It’s The Small Things That Count

The opportunity for a young woman to be trained in a marketable skill or craft, which she can then transform into a person trade or business, has a huge impact whether you are in a developing nation or a developed. However, particularly for a developing nation, for a young girl to be able to control their own money and invest in themselves can make a literal life changing difference. Financial independence can insure a young woman’s stability, future education, help support her family, reduce the hardships of poverty, and even provide a source of protection.

I had not thought about all of this when I was asked last Thursday if I would like a free pedicure from the vocational center for girls at KMET. I had been hesitant to accept during the couple weeks I’ve been with KMET, because I felt awkward about the situation. I felt like I would be exploiting the young women if I did not pay her, and wondered if it was really appropriate. However, it was insisted that I get a pedicure. I didn’t understand why, until the situation started to unfold around me.

After being seated in the middle of the head teachers office I noticed two things; the young woman who was going to be giving me a pedicure was being intently watched by the teacher, and there was a bag in the corner of the room moving of its own volition. Noticing how I was startled by both the situation and the bag, that was now moving around the floor, the teacher politically smiled and told me that the young women was being tested in how she works with customs and what she learnt so far. Oo and what was in the bag? A chicken she had bought in the morning that she was taking home for dinner. While the live chicken in a bag is not important to the story, it added something truly unique to the situation, and needed mentioning.

As the teacher watched over her, the young women very professionally started getting everything together. She was very nervous, I could feel her hands shaking as she worked. I tried my best to be the easiest customer possible, but I have to admit it, it was incredible awkward to be watched like that. After a while a second student came in and began watching the whole process. She was not impressed with the girl’s massage technique, so she took the opportunity to show her a new one. At this point I became a living manikin as the teacher came over to assist. The fun part came when I was assigned a colour. I had already selected a colour I would like, but I was told that the colour they had selected would “make my skin tone.” The colour they had selected was a pale pink, which blends in with my already pale skin. I couldn’t help but chuckle at the whole situation.

Honestly, it was an interesting experience, but I learnt a lot from it. I understand now why I was asked to participate, the girls need people to practice their skills on. It felt good to be able to do something small, yet tangible. I can in no way take credit for really helping, but the experience reminded me that in the grand system of things, it’s all the little parts that work together that create change. Sometimes you have to zoom-out and look at the big picture to understand the importance of a moment. 

Cassie Scheiber ’17
Kisumu, Kenya