Day Four: Alone

We knew the group from the US was leaving that afternoon, and had expected Amina and Flory to join us. We spent the morning exploring the center and upon our first exit from the building were greeted by a man at the clinic who asked if we had something for him. We retreated to the Center where members of the other group warned us not to walk out with a bag or the people think you are handing things out. Seems a member of their group took great pleasure in passing out candy to the local children, and now it was expected. The American group spent their morning passing out their clothes, snacks and anything else they wold not need before they got home to the staff of the center.

Florimond and his cars came to pick up the group around 11. We asked him for a translator to begin learning girl-part words in Swahili and he brought us Georgette. We spent the rest of the day working with her. As we talked and showed her the materials she began teaching everything to the kitchen help. She was amazing.

The group finally packed all their stuff in the cars and drove away. There was not enough room so some of the locals stayed to wait for the cars to return. There were only two people who spoke English, Georgette and Roland; Flormond nephew who would be translating for us at the training. We had no food and no way to buy lunch but knew the cars would be right back to pick up the rest of the locals and bring Amina and Flory.

The Dr from the clinic came to speak with us using Roland as a translator. He said that he knew we would be using the clinic as a training site and that he expected us to pay him 400 dollars to do that. Just to put it in perspective, a nurse makes 40 dollars a month here. We were shocked and told him we would speak with Florimond about it; since we had given him the entire fee for use of the facilities.

Florimond did not return. His driver came, loaded up the rest of the locals and the dishes and drove away. No Amina, No Flory. Roland and Georgette went home for the night. No one knew English. Uncomfortable puts it lightly. We sat outside waiting, not really knowing what for. A man we did not know came to us and waved for us to follow him. He took us to the room we knew was Florimond’s private and showed us a bowl of food. We didn’t understand if he was asking if he could eat it or if he wanted us to eat it. We just shook our heads and walked back outside. The absurdity of our situation hit us and tears streamed down our cheeks. Had we been abandoned here to fend for ourselves for a week? Had we just traveled two days to be scammed out of the money that had been donated? We gave them about six thousand dollars the night before and now were were alone in a small village without anyone who spoke English.

Someone turned on the generator to give us electricity and we ran into the building to use the laptop that had been donated. We sat playing solitaire and listening to the music that had been loaded before I received it so we could have some sense of normalcy. It was after nine when a car pulled up with Amina in it. She apologized as well as she could with her little English, but we both knew she had less control over Florimond’s drivers than we did. Fearing we had not eaten all day she fed us bread and coffee. Then we wen to bed not knowing what to expect next. The training was supposed to start in the morning but no one was here but us and Amina.

Jennifer Vanderlaan (Author)