M A R I E

In the kitchen with Marie:
nourishing body and spirit

“I mix the different vegetables because they each thing bring and represent different things to the human body, health-wise and for energy. The plantain brings different nutrients, the green pepper brings different nutrients, and the tomato brings different nutrients. Mixed together, it completes what a person needs to be healthy and strong. I serve this dish with green plantain, rice, or ugali, everyone can choose how they want to eat it.

 

After cooking, eating brings everyone together. Even though everyone is in the same house all day, they are busy working. But, when they see the food on the table, they drop everything and come to eat.”


​- Marie, translated by Dan

In conversation with Marie: identifying challenges,

staying hopeful

“My eldest son is in high school. He wakes up very early to attend his class. As soon as it ends, he immediately goes back to sleep before starting his assignments.

​My oldest daughter, Francine, says that it’s boring to be at home. All that you are left with after school is sleep. One thing she dislikes about learning online is that the assignments are just dumped on them and they have to do them themselves. She can’t ask the teacher for help if she needs it. In school, she can just ask. So she feels like she’s on her own. She has to email, and the response does not come when she needs it, it comes the day after, which doesn’t help her.

 

Me and my husband cannot help our kids with the homework, so the kids have to figure out how to do their assignments by themselves, and most of the time, it is not possible. At the end of the day, if they have a question, they are stuck.

 

Each student receives assignments and if they do not know what to do or don’t understand what the assignment is asking for, they try to ask their siblings for help. But then the other says, ‘I have my own homework, you do your own homework.’

 

There is a lot of sibling rivalry, they fight. The two kids who are in high school, they are teenagers and that makes it difficult. Most of the time, they have classes at the same time, and since there are seven of us in the same house, there is not enough room for everyone to have privacy – and the two high school kids want privacy for their classes and for their own private stuff. This causes them to fight. For us as parents, it is not easy to deal with teenagers, especially when we are confined in a small space.

 

I am feeling good that everyone is ok, but at the same time, personally, I feel overwhelmed and helpless, for lack of a better word. Because, every time when my kids are looking for answers on how to do their assignments, if they ask and I cannot help them, as a parent, I feel like I am failing them on that part. But it is a problem not of my making, but because I cannot read or write. So I wish that they got magical powers to know all the answers for all their assignments to help them do their schoolwork.

 

As a parent, the other thing that I am dealing with is, now that everybody is at home everyday, all the kids are at home, it’s always messy. Every time I pick up a shoe and put it where it belongs, the next minute there’s a new pair of shoes, or there’s a book, or food remains, or a cup on the ground or on the table, so I spend the day cleaning and picking up the whole time.

 

My advice is that everyone pray, have faith, so that God can make all this go away, the kids can go back to school, and the house can be clean again. One step at a time, only do what you can.”


- Marie, translated by Dan

Celebrating Francine's graduation from Crawford High School

“This is the happiest thing to happen to us during this time. I feel so much joy.”

 - Marie, translated by Dan

 

Francine is the first in her family to graduate from high school. She received a scholarship from one of the local universities in San Diego. In our last group dialogue, Marie described how happy she and her family are, how proud and full of joy they are. To celebrate Francine’s graduation from Crawford, the family had a small ceremony at home (in advance of her official graduation). Marie invited everyone in to join (at a safe distance, of course).

“I think it’s good to share happiness with others too. We cannot share everything we have, but sometimes, we get to share what we can. That’s what I say, what Africans say: ‘Share your happiness.’ Don’t just keep it for yourself, share to others too, they can be happy for you."


- Francine, Marie's daughter