While I am in the UK, I make pleas for old cell phones that I can take out to Kenya. We sell them to raise money for KCIS and Twiga.
Also, in the past when I have been in Kenya, I had to carry two cell phones, an all-singing model that I use in the UK, which has all my contacts, email addresses etc., on it, and another, cheaper (and heavier model) with a local (Safaricom) SIM card for making calls in Kenya.
On my visit in November, I decided to get my UK model unlocked so that I could get away with carrying just one, but retaining all the features that I probably didn't need anyway.
We trotted off to the local phone unlocking shop and handed over my phone and another that also needed unlocking. Upon our return, the phone-unlocking man told me that he couldn't do either of them and had taken them to another shop, where they could do it for 200/- each.
I offered my old "Kenyan" cell phone as payment, as I would no longer need it. He refused. However, another of his clients, who was queueing up to get served asked me how much I wanted
I wanted 400/- but asked for 500. I thought that was a reasonable price for this rather old but smart phone.
400/- he countered and I accepted. It would, after all cover the cost of unlocking the other two phones. The deal was struck and I handed over my "Kenyan" cell phone, and recuperated my "UK" model, which was now unlocked.
I walked away, pleased as punch. Not only had I bartered, and got what I wanted, from a Kenyan, but I now only needed to carry one phone, which had all my data on it, and probably more importantly, a camera.
It finally happened - I was called out to a computer breakdown, in a little village in the back of beyond. This is one of the roads I had to travel on. Thankfully, the old matatu has selectable 4-wheel drive.
Having managed to get there and back, I braved it into town to top up food supplies. Below is the main road into town, while the temperature was hovering around 0°C
On my trip to Kenya in May 2009, I showed a simple finger trick to the neighbourhodd children, the Twiga children and anyone else who wanted to see it.
Apparently not! On my visit in November, there they all were, still trying to do it, most of them without success. So I was asked time and again to do it again ... and again ... and ...
Funnily, girls seems to pick it up quicker than boys, regardless of age.
But children would come running up to me just so that I would show them how to do it again.
Another amusing "trick" I picked up from the Morcombe & Wise show was with a paper bag. the illusion is to throw an invisible ball into the air and catch it in a paper bag. As the "ball" hits the bag, it makes a sound ... naturally, but when the kids look in the bag, there is nothing there.
Of course, fans of Eric Morecambe must have seen this trick thousands of times. The illusionist clicks the fingers of the hand holding the bag to make the sound of something landing inside, but if done correctly (and I have had a lot of practice), it can keep children puzzled for a very long time.
It works well on aircraft if you find yourself sitting next to a fractious, impatient child - and the airline even provides the paper bag (the sick bag), but make sure it hasn't been used!
I am not going to go on about the difference between UK English and Kenglish - I have already covered this.
No, this is a much greater problem for me. In the UK, I have rarely had to communicate with anyone who is profoundly deaf. Most people have some sort of hearing aid here.
But in Kisii, we are regularly visited by Simon, a profoundly deaf 8 year-old. He is a smashing kid, with a ready, broad smile, but he cannot hear or talk, other then by using sign language. He has his own language, which is a mixture of Kenyan Sign language and a few signs of his own.
But the biggest problem for me is to remember that Simon expresses his feelings with facial exaggerated expressions. So, sometimes, he can look very angry, or very sad, which alarms me until I realise that he is using his face to communicate.
On the up-side, when he is happy (which is most of the time), he smiles broadly and makes "happy" sounds.
I found out on my last trip that simon contracted malaria when he was a baby. He was treated at hospital but became deaf as a result either of the disease or the treatment - I don't know which.
He does attend school occasionally, but can often be seen wandering along the river bank. If he then sees someone at home, he rushes up to see us, usually around meal times!
He will eat anything offered to him and will not stop until all plates are thoroughly empty.
Simon is usually very grubby and wears clothes which are bordering on rags. But one Sunday, he invited himself to lunch and he was ... clean! Not only was he clean but he was wearing clean clothes with hardly a tear or hole in them. He looked like a totally different person to the point that I did not immediately recognise him!
As far as we can make out, Simon has a full complement of parents, so, strictly speaking, does not fall into a category to be put on the Twiga register. maybe we should change our criteria to include children who are neglected due to a disability. This is not to say that Simon is neglected, but I am sure that he could be better looked after.
Unfortunately, kids with a disability can be ignored by their parents, who do not know what to do with them.