Friday, October 2, 2009

Family is everything

The First International Conference in Family Based care came, and it’s now gone. Or is it?

Well, the dates of the conference itself are past; and today a larger number of the remaining delegates were busy checking out and looking up their departure times so as not to miss their flights and travels back to their respective homes.

For me, the day was very long and full. It started at the SOS Regional Training Centre where I stayed last night. After the resolutions were ratified by the delegates in the afternoon, I decided to accompany my colleagues and have the last supper (in the context of us being delegates) with them. I woke up and went straight to the office. I had not been near a computer for 5 straight days, and so my mailbox was bursting at the seams! I decided to respond to the urgent mails, and guess what, all the mails ended up being urgent, especially considering that next week I am the lead trainer in the Keeping Children Safe (KCS) Coalitions’ toolkit for Child Protection.

Talking of the KCS toolkit, it drew the attention of many delegates at the conference. Everyone who came across it at the SOS Children’s Villages booth was practically drawn to it. We directed them to the website where it can be downloaded in English & French.

I got a distressing call in the middle of my morning activities. My house help wanted to leave. Now you would have to live in Africa to appreciate this situation fully, but I will try to contextualize it in the best possible way I know how. Being a mother of three, I am only able to carry out my full time job (and occasional social evenings) thanks to the often irreplaceable yet sometimes overlooked invaluable help of a girl who stays with me and does the work of keeping the hearth (like the divine goddess Hera) This frees me to pursue my interests with little or no worries that my household is running well. Of course I would have to work very closely with her for a period spanning a couple of months to show by example how I like my affairs carried out, such that by the time she’s ready, then I know that indeed the affairs of my house are running just as I would have ran them myself.

It is therefore intensely distressing when one morning such a girl wakes up and declares that she wants to leave; immediately. They say every cloud has silver lining, and this cloud’s one was that my sister was in the vicinity. She took the girls and stayed with them as I made my way through engagements that I had made, and Nairobi traffic, and obligations I had committed to… Its only then that I realized the weight of commitments. I finally did get home, and I met the kids on their way to the house with my sister. Dinner was chips and tomato sauce and the kids loved it.

Bedtime 8 o’clock was observed; now I’m sitting here listening to the silence of the night, the smell of freshly steamed rice wafting to my nostrils. (in response to my distress call, my cousin had made a sumptuous dinner in anticipation of the arrival of the kids). I wonder what tomorrow holds. Family is indeed everything. What would I have done without mine?!

Murphy's Law comes right

You know Murphy’s Law- if anything can go wrong, it will.

The first day of the conference to a certain extent felt like the epitome of this. Delegates were in long winding queues as they waited their turn (and not so patiently sometimes) to sort their registration details. I wonder why they had not come the previous day as we had agreed! I had been assigned to the operations team, and registration at this rate was becoming one of the major operations, so in I dove to help "save the day!" After about an hour and a half, we finally managed to get everyone sorted, and I got into the plenary just in time for the key note address.

Laurent Mbanda of Compassion International was brilliant in his address; he touched on the major isues that surround family based care and his perspective was very fresh. It set the floor for the plenary sessions that discuss the overview of the FBC and the legislative and policy frameworks that are around this issue. Prof Jaap Doek was keen to point out that legislation preceeds policy... whoever said that you learn something new everyday was so right!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Tomorrow's the big day!

Tonight's the night before the Big day! I am feeling very low and depressed I called my partner and we had a bit of a banter on the phone and it felt better.

The day's been busy, I was up as usual at the crack of dawn (or was it at the break of day?) and rushed for the early morning service in Church, meanwhile I left my son at the Sunken Parking in Nairobi under the care of his coach; he's taken up rollerblading and he is very excited about it. I returned from church and joined him for a while. After a couple of heavy falls on unforgiving tarmac that shook my entire being-including my brains- I realised I first needed serious practice before I can join the kids.

Gerich Roller Skating Kenya is a relatively new outfit that has for its mission the introduction of roller skating as a sport in Kenya. It;s still new and there are many young boys and girls who have found their passion in this activity, and upon closer interraction, I realise several were actually in care situations. Hmmm, I think Gerich could be an interesting partner for caregivers in family based care... I make a mental note to follow this up in October.

I then rushed to the venue of the conference, It was mayhem. my colleague Ngendo was having a hard time setting up our booth - she was alone at the time - and my arrival was welcome. Together we made good progress. The Village Director Mr. Wabara drove all the way from the village to bring us the banner - God bless you mightily - and our friend Sawsen was an honest critic to the outcome. This teamwork led to very good results- until the masking tape got finished! By this time my son had called and needed to be picked as it had started drizzling, and I rushed to get him and realized that he had lost his shoes, so he stayed back in the car (and sleep took him as he was exhausted.)

I went back into the venue briefly and helped where I could which unfortunately I believe was not much. Suddenly I was fatigued. But at least everything's in order.

Tomorrow's the big day!