I Never Had a Dream So Big

September 23, 2006 by Steve Peifer

Not everyone will start the day with an email like this, but we did on Monday:

Due to the increasingly aggressive nature of some of the baboons in the forest in our area, the Kenya Wildlife Service will be exterminating a limited number of baboons from the forest around RVA on Monday. We ask that all students and Kijabe residents NOT use the guard’s trail from 8:30am to 5:30pm tomorrow, Monday, September 18. In particular, the KWS will be shooting the baboons in the area from behind Simba Dorm down the trail to the Morrison’s house. You may hear some gun shots from time to time throughout the day.

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JT has started a coffee shop at RVA, and it has been a huge success. He created a t-shirt that we thought was worth sharing:

(This says `The Feisty Goat Kijabe, Kenya) (Feisty Goat is the name of his shop)

He is selling them for $20 which includes shipping and proceeds should go to the JT college fund, which is substantial enough to buy several chapters of one of his textbooks next fall, but instead will probably go to buy more coffee. Let us know if you want one.

We have had several reminders of what a hard place this can be to live. I use vocational/personality software to help students determine what they might want to be We are so isolated that it is hard for students to have much of a frame of reference about careers, so I have bought licenses for this software for the past few years.

I tried to order it early this year, but the company isn’t used to people ordering from Kenya, so I finally asked a busy friend to purchase it. He did, and FedExed it to us.

Kenya has publicly announced that there is no longer tax on computers and software, so it should clear customs easily. It has been almost a month, and it still hasn’t cleared. We’ve done everything they have asked (including trying to pay the $150 clearing fee that they are charging us), but it is still not close to being released. In the meantime, the license on the old software has expired.

And we are no closer to getting the software.

We were delivering the maize and beans and oil last week, and I had mentioned to a friend that it had gone without a hitch this time. Then I got a call from Margaret, who was delivering some of the oil:

Margaret: The police have told me that I have stolen this oil and that they will arrest me.
Me: Let me talk to them.
Police: She will be put in jail for stealing the oil.
Me: She didn’t steal it; I bought it and she is delivering it for me.
Margaret: (To me) They want 50,000 shillings to let me go (about $725.00)
Margaret: (To the police) For you I have not one cent.
Police: You will be in jail for a long time.
Me: I am coming down there with cameras.
Police: You will need to bring proof that you bought this oil.

Margaret’s husband went down with a letter of proof (my car was having issues) and they let her go, but it was another example of how easy it is to get discouraged here. I had told Margaret to get badge numbers, but they had hidden their badge numbers and refused to give their names.

It was a week of this kind of stuff, with the car dying again, the stereo died, the iPod died, the computer was trying to die and nothing seemed to be working. I was visiting Kinungi, and I was discouraged.

The Headmaster wanted me to meet some of the younger students, and as we walked to a classroom, he waved to some students running by and said `That is the biggest change because of the food. Children should run; before they were so listless, now they run so much.’ And it was true; they were running everywhere.

The Headmaster with delivered food
Lunch being cooked

We went to a classroom and the headmaster asked the students: What do you think of getting to learn computers? And they yelled and screamed, but when it got quiet, one little girl said `I’ve never had a dream so big.’


Every once in awhile you need one of those `Oh yeah; that’s why’ moments.

Your pal