Day 388: Computer Night

Tonight was computer night here at Tumaini. Actually, it was the night that there is no computer night, and so it is the night that Claire and I take over the computer room for purposes of the blog. We show kids the comments they have received over the past week, organize more stories for the coming week, and generally try to keep fewer than 60 people in the room with 10 computers.

In order to figure out which of the 170 kids come up to the computer room on a given Wednesday, we have to review who has put up posts, who missed last week’s session because they were sick, who we have to tell things to, who we want to write on a particular week’s theme and so on. The final result is a list of about 15 kids that gets put up on our kitchen window. We have found that writing things down and pasting them on our window generates about a million questions, but it saves us from about 3 million knocks on our door so we have decided it is a good use of paper. Our windows seem considerably smaller though.

Tonight, our list was met with mixed approval by the crowd of kids who gather at our kitchen windows to watch us cook dinner every night. This used to make me feel like I was on the other side of the fence at the zoo, but we’ve learned to work with it. I find it perpetually entertaining that the kids that gather tend to be about windowsill height, so all we can see from the sink is a line of eyes and foreheads about three deep from which arises an incessant commentary that we can’t understand.

Jimmy Jimmy James was on our list for the first time and he responded by breaking his two week mute streak to make faces at us and sing us a song in nonsense kid language. Edwin, who was not on our list, began petitioning. He knocked steadily every few minutes. Then he would greet us with a "Roola, Crayol…please…" and then begin explaining to us that he had been up there the week before. We explained that it was someone else’s turn. He would then stomp, turn on his heel, and walk five feet away to sulk as he looked over his skinny little shoulders to make sure we were watching.

Eventually, our dance performance to Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes (music only audible to those of us actually in the apartment…to them we were just jumping around strangely) would get him back over to the apartment laughing until he remembered the list, and he would head for the door again.

Tonight we had an additional responsibility in the computer room. A reporter from a Christian magazine for kids wanted us to interview some of the kids about their lives here. This reporter asked totally respectable, reporter-type questions. However, we quickly found out that respectability did not get the questions understood.

In the end, it was Claire and I working with different groups of very small children to get the information down. I would begin: "have you ever felt persecuted by your Christianity in Kenya?" Blank faces would prompt me to rephrase: "Has anyone ever beaten you because you love Jesus?" While the final answer may have been no, I first had to wade through a mass of stories of the injustices these kids had suffered that day. Happily, whenever I got discouraged, I could listen for the other side of the room, where Claire and her laptop were surrounded by small orphans in discarded Easter dresses as she yelled out questions:

"How old are you? Faith, your sister says your 8, Rhoda says you're seven. Do you have any idea? Seven? Are you sure? Eight? I’m writing eight...So "this one" does not know how old she is? Okay…what standard is she in?"

"What is the state of the Church in Kenya?...Rhoda, do you know ANYONE who does not love Master Jesus? Okay, I'm going with Strong, then…"


christine said...

How funny they watch you cook! Love reading your adventures. By the way--I'm the chick who does the Gan Sabra blog from London. :0)

Gabrielle said...

Funny, funny, FUNNY! I wish so much we could be there with you. Your posts have given us such a clear picture of what it is like over there...

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