“Why did you bring these women here to disrespect our culture?” Huh? You had to be there. While our medical volunteers were here, we were forced (another story) to hire Kenyan nurses to oversee the clinic operations. Early each morning Charlie drove down the hill to pick them up. The first day, ALL of them showed up wearing trousers. A big no-no. As diplomatically as possible, I go and fetch kangas, a cloth wrap and Charlie asks if they would please put them on. “People are staring”, he explains. And they were. These women work in town, where I suppose it is becoming more accepted for women to wear slacks. But up in the villages, it isn’t done or approved of. While 2 of the nurses complied, the other 3 refused. And every day, they all continued to dress in a way that they knew was offensive. I’m not sure why they did this or what they felt they had to gain. No one said anything during those days, but this week as Charlie was meeting with elders to discuss details concerning the next volunteer group, he was finally confronted with the question. “Mama Joseph has never disrespected us in this way”, they continued. “Why did these women come here and do this bad thing?” One can only wonder. As for me, I’m still wearing a dress. Change may be certain, but it is also certainly slow.
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