Well folks, it’s Monday, and you know what that means. It’s time for another Maseno Minute!
We hope you had a good weekend, filled with Saturday morning cartoons and breakfast in your PJ’s. When I was younger, Saturday mornings were for “Recess” and “That’s So Raven”—all of the shows that weren’t on TV the rest of the week because we didn’t have cable. Do they still show “Recess”? From all of us here at TLC, we sure hope so. It’s a quality program.
This week’s Maseno Minute is taking you back to Maseno, Kenya, to give you a retrospective update on the building of Jemo House. We weren’t as connected when all of this was happening in real time and—I know—we’re sad about it too. But hey, at least we’re together now.
At exciting and elusive Stage 2 in our construction, building is progressing nicely. Our crew consists of 28 hardworking Kenyans led by our contractor, Michael. Michael is very “non-Kenyan” in that he hires women to work on his crews. I suppose that’s kind of a “non-world-like” thing, though. How many women in hard hats do you see on construction sites, even in the U.S? We admire Michael for this, and feel much safer in a house built with both male and female input—how the world has survived for this long using facilities primarily constructed by males is a mystery to me.
We started digging a well, but soon abandoned that idea when we discovered the water seeping out of the red dirt was salty. This happens sometimes in Kenya—wells often yield salt water, even though Maseno, and much of Kenya, is not at all near an ocean or body of salty water. And nothing puts a damper on a good well like a plentiful amount of salt.
But hey. We’re not salty about what goes on beneath our feet. We now have a 10,000 L vat that catches rainwater the kids use for showers, cleaning, and drinking. The old Jemo House had one pit toilet, not connected to the house, which was most unfortunate on rainy nights. Jemo House 2.0 has four pit toilets—two for the boys and two for the girls—which are connected to the house, eliminating the need for frightful midnight dashes to the potty. We also now have four bathing rooms for the kids, so there won’t be a line for bucket showers in the morning. Though for us here in the U.S. this may seem more primitive, Jemo House is considered to be a very technologically advanced home, as running water isn’t a common luxury.
But let’s pause for a moment to dwell on the beauty of a good bucket shower. Have you, dear TLC reader, sitting there in your matching plaid reindeer PJ’s—we admire you for breaking them out in August—ever taken a bucket shower? If not, you definitely should. Here is a step-by-step tutorial on how to do so:
1. Wait until the most freezing part of the day. (This helps give you a true and authentic experience.)
2. Find bucket and fill with water.
3. Pour water over self.
4. Embrace goose bumps and emerging hair follicles as you lather, rinse, and repeat.
5. Squeeze elbows to sides to conserve body heat.
7. Muster enough courage to give yourself one more douse of water to get that last bit of soap off your bum.
8. Retreat into the enveloping, warm folds of your towel.
*We recommend doing this in the morning. We promise—you’ll feel invigorated after.
At Stage 2, Jemo House’s rooms are built, but there are no beds in the rooms yet. The kids will be sleeping 4-to-a-room, and to prepare, they each decorated their name onto a neon note card so everyone will know which bed is theirs.
Jackie, our awesome housemother, will have her own room for the first time in the ten years we have known her. We hope she gets used to the few minutes of silence and privacy she’ll have everyday, and the opportunity to be alone with her thoughts. Because we all need that sometimes. Our thoughts tend to get lonely.
We have planned for closets, and the kids have been sticking their heads into these spaces, inquiring about what they are, as closets are a novelty in Kenya. We want to use the closets to help teach the kids how to be organized adults who care for their things. This is important, as many of them haven’t had things to care for before.
Millie is excited to start sleeping in the big girls’ room. As a 13-year-old, this is a monumental right of passage. It’s Jemo House’s version of getting your curfew extended, or receiving your first TracFone for emergency texting and games of “Snake”.
We are excited to be watching the bricks of our house come together into a home. The “shamba”—or garden—with Jackie and Joshua’s care, is coming along nicely, the leaves of the kale getting bigger as the roots extend into the redness of the dirt. Not to sound too literary, but we hope the kids are doing the same. Digging in and preparing for the monsoon seasons and persistent weeds. The days with too much sun and the days when they will be overwhelmed with how much they’re watered.
But whatever their growing season, we, at TLC, are so excited to help them go through all of it in their new home, with new bucket showers and their name taped to their bed on a neon-notecard.
If you want to help us finish making Jemo House a home, we need 1 person to donate $5/month for the next 7 months to help pay for seeds and gardening equipment so we can expand our garden. Click on the big, friendly, blue “Donate” button at the top of the page if you feel called to do so.
From all of us here at TLC, we hope you have a great week that involves at least one chilling bucket shower. And wake up a little earlier tomorrow morning to make yourself pancakes or a nice Tex-Mex omelet. You’re worth a good breakfast. And we really mean that.