Children in Mitume

Heros’ Day in Slum

The air carried a stinging smell of rotting vegetable and animal droppings. I made my way through the dusty roads following Millicent and Lucy, my two new African friends. Sometimes we needed to jump over small canals, half filled with a dark liquid garbage mixture that I did not want my foot to slip into. Dozens of children were running after us, calling in a little choir: “Mzungu! How are you?” (Mzungu = white person).

Walk in Mitume
Walk in Mitume

Visiting Mitume Slum

Millicent and Lucy had picked me up yesterday from my paradise-like home in the fully equipped garden bungalow of the Africa Theological Seminary to go to the home of Philip’s mother. Anastasia lives in the slum Mitume in Kitale, where also Philip and some co-workers live. Here, Philip started Otepic, a project with many branches reaching from gardening and an orphans’ care to permaculture education, houses for safe child birth and many others. I am currently volunteering here and will introduce the project later in more detail.

Celebrating at Anastasia’s House

Family and friends gathered to celebrate the Kenyan National Holiday, also known as Heros’ day.  October 20th honors  all those who contributed towards the struggle for Kenya’s independence or positively contributed in the post-independence Kenya.

Parts of Anastasia’s house recently collapsed in a heavy rain and were in the process of being rebuilt. She still had about four rooms left.

Anastasia's house
The left door leads to the kitchen, the right one to the living room. There are two more bed rooms for the many people who sleep there at night.

One was a kind of living room with couches, a coffee table, and a TV. In the adjacent kitchen, there was a charcoal stove and a bed.

Preparing the Feast

When we got there around 1 pm, the women started cooking while the men gathered in the living room to drink, chat and watch TV. So, Millicent, Lucy, Anna, Anastasia and me started washing and chopping the green leaves for the common vegetable that is part of nearly every meal in Kenya.

Preparing food in Mitume Slum
Lucy, Anastasia and Milliscent preparing food for Hero’s Day

Since it was a holiday there was goat meat, cooked with bones that were chopped to little pieces. And of course, we prepared Ugali, a porridge-like meal of maize-flour (cornmeal) cooked with water and vegetable oil.

Chopping goat meat
Chopping goat meat
Chopping goat meat
Chopping goat meat
Ugali cooking on charcoal stove
Ugali cooking on charcoal stove
Washing goat meat
Washing goat meat
Leaves prepared as vegetable
Diverse leaves prepared as vegetable for nearly every meal

While cooking we taught each other songs in English, Kiswahili, and German. Occasionally, we took some time to take pictures in the cooking breaks. This was great fun for the girls. I think they didn’t often have their pictures taken before. I will make sure to get some of them printed before I leave.

Tea break
Millicent and Lucy outside the kitchen for a tea break.
Sisterly love
Milliscent, Silke, Lucy in the kitchen
Fun pics during cooking session
Fun pics during cooking session: Anastasia, Milliscent, Silke

Some ducklings kept us company in the kitchen as they were looking for food in exchange for droppings. Mother duck stayed outside together with two chickens and a pig.

Ducklings in the kitchen
Ducklings kept us company in the kitchen, exchanging food for droppings.
Animals outside the house
Animals outside the house
Pig waiting for its turn
Pig waiting for its turn. Maybe next holiday…

Children Eat in a Separate Room

It took us around three hours to prepare the feast. Since everybody eats with the God-given cutlery, AKA fingers, there is a little washing ceremony before every meal. One person goes around with a jug of water and a bowl so everybody can clean their hands.

Washing cutlery
Washing God-given cutlery before every meal

Then men and women joined in the living room to eat. Children never eat together with the adults but separated in the kitchen. Anastasia took care of them there.

Holiday Feast
Men and women eat together in the living room. Children remain in the kitchen.
Ugali, vegetable and goat meat
Ugali, vegetable, and goat meat

Chinese Soaps at Dinner Time

During the meals, usually the TV remains switched on. A Chinese soap with English subtitles was aired. It was a pathetically solemn mixture of Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones.

Television is always on. Now airing a Chinese soap.
Lucy cleans the dishes after the feast
Lucy cleans the dishes after the feast
Cleaned dishes drying
Cleaned dishes drying

After the feat, Philip showed me the garden in the slum, the first project of Otepic. Again dozens of children followed us around, calling: “Mzungu! Mzungu!” Philip told them: “There is no Mzungu here. Her name is Silke.” So the children looked surprised and tried to pronounce my name.

I will write about Otepic and Mitume slum in more detail later.

Until then, please watch the slide show:


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