I’ve spent almost 9 days at the DOOR Centre in Nairobi, Kenya getting to know the different teams and individuals working here. It’s been amazing and has felt like walking into a family holding their arms wide open. I’m sad to leave tomorrow and say goodbye to all the guys but glad to know I’ll see them again in September for two weeks.
It has been challenging though, trying to speak with them as I have two weeks of Filipino Sign Language (FSL) and what I’ve been trying to learn on my own of American Sign Language (ASL), plus a few words in Finnish Sign and Romanian Sign. Thankfully Kenyan Sign Language (KSL) and FSL and ASL have similarities and I’ve been able to relearn some signs…but they all think I know more than I do! But I’ve still been able to laugh and converse and they’re SO patient with me!
One thing I’ve learned here is to become more aware of how much you can feel things instead of hear things. While the beat of the African drum calls the Hearing people to worship, it’s the feel that keeps the rhythm as we sing and sign. It’s the vibration from the banging on the table that gets your attention, not the sound. And it’s the hard slap on the table that declares ‘UNO!’ not the voice.
The fun way of learning numbers and colors here (yes, different from FSL) is through playing UNO. It took me all week and finally, yesterday, I won a game; then two in a row…..I might have gotten a little excited at that. *Big Grin* Then they switched from picking colors on wild cards to numbers – eek! Lots of laughs playing games after lunch and in the evening.
A fun highlight was going into town on matatus (combis for Peruvians, small vans for others) and then walking around. We specifically went to a park where monkeys live and I got to feed them peanuts. So much fun! I managed to get a few to jump on my shoulder and one hopped up on my knee to sit and eat. Made me want a pet monkey. Haha! My goal that day was to be deaf all day and I mostly managed to succeed. To be honest, even though I could hear I often had no clue what was happening between the cobrador (the guy who takes the fare…Spanish word) and the guys as they negotiated price and where the matatu was going.
Bargaining in the market was done as if I was deaf. Wow, trying to pretend not to hear and figure out how to bargain – when you have no idea of value or currency exchange. B helped a lot there and she’s good at it. It’s interesting to see how people respond and act when you can’t hear. Lots of writing down, and signs change as you communicate. Very interesting!
Sunday was a fun day with the teams and I was in charge of games. I had been coming up with ideas (minute-to-win-it like games) in Romania and when I got here we talked with the leaders to see if they liked them. Imagine coordinating and explaining the games to a group of people when you only somewhat understand their language! We had a lot of fun though and lots of laughs! I was quite brain-dead by the end though.
Deaf church was Sunday as well and I was drafted into helping with the song to go along with the story (David and Goliath). Being me, I’m up to try about anything so I said “sure!” So Saturday night we sat down to what I thought was practice….and they started writing the song. Wow, they’re good. So Sunday, to the loud beat of an African drum we signed and kept rhythm….which, if you know me, is hard for me to do. But I succeeded despite how incredibly nervous I was (and it’s unusual for me to be nervous in front of people). And the drama they did for David and Goliath was hilarious!
And now it’s time for me to go. The guys have teased and asked for my passport to keep it safe until Friday, knowing full well they wouldn’t let me go if they could. They keep complaining that my time in Kenya with them is too short. I agree, but such is my life right now. Four months of constant travel, trying to live out of suitcases, meeting wonderful people, and then moving on. I’m looking forward to settling in Ethiopia. Even though I’ll be traveling a lot once there, it will be nice to eventually have a “home” to return to. But I’m going to miss here….