May 11, 2012
It was a very full day, starting with an hour long drive to Kanye where I, BOCAIP staff member and the local BOCAIP supervisor met with the stakeholders and interviewed them sometimes one-on-one sometimes in groups of 4-5. One of the interviewee’s was a chief who did not necessarily endorse my outfit which included my business trousers. How on earth would I know that I was going to meet a chief and that there would be a rule wearing a skirt when meeting the chief? Ops, I did not know and I was not told either. At one point the staff member who is a very bright lady thought that we could stop over at a clothing store and buy me a skirt before we visit him and I was convinced that this would be the proper way to do it since I did not want to offend anyone, especially a chief who is a well-respected community member! Who am I to walk into his ward with a pair of trousers? But then the local BOCAIP supervisor insisted that it would be OK since this chief was rather modern and that I had fair skin to prove that I was from a different planet and I went along. It was a bit scary since he did not look amused, I can’t tell for sure if it was due to my outfit or if he was carrying an image to look series since he did not speak English except a few words here and there, but that was enough to make me feel uncomfortable. Lesson learned. I am wearing my skirts for my next four site visits despite the fact that they include longer road trips! Better be in a suit and don’t embarrass yourself than be comfortable in your cloths and wish that you are invisible!
For our rather late lunch, the local BOCAIP supervisor took us to a small family owned restaurant and I had Kudu and Dombi (lamb stew and white bread) with a side salad. The meat came with its bones and fat attached but did not taste heavy at all. It was cooked in a mild spicy tomato sauce and was very soft. As I was enjoying my lunch, and talking about how some food could make your stomach uneasy, the restaurant owner, a very nice and gentle old lady approached us with a dish in her hands and she wanted us to try it and said that it was a special dish. It looked like cooked dirt in the sense that it was grey/brown and small bits of stuff resembling pebbles – it was not vegetables for sure and didn’t look very appetizing at a first glance to me. But I was determined to try it even if it was a small bite. And I did. When I asked what it was, it turned out to be the animal intestines mixed with other internal organs and sauteed until all cooked. I would rather leave its taste to the reader’s imagination, but it wasn’t something for me. It must have been definitely an acquired taste since other people seemed to enjoy it.
Kanye was a small city spread around a lot of land with a population of almost 100,000 people, with a very dry weather, no running water in the houses, and cattle on the streets. During the interviews, people were referring to the importance of starting a small business and the only mental picture in my mind about small business was from the World Vision’s brochures such as starting with a goat or a pair of chicken and growing from there. And I must admit that when I read those brochures, I was unable to appreciate the potential impact of such interventions since I was unable to envision it. After I see the situation here with my own eyes (e.g., women selling candy, oranges, apples on a small table all day long) and talking with people, it now makes a lot of sense to me and I think every small contribution that people could make do actually have a potential to make a difference for individuals and communities in the micro-level. Having said, education is still the key to have an impact at a macro-level.