Farewells, Packing and an empty house

Back in Nairobi

And so I got back home in an altogether sad mood. Our 1 year was finally drawing to a close. All that was left was the dreary process of packing and leaving. Not much to look forward to..

KIDS, 27th December

On the 27th Pauline and I walked, for what was to be our last time, into Kibera. I remember telling myself “Take it all in, John. This is the last time”… and it was. We got to KIDS’, where we had planned a party for the mamas and the children, who, surprise, susprise, turned up terribly late. But we didn’t mind. This was to be our last time there, and Julianah and the workers did their best to make it a party to remember – singing, dancing, speeches (mostly in gratitude of all we did for them) and all in all a good time. It was sad… I remember saying bye to the children one last time and I couldn’t hold back the tears any longer. When Sochil came running to me and jumped onto me, I can’t really describe what I felt… hope? Was it pain? Was it “I’ll be back”? I’m not sure what I felt, but it was with a negative yet hopeful feeling that I left our dear little home in Kibera, looking back and seeing Franziska smile whilst washing the plates for one last time.

Will I ever be back? Who knows… not for some time though… but it felt a bit like saying farewell to home.
Looking back, I don’t really miss Kibera. You can’t really miss Kibera… the dirt, the pollution, the whole misery of it. What I miss of it is the people we met there. And that, after all, is what makes a place special. The people you meet, and the family you make out of them.

Packing, Moving, Stuffing, Sobbing

That evening, on the 27th I said farewell to Catherine and Javier at Java near Yaya, and gave my last english lesson to the Korean Fathers. We had been reading ” The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe” for over 8 months, and since we had finished it we decided to watch the film without any subtitles, and it was a good ending to a “course” :). I then went with them and met all our other friends – Marlene, Chiara, Sandro, Xochitl and others at Furusato restaurant, which was to be our formal farewell. The meal was lovely, but being with our dear friends, who to me had become family, and saying farewell to them for one last time, was no easy matter. I set off home that night, climbed onto my jittery bed and realised this was to be the last night in Kenya.

And so came the inevitable…the tedious task of moving out all the furniture in the house… in 2 days. It wasn’t exactly fun, I can tell you that. Moving out a cupboard is one thing. Moving out your dining table, your sofa, your bed and everything in the room is quite another thing. It’s funny how we human beings attach ourselves to silly things like a stove, or a fridge, or a bed. But when you move them out and give them out, you feel a part of you, an experience or a memory is going with them.

That morning, on the 28th, Marlene and Xochitl came for one last time to our then empty-apartment to share and exchange photos. It was terrible, seeing family for one last time, and I couldn’t help but cry at sob at the end of it. But so it was… they went down the long flight of steps, and it will be some time before I see them face to face again. I only hope to see them soon.

On the 28th, the workers from KIDS and some students came to bade farewell for one last time, and to take some of the furniture. The workers, Julianah, Lilian, Franziska and Sarah quickly started looking around the apartment for things they could take which we might have missed. Torn clothes, even a broken bed was good for them! I was quite surprised when they took my broken bed, saying that “we can fix it”. Of course they could! But where would they keep it in the meantime? I figured out that these people are more than skilled in the field of keeping things safe, and I left it up to them to make sure all things were to be put to good use.

The only time I had to stop them was when it came to taking the light bulbs! Julianah asked me to take the lightbulbs, and I said “No… we found them here, so they’ll stay here” and she quickly obeyed.

The end result was that at the end of the day all that was left was the bare floor, nothing else. After tearful farewells at the apartment, where we hugged the workers and our dear students for one last time, it was just us 2 and our friend left, Abraham. We spent the rest of the day sitting on the bare floor of the apartment, waiting for time to pass. All had been packed, all prepared and we were set to go. At this point, I couldn’t wait to leave. There wasn’t much left for us to do here, except bade farewell again, this time to Chiara and Sandro at Brew that evening.

Brew Bistro

We went to our favourite hang-out place for one last time, to say farewell to Chiara and Sandro. Brew is one of those places I’ll miss in Nairobi, in what would otherwise be an ugly uninteresting city. It has a great atmos to it, and we always left there in a great mood… it’s one of those places that never get boring or “worse”, but better over time. They had, in fact, just improved the menu, but we vouched for the amazing fries they sell over there, had a good laugh and waited for time to pass. We were to leave at 3am that night, so we couldn’t sleep before 4am at the least.

We had one final surprise when Marlene and Francisco managed to make it to Brew at 1am, where we said our very last farewell. We took the boligatory “do not leave” photo, hugged each other one last time, promised to keep in touch and left for the apartment.

Our time in Kenya had come to an end.


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