I Don’t Think I’d Make a Very Good Kenyan Woman

There are certain things, or at least there used to be, that I know I’m good at. Cleaning is definitely one of them. That one was guaranteed by my genetic DNA. Thanks Dad! But lately these women even have me questioning that.

I was raised that if you are a guest, especially a long-term guest, that you earn your keep by helping out. If the intent of my helping out were comic relief than I’d have them falling out of their chairs, but at last that is not my goal. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard more than once a comment along the lines of “What is the muzungu trying to do now?”

I have proven myself to be trusted with preparing the tea, which basically means taking the pot full of milk, tea leaves, and sugar off of the open fire and scooping the milk out of the pot and pouring it through a strainer. And I’ve gotten filling up the pot for hot water down (used for washing). Although I’m allowed to stoke the fire, actually starting it is another matter. But it is no problem asking Michelle to start the fire (she is eight!).

Preparing tea
Tea is prepared before any other tasks are tackled in the morning, thus the I’ve just woken up look.
I’ve yet to be allowed to make or help with dinner, so I sit with the kids and make sure they do their homework while dinner is cooking. I pretty consistently pour water for hand washing and dish out the food, although it took me awhile to get the portions correct. I was accused of feeding children’s portions to the adults. Even my children’s portions were way too small for Kenyan standards. And I made the very big mistake of using a spoon to serve the ugali instead of waiting for a knife last night.

In terms of the dishes, I’ve been told it’s better if I rinse and place them away instead of washing. I was a bit too slow in the washing department and took too many breaks to stand up and stretch my back from being bent over a bucket. No complaints on my sweeping abilities, so at least I got that one checked off. 

I thought I was doing pretty good on washing the clothes until Mama K said I had to do some of the socks over. They just took the shoes away from me. Apparently you scrub the inside of the shoes just as well as the outside, in case any of you were wondering. If you had seen where the socks and shoes started, they looked pretty damn good after I was finished with them. But they were right. If you scrub even harder with the brush, pushing into the side of the bucket, you can get the socks cleaner. At least, there were no issues with my filling the buckets from the water tanks or hanging the clothes on the line!

Update- I’m making progress on the clothes. My socks past muster this morning:)

I’m actually impressed that my legs are as straight as they are. See Noormali for the proper form.
My first attempts at milking the cows were unsuccessful. Supposedly I wasn’t squeezing hard enough. Guess I should have practiced on the goats Justin before I left.

Oh well, I’ll keep plugging away. Maybe by the time I leave I might be able to actually claim a few new skills 🙂

Neserian, my other sister and teacher on how to be a proper African woman. She is in her shop. Anyone want me to bring home some Maasai bead work/jewelry?

5 thoughts on “I Don’t Think I’d Make a Very Good Kenyan Woman”

  1. I am enjoying your journey through your blogs….keep them coming! And yes, I would love for you to bring home some maasai bead jewelry. Continue to enjoy and learn…be safe!


  2. Good that folks are coaching you on how to do the chores! I’m sure you’ll get the knack over time. Would love anything you bring back for me!! 😎


  3. I love the colors in your photos. The green of the countryside and the bold hues of the beads. True beauty. Don’t worry about whether your doing a good job with the cleaning. I’m sure they appreciate the effort. And really, is there anything better than waking up to a cup of something warm that you didn’t have to make yourself? Sounds like you’re on it. Do the need a squeegee? I know a good squeegee girl. Love reading about your travels and adventures. Miss you.


  4. Milking isn’t easy. I had lots of practice and never did get the hang of it. On another topic, we lunged around the gym this morning. Happy Wednesday!


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