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Day 50

Today I visited our Mumias office again for a proper tour from the Coordinator there.  He just recently started; previously he had been working in the Nairobi slums with the street children there.  I got a full tour of the new building that will hopefully be finished soon.  It has space to house battered women in need of shelter, some of the street children and a health clinic.  There is also space to have meetings and trainings for the women’s groups.

I hung out with the boys at the drop-in center there for a bit as well; they love hamming it for the camera.  They just recently got new bunk beds and bedding.  Before their mattresses were on the floor.  When the new beds arrived he gave a hygiene and chores training for all the boys so they would understand the importance of taking care of themselves and their surroundings.  Many of the boys arrive in pretty bad shape.  The coordinator recently recruited a boy whose feet were so infested with jiggers, burrowing bugs, that he couldn’t walk.  They are all gone now and he can walk.

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He also took me to the mechanic workshop where we have three older boys apprenticing.  We don’t have enough money to cover all of the older boy’s expenses so WEAEP has been able to work out a deal with an establishment in town that the boys go to in the morning and in the evening.  There they do a bit of manual labor in exchange for breakfast and supper.  For lunch they come to the office and eat with the younger boys and they are able to sleep on the property of the workshop they train at.  It’s not perfect but they at least have a place to stay and food in their bellies.  Hopefully, when they complete their apprenticeship they will be able to be gainfully employed and self-sufficient.

Day 11

This past weekend I joined the first group of interns on their midterm retreat to Lake Nukuru. It was an amazing drive as we went through the lush green forests around Kakamega and through the drier Rift Valley to get to Nukuru. On the way we passed a refugee camp for people who were displaced by the post election violence. The camp still exists even though that was over a year ago. When we were buying our park passes monkeys jumped into our matatu and raided our food supply within the span of about five minutes.

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The next day we headed out for an all day safari. Lake Nukuru is famous for all of the waterfowl it has, specifically pelicans and flamingos. We saw thousands of birds but was told only a small percentage are currently there. During the peak part of the season three-fourths of the lake is covered with flamingos. Throughout the day we saw zebras, water buffalo, impalas, and gazelles. We also saw a lone hyena strolling at the water’s edge. In the afternoon we saw a family of white rhinos that were absolutely huge. We also saw numerous baboons; once in the distance we saw a group of about 100 moving across the fields. The late afternoons highlights were giraffes and the illusive black rhino. We also saw the famous Nukuru tree lions. They like to chill out on the top of trees but given the intense heat we saw them hanging out below in the shade.

march15_rhino

We stayed in a guesthouse in the park so right outside our door we could see zebra and water buffalo. In the morning there was a large family of warthogs with a bunch of piglets running around, very cute. That evening we went to town and saw Jua Cali, a famous Kenyan rapper perform at a club. It was fun to see what a club in Kenya was like, lots of dancing.

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Day 1

I have made it to Kakamega after an interesting day in Nairobi. I stopped at a bank to get some cash from an ATM and the machine ate my card. For a moment, I totally freaked out but luckily there were some American students behind me that helped me. One watched the machine and the other helped me argue with the bank guard to let us into the bank even though it was closed to get my card out of the machine. Her perseverance and arguing skills got me into the door and I got my card back thankfully. I decided not to risk any more adventures in Nairobi and joined them at a coffee shop instead until I had to catch my flight.

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At the Nairobi airport I had to walk out onto the tarmac to get on the plane. The flight to Kisumu was very beautiful. The hills are densely covered with a patchwork of fields. It looks as though every piece of land it used for farming, lots of deforestation. I also saw a lot of fires burning, clearing the land for farming. Kisumu is situated on the banks of Lake Victoria so there was a nice view of it through the smoke. The Kisumu airport is just one runway and a tent for a waiting area. The FSD staff met us there and we took a ridiculously bumpy road to Kakamega.

We are staying in a guesthouse for a week of orientation before we join our host families. Throughout the week we’ve been having a bunch of sessions to better prepare us for life in Kakamega. We’ve also been taking Swahili lessons. I’ve noticed two main things that I think will take me awhile to get used to. First, it’s the massive amount of garbage that is everywhere. The ditches are filled with garbage; the roads are ingrained with it. It’s just everywhere because people liter here or they throw their garbage in a hole where it blows out or gets flooded out by the water. Also, the amount of people everywhere. Every road has tons of people walking on it. In town the main roads are lined with men on bicycles. There are just tons of people everywhere and I’m definitely not inconspicuous so everyone stares at me. I’ll definitely get over any crowd phobias I may have harbored or any self-consciousness I may have had!