Embracing our new families
Laughing with my brothers
The walls consist of hardened red mud; the floor is simply red earth. As I enter the
room, I feel a slight breeze, like an underground coolness. The surrounding earth gives me
a refreshing feeling. I can feel my primitive instincts, which developed long before shoes
became a barrier between man and the earth. I hear a gentle voice say something that I
cannot understand. It's my host mother. My brother Martin calls back ehhhhhh,
(this is equivalent to uh-huh in our culture) in his deep voice.
There are two beds placed side by side. I'm sitting on the edge of one bed next to my
brother Martin. On the other bed, Simon and Charles are sitting with their friend Joseph.
There is a boy next to me who does not speak a word. He just watches as we talk about our
Martin pulls out a scrabble board from beneath the bed. It surprises me to see
something so familiar, especially since we were just talking about everything being so
different. I am now struck by how we are also alike. We divide the wooden blocks and start
to play. My brothers show their intelligence through their vocabulary and quickness.
Joseph is having a little trouble, so we help him out; he gracefully accepts.
My homestay mother preparing our meal
Kikuyu women are strong in character, endure hardships and live a
spirited and joyful life.
The game eventually fades away as we get into an in-depth conversation about the roles
of men and women. I feel safe about what I am saying; I know that I can be completely
honest as I reveal some secret parts of my life. I become excited as we learn from each
other about our different lifestyles.
I tell them that I do not like the way men treat women in Kenya. How come men
don't listen to women and don't think that they can do many things? I ask. Then they
explain to me the respect given to women for what they do. They also become excited and
smile, because they see that I am openly expressing my opinions. I feel that they respect
me now in a different way.
When I tell them that in America I am free to do or say what I want, they are both
shocked and impressed. Charles tells me, You are very smart, and starts to
giggle. His two brothers join in and soon we are all smiling and laughing.