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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 😉

Tuesday

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

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.

Work updates

15 Sep

Parents day

Yesterday we had the annual parents meeting, where the parents and guardians come to the primary school.
Things never turn out the way you expect. We had around 30 parent and 70 kids. The audience wished to speak Swahili only. So we three internationals decided to instead make a small session on HIV and AIDS with the kids. We had three kenyan facilitators, who led the group discussion and informed the adults. Condom presentation included.

We also provided lunch for our 100 visitors, asante sana to Adah and Evalyne for 110 chapatis, Ndengu and Cabbage!


Finally weekend… Sunday afternoon
I really enjoyed the rest of the day, just walking through South B, enjoying the sun and talking with Steve from my Form-2 and his friends. These guys are real art talents! In the evening I met some AIESECers for a long needed Mango juice. By the way: It is not allowed to sit on the gras in the university compound after 8pm…

Plans
For my last four weeks of working here I plan to

  • continue with the discussion classes in the secondary school in Form 1 and 2. Maybe expand to mondays for the Form-3s, we will see.
  • Finally start the fundraising for the Beauty Contest
  • update the website of the primary school
  • present both schools in Mukuru to the LC to maybe get AIESECers involved to teach or mentor there.
  • organize one more parents meeting on Saturday or Sunday. The topic is not defined yet. It could be another health issue or application to jobs.
  • Continue to have empowering conversations with students, friends and members of the association. Personal goals, help with computers etc.
  • Find a successor and continue with documentation of the projects.

Get involved: Parents´ day

1 Sep

Hello again 🙂

Starting from today I will work alone, as the other two girls have left Kenya. Will have to get organized again, as the schools open again today and I will have to talk to the administration how I can actually work in the schools during the “regular” school term without having to teach maths or geography. I really like the discussions with the classes about health and world issues. So I hope I will be able to offer some of these classes on a regular basis even in the term.

I need your help and ideas. The primary school has invited all parents (150 people) to come to the school on the coming sunday to pick up the exam results. The headmaster said it would be a good opportunity to educate the parents about certain topics, such as HIV. The people will be around the whole day.

Now I have some challenges.

  • I need creative methods. A speech won´t work and a 150-people-session neither. We lack a public adress system (mikrofon). It will take place outside, without tables or chairs or possibility that the peole write something.
  • I think it should include giving out condomds, showing how to use them, presenting other info material. Probably in another language than English. In the afternoon I will design some posters about HIV with my girls during our meeting in Swahili. But for sure I need to do more than just pinning posters to a wall.
  • I am trying to find other people (from my girls forum, AIESECers, other interns) to come with me.
    But will splitting the group make sense? Groups of 30 standing outside and discussing about HIV?

The whole thing is really intersting 😉 I think it is a great forum and I want to use it. So any ideas and comments are appreciated to support my thinking proccess 😉

What a day!!

9 Aug

Current Issues in Kenya

  • Riots in secondary schools: Some weeks ago students of hundreds of secondary schools (class 9-12) went on strike, burnt down dormitories and refused to take exams. This led to a discussion on the education system. by the way: Caning (Prügelstrafe) was just abandoned from schools last year.
  • Water shortage: Due to a broken dam and few rainfall, water supply is unlikely to serve until the next rain period. So water supply to households was cut to 2-4 days per week depending on the part of the city you live in. Washing cars with piped water is forbidden. See the daily nation for more detail. In our house we have a tank on the roof and a pump so that we can store water for the days were the tabs are running dry.
  • Terrorism: On Thursday was the 10th anniversary of the bombing of the US Embassy in Nairobi which killed over 200 Kenyans and some US-americans. I visited the memorial, where the embassy used to stand. They designed a small park where the embassy used to stand, where they display all the names of the victims and show a photo gallery. The discussion about terrorism is still going on and newspapers and politicians still see a risk.

What a day

The day started like a usual day: I got up at 5.45am, left the house before seven and after preparing a lunch package. Then I spent one hour in the traffic jam (5 km to town), walked the last 1,5 km through the Industrial Area and reached the secondary school just ten past eight.

In class 10 (Form2) we gave a lecture on HIV and especially on condoms. First I showed them how to use it and finally they all practised using a condom on a banana we had brought. At the end of the lesson we distributed the rest of the 100 condoms to the kids telling especially the boys that it is not a sin to practise at home. We could clarify a lot of myths about condoms (allergies to the lubricants, they can stay inside the women, two condoms are better than one condom…).

Form3 were very interested during the German class, they asked me whether I could explain them what the Hakenkreuz means and how the german political systems looks like. They had heard that Germany is not ruled by a president and found that an interesting approach to let the parliament rule the country. I felt pretty challenged by describing the Nazi time in just 5 minutes and at the same time passing the message that Germany can serve as a role model in regards to learning from historical events.

Generally I have the impression that our lessons in the secondary school actually make a difference in the kids education. They are rarely exposed to other cultures and beliefs (example: They simply laughed when I told them that there are people in the world who do not believe in god, because it was such an incredible idea for them) and young teachers. So they dare to ask things they would not ask otherwise and we also use “alternative” methods as group work and presentations.

Just around 10 a loud bang interupted our class. The metall walls of the school were shaking! An explosion… how far away? What caused it? Was somebody injured? I just hoped that it was not a terrorist attack. We didn´t want to panic in front of the pupils so we kept on teaching. Through the window we saw that all the primary school kids and lots of slum inhabitants were gathering outside and staring in the direction of the city center. I went outside and saw black smoke coming from the slum. A fire in our slum, just on the other side of the river, maybe around 500 metres from the primary school, around the place where we usually pass when going to the girls meetings. We went back to the classroom because we couldn´t help anyways.

After some more culture classes we left the slum for lunch at the only restaurant in the industrial are. From the bridge we were able to see the fire. 2 hours after the explosion the flames were still meters high and several houses were on fire. The fire brigades couldn´t reach the place, because the streets are to narrow. People brought water in buckets from the river. Someone told us that most probably a tank of coooking gas exploded. We were advised to walk around the slum and not through it because on such unlucky days slum inhabitants might be aggressive towards Mzungus.

In the afternoon we watched the first 30 minutes of the opening ceremony of the olympic games. Oh, please remember I have a colleague from China and one that claims to be from Taiwan (not from China!). So that caused some discussions between the girls…. Then we had a 90 minute session with the girls on “I have a dream” and how to put your live vision (e. g. dream job) into reality and stressed on the importance of education.

After the session on of the girls approached us and suggested a topic for a next session. “Everybody knows that pre-marital sex is a sin” (ok, well, I stopped arguing about that…) “but I want to stress on something else: A lot of youths engage in other activities that harm their body” (I had no clue what she was talking about) “I am talking about Masturbation. Girls use toys, such as vibrators. Please make a session about it” (I thought she wanted to promote Masturbation instead of early sexual intercourse and was not so sure whether this would be worth a session) “Nowadays we know that Masturbation makes girls infertile and boys impotent. Youths need to be educated and stop engaging in such activities”. Now I was simply speechless.

On the way back I talked to another girl. She is 19, never went to school (cannot read or write) and washes dishes in a restaurant to sustain herself and her mother who is partly disabled since she was victim of armed robbers. Her dad died when she was very young and her brothers moved away from the slum… Sounds like a hopeless story. She believes that god has a plan for her and that everything will one day make sense. To help fortune a little bit I will try to find an alphabetization course for her that she can take during the evenings.

On my way back to the city (traffic jam of course…) I had enough time to think about the day. The stigmatization of sex is obvious. I hear very often that early (meaning below 25 years!!) sex is a bad thing if not a sin. On the other hand the numbers are there… young mothers, HIV positive youths… it seems that the combination of stigmatization by the society combined with insufficient knowledge is what makes it so hard to fight the desease. (Any comments appreciated!!)

I arrived at the AIESEC office just half past seven and finally found Danny, the LCP, to talk to. While having my “lunch” I discussed what happened during the day. It feels really strange expressing everything in english and I feel really limited when I cannot express myself clearly. So talking with the other german intern helped a lot. I really feel that some of the AIESECers really do understand my issues and are interested in the topics of the slums. They share their knowledge and explain me a lot about the kenyan culture, e. g. the non-existing sex education in most families. I really enjoy these conversations, apart from joking and laughing (“Use the equipment before it gets bad” as a direct comment of one university student on my citation of “25 being the best age for first sexual intercourse” by a slum girl) it gives me insight and ideas for sessions.

Half past nine I went to my matatu stage with another AIESECer Jude (my bodyguard 😉 and arrived at home just at ten. No traffic jam after 9.30pm, yeeha!

Now I will finish writing and upload the long text (sorry, Stregi;-)) tomorrow… Good night 🙂

Pics and Videos of Nairobi

5 Aug

Finally you can find one of my videos of a Matatu ride on youtube
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7RbBmKei84s

Here you can see “our” kids in the primary school during Friday morning prayer.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Pp5Iwb9KYA

Then I uploaded some pictures of the slum, as I said, it was a rainy, muddy day…

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.