Archive | 2008 – Internship in Mukuru Slum RSS feed for this section

Summary and Outlook

15 Nov

In the last days I met a lot of my friends and family in Germany. I showed pictures and videos, I even cooked Swahili dishes, was asked 100 questions, explained how Kenya works, talked, talked, talked… Finally found a good reply for “Na, wie war Kenia?”

Now it is time to write the summary of my 17 weeks in Kenya. Of course it is impossible to put it into words. Let me at least try. I Will use some of last days´ questions as structure.

Did you enjoy it?

Haha. OF COURSE I DID! Yes, the security situation might be worse than here. Yes, the living standard is not as high. Yes, it is muddy in the slums and not always enjoyable to be the only white person around. No, there ain´t running water all days.

And yes, I met incredibly friendly people and had nice food. I saw beautiful landscapes, experienced nature I only knew from books. I lived as a part of a 7-head-family. I talked about things I didn´t know they were worth talking about. I had incredible fun in clubs, at parties and with my friends.

What were the results of your efforts at work?

Let me start with the hard facts:

  • We raised funds for the primary school to buy school books, build a new classroom, buy kitchen equipment, provide lunch five times and go on a school excursion to a nearby forest reserve.
  • 20 discussion classes for class 9 to 11.
  • 10 discussion forums for girls from 15-20.
  • We held an HIV/AIDS day for 40 adults.
  • Proposal and budget for the beauty contest
  • One newspaper article about the youth group

But what is more important for me is to challenge people to think differently. Just by talking to them on the street or in the slums. But it´s pretty much impossible to measure the impact I had on people´s minds… When I left so many people told me they would miss my face, the conversations with me and the inspiration I gave them. So I just hope that in half a year a lot of lives have changed, at least kidogo.

And what did you learn for yourself?

Of course I gained working experience in a totally new field like counselling, proposal writing and health education. For sure my english improved. I “relearned” to work with less IT-support. I improved my soft skills such as communication skills, delegation, public speaking and flexibility.  And last but not least working in a different physical environment tought me a lot about my body.

I was reminded again not to take things for granted. Our lifestyle is “normal”, but just for us. That holds true for us and for everybody else in the world as well.

How was it to come back?

Wow…. This is what I call a reintegration shock. Loads of positive and negative impressions: super speedy internet, hot water from the tab, doing 140 on the highway without humps and bumps, a shop assistant that could actually help me. Then the cold and grey weather and the noisy planes from Frankfurt International Airport just above my head. Welcome back to Rhein-Main-Region!

Seeing 5 metres of coke in the shelves in the Supermarket, having a huge and FULL fridge at home, visiting flats of 80 m² for just one person, sitting on a leather couch, eating Tortilla chips with Salsa dip, using fork and knife for dinner. That was normal 4 months ago and is not so normal anymore.

Do I want to go back one day?

For sure! I hope to return for a longer period as soon as I clear university. That should be in May 2009.

Aaaaha. On the same job?

What I did was not paid which is not sustainable in the long run. Plus I want find a job in Kenya with a fixed job description and in a team, not as a lonely fighter 😉

Ok, Manu, you are crazy… I just can´t understand what Kenya did to you.manu-danach

I got a new haircut yesterday and that´s (as everyone knows ;)) an old symbol of girls to show everybody that they want to start something new.

That is all I can say now. Looking for a flat, a diploma thesis, a job, a position in Kenya.

The next six months will bring a lot of new things. I will keep you updated.


Reintegration light – Trip to Hungary

13 Nov


Just after returning to Frankfurt I spend a week in Budapest.

I was trainer on an outgoer preparation seminar for AIESEC Hungary. This definitely helped me to come back to Europe pole pole.

Cool was that Dani was there, an AIESECer from Nairobi. So we talked a lot… e. g. about the shock of going from Kenya to Europe;)

I had 4 super cool co-facis with family backgrounds from New-Zealand, Namibia, Poland and Romania and working experience in India, Pakistan, Dominican Republic, Turkey, Ethiopia and Hungary.

Thanks for listening to my Kenyan stories and sharing yours!!


Arrival in Frankfurt

2 Nov

After 4 nights without much sleep I simply slept during both flights. The changing in Kairo was as annoying as last time… queueing a lot, being pushed back and forth by funny tourists. I missed Kenya already, the politeness, the smiling people, the pole-pole-ness.

In Frankfurt then: A lot of unpacking, washing clothes, sorting presents, listening to Kiswahili music. Going to bed early. A golden autumn was waiting for me in Frankfurt, breathing the fresh german air.

Home feels good. First Cheese-Bread (with real chesse and proper bread) in nearly 4 months.

Home feels cold. Fortunately Benja had switched the heating on already.

Home feels clean. No dust on the roads, no mud, no iron sheets.

More later… I need to think a lot before I can really write how I feel.

Goodbye Nairobi!

2 Nov

I had a lot of small goodbyes. After returning from the coast I only had 3 remaining days in Nairobi.

Thursday buying Kenya King in Central, goodbye to the cockroaches at the toilet there… Then I went out with my host sister, Benjamin and his host. Some nice cocktails in Mwendas and on the way home no Matatus followed by big discussions. Kwaheri Matatus 🙂

Friday I took the primary school on a trip to Ngong Hills, amazing experience. For all the kids and even the teachers it was the first time to go there. As soon as we got on the bus, the kids started singing and their excitement was visible all over the faces. So it was a wonderful last day with the kids from Upendo.

Friday evening Benja and me cooked for my host family: “Italian” Risotto and German Kartoffelsuppe. The Cousins and even the Grandparents were there!

Friday night I went to a house party outside Rongai at the edge of the national park again. Laying outside, enjoying the stars, talking a lot. It was kind of saying goodbye to the nature and the country.

Saturday packing my bags, last visit to Massai Market, having the last tea with my host mum. In the evening I invited some friends from the slums for ethiopian food. Of course I had to end my stay in Kenya in a club: dancing in Mwendas, loads of AIESECers were there… Just as we wanted to leave around 1.30, they played Boda Boda, I think the DJ knew I was leaving 😉

Saying goodbye to my family in the middle of the night was kind of hard. I couldn´t put into words what my stay with them meant for me. As soon as I left the house and got on the cab the lights in Donholm went off. It happens like once a week, but my host family and me we took it as a sign…

Sallie, Matthew and Kureshi dropped me at the aiport and helped me with my brandnew Kartoffelsack around my backpack.

Asante sana!! Nitakumiss!

Last week – Coast

31 Oct

Of course I couldn´t leave Kenya without travelling to the coast!

So we took a night bus on Friday to Mombasa, then Matatus to the South Coast and found a nice place to stay in Diani Beach. We relaxed some days, it was amazing: Chapati & fruits at the beach, chilling at the beach, walks around the beach. The unemployment in the area is rampant. There are more beachboys (locals who want to offer services or sell goods) than tourists. Because of the post-election violence in January and February a lot of travelling agencies from Europe took Kenya out of the programme for 2008.

You can order clothes, jewellery or food and within hours it will be specially manufactured for you and delivered on the beach. I even had my private kiswahili teacher over there 😉

When I say beach, i mean BEACH. The warm blue and green water, white sands, shells… wow!

We met two travellers from France which whom we spend some time. Visiting Mombasa itself was interesting: The town is soooo different from the westernised Nairobi! Strong Arabic and Indian influence in the old town, beautiful scenery at the coast. It was my first time to the Indian Ocean and definitely not the last one. So much to see there

And now please enjoy the pics, as promised!

Last week but 1 – still working ;)

22 Oct

Although my internship ended last week, I am still busy with organising things for the primary school and supporting an entrepreneurial project.

For our lunch programme for the school we need to buy cooking equipment. Yesterday I went to some markets in fishy parts of town with Adah and Eva to get wholesale prices for food and cooking equipment. I love the way of negotiating… “See, now it is raining and we came all the way from South B, you can´t ask for 8000, how about 6500.”
We will close the deals today… Hopefully…

Also I try to support two of my friends in Mukuru with their entrepreneurial plans. We want to expand their small kiosk and build a wholesale for other shops in the slum. Getting loans, visiting the Ministry of land, registering at the Kenya Revenue Authority… a lot of traps are waiting for us.

Thursday is my first goodbye party at Jude´s house. Can´t start early enough, saying goodbye, I made sooooo many friends. I will miss them.

On Friday we will leave to the coast for 5 days. The Indian  Ocean around Mombasa has beautiful beaches… Finally relaxing 🙂

Last week but 2 – Mt. Kenya

18 Oct

On Saturday Benjamin arrived for my last three weeks. Three weeks only… And sooo much to see and to do. So many people to meet… Wow.

First we visited Mukuru together and gave some presents from Germany to the kids. (Picture 1, the rest is from Mt. Kenya)
The last four days we spent in the mountains in Central Kenya.  A friend at university had recommended us a guide to take us to the third highest peak of Mt. Kenya, the Point Lenana. We had our hiking shoes and some warm clothes and left Nairobi Tuesday morning. In Nanyuki we met our guide, the cook and the porter. Because the air gets pretty thin up there it is not a good idea for unsportive europeans to carry the luggage on their own 😉 The first day we hiked for 4 hours then arrived at Old Moses Camp (3300m) were we spend the night. On the second day we walked up to Shiptons Camp (4200m). Our guide told us a lot about the changing vegetation and the birds around. Always a good excuse to stop for some minutes to breath a bit 😉
On Thursday morning we left the camp at 3am (yes, AM) to reach the summit at sunrise. We had torches, but we were very lucky. It was full moon and it was a very clear night, so we didn´t need them at all. We climbed the last 700 meters (through snow and ice) and reached the Kenyan flag on the top (4985m) just around 6pm. An amazing experience and a wonderful view!!
I am sure you want to see pics… Later, we haven´t transferred them from the (second) camera yet.

Then we walked back to Old Moses (21 km in a day, 700 m up and 1700 down…) where we just fell asleep immediately 🙂

Friday we arrived back in the dusty and loud Nairobi and had nearly a culture shock in the traffic jam on Thika Road 😉

Short rains ;)

8 Oct

Did I mention the good weather?? tsts… Didn´t last long. The so-called short rains started. Meaning that it will rain for a month now and it cooled down to 17-20°C again… This Climate is just interesting.

I just wanted to say that my last week (at least of working) has come. There are still a lot of things to do, we will see how the week works out. After that I will travel to central Kenya and the coast for a week each and say good bye to everyone.

I just upload you some of the pics of the last weeks… invited for lunch in the slum, meeting friends at the uni, teaching in the secondary school, eating sugarcane, swimming at a semi-sunny but hot day, hiking at Ngong Hills and at a Hip-Hop concert…

Finally summer :)

1 Oct

Finally summer!! For the last two weeks we had basically blue sky and a freaking heat (less than 30 degrees though and a nice cool breeze). Sandals only, no pullovers anymore, beer in the evening, wonderful 🙂 Yes, I got a nice tan already. And I burned my feet, because I forgot the sunscreen… But my feet look tanned anyways, because of all the dust in the city and the slums 😉


Yesterday I went to extend my visa and to register as an alien at the office of immigration. That took me quite a while, 22 Euros and I had to leave my fingerprints… 10 of them. Tststs, different places, different approaches. I wanted a friend who is a matatu conductor to show me a special market where I could buy things but I wasnt able to make it because I had to prepare my class for the secondary school.

For lunch I was invited at a friends place in the slum. They have a kiosk there in which they actually live. They prepared rice and ndengu stew (Linseneintopf) for me, delicious. I was feeding one of the neighbours daughter, Kasani, she is sooooo sweet. Will upload the pics later.

Then I met the headmaster of the primary school to discuss the budget. Thanks to the efforts of my dad and some of his colleagues who collected some money at their workplace in Hanau we will be able to finally build a kitchen or at least provide lunch for the kids. This will take a thorough planning and some calculations though 😉 We will have to check the cheapest places to buy building materials and school books etc.

Then I met my secondary students. We discussed a newspaper article that was written from the perspective of a 60 year old and full of good advice to 16 year olds… Interesting, how culture and the role of family influence the way the students appreciate such a letter. In Germany students would be more critical, for sure. My students agreed that they would love to receive such a letter from their dad with good advice for their life.

In the evening I met my friends in Kayaba to discuss the strategy for the fundraising for their project. Then I was invited for dinner, Ugali (Maismehl in Wasser gequollen) and green spinache-alike vegies with tomaties. I left the slum at nine to go back to the city. That was too late to take the direct way through the industrial area, even together with kenyans… I could have stayed with the family, of course they invited me. I told you they are all very hospitable. But I was not prepared. Next time I am carrying my toothbrush and the box for the lenses… I really would like to have a night “in the ghetto” as they say, to give me “the full experience”. Interesting wording they use themselves…

But so I headed back to town, walked from the one bus stop to the other to just get one of the last matatus (before 10). Suddenly someone jumped off a bypassing matatu and ran towards me. In that part of town not a coool thing especially after 8pm… But guess what: it was my friend George on his night shift. So he missed that tour of his matatu (there are two more conductors per bus) and brought me to my stage. On the way I was again told funny stories about the “matatu business”, introduced to some police men who were just in the process of ‘arresting” some conductors who had broken some traffic rule, shook hands of both cops and arrestees (does that word exist??). Funny funny.

After a whole pineapple for 2nd dinner i fell asleep 🙂


Today we have a holiday, Ramadhan is finally over… All our muslim friends will celebrate with their families and friends. Went shopping for my family (driving on the left side, yiiehaa!), and will go swimming in the afternoon. Need to organise some students for the career day in the secondary school and which working environment is nicer than a sunny place at a swimming pool 🙂

Happy Eid ul-Fitr!

As I said, pictures will come. See you 🙂

Great week :-)

19 Sep

This week was just wonderful. I had meaningful conversations with so many people, had really good discussions in my classes. We finally finished the proposal for the Beauty Contest. My Swahili is progressing. I made a budget plan for the primary school and a presentation to find volunteer teachers from the university. Lots of small things 🙂
After the crazy weekend I am basically relaxing a lot. Finally it stopped raining and the whole week has been pretty warm and relatively sunny.
Now I am really looking forward to the weekend. On Sunday we will go hiking in Ngong Hills.