"We were in the middle of an eight-year drought. I was in a really dry place. We got relief food. Water was scarce. I saw old men drink water that looked like coffee."
Patrick Wayne, in his own words, described his two-year experience as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya. After 10 weeks of training in Washington, D.C. -- "they call it staging to make sure people know what they are getting into" -- the 1999 Skaneateles High School graduate was one of 30 volunteers in a training group assigned to Kenya.
After arriving in the African country, each volunteer was assigned to a family, where he or she lived for 10 weeks of more training before going on to a permanent site.
"I was in Kitui, three or so hours from the capital, Nairobi," Wayne said. "We learned about teaching public health in a small rural village, we also learned Swahili -- an intensive course -- and Kenyan culture.
"Everyone had a mama -- we were supposed to be part of the family. The father had passed away, mama called me her son. I had a bunch of brothers -- some of them lived on the compound. The compound had one big house where I stayed. There was a sitting room, three bedrooms, what they call a bafu (bathroom), where you washed. We had a well on the compound that was very convenient. There were two other smaller houses, where sons lived. There were five kids; there was also a baby, whose mother was the house girl. The house girl worked non-stop, sweeping the compound, getting water, starting the fire. She worked hard. Cooking meals takes a long time. There was also a small field, a shamba, where they grew peas, corn and kale; there were mango and avocado trees."