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Archive for May, 2009

Day 70

I had 24 hours in Nairobi before my flight so I took advantage of it.  Was able to hire a guide that took me all over the place so that I could see everything I wanted to.  We went to the Nairobi Park first, which is a big game park right outside of Nairobi.  At first we only saw a few ostriches but then we stumbled onto the mother-load.  There were all of these animals acting all skitterish but sticking around, gazelle, zebras, water buffalo, ostriches, and impala with vultures circling.  In the middle of the mêlée was a lion with a huge mane dragging his downed meal into the shade, an impala.  It was weird because all of the other animals just stood around watching.  Maybe it was because they knew he already had his meal.  We also saw a bunch of giraffes, a few up close including a young one.

We then headed to the baby elephant orphanage.  They open for an hour each day so that people can watch them get their mud baths. They were all so tiny and cute.  Most of them had sad stories about how their mothers had been poached for their ivory or killed for damaging crops.  There was also an orphaned black rhino, which was sooo tiny.  He ran around and we all got to touch his still soft skin. (If you are interested in adopting one of the babies here is the website http://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org/) Then we headed to the giraffe sanctuary where I was able to get up close and personal with a giraffe.  Finally, we hit the market to pick up some last minute souvenirs, then I got an iced coffee, yeah!, before heading to the airport.

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Day 68

Had a very fun last day.  One of the interns moved into an apartment for the last two months of his six-month internship so we were able to have a dinner party that pretty much included all of the muzugus in Kakamega.  There were enough boys in the group so we were able to go out dancing. Probably not the best idea since I have malaria but I figured the drinks would kill it. We had an amazing time and it was great being able to see everyone one last time before I headed out.

Day 66

Today we made a trip to Kisumu to buy the boys’ books, balls, games, colors, notebooks, etc.  We took the long way back from Kisumu past all of these amazing rock formations.  It was like giant rocks had rained from the sky.  One was two stories high. Along the road there were people hammering large rocks into tiny chunks.  The road was lined with little mounds of these rocks that they then sell per mound to make concrete. This way also has a sign that marks the equator, which was cool to actually see.  Once we got back to Kakamega we hit the market for used clothes and sandals.  My co-worker was wheeling and dealing and got great prices so we were able to get both the young boys and the older boys new shirts and sandals.

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Thank you so much to everyone that donated money for the street boys project. The boys were so excited because we were able to get everything they requested.  It will help the staff plan organized activities with the boys and keep them occupied after school and on the weekends. It will also teach them the importance of taking care of their possessions.  Most importantly it will give them an outlet to let out their energy, have some fun, and escape their situations for a little bit.

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Day 65

I confirmed my suspicions today.  I got a malaria test at the ‘ultra modern’ laboratory and I do indeed have it.  I thought I would be the one intern that had avoided getting it given I was on the expensive preventative medicine but no, I got it the last week when I’m really busy finishing up all of my projects.  It hasn’t been that bad though, just very tired and achy. On the meds so hopefully it will be gone very quickly. Luckily there are boda drivers everywhere so I can just catch a ride and not walk everywhere while I wrap up the grant. I had a few dollars left so we made posters about soy processing and booklets to place in all of the community resource centers so that community members can access the information.

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Day 64

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Today I accompanied my colleagues to Bungoma, which is the farthest area WEAEP covers.  My favorite thing about going in the field is I get to see all of the countryside, which is so beautiful and varying depending on where you are.  By Bungoma there are big rock formations.  There we headed to a small village where new community resource facilitators were being trained.  Then we headed to some area schools to check on some of the girls we sponsor.  At one of the schools they will have classes outside because not everyone can fit into the classroom.

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Day 62

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Went on what I believe will be my last matatu ride.  It did not disappoint.  I was headed out to the forest so it was one of the pickup matatus; 15 adults, 2 kids and one chicken squished into the back with 5 people standing on the bumper outside holding onto the topper.  Once to the village I hopped on a piki piki, aka motorcycle, for a very very fast but beautiful ride to the forest. The next day we went on a hike in the forest, well two hikes actually.  One was up the hill, very original name.  It is a giant hill above the forest that offers an amazing view of the entire area.  Up there is an old mine shaft cave that is full of bats.  We also hiked to the river where we had a picnic.  It was just nice to be out in nature away from the crowds.  When we got back we laid in the grass watching the monkeys in the trees.

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One great thing about being in the forest is that you can bee outside at night; just right outside of the door but still, it is nice to see the stars.  All of a sudden we here this crazy loud bellowing noise that doesn’t sound like a monkey.  It turns out that it is a cow in cow jail.  Cows are only allowed in the forest if the owners pay to graze them.  If they don’t pay and they get caught the forest guards confiscate the cows and throw them into cow jail.  There they stay without food or water until the owner shows up to buy them back from the rangers, money which they usually just pocket.  Most of the time they don’t stay in cow jail for too long because someone else might come and claim them as their own as well as the fact that cows are very valuable so the owner really wants to get it back.

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Day 59

This week was the implementation of the grant I got through FSD.  It went amazingly well mostly because of the WEAEP staff member leading it.  The grant money I received covered part of the costs and then WEAEP stepped up and covered the rest.  Margaret had done trainings like this at her previous position and was able to replicate it with her women’s group leaders.  It turned into actually more than I had envisioned it being; besides nutrition we were also able to cover health and hygiene, money management, cottage industries, business plans, special nutritional needs of people living with HIV/AIDS and the agricultural aspects of growing soy and sweet potatoes.  We had great turnout, 100% attendance.  Partially, I think that had to do with the fact that we were making a lot of yummy food.  The goal was to work with what the women already know how to make and supplement the ingredients with soy and sweet potatoes to make them more nutritious.  Margaret had actually worked on creating a soy recipe book previously that had been funded by the Gates Foundation (their money does do great things that actually work for the people!!).

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The attendants appreciated the training so much that they christened me with a traditional name Bwibo, which is the name of the local clan.  They all got booklets that they could take home with all the ingredients and took amazingly meticulous notes.  Many hoped to begin their own cottage industry with the skills they learned as well as return to the women’s groups they lead and teach them what they learned. Hopefully WEAEP will be able to replicate this training in other areas since there was such a favorable response from both the staff and the attendants.

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My favorite quotes for the training and the reviews we had them fill out:

“I couldn’t believe my eyes, soy beans were producing milk!”

“Now that we know what to do, let us all not start the same business”

“I will need to get another wife to make all of these recipes” –one of the male group leaders

“Eating this soy will turn me into a muzungu (aka white person)”

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The training was at our Mumias center which was great because I got to see some of the women and babies that participate in our nutrition program again.  I also got to hang out with all of the boys over their lunch breaks; they loved hamming it up for the camera.

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