I thought I would write about something more fun and ordinary than tear gas and travails around sick babies… I have a house!
After more than 8 of living in a single bedroom in a group housing situation (plus a year of homelessness on both of my continents), I moved into a little Kenyan house all to myself this weekend. Hooray!
The moving process was fraught with the usual chaos of any logistical challenge here. On Friday at 4:30pm, I still didn’t know for sure where I or my team would be moving after a forced move out of our current houses on Saturday morning! However, as these things usually do, it all worked out in the (very) end, and Saturday morning brought a massive move of a dozen people into new houses over the weekend.
Admittedly, I have had fundis (handymen of various sorts) working on the house for the last three days. But after 3 days, I now have a working toilet (well, almost there after two complete rebuilds — it can’t flush toilet paper, but it does flush now), a working sink (faucet replaced, major leak repaired, only a minor leak continuing to the floor), and a working instant hot water heater for the shower (quite variable, but I suspect that’s related to a lack of adequate power to the house.) In the scheme of housing here, it’s fabulous! Plus, the novel concept of my own space is quite exciting.
The previous occupants of the house were Hindu. The house is still permeated with the smell of incense from their worship room (which would be lovely except that I seem to be somewhat allergic to it), and I have these little decorations around the entrances to the house and rooms. It’s hard for me not to think about the Nazis with these swastikas, but I have learned that ‘swastika’ means “It is”, “Well Being” or “Good Existence” in Sanskrit and represent the god Vishnu and the sun for Hindus. I’m not sure whether I will do anything with these decorations, painted as they are on the concrete, but they have been something to puzzle over. In a way, they are a good reminder of the conscription of lovely ideas for evil purposes. I would hate, though, for them to cause anyone consternation or pain by seeing them there.
Decorating a house offers a new world of possibilities here! Finding some basic furniture and appliances for myself was challenge number one. (I am scavenging!) Houses here do not come equipped with appliances like refrigerators and stoves, so this takes some work. Now that I am getting the basics sorted out, I am starting to dream about how to make this little concrete house a cozy spot. For now, I am adding some tiny touches of my own through locally made blankets and pillows…
And I have roses!