Seven Layer Dip - Sam

Hello friends of the internet!

It's your pal, Sam. Coming to you from my personal mosquito-net tent on a very hot evening in Bungoma. We're all exhausted. Either sleeping or relaxing. I just finished yet another episode of "Glee", which has been what I've been using to shut my brain off for the two weeks that we've been here. It's slowly turned into a scary obsession that has sky rocketed me back into my pre-teen days. I thought it was an innocent thing at first, but when the team said they could hear Kurt's "Defying Gravity" blasting through my headphones at around midnight, I realized that either it was getting a little out of hand, or that maybe I should just get my hearing checked.

Anyway, Glee is forever, me being in Kenya is not, so let's get back on track. We've talked mostly in our previous blogs about the workshops themselves, but I wanna tell you a bit about life outside of the workshops. I apologize in advance for any vulgarity, but I want to be real with you. It's been a bit rough. We're on our third week of not having running water. I don't know much about the world of plumbing, but something happened to our pipes. It may get fixed eventually, but until then, it leaves us without tap water, a working shower, or a flushable toilet. I honestly never thought, "don't dump water down the toilet yet! I have to poop on top of your poop!", would be a thing I would hear so frequently in my life, but it is, in fact, our reality that is starting to feel a bit too normal. It really doesn't help that at one point or another, and at varying levels of severity, we've all been experiencing diarrhea. I think it's a mix of being in a new place/consuming new foods, a symptom of PMS, nerves about the workshops, and actual genuine illness. But "it was just a fart!" has become a frequently used celebratory phrase in our household, and since we can only flush our toilet about once a day, I will never not gag when I hear the words "seven layer dip".

For bathing without a proper shower, we have found two successful methods. The first and most common is filling one or multiple large buckets up with water from a large barrel that we keep outside, (which I should add is brought to us by a freakin' DONKEY, how cool is that), splashing around in it in the shower room, and then dumping the whole bucket on our heads to clean away all the soap. Some of the team does this independently, and some of us help each other out, but I consistently ask Sydney to dump the water on my head for me. And now, I'm honestly at a point where I don't know if I'll ever be able to bathe without Sydney again. Maybe it's her nurturing, maternal energy, but getting water dumped on me by Sydney is something I always look forward to. She even wraps my towel around me when she's done. When we're back in Canada and I'm bathing at home by myself, I imagine myself standing in the shower, "Gravity" by Sara Bareilles is playing on repeat in my head, and I'm probably crying, as I let the water from the showerhead hit my lonely, lifeless body. I'll miss being bathed by you, Squid. The second method that we've found that we love is BATHING IN THE RAIN! Anyone who knows me knows I absolutely love the rain. So when it's golden hour and the fresh rain is coming down, we'll grab our soap, run outside and let mother nature do her thing. It's actually magic.

Lack of running water was a setback for a while, but I honestly have kind of forgotten about it. It's just our norm now. Especially with everything that's been going on with our container being locked up, it's been hard to worry about anything else. Speaking on that, we're so so so grateful and absolutely BLOWN AWAY by our community for the incredible amount of support we got and how quickly we got it! It was about 11pm our time when we posted our video/Go Fund Me page because Kenya is 7 hours ahead of Ontario, so we all went to sleep, but y'all were just getting started! The next morning literally felt like Christmas morning. We woke up before the sun even came up, shaking each other awake, crying tears of joy, because we woke up to over $10,000 already having been donated to us! And we got to spend the next couple hours watching it surpass our goal of $12,000. We were SHOCKED at the people from our lives who took the time to donate or share. We had people donating that were acquaintances from high school, friends of friends, friends of parents, exe's exes, students, seniors, people none of us had ever even heard of. And then, of course, we had all of our regular supporters who we LOVE MORE THAN ANYTHING! We are just filled with so much joy and love for each and every one of you. Our community is 100% of the reason that we are able to do what we are doing. Something we've been continuously emphasizing to the girls in our workshops is the importance of community. Between the six of us, we've created such a strong sense of community and sisterhood within each other, but knowing that we have a community of hundreds and hundreds of incredible humans thinking about us and supporting us back home makes it that much easier to preach the beauty of community every day to these girls. So thank you to each and every one of you. We truly would not exist without you. In the next few days, Zabde and Justus will be leaving for Mombasa to retrieve our things for us. We are SO excited to finally put those cups in the girl's hands. It's been really hard having to look at them every workshop and tell them that we don't have their cups for them yet, but they're all incredibly patient and understanding girls, and we've never doubted even for a second that they'd be getting the cups that they were promised.

On a lighter note, I got a marriage proposal last week. We pulled up to a Shell to get some gas, and one of the workers was looking at me through the window of our matatu. He began talking to our drivers, Maebo and Abdul, and after their conversation, he observed my uterus tattoo for a very long moment, fist bumped me through the window, and walked away. I then found out that he offered Maebo and Abdul 20 cows in exchange to marrying me. Apparently that's a very impressive amount of cows. I'm not gonna lie to you, this made me feel like Lizzie McGuire. I've finally found my Pablo. Just waiting to be whisked away on a Vespa in the Roman sunset. Romance is alive and well here in Kenya, folks.

This trip has been full of obstacles so far, including but not limited to: cockroach infested bathrooms, bug bites, sun burns, a break up, ants crawling on our faces while we're sleeping, no running water, multiple power outages, explosive diarrhea, MALARIA (everyone is fine, don't worry... stay tuned for the full story on this), late night vomitting, more panic attacks than I can count, SO many tears, having to use our neck pillows from the plane as pillows because our actual pillows were shipped and are locked away with the DivaCups, not being able to eat fresh fruits/vegetables (carbs on carbs, yo), and homesickness. But as soon as we're with those girls, or we come home to the smell of Martha making us fresh chapati, or we see a little mtoto (baby) on the street, or the sun starts to set creating one of the most stunning golden hours you'll ever see, it makes it all worth it. I'm down to smell kinda bad and pee out of my butt for 5 weeks if it means I get to do what I've been doing with the greatest human beings that I know.

I wish I could lend all of you my eyes for just a moment so you could see Melissa's contagious positive energy that she consistently has while talking to our girls, Nicole essentially running laps around the school yard taking beautiful photographs and sharing stories about menopause, Carol answering the girls' difficult questions about sex, rape, and virginity with more strength than I even thought was possible, Sierra taking the time with each and every girl in our class to sit next to them and look them in their eyes so that they feel more comfortable, gradually gaining each of their trust with her wit and charm, Sydney's eyes lighting up when she talks about the personal connection that she took the time to form with each of the girls in her group, Zabde's smile when he gets to see Kenya through our eyes and teach us all about the culture, and I wish more than anything that you could all be here to see Malindi at the beginning of each workshop, looking out into a group of beautiful Kenyan faces, saying, "My name is Malindi Ayienga. My mama is from Toronto, and my baba is from Nambale, meaning I am half Canadian and half Kenyan", and being met with thunderous applause, acceptance, and love from her Kenyan family.

I can not contain my pride for this team. I love them more than I could even begin to try to express, and I can see each of us growing and learning exponentially every day. I'm about to say something that's cheesier than our seven layer dip, but with this group, there has yet to be an obstacle that we couldn't overcome.

Thanks for getting this far. There will be more blogs to come. Stay tuned. xoxo.

- Sam

Malindi Ayienga