July 28, 2011

I'd like to note

Growing up in California, I never had the snow days you see in movies, where kids anxiously listen to the morning radio for school cancellations and then joyfully bound outside to frolic and sled before coming home to a warm mug of cocoa.

I don't think many Kenyans have had this experience either, though last night I had dinner with someone who's school had been cancelled due to "lion in the yard."

The food in Nairobi, particularly the variety, has been much better than I probably would have expected (if I had had much time to develop expectations in the whirlwind before I left). And, as I like food, I'm keen to tell you all about it and post delicious pictures. Yet that seems irresponsible, not to mention insensitive, in the face of multi-national famine and drought in East Africa (the worst in 60 years). The areas of Kenya that have been most severly affected are in the north, bordering on Ethiopia and Somalia. This includes the Marsabit vicinity, which is where I will be working in October-December. That area has been assigned the UN food security classification "Emergency," which falls in the middle of the scale between "Crisis" and "Famine."

I'm currently fielding and returning a small volley of e-mails between here and UW regarding how this crisis will affect my fellowship work and perhaps redirect its focus. And I will likely have much more information on and exposure to this spiraling situation once I head up north.

Until then, I would like to crib a sentiment from Ruth Reichl, oft invoked by those who fear appearing cavalier: That it is our moral responsibility to respond to disasters as best we can; yet, in the face of ongoing tragedy, it is also a moral responsibility to appreciate and enjoy what we have. (Though I suspect Paul Farmer would be apt to disagree with this definition).

And to that end, I will be posting delicious food pictures in the near future.

In the meantime, I'd like to note my appreciation and many thanks to the people who made my life easier in these past transitional months. My parents, for helping me navigate a missed connection/re-routed flight through Oakland and for convincing me to take the large bag of chocolate-covered almonds (which I enjoyed the other night with a mug of tea while it thundered and rained outside). My grandmother, who's fore-thinking about local currency allowed me to survive and buy food my first week (which is about how long it took to find an ATM that accepts Mastercard (it's a Visa city, apparently)). Tom, who gave me a last-minute ride to the airport and also performed manual labor on my car in the final minutes before we left. And Alastair, who set up my new computer, talked me through a myriad of problem-solving challenges, and whose enthusiasm buoyed my own when anxiety began to take hold.

And least specifically, though not least important, to anyone who experienced a rare Kara's-come-unhinged moment and handled it with unwavering grace and aplomb, many thanks.

1 comment:

  1. And also to Sam! Who lent me one of my only work AND weather appropriate shirts that I wear all of the time (like right now).