These are edited extracts from her latest diary entries.
We get a call from the lady in Dagoretti Market who is supposed to be organising the de-worming. She is hysterical. The elders of the village want to burn her, she says. They have said she is bringing the Devil (me) to poison the children. In an interesting twist, they also claim I am Illuminati.
Always batting for both teams, me.
So there will be no medical. Not today.
But we will meet the woman and try to arrange for it to happen somewhere away from the village.
This is becoming quite a pattern. Doris and David think it might be because we are heading toward election time and anyone in politics – however lowly – wants to claim anything good that happens as the work of their party. Meanwhile they are up to their overactive testicles in sick kids and worn-out women.
I whip round the market, collecting stuff I have ordered and trying to avoid being trapped by desperate people wanting me to buy something so they will have enough for a bus fare home. Business in all areas of tourism is down. The government, the police, the medical profession, the city council operatives and six out of ten teachers are all just criminals of one level or another, but yer basic wainanchi is a great human being. While I do not give a flying fuck about the owners of the big white-walled resorts and the cutesy “Ooo! Look! It’s a zebra!” safari lodges, their cleaners and cooks and drivers are the ones who really suffer when tourists don’t come.
I get a frantic call from Felista who says that the torrential rain is flooding the dorms at Decip and she needs a ton of sand, a ton of ballast, waterproofing, cement, wire mesh and a load of other stuff. I harrumph. But David and I go out to Decip and wade around in the mud and the generalised gloop and, indeed, something needs to be done.
Luckily my school friend Rachel has just sent one of her lifesaving moneygrams from Austria. And so Felista gets the budget for repairs and the kids will sleep dry tonight.
Sometime soon (yeah, right) they have been promised connection to some sort of drainage and sewer system.
I get a matatu to Junction for the WiFi and am embroiled in the craziest jam ever.
On a road which is basically one lane in each direction, those heading from Dagoretti Corner towards Kawangware have created FIVE lanes of traffic all going in one direction. And no one gives way to anyone, ever, here.
It is a masculine pride thing, I think. Any time there is a tiny gap it is filled with part of a motorbike. The one which oozes next to my window is carrying an electric lawnmower.
My trip to the market is irritating. I get embroiled in a bit of a hoo-ha with the lady from the soapstone opposite Mwangi.
I bought a lovely red plate there last visit and ordered four more in different colours from the bloke I thought was running the stall. Gave a deposit of £25 and got receipt etc.
It now turns out that the bloke was not in charge of the stall but was a friend of the lad who was SUPPOSED to be running the stall for the real owner, a fiery lady who has now returned.
The other bloke – Dennis – is a broker and took the order for someone else but has now disappeared with the money – 900 bob of hers and 2,100 of mine. The fiery lady is incandescent. She makes me look calm and considered.
“Now there will be a war!!” she bellows.
I really would not like to be Dennis.
Felix, the lad who was supposed to be in charge of the stall but who took a bung to let broker Dennis steal the feisty lady’s customer, is fired before my eyes. I leave.
There is a girl at Felista’s for whom Mama Biashara paid college fees. Now she is on the final stage and has had a very successful placement at one hospital and is supposed to move to another placement at another hospital. But the hospitals charge the students for the placements. Of course they do. This is Kenya. £50, though. So I send the money off. Now Njoki will graduate and will be a lab technician. Not bad for an abandoned kid from the slums.
Doris is knackered. Her father is ill and is now losing weight and there seems to be nothing she can do to persuade him to help himself. He refuses to go for the prostate cancer test. One of her sons (who are about six or seven) was caught telling a girl to remove her panties so he could lie on top of her and the entire neighbourhood has turned on Doris. She is still not that well.
She is overwhelmed with people coming to Mama Biashara needing help and she said that, while she was really ill, she just stopped taking business plans. Our great plan to do Medical Days has been a disaster as we have been stymied by petty politics at every turn. Doris is at the end of her tether.
I buy coffee, we talk, I reassure, we agree to meet on Monday and make a Grand Master Plan. I also make her promise that every single plan and request will just get passed on to me. Immediately. She no longer tries to keep the gate; she just opens it. Till she feels better.
Because of Mama Bashara’s lack of funds, she has to do a LOT of saying No and this is a hugely stressful thing to do. I know. I have to do it too. It is making life as Mama Biashara difficult to say the least.
I go home and schlepp my bags and boxes into my increasingly crazy-looking bedroom.
And then I get a text from London asking for my help.
The volunteers at the Mama Biashara shop in Shepherds Bush – Amanda, Letitia and Souad – are in a bit of a pickle.
A small child (offspring of a regular customer) has handcuffed my sister Amanda with a pair of antique London Metropolitan Police handcuffs given to me by the Staines Police as a thankyou gift for chairing the final of their schools quiz.
I lost the key about twenty years ago.
I was not worried as the handcuffs were in the bottom drawer of my desk and I never imagined that anyone would be so cretinously stupid as to use them. And lock them.
They call the police. Who want to know how we got the police issue handcuffs.
Then they call the fire brigade. Who have to cut sister Amanda out of the cuffs.
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