VMM volunteer Eilis continues her blog:
Its Ash Wednesday here in Lodwar, same as it is everyplace else! But ours has been a splendid day so far. At 7.15am we started getting large drops of rain and soon we had a 20 minute long strong drizzle. I had been awake on and off as it was very hot throughout the night but the rain calmed and cooled everything down and has settled the dust around us. It has washed the trees and now those that have looked to be dead are clean and fairly sprightly again. I don’t know if this signals the start of more rains to come or was just a once-off!
Last night I hosted my first party in Lodwar! It was a pancake party for Shrove Tuesday. We always make pancakes at home and was planning on doing the same here and soon I had a little group of us volunteers to share with me, 3 of us Irish but sure a pancake is a pancake! There are 3 of us VMMs so I got a photo to send to Tim in VMM office in Dublin.
Another guest was a Kiltegan man, parish priest of a neighbouring parish so of course he would eat a pancake, two American Xaverian Brothers, and a Sri Lankan lady who is a trauma counsellor. She worked for ages with Tsumani victims in Sri Lanka. She is coming with me on Saturday to an area which is 5 hours drive from here. There I will have a workshop with teachers and matrons from early childhood centres. I am told that the caregivers there are very abusive of the children in their care and use the stick at lot!!
I’m collecting all sorts of recyclable things to bring with me, to teach the teachers how to prepare an award system that re-enforces good behaviour.
If I use shop stuff, they think that since they don’t have those materials, they cannot do this programme so I use only things they see around them all the time – empty water bottles, bottle-tops, pebbles, nails, sticks, sand. I’ve already got the old Christmas and greeting cards from my volunteer colleagues and have made jig-saw puzzles with them. There will be 30 participants so I need something for each of them to take away with them.
We set off here at 5am, have workshop from 11am to 6pm. We will spend the night with nuns at a convent there and travel back the next day.
I need to pack all the food we will need for the journey going and coming back.
Yesterday I found tinfoil in a shop so maybe that will help mind the food especially for the return journey. There are no fast food places along the way!
To-day is my Auntie Bridie’s wake with the funeral tomorrow. The Mass is in Baltinglass and the burial in our local cemetery at Rathbran where she will be buried with Willie Dwyer her busband, in the grave next to where my parents are buried. My husband Paddy is the next grave along and that’s where I’ll be buried if I manage to die near home. While Auntie Bridie and Uncle Peter were around, I had a sort of safety blanket. Now with only Uncle Peter left of his generation, I’m nearest to the top of the live register of the family! Of course age has nothing to do with death but you know what I mean! I now feel more vulnerable!
Delighted to get the catch-up news on all the Feehans in New York. Eileen and Maureen took photos of the graves of those same ancestors when they visited us so many years ago now. And of course they also met the living relatives!
I had an interesting experience a few nights ago. A neighbour here who cooks us breakfast every Sunday, is a former Ursuline sister, Kikiu tribe, who runs a craft centre here. She came running in to say she had a predicament. A group of Spanish visitors were due to come to her shop in the evening after work. They are a medical team of about 12 who come for two weeks every year and perform surgery all day every day at the local hospital. She opens specially for them and sells lots of her crafts. But now she has word that the Bishop wants to see her immediately so she needs someone to open the shop and let the visitors in. Easy, of course I said yes!
The visitors came and were picking up armloads of items and no sign of Cecelia. I hadn’t thought to bring a float, a pencil and paper for totting up the purchases, bags or wrapping material, just standing with a huge bunch of keys!
Not everything was priced – the heat softens and the price tags curl up and fall off! I tried to get them to wait as long as possible but in the end I just had to make a stab at the prices by comparing like or nearly like items and sell as much as I could. My mental arithmetic is not so bad when needs must!
My problem was selling items to people who of course want a bargain but I am looking at the hours and hours some of those items took to make and here they are going for so little a return. I didn’t want to sell so cheaply! And yet I look at prices and think some things expensive when I am the one doing the buying!
The biggest sellers were woven i-pad covers, bone spoons, bead bracelets and cotton aprons!
All those trinkets we see in craft shops have been made by somebody. We want a bargain but the maker/craftsperson wants an income. For a little time I was on the other side of the counter! The perspective sure is different!