When we first arrived in Kenya, I remember walking by the hospital playground and a little boy yelling at me from the top of the slide, “Muzungu, geeev me a kaa.”
That first day, I honestly had no idea what he was talking about. It took me a while for his question to register, I was still adjusting to Kenyan English – was he was asking me for a car?
Once I figured out his words, I still didn’t understand the question. What would make him think I would be walking around with a car for him? Is that what foreigners do?
Three years later, I cut open the boxes that recently arrived from South Georgia, full of gifts for hospital children and found a pile of matchbox cars.
I walked around the wards, speaking with the kids in Swahinglish, mixture of English and Swahili, joking with them about whether they wanted a car, if they reeeeealllllyy wanted a car, and gave them a bit of joy. There were quite a few boys recovering from surgery, up and about, and they were very, very pleased at an opportunity to get out of bed and play.
So yes, I just perpetuated the stereotype. . .but it was fun. They have been through a lot, and it’s wonderful to see them smile instead of cry when they see me.
Tim – well worth the price of shipping!