including my documents and bank-card. After calling to the bank and looking for the Estonian representer's contacts in Kenya, I suddenly realised how easy it is to get into many problems, by just losing these few things.  

After few days, I got news that my documents are there. Life seemed so easy - no hussle with the new documents. After I reached to my hut, I could see, that these people were not joking - they had taken really ALL that had value, starting from money, bed-sheets, blankets, parafin lamp and cooker, ending up with my old t-shirts and bag full of old donated cloths. They even took flashlights and medicines. I could be only happy that my flute did not have any special value in their eyes. In general, the damage was not bad, because all my valuable things were with me in Iten.

So, as smarter people in Estonia say, during the time of problems you get to know, who are your friends. So, I could see that how people, to who I had given a lot of furniture + matress + blanket + sheets ect last year, how they started complaining about the blanket and matress that I did not replace (because I had given them these things last year). So, more "problems" were created out of nothing, mainly connected to the ownership and so on... people have just very different values from, no long thinking. Life is not very long to waste it on people who are not worth it.

Renting a new place had only one problem. As usually, my decisions need to be put into the actions already on the same day. With replacing the things and buying food, the last cash I had, was used and my bank card access was still limited - cause I closed it myself after the stealing and opened later, but the system was slow by opening it. So, I found a very nice (for my standards, yes) room and even told my story, hoping that I could pay few days later, but they asked the rent right away. So, I called to my friend, who sacrifised herself, by driving with the broken bicycle and brought the money in 30 minutes. Yep, I could see, who I can ask for help here.

So, no big discussions, the door was opened and I took my few bags inside and continued the life in style I know from Iten. No furniture, slim matress, things on the ground, cooking with parafin-cooker.

In general, the week was full of disappointments. For example my good friend who did not actually understand the word "borrow" and was suprised, that I actually want my 2000 shillings back: "I thought that you just gave it to me". This kind of behaving would not suprise in Kenya, but I was suprised by my friend's attitude. Or others who in general do not understand the amount of work that is actually behind all the support I manage to get for these children here and demand only more and more. "Why my children are not in the list" and so on. People make me feel even guilty. They think that if somebody is not supported, it's because I do not want to support them, not that the rescources are actually not easy to find. Only one person has said me "thank you". Many people see me as somebody, for who everything is possible. Seems like in their eyes I could help everybody, if I only wanted. People just do not understand. They put a huge responsibility on my shoulders.

I was just thinking that after this experience in Kenya and after hospital work in Estonia, I am never able to live careless life, worrying only about my hair and cloths, my personal income, the restaurant im eating in the evening and about my free time activities. I feel responsible for more people, because I know them and I have seen, how easy it is to change or save a life. Yes, they are one of the billions, but you and me are also one of billions. I'm wondering, how people often see africans as one big nation who anyway live how they live and there's no point to help them and in the same time the small-small problems of these Western people are made SO tragic, but somebody with big problems seems not to be important even to discuss about. So what, we are also just few of the millions of Eastern-Europeans.

To continue my thoughts, I currently read some Estonian newspapers that my visitours brought. Maybe I have not regocnized it before or maybe it's some new trend, but through most of the articles comes the fear of losing our nation and identity. While living in the country, where people speak 3 languages fluently (tribe language or "mother tongue", swahili and English), it is strange to even remember all this Estonian-language centered discussions in my country, where everything needs to be translated and so on (no bad words about that), but in the same time I do not get a job despite of my qualification and experience, simply because I do not speak Russian. And this is a general case - I can not even apply, cause most of the companies demand Russian. And then there is a big question that WHY people leave Estonia. Honestly, for me this is one of the reasons. Last year, when I was working in Sweden, I had to make phone calls to several countries - Sweden, Norway and so on. And I did not have communication problems. But the only problem occurred, when I called to Estonia. I had to call to two companies based on Tallinn. I was very happy finally to be able to use my own language, but what do you think, both times the person in customer service was not able to hold a basic conversation in Estonian and was constantly talking with me in Russian that I do not understand. Anyways, I think it's time to return to my Kenyan adventures.

So, the final "downer" came yesterday, if people assumed that I am definitely the one who pays the office rent without questions. If I said that the donated money is directly for children and families ONLY, then came sentences like "try to fundrise" or something. If I started talking about project that could help them in long term, people claimed me that no, we need the money now. And there was not told any other alternative as me. I was angry to be put this pressure and made to feel guilty about the thing that I had never promised to anybody, even not mentioned. So, after I expressed my opinion, people got silent and angry as well. One of them even looked away all the time. I m wondering that what do they think, if they treat me this way, do I really want to come back next time for such a long time. Like this place would be the only one to volunteer in the world. I guess not. And I am writing it here, not to express my anger (that I already did yesterday), but to give the realistic picture of the challanges that one needs to face here.

The constant imagination of a white person having endless money, is something you can make fun of in the beginning and even understand later, while thinking about it from the distance at home. But if these people have seen your problems, have seen you moving because of the attitude of others, have seen your things being stolen, and then they still behave with you not based on who you are, but based on the imagination of "white", then what? I would have never been treated the way I was treated if I had been a Kenyan. Next to me was sitting a man who has one business and who will open soon the second one and nobody asked him the money, instead they asked me, who has been volunteer for 2 years. Because people simply do not understand. And sometimes it may seem that they do, but most of them actually never will understand. So this is the thing that makes a Europen, who stays here alone, feeling sometimes stressed and lonely. Of course there are exeptions, but after meeting many...I mean MANY Europeans and people from USA and Australia who stay in Kenya, I know only one who does not have a serious issue with all that. 

Yes, there are days when you do not notice it, there are days when you make fun of it and there are days when you accept it, but some days you just feel tired of it. 

Not to finish with so negative things, I have here people who really care about me and who see me, not the colour. Last year I could not say it, but now I can.

People say that your new year continues the way it started. We will see :)
I am ready for everything, just bring it on.

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