Day 2 – Bernard the Banker and Cockroach Carnage

In which we’re addled by administration and cockroach carnage under the mozzie net…

For the full story, click here to watch a short film  (This film was made ages ago and the cost of the insurance premiums has gone up from £15 a year to £45. We still have to correct the film.)

It’s hard to crack on with work in searing temperatures and humidity and we’re crumpled, grimy and sweaty, unlike our main contact here, 25 year old Nicholas Odwar.

Nicholas was born and raised in Simbiri. He knows everyone and a British sponsor paid for his education so he has a degree and speaks good English. He  works for the Health Centre, but he’s done a pilot project with 5 desperate widows nearby, discovering the hidden jobs and costs involved in registering with the National Hospital Insurance Fund of Kenya.

Each widow needs her identity card, children’s birth certificates, a passport photo and £45 (about 6,000 Kenyan Shillings KSh). Many women have none of these, and they’re illiterate, so Nicholas has done the legwork – picked up and filled in forms, arranged photos, collected certificates.

We’d planned to send funds whenever he needed to pay for hospital insurance, transferring it from our bank in England via Western Union. However, it’s finally dawned on us that big cash transactions aren’t such a great idea. We need a bank account in Kenya. But what kind? Business? Charitable? Ordinary current account? Each has its own tedious, bureaucratic paperwork. Needing 5 possible signatories (Ann and me when we’re in Kenya,  + 3 others when we’re not) apparently can’t be done because the form isn’t big enough.

We’re grumbling about feeling out of our depth when Nicholas appears with his mate Bernard the Banker from Postmaster who seems clued up and sets up a meeting for next week. sunset

Bedtime 9pm. It’s pitch black, and noisy with dog fights, drumming, and what sounds like a pterodactyl nesting on the tin roof. I’m dozing off when I feel something drop on my tummy and I vaguely decide I imagined it. Suddenly it flutters in my face, then again, and bad back or no bad back, with a shriek I’m out from under that mozzie net and Ann appears waving her torch around. A cockroach the size of a mouse is circling the inside of the netting. It’s a job for heavy duty rubber gloves. I pulverise it, crunching it three times, stomach churning.

I’d wondered where all the insects were and now I know – in my bed. Spent the rest of the night twitching in a pool of sweat.

Breakfast – toast. Lunch – 2 chapattis. Supper – pasta, cheese, onions and tomatoes.

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