- Life and Times of carolkmail

Archive for April, 2012

Accessing Mother’s Payslip

This morning I get a call from mother and the first thing she asks me is ‘do you have internet?’ No ‘Hi. How are you doing? How is Junior? Has he gained weight?’ Completely out of character for her. I pull the phone from my ear and look at the name on the screen. You know, to be sure it really is mother calling. I quickly get the phone back to my ear and go ‘hello?’ She impatiently repeats, ‘can you access the internet?’ I tell her, ‘not at the moment, no. My net is down due to power problems’. That is one thing that the current rains have brought along with them. Water is definitely no longer a problem but electricity and by extension, thanks to fibre access, the internet, have been intermittent if not entirely unavailable. Back to mother and asking me about the net.

Before you wonder why I’m going all shock-faced about her and internet, you should know that she never took to computers too well. Meaning internet is a completely foreign thing (pun included) as far as I can tell. And the scientific conclusion here becomes mother-computer-internet-meshing…, is equal to or less than zero. You should also know, that my mother works for the government, and hers is what I call the noblest career of all. I mentioned it once when I was asked if I could change jobs what I would get into. She is a nurse. Has been since before I was born. And I am not young. Just a little young. Off track again.

The reason she is asking after internet and probably why she is suddenly feeling impatient and quite possibly out of her element, is because the government has decided they will no longer hand civil servants physical payslips. Anyone requiring a printout of their payslips will have to go to some site to access it. All hail the technological age! Now, neat, physical records have been mother’s pride. So much so that she once announced to her friends and my peers during a tea party that she still holds my nursery school report cards and books. I’m not even going to go there! That’s mother for you. You can now see why she is angry with the government.

Another reason that is equally upsetting dear mum, I’m guessing, is that the said payslips have been a guarded secret ever since, well…, EVER! Not even me, the first born in the family has ever laid eyes on the said documents. Pentagon or even the KGB have nothing on mother and hidden records. This will be a ‘wikileaks’ moment for me! She even went and gave me her password. That must have made her swear and go to church for confession. I imagine. I’m a little giddy but I cannot openly show excitement. The woman is capable of opening a can of whoopass on me so I’m never one to pull unnecessary stunts on her.

I shall now cease with the excitement post lest she one day gets access to my blog and go savage on my behind. Heading off to do the daughterly thing and help mother out with a printout.

Meanwhile, woooohooooo! I finally get to see mother’s payslip! *does a cartwheel*.

Clap-Clap, Procter & Gamble and Things

I’m telling you. If weeks used to come like the last one, I’d be too overwhelmed with good feelings and ‘clap-clap’ moments to get any work done. And I can clap. Ask around. Why I’m I clapping?

They Consider Me Creative

Earlier this week, I discovered that I had been nominated among the lot I consider the creatives of the blogsphere. I’m still in woozieland on that coz, wow! Sometimes you imagine you are just gasing out over the internets and not many people care to listen, then you go and get nominated! I clapped. You know the second thing I did? After the clap that is? I went through my post to see if there were PG rated ones! Good thing there were none. Then I checked whether there were any that were not making much sense. Most were not. So I logged off before the sudden urge to start editing ALL of them reached critical mass.

Cute Words from Nyambura’s Diary

There is this really nice writer who pens Nyambura’s Diary. She made it her mission to embarrass me with cute words. Don’t get me wrong, I do like her on many days. Mostly because she unwittingly teaches me how to write with wit. Plus she takes too much coffee. I imagine she walks around with a coffee flask the way the healthy lot walks around with a water flask. Now she went and decided to beat drums for me on the ‘Creatives’ Nomination and I shall be eternally grateful to her for that wonderful article. Not that I would tell her in her face. Reputation and all… :D But I smile inside. Did I mention I clapped?

That’s about claps. O yes, and thank you readers for keeping my writes company. You are good sports.

Procter and Gamble “Thank You, Mom” Campaign

There is this really awesome video I was requested to review. Once I was done shedding 3 tears, one for each of the times I watched the ad, I had tons of kind words for it. It is the Procter and Gamble “Thank You Mum” campaign commercial that is slotted to run through the London 2012 Olympic Games.

It is a heart-warming, powerful, 2 minute commercial centered around a dedicated Facebook page, where P&G is celebrating the power behind the glory, success and dedication of many an Olympic athlete with the help of their mothers, in the biggest campaign in P&G’s 174-year history. The ad is progressive, i.e it captures different stages of mum and child development, struggles and successes, which renders it quite captivating.

What else….? O yeah. I finally introduced Junior to a barber. For the last 5 and three quarter years, my house doubled up as a barbershop once every 2 months. Yes, I cut hair too. Junior’s mostly. That falls under the heading ‘Things’. That’s it.

It’s a new week. Smile all the way to Sunday. Then pick up the smile again on Monday.

Lessons Courtesy of Balcony Farm

Once in a while, ok, more often than I’d openly admit, I’m always looking for lessons in what I do. Partly because I do too many things at the same time. In other part, because if I don’t look for lessons in what I do, most likely I won’t do much. Remember the balcony garden I started the other day? I am happy to announce that it is thriving. Ha! Take that you lot who thought it was going to be a source of firewood for the neighbourhood!

So anyway, it has not been an easy plant-me journey. Truth be told, I have yanked some plants off because they did not grow as expected. I have consistently talked to others and others almost made me weep. Seen a grown woman almost weep? Cringe factor I tell ya. What lessons could a mere balcony garden have especially for the hard-headed individual like me have? You wonder. So I tell.

Think of A Project And Start

I probably I’m a serial project starter. Fine I shall admit guilt. But let me ask you, if you never start on projects, how will you know which one will work and which one will fail? I once told a friend the only thing I probably won’t take up is ‘Hitman For Hire’. Anything else is possible in my head. You think I am joking? Look at my latest project. Yes, this one you will love. Story of how it became shall be told on here.

Patience to Let Things Grow

Really, could you keep the laughter to yourself? I can hear you giggle! Of course I can be patient! Fine, not so patient. It is not one of my strong points. I have however learnt how to deal with it, instead of denying or pretending that I am a patient man. I am not. But since I still have other things I’m doing, then the watching and waiting becomes bearable. I mean come on… Some of those plants take 45 days to germinate! Can you picture that? Watering a blob of soil for 44 (give or take a few days) without seeing anything growing? At some point you look around to see whether anyone is watching and wondering why a grown woman is watering soil in a can!

Strength to Admit When Things Are Not Working

Gimme a second here *breaks into silent sobs*. Let me tell you. If you ever see a farmer and their shamba thriving, give a bow and let them have your seat in public transport. I have had to yank plants away because they were not growing. It was the hardest thing I have ever done but it had to be done. It was what gave me room to plant others that are now thriving. I still mourn that loss but when I look at what I planted later, I am consoled that it was not an ‘in vain yank’.

Blind Faith is Also Good

See that blooming fern plant on your right? With all it’s green singing happily in the wind? That fern had completely withered. So much so that it was almost discarded. The reason why I did not discard it was because I had already discarded one set of plants and I couldn’t bring myself to just discard yet another. That fern I have talked to. Begged to tell me what it wants. Watered it even when it seemed hopeless even! Then one morning as I was watering it, I saw an ever so tiny shoot at the bottom, hidden by the withered leaves but it was all green! The squealing and clapping that I did on that day! I’m still explaining to the neighbours that I am sane. And ignoring those judging looks from them. Yes dear readers, blind faith, hanging on a little longer, luck even. They all play a great role in project progress.

So you see? Lessons everywhere. O, see those 2 Blue Band tubs? Those are junior’s. He thinks what I’m doing is uber cool so he decided to plant something. I am however spending a few minutes every morning explaining why ‘My Plants are Not There Yet’. And yes, the idea is to turn the balcony into one happy green area with a sitting spot on the side.

The Story of Hope and Future

This was an event like no other. Again, thanks to my social media (actually twitter) connection, I got to learn about Vision Africa and the event that they were going to have, to mark their 10th Anniversary dubbed #KumiKommunity. Theirs is a cause that addresses issues that we all talk about, but are never sure how to lend a helping hand. And that is what peaked my attention. Through Seed of Hope, Vision Africa aims to equip disadvantaged teenagers with independent living through providing vocational training, business training and life-skills.

Seeing (or in this case hearing) is believing. One of the Directors, Kirsty, introduced me to 2 lovely ladies, one a graduate of Seed of Hope, and another a student. In my eyes, these two represented Hope and Future, and theirs is the story I’m writing today.


Hope came in the name of Lilian Anyango, a young lady who completed her KCPE in 2008. Unfortunately, her mother could not afford to take her to secondary school. You have got to talk to this young lady, to see and feel the determination that oozes from her. She had no hope of getting ahead in life, until her former primary school teacher introduced her and her mum to Seed of Hope, where the kind Directors took her up and enrolled her in their school.

When you ask Lilian what Seed of Hope represents, her face immediately lights up. ‘I don’t know what to say about the school and the kind teachers!’ she tells me. ‘I am blessed to have been taken up by the school and what I am learning here is going to help me. I want to start my own tailoring business.’ She tells me. ‘Then I can afford to take my younger brother who is in class 7 to high school and help my mother financially. If I have some money left over, I would like to enroll in high school and do my O levels’. Her words. And when she says these words, the conviction is like you cannot imagine. And just when I’m about to ask her a question, she cuts me short and says ‘do you know I have learnt so much in the 3 months I’ve been here I’m even assisting my classmates in cutting patterns?’ I’m not too sure what this entails but from the excitement in her voice, I can tell she is so proud of her accomplishment thus far. I beam with the pride of a parent, believe it or not.

Time is not on our side, so I tell her I’ll check in on her soon to see how she’s progressing. She dashes off to continue with whatever she was doing that I had interrupted.


It is always good to have a beginning and a success story. That is why I got to talk to the Future, represented by Rosebella Auma. She is poised, this one. I suspect she has mustered the art of interviews. She asks where I want her to sit. I quickly inform her that I’m not here to interview her per se. I just want to talk. Hear her story, and look at Seed of Hope in the eyes of a graduate. Someone who has gone through the system and doing something with their life.

Look at her. She owns the camera and by extension her life. She tells me she was not always this confident, in fact she doesn’t know where she would be had it not been for the kind care and guidance she received from the school ‘Ok young lady, what’s your story’ I ask her. She sits upright and goes on to narrate the events that led her to where she is today. She completed her primary education in 2002 in a School in Busia. She got a high score, but unfortunately, her guardian, or rather the person who could have paid for her secondary education had passed on. She had no hope left.

On her water fetching spree one day, she met a lady who asked her why she was not proceeding on to high school, which she said she was not able to pay her way through school. As luck would have it, the lady knew of Seed of Hope and they were going back to Nairobi the following day and after getting connected to a representative, she only had hours to pack and convince her relatives to let her go. The relatives were skeptical and were not sure it was the right move. But the girl was determined and I presume there being no other choice, the shot was worth it.

And that is how Rosebella Auma enrolled into Seed of Hope. Sparing you the beautiful story that this lady narrated to me, I’ll just tell you, she graduated top of her class. Not only that, she got the chance to go to Scotland. Oh, the best is yet to come. She managed to open her own tailoring shop. She was hoping to study diploma in fashion, but no college would have her, since she did not have her O level certificate, which is mandatory. She did her certificate course, and worked hard in her tailoring business and yes, ladies and gentlemen, she enrolled in school and did her O level. Pretty warped as you can imagine, but with the determination she had, and her support system backing her up, she sat her KCSE and passed *cue applause for Rosebella*

‘So what are you doing to give back, or rather show appreciation for the opportunity handed to you by Seed of Hope?’ I ask her. She tells me that the school and students are never far from her heart. She mentors girls. Not just that, she actually trains women in her community how to stitch. She doesn’t have much space, she tells me, and she can only afford to take in 2 at a time. I’m happy. Mostly because she sees the need to help others.

Seed of Hope has done a lot in helping the less fortunate in the society with life and practical skills, beyond tailoring. I could have sat longer to learn more, but time was not on my side. I however sat through a wonderful fashion show where the models, who are students at the school, showcased dresses that they had made using recycled material. The school is big on recycling. There was a Kushuka Jewellery collection like you cannot believe as well. Sample this:

In all, that was a very enlightening Saturday. Best one I have had in a long time. So is the post, I know but I was impressed. Sample more images on the event here


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