“Can we make beads?”

The most precious and beautiful face is at my door today.  Again she asks, “Can we make beads?” (but I hear, “Kahn wee mek bead-uhs?”).   Little Shanice wants to “mek bead-uhs” like we did yesterday.  She wants yesterday all over again.

Our beloved Heather gave Guled some fabulous things to do while we traveled from Colorado to Kenya, one of which was a bead-making kit.  Unfortunately, in the harry-karry moments of packing to meet the 50 pound requirement prior to catching the Denver International Shuttle, we must have put the beads in the wrong bag because we did not have them in the cabin of the plane.  So be it.  Nairobi is at its best when experienced without a plan, to wit, Heather’s bead-making kit will play an important and unexpected role! 

I am continually struck by how kids love hanging with adults.  It has happened in my life as far back as I remember, and most of my friends probably noticed it before I did.  Nonetheless, we have become “kid central” once again in our new space in Nairobi.  On a “wintery” day, Kenya style, we all ended up inside making a test-run batch of pancakes and trying to find something to occupy all 8 of us.   Then it hit: the bead-making kit!!

Now, combine a whole bunch of 7-15 year olds with a project and food, and you have an impromptu party.  But this is no ordinary party, because these teens don’t hold conversations about the usual topics from my world.   These kids are talking about the extra school work they are doing to get ahead so they will qualify for a good University, and they talk about parents and leaving the US, and foods they miss, and some people who scare them, and whether or not younger brother or sister is safe and ok, and maybe they could talk me into tutoring them just a bit in English since it isn’t their “strong suit.” 

The older siblings recall America well, while the younger kids do not.   The ones who recall America recall pancakes.  Today’s chosen brand, from Amsterdam I think, is fairly good and receives the kid ages 7-15 stamp of approval. 

And the whole time we are eating and talking, we are making beaded things…. 

The range of creativity is pretty amazing, and one of the 10 year olds, Khoboso, the #2 daughter to a nurse and doctor who just relocated back here from Tucson, Arizona, leads the way to understanding the bead directions.  Hours pass, Guled is feeling better and with his procured  copy of Season 2 of “Glee”, has gone into his own world, and we learn that the lunch break for one family of kids, the Tucson group, didn’t go as planned.  The youngest, Katob (Shanice laughingly calls him “ketchup” with a Kenyan accent) announces that he is hungry and thirsty.   I look around and find four apples and some block cheddar cheese.   Wilson aka Will, the 14 year old friend and eldest to another family, suggests melting the cheese on the apple slices and one of the younger sisters takes over, all the while kids are making beaded glory. 

The apples are a huge success and talk has turned to having a picnic the next day.  One wants to come over here and help cook stuff for the picnic, but I know I have to go to the supermarket because we just don’t keep enough food to have a picnic.  Other “Aunties” (i.e., Nannies apparently) have nixed the whole cooking idea.  We end up outside playing soccer, showing off our beaded treasures.  

And now Shanice wants to do it all again today!  Check out some of the photos of their work:


  1. That’s amazing, you are so generous and creative! I can only imagine the impact you are having on those kids/families.

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