Friday, February 10, 2012

The Floodgate of Affection

Affection is responsible for nine-tenths of whatever solid and durable happiness there is in our lives.
~C.S. Lewis

A few years ago I read a book called The Secret which talks about something that is not such a big secret- the Law of Attraction. In simple terms, the Law of Attraction states that the energy you send out to the universe will attract similar energy: so if you emit positive (love, joy, etc.) you will receive positive. Along the same lines, if you emit negative energy (anger, hatred, fear, sadness) you will receive negative energy.

Apply this animals in Kenya and you get animals at your doorstep all the time. Why is that?

Let's take a closer look at the way in which animals are treated in general.

In the U.S. many households have a tendancy to have a pet - whether the pet be a dog, a cat, a goldfish, a lizard, frog, or other mamal or reptile, there is a tendancy to have some animal in the house as a pet.

In general, the pet in the house tends to be treated with affection. Typically, the pet is fed on a regular basis and given water, and most importantly the animal is given affection. The way in which affection is shown can vary: dogs are taken for walks and play ball or fetch. Cats may be given a special toy to play around with, etc.
Each type of animal is likely to be shown a different kind of affection, but alas the affection is there.

In Kenya, I have found that most locals - particularly those living in the village setting - do not show that same level of affection. Even animals which are guard dogs or such are not treated the same way. In my experince (based on living in Kenya and speaking with other volunteers) animals here are not treated with such high regard as in the U.S. In particular, dogs tend to be treated with neglect. They are not played with as in the U.S. nor are they given toys or such.

The reason for this difference seems to be simple: Finances. Is it more important to have money to have food for the family? To have money to pay for school fees? Or to feed a guard dog?

The mentality is that (guard) dog can always have some left overs from dinner or the cat can have some left-over milk.

That is not to say that all Kenayns treat their animals in such a way, but this is just my perspective based on my limited experience.

In a practical fashion, this means, that when volunteers and other individuals who come live short or long term in Kenya show affection to an animal (cat/dog/etc.) they are likely to be openning a flood gate of affection. The animals are so starved for affection that they keep coming back. In some situations, it can even be overwhleming (hence the floodgate metaphor).

Imagine if you will, treating one cat nicely - give him/her a little bit of milk or water. Next thing you know a whole litter of cats is meowing at your gate or door because they, too, seek the affection which they have been lacking for, in some cases, their entire lives.

Perspective. Give a little love and you may find yourself having a ton of animals seeking your love.

As the Law of Attraction states: Give a little love and you get it back.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A New Year, A New Adventure

As 2011 is finally behind us and the end of my Peace Corps service is in sight (just over two weeks) I can't help but wonder about what the future holds.

Reflecting on the last 3 years of my life there are various things that stick out in mind:

* My first few nights in Kenya: traveling and seeing elephants on day2
* Getting arrested in Kenya
* My home in Garissa
* My companion, friend, and pet Baraka (English: Blessing)
* My Peace Corps family

...As time wraps up and I know I will soon write up the last three years of my life into the description of service (the only official document of my Peace Corps service) I can't help but feel that a short document can't hardly capture what the last three years of my life.

At this time I certainly am feeling a bit sad that this chapter in my life is ending, and yet, I am also very hopeful for the next chapter of my life. Before long, I'll be visiting my good friend and current PCV Chad in South Africa. From there, I'll head off to Peru where hopefully I will also be able to connect with other PCVs and continue growing as my life of service continues to unfold.

I see the end of this chapter in my life fast approaching and I also see the door that lies behind the closing of this one. What will I find behind the next door? Only time will tell.