One of the first things you may remark when travelling in rural regions of Kenya is the presence of children. You can imagine that they remark us quiclky too, since we are wazungu*; they approach and watch us with an endearing ingenuousess. Indeed, as soon as we set foot on a farm, they gather around us, young eyes scrutinize us with curiosity and small mouths can hardly help giggling as we contort ourselves to get into a pen.
Kenyans seem to hold their children (and all the neighborhood’s) in high importance. Of course, young people are a precious help for parents with a more modest educational background. It did happen that the eldest daughter of a family, the only person who could read English, assured us that she would help her mother follow the feeding instructions correctly. However, you can perceive in their eyes that Kenyans care for their youngsters more than just for help.
It’s true that this youth is lovable : lively, keen to help and equiped with intellectual curiosity. At the moment, teachers are on a national strike but, unlike what is expected at home, kids are not cheering at the idea of not going to school. All desire to increase and perfect their knowledge of the world.
Jessie is amazing with kids. She is always ready to take the time to present herself and to ask their names and age. I like them too – in fact, I am a bit disappointed when we don’t meet any children on the farms – but I have to admit that I focus on my task first. Yes, my darlings, you can play ith my hair; I won’t mind, but after I am done with the CMT** on this cow that’s trying to knock me out. Once we finish gathering the information, if we have some time left there, we are happy to speak to them even more, to teach them hand games or to let them try our stethoscopes – the joy that appears on their faces is worth the patience it takes sometimes to get them to stop hiding behind their big brothers or sisters.
We cherish those moments of happiness, like yesterday, when the children gave us lovely colored charms that they made themselves – we first had to wash our hands marked by farm labour before we could accept them decently.
More than the hills and lakes, more than the plants and wildlife worthy of a poet’s dream, the real treasure of this country is the pure open heart of the children and the loving care that adults give them.
This blog entry does end with a sentimental touch; you just have to deal with it.
*Wazungu : Plural form of muzungu; Swahili word meaning « European » or « something strange », but mostly referring to any white person.
**CMT : California Mastitis Test