Archive | July, 2008

Map of Kenya

31 Jul

Ich hab da mal was vorbereitet… yes, I had a little spare time 😉

Getting things organised…

30 Jul

I would like to answer to some questions.

  • Yes, Maybe I should add some formating to my posts 🙂 I will use subtitles, if that is ok for you 😉
  • No, I won’t write Abstracts.
  • Yes, people here are very interested in Barrack Obama and most of them hope that he will become president. They are aware of the fact, that he is not really kenyan, but at least “a little bit”.

My job gets a little organised now

Finally I have a plan for the next 4 weeks 🙂 We divided our job into three parts:

  • Teaching kids: In August there are school holidays here. The schools in the slum offer classes during that time and I will teach three mornings in the secondary school and will do some extracuricular stuff (german, maths and geography). Two afternoons I will work in the primary school.
  • We want to initiate a girls meeting in the slum Mukuru Kayaba. Two afternoons per week we want to discuss topics as domestic violence, hiv/aids, early pregnancy, entrepreneurship, getting a job, expressing ones opinion. There is a lot to organize, it is more than just holding a lesson to girls. We want them to be sustainable, so that in the end they can organize the meetings on their own.
  • We want to teach the parents and kids of the primary school (Mukuru Commercial slum) on hiv/aids. One afternoon per week there should be a parents forum. And in the end we want to include the girls from the other slum in the lessons of the kids. That would be soooooo cool 🙂

So far thats my plan for the next weeks. My two colleagues leave at the end of August, so I am looking for a new colleague for September.

My host family is so great

I am so lucky with  my host family! The house is really nice and in a good area, we talk a lot about the day and what happened. I really feel at home and they ask me to use the kitchen and everything as I want. And finally I have a younger brother and sister :-)))

AIESEC conference

I will be facilitator on the East African Leadership Development Seminar, that is an AIESEC conference that will take place in central Kenya in around 10 days. We are in the process of preparing the sessions and I am so excited to work with all the other facis (kenyan and intenational students) in a team. Will tell you more later. Gotta go home and prepare one of my sessions for that conference.

Weekend

27 Jul

My first weekend during my internship. Friday I had pizza (buy one get one free on chicken exotic masala 🙂 with Lara, then we met a group of other interns in Westlands in an italien Restaurant. Westlands is the district where you go when you want to spend a lot of money on drinks and food. There were only white and asian people in the restaurant, except for the waiters, who were 100% black. That felt really odd! Having seen only black people and white (and asian) volunteers for weeks I felt like in the wrong place.

I had an amazing dessert (apple pie with vanilla ice cream) which could have won an award (4 Euro).Then we went on to the Black Diamond, which is a Disco/Bar/Lounge. Still there were some 20% of non-blacks but it felt like Kenya again. After a drink on the veranda we went for dancing where the different cultures became obvious again. We dutch and german girls just wanted to dance for ourselves to enjoy the music and the atmosphere whereas some local boys had the impression that we were waiting for naughty tight dances and free drinks. “You won´t enjoy the night when you dance alone” I was told… Well…
At 2 we where tired of and took a cab to the YES house where there was a “party” going on. The local AIESECers had finished their exam period and were celebrating this with loads of alcohol. I stayed here for the night.

On Saturday I went for shopping together with Lara. Then we went on one of the biggest towers in the city, the conference centre (29 floors) from which we had a very nice view over the whole city and also on Nairobi National Park. As we are still in the cold season it was a little cloudy so we couldn´t spot the Kili or Mt Kenya. As we didn´t bring our camera, I want to return another day. We paid 2 Euro fee pP which included a watchmen who came with us and explained us what we saw (Kenyattas tomb, Parliament, different districts, airport, …).
When I arrived in Donholm at my house nobody was home. My mobile phone had gone off (due to low battery). The guard at the gate lent me her mobile phone to call Sally. In the end I had a conversation with a refugee from Somalia until Sally arrived. It was our turn to cook and we did a phantastic Spaghetti Bolognese. I really enjoyed the food, although the cheese and herbs were lacking.

This morning I went to church with Sally. The english service was at 8.30am. As all the buildings over here the church is not older than 40 or 50 years. I has been around 10 years since my last english church service, so I had to read all the prayers from the book which seemed awkward. They had a choir and some drums to sing the songs with the people, which gave me “that african feeling” ;-).

Today in the afternoon I will have a meeting in Kayaba slum to discuss the beauty contest project. But as it is a grey Sunday, I didn´t hesitate to make a work appointment. Its around 15 degrees and very cloudy. In August the weather will be better and I can travel again.

Get involved: Ideas wanted

24 Jul

My thoughts and even my dreams are all around the slums and their inhabitants. Today I woke up and had “just another” idea… My goal is to have a day dedicated to a special topic (hopefully every week) to which all inhabitants are invited.
Needed for this is

  • cooperation with a speaker in the slum, which could be our headmaster. I will talk to him on Friday.
  • a room. Maybe in the school?
  • advertisement. The kids could paint a poster every week and write their own flyers.
  • agenda…. Thats intersting now. I have a lot of issues that could be covered. But the people and the available material here are different from how I usually work in AIESEC in Europe or we know it from university.

Issues to be covered by a project day that pop up in my head are

  • HIV-awareness
  • early pregnancy
  • Increase self-esteem of all the kids and especically the orphans
  • general health issues: water, TB, malaria, hygiene (maybe a “cleaning the river”-day, maybe getting a free doctors team in the slum for standard examinations)
  • entrepreneurship: how to start an own business to sustain oneself
  • how to apply and where to get a job
  • Law + Democrazy (e. g. : companies polluting the river, why elections are important, letters to the parliament…)

If you have more issues or concrete ideas to put the above mentioned ideas into agendas, please add them as comments!
The best idea is rewarded by a postcard 😉

Thousands of impressions

24 Jul

Life here is so crazy… every day hundreds of small things happen and I could write them down the whole night. But I prefer to sleep at night 😉
I want to give you some examples of situations happening to me in the last (my first 3!!) days. Maybe you can understand that life here is not boring at all but challenging me every second.

Talking about the characteristics of animals and letting the kids give examples for mammals I again recognized that this kenyan accent is really hard for me to understand. For me, a “bird” is not a mammal, for them, a “bat” is. Learning new special vocabulary during teaching them is really amazing… carnivores (Fleischfresser), layers (Legehennen) as contrary to beef poultry, dairy cows… come on, thats science in class 4!

Although the conductors are shouting the destination of the matatu all the time, its really hard to make it out. There is that accent and then the noise on the street: Usually the matatu drivers use their horn to signal that they are waiting for passengers, the conductors are shouting in a language mix. Before I get in I usually ask again whether its the correct one, the next one to leave and for the price. This time he hugs me and says “I love smart girls. And you are the smartest”. Allright 🙂

Sitting in the living room of a slum, no windows, only some metal separates from the neighbours, the neighbours TV is so loud that we hardly understand each other. The entrance to the living room is through a hallway where on the floor the used water from the whole block flows out to the street (no drain tubes or canalization here…) and washed clothes are hung up to dry.

Two of the girls thank us that we came to help them and said that they appreciate everything we did. One of them nearly cried when explaining the bad situation of (especially) girls in a slum. Early pregnancy, abortion, drug abuse, no education, dependance from men, no job opportunity or money to start a business, bad hygiene conditions (no running water, no tampons or towels for menstruation) etc etc. In the end I didn´t feel bad because of the described situation but because they were so thankful although we hadn´t done anything until now apart from booking a flight and coming to Nairobi.

Just returning from the slum yesterday I was thinking about about the ladies there, about how blessed I am as a “rich white girl” and my next projects there to support them somehow I am stopped by advertisers who want to convince me of a safari tour. “You don´t want to see these beautiful animals?” I had forgotten, that I am just another rich mzungu walking through the city during his holidays.

From the bus stop from my slums to university it is around 1,5 – 2 km walking. As the city is really jammed during the day everybody including me walks zig-zag lines between the busses (better breath through a scarf, no Feinstaubgesetze here in Nairobi). Still every single taxi driver I pass by asks me to get into his car. How senseless… I have to learn “Walking is faster, thank you” in Swahili!!

We three international girls on the project seem to be very different from each other. Ariel is very quiet and prefers to work with children. Di loves to be effective and structured, direct communication and would like to leave out the teaching part. And then me as I want as much projects as possible and have loads of ideas to work with the kids, youth and also their parents or guardians. They will leave at the end of August which means we have to start with our projects very soon.

When I come home around 8pm the family has dinner together. Sallys mum usually has 7-9 bowls of different food on the table (for that I call it the evening buffet), whereas s. I am really tired in the evening but still there are 100 things to talk about and my host parents and I usually end up in political or family value discussions which are very very interesting but still even more tiring.

OK, gotta go now. I will try to meet some of the Entrepreneurship (YES) and HIV (ASK) project interns for ideas. This afternoon I have another meeting of the trainers for the AIESEC conference in August and tonight I will go to the Goethe institute where they show short films from rwanda. Have a good day 🙂

Here you see 2 pics of my new sister Sally and one of a meeting with AIESECers and interns at university.

Get involved: Teaching in Kakamega Forest Reserve Primary School

24 Jul

Under the category “get involved” I want to publish posts in which you can take an active part here in Kenya. I will either describe jobs or ask you for ideas concerning my job.

During our visit in Kakamega Forest Reserve (see here) a farmer asked us to come with him into the school and meet some of the teachers and the headmaster. We were told that for several reasons they don´t have enough teachers to cover all subjects in all 8 grades.

So here is the job offer:
Teaching as a volunteer teacher in the primary school (class 1-8.) in subjects of your choice for a period of your choice. They offer free housing in the usual houses inside the rainforest reserve! The inhabitants of the school are incredibly friendly, curious and hospitable. The kids are soooo sweet, running around barefoot and in their school uniforms and looking at you with their big eyes curiously 😉

Come to Kenya to live and teach inside a rainforest!

If you are interested, just contact me and I can give you the contacts of the headmaster!

First two working days

22 Jul

There are two more girls who have the same job description as I have, their names are Ariel and Di from Taiwan resp. China. We three went to the industrial area near which our slum is. If you want to check where that is, go here

There are two schools in the same area of the slum. The brightstar secondary school (9 to 12) with included primary school and a primary school with classes 1 to 6 which is organised the upnido (love in Swahili) rescue center. We met Naum there, the CEO of the primary school and he explained us everything. Most of the kids are orphans, none of them could afford a school uniform or bus money to go to public schools. There are around 90 kids that are educated by five or six volunteering teachers. In the first two classes the kids english is not good enough that we could teach them. But we were told it would work in grade 3 to 6…

On Monday we just talked and then returned to the city again. Today we three even gave classes… it was pretty funny actually. I joined the science class in grade 4 (sources and use of water, how to store waterin a safe way) and 5 (characteristics of mammals). The kids have exercise books to take notes and a pen each. Then there is one textbook (at least for most of the classes) which the teacher can use and a black board with chalk. Improvisation needed!

The subjects they teach here are Maths, English, Swahili, Science (bio, chemistry, physics), Social Science (history, geography), PE (sports), CRE (cristian religious education), Music and there are HIV-AIDS lessons. On Friday we will get our teaching schedules. Most probably we will be in the two schools Monday through Thursday and reserve the Friday for the organisation of the Kayaba beauty contest. We will see whether such strict schedules work over here 😉

Tomorrow we have the first meeting with the locals who are involved in the Project. It will be the three of us and 3-15 kenyans, which sounds like a really interesting process.

True life begins

21 Jul

The first 10 days of travelling and relaxing are over.

Yesterday I moved from the trainees house (in Kileleshewa, in the west of the city) to Donholm (which is in the east of the city near “my” slum) to live with Sally and her family. I was really looking forward to meeting my host family and see how they live. And from the first impression they are very friendly and absolutely nice!

Later today I will start working at the Miss Kayaba Beauty Fame Youth Organization. There are two other trainees and a forth one will arrive in the next weeks. So I really think we can contribute there.

Oh and by the way: My mobile phone number is +254 737 432119
Feel free to call me or write text messages 🙂

3-day camping safari to Masai Mara

21 Jul

The Masai Mara is the Kenyan part of the Serengeti (Tansania). In Juli and August a huge amount of animals migrates from the Serengeti to the Masai Mara, which is really spectacular when the zebras and wildebeest cross the river (crocodiles are always hungry…) and just walk in kilometer long lines through the steppe.

In Nairobi you can book the typical 3-day Masai Mara safari for around 200 Euros per person. That includes
– transfer from Nairobi (350 km = 6 hours) and vice versa (you can upgrade to a flight for around 150 Euros per way)
– 2 nights in 2-bed-tents in a camp that sustained by original (??) Masai (upgrade to 5-star-lodge for 70 Euros per day)
– 3 meals a day
– guide and driver on approx. 14 hours Safaris (including early morning and evening drive which is when most animals can be spotted)
– entrance fees to the National Park.

Three of us were interested in going and we talked to Jimmie, a local, who had organized safaris for other trainees before. After some phone calls he had booked his driver and cook and we were able to go on tour with him. The usual group sizes when booking with a tour operator are 5-9. So we had lots of space in the safari car.
The advantage when going with a big tour operator is that all their cars are connected through radio and they tell each other which places to come to. Otherwise it can be really hard to spot all the interesting animals in a Park that is around 70 x 25 km big.

In the end we saw wildebeest, zebras, lots of birds (incl. Geier and Strauß), antilopes, gazelles, monkeys, crocodiles, hippos, giraffes, bocks, buffaloes elephants, lions and a hyane. And the usual amount of cows and goets that are looked after by small masai kids.
So we were satisfied 😉

As we were three germans we couldn´t help thinking about the impact safaris have on the environment. Our book recommended low-impact-safaris which work with solar energy. Lots of trees are burnt for heating water and cooking in that area which adds to the erosion of the soil. Our guide had promised us solar energy but the camp was totally based on fire and burning coal. So we were a bit unhappy.
When driving through the National Park we asked our driver 3 or 4 times to stay on the bigger roads and not to go through the nature. “But the other cars also do it” didn´t impress us. But I can tell you that its really tempting to leave the paths after spotting a lion, becase obviously they don´t take their siesta in the middle of the road. And some of the other safari cars even followed the lions around bushes. We couldn´t believe it… what tourists ask their drivers to do just for the best picture. Most of the tourists didn´t even bring binoculars for watching the animals but they just took pictures (standard zoom cameras…) and went again to the next scene.

Whatever… Although sitting in the car for hours and hours was really difficult and we had spend on our whole 6-day-tour as much money as on these three days, we enjoyed the tour a lot. Seeing all the animals you know from films and also the beautiful landscape in the south west of Kenya was just amazing.
Especially watching hippos, lions and elephants (which we hadn´t seen in other parks) in their natural surroundings was impressive.

Below you find some pictures (again the great zoom of mums camera was really helpful). I also have some videos, but with the internet speed here its really not possible to upload all of them. I will maybe add some later.

Enjoy!

6 Days of intense travelling…

15 Jul

I just returned to Nairobi from six days of intense travelling… Its hard to believe how much I experienced in the last week!

Wednesday

Arrival at 5am at the airport in Nairobi and some hours of sleep I saw the university and met some AIESECers. The other interns were really friendly and we went to dinner together. My first Matatu ride (14seater buses that are more roling discos than public transport) was simply great fun. The roads are full of bumps and holes… incredibly… just imagine yourself in a Toyota bus (size of a VW bus) with 16 people on 14 seats, reggae music from the speakers jumping along the “road”.

After an afternoon wandering around the city (talking to a lot of people who know german and have some kids at home who need food… or friends who are ill… or just would like to be invited on a beer by their new white friends) and more talking to Interns I heard to magic sentence “It is easy to spend and actually waste time hanging around Nairobi.” So I decided to just pack the backpack and start travelling through the country right away.


Thursday

So we took a Matatu (they dont only cover the cities but also connect them) to Naivasha. The city mainly consists of a matatu station and a lot of street shops. We checked in to a “hotel” (5 Euro per double room). Rented bikes near the lake (those wouldnt be stolen even without a lock in the Gallus in Frankfurt) and went to the gates of the national park.

We were cycling through an incredible scenic national park called Hells Gate. There are rocks, steppe and finally the first animals!! We were so excited to spot the first zebra through the binoculars and take pictures with the 10zoom camera (thanks, mum!). Later we were cycling through big zebra herds on the gras, spotted antilopes and even buffalos near water places.

It was a perfect safari experience, cycling instead of sitting in a jeep.

Friday

On the next morning we decided to climbing Mt. Longonot, an old vulcano near Naivasha, the so called “damn, man!”-mountain. But well get back to that later.

That part of Kenya (The great riftvalley) is really dusty and so is the vulcano. The ranger at the park gate told us that depending on our speed we would reach the rim of the vulcano after 45-60 minutes and we felt really bad when two hours later we were still climbing. Busloads of school kids ran past us (I guess they even made it in 30 minutes…) and left us coughing in dust clouds. A boy was already on his way down again and literally ran down the mountain and nearly fell over creating a dust cloud which made him shout out “damn, man!”… and his teacher “dont run!”. There is nothing to add 🙂 I will post a video of that later and you will understand.

The more we climbed the view became more amazing.

On the way down we were alone in the national park, as all the kids had run down to their busses again. We werent really expecting it but the spotted a giraffe eating from the tasty trees just 50 meters away from us. More and more of them appeared and again cameras clicked 🙂

Back in Naivasha we found out that the next bus to Kitale were we would meet other AIESECers would leave around 8pm meaning we would arrive there at 2am. So we had dinner in the same (and only) restaurant again. Power failure again but no candles this time.

Then we waited for the bus to Kitale. and waited… and talked to some drunkards at the waiting place (funny thing when you dont understand Suahili and they make fun of you in front of around 20 people) Guess when the bus arrived… no, not 10pm… 10.45! And it was actually not a bus to Kitale, which meant they told us to change at 3am at some city somewhere where they would be another bus… somehow appearing out of the blue…

Our guidebook called the street to Kitale “the highway of horror” which should NEVER be used at night because of the traffic and the bad road conditions. We fully agree to this statement!

Not one minute we were able to close our eyes: The window next to me opened with every bump and as the handle was broken I had to close it every 20 seconds to avoid the cold (and dusty!) air to come in. And the bumps and holes… but what can I tell you. The other approx. 60 people in the bus also survived…

We arrived in 5 am in Kitale, ready to go on a hiking trip with the others at 7am. We just wanted a shower! Finding a hotel was not so easy, as everything was booked (weekend…) or the warm water didnt work (i am not kidding). After wandering around the city between 5 and 6 am we found a room and negotiated really well and just paid for two showers. Left the hotel at 7am, had breakfast at a cafe and waited for the others (who arrived at 9.30) which gave us the chance to go shopping and talk to locals.

Saturday

Western Kenya is very green, there are actually rainforests there!

With 3 other interns and Halima, a local AIESEC girl we went hiking at Mt. Elgon. This is the second largest mountain in Kenya, so we werent able to climb to the top. So we had a hike to some caves, saw beautiful waterfalls and creeks. Walking around the rain forest was really crazy… big trees, lianes, birds and simply the sound of jungle… amazing!!

Just when we reached a point called Elephants Viewpoint where we could actually see Uganda, Sudan and Etiopian grounds it started to rain. We were only 2.5 kms away from the park gate (said the sign) so we decided to just go there before it would get worse. But of course it got worse before we reached the gate (mainly because it was 5 kms and not 2.5… ) and any jacket gives up when its raining cats and dogs like that. All the paths got muddy and we were more gliding through the mud than really walking down the hill. We were totally drenched with rain when we finally heard cars. We hoped it would be the rangers picking us up. Although it was the rangers we had no chance of help from them because their cars were stuck in the mud. We tried to help them but without success, so we continued our gliding and slipping down to the car. In 13 years of camp experience in germany (Viele Gruesse ans Maedchenzeltlager!!) i have never experienced such heavy rains or mud!)

Finally at the car the rain had stopped and it was sunny again. We went to town to get some food and finally arriving at Halimas house I simply fell asleep after 36 hours awake and two long hikes.

Sunday

We were relaxing at the farm of Halimas mother. Well… we couldnt leave because our clothes were still dripping wet 🙂 Our hosting family organized a barbecue for their guests and our egyptian Habiba took part in the actual “preparation” of the food. Don’t wanna go into details, but it included a long knife and some palm leaves that were between the sheeps throat and the gras.

From Kitale we went to Kakamega by Matatu (no interest in busses anymore after that horror trip).. After just 15 minutes we had a punctuation. The extra tyre which was put on was flat just 1 km later… What now… There is only one extra tyre on the usual Kenyan matatu and thus we were waiting for another matatu to come by and lend us a tyre. All right. Tyre fixed, looked alright (all the passengers inspected it seriously!).. I sat down on the last bench in the car and just another 3kms later the rear door opened and the extra tyre fell out. Us three sitting in the last row of the vehicle shouted out loud and finally the driver (remember the loud hip hop music…) heard us and stopped. The conductor jumped out, ran back, collected the tyre and the next two hours I couldnt help but smiling and laughing about this comedy which actually didnt have a script. (I was searching the hidden camera though.)

We arrived at Kakamega where a friendly waitress at a bar even called the director of the guesthouse to asure that there were free beds there. After a free lift by the local police we arrived in the hotel before dark (sun sets at 6.30 and its completely dark at 7 down here. remember that the equator crosses Kenya!)

Monday

Then we went to the Kakamega Forest reserve. This is another rain forest, actually a very special one for geological and biological reasons.. Whatever 🙂 I will remember the national park for its extremely friendly people. Again it started to rain out of the blue and we were sheltering in one of the huts of a family. Now I know why they call it the rain forest!! There was even hail. Yes,ice coming down from the sky in Africa!

There are actually people living inside the rain forest and there is a school with around 400 students where we talked to students and teachers. I will post an extra article about the school later!

In the evening we took a matatu to Kisumu. We even saw the Lake Viktoria when coming down to the city. Due to some stops to fuel up or simply to talk to people passing by, we were running late (what is “late” actually…) and arrived after dark in Kisumu. Found our hostel and after a (surely) needed shower (just dont look at the ants road in the bathroom…) I had a wonderful Pizza and finally slept well under the mosquito net.

Tuesday

We left Kisumu at 11 by bus and after 6 hours arrived in Nairobi. On the journey I had a nice kenyan sitting next to me who explained me a lot about politics and the history of Kenya and was really iterested in the german Laenderfinanzausgleich.

And here I am, thirsty for more. Tired and happy. Met incredibly friendly and curious and hospitable people. Sat in a lot of Matatus between chicken (and people). Got through around 30 police controls on the way and hit my head on the roof countless times…

What can I say: Thanks Sean for your magic sentence!