Though I have been here for nearly one month, I am continually impressed by the Nyumbani organization. There is an intimate sense of community in the Village. The staff, the children, and the grandparents foster a welcoming environment. Further, the functionality of the village depends on an intricate web of departments. The mission of Nyumbani Village is clear: to provide quality comprehensive care and support to HIV infected and affected, children, families, and communities in a sustainable manner. In the office, field, and schools, the staff’s service and initiative reflect not only their understanding of this mission but also their ability and willingness to move the community forward in this mission. I am humbled to be a part of such an organization.
In accord with previous fellows, my responsibilities in the village span volunteer coordinating and rainwater harvesting. So far, volunteer traffic has been relatively mild. We have had only had three volunteers since I have arrived. Sister Maria Thimba volunteered for the last month. She predominantly worked with the Home Care department, visiting the families and offering counseling. The village is fortunate to have had her knowledge, experience, and radiant personality over the last few weeks. Two other volunteers, Miriam Pancorbo and Belen Perez, recently joined us from Spain. They have been working hard to make signs for the village, which will make navigating the village significantly easier. They plan on pursuing more projects over the next three months.
My time has been largely consumed by Rainwater Harvesting. We are in the process of repairing all of the damaged rainwater tanks at the moment. Also, we are working on a campaign to teach the families how to clean their own rainwater tanks, which will considerably mitigate village expenses. We aim to complete both of these tasks before the start of the rainy season in mid-late October.
Socially, hanging out with the staff at night has been a highlight of my time here. People typically convene in the guesthouse, where there are plenty of card games, movies, and conversation to be shared. I have also found pleasure in playing basketball and soccer with the children and young adults of the village. Keeping up with the kids is nearly impossible, but participating in their friendly exhibitions has been a great way to get to know the people of Nyumbani.
It is an honor to be a part of the Nyumbani family, and I am grateful to have another eleven months in the village.
-Bear Goldstein, Princeton in Africa Fellow 2017-2018