Birthday party in Kiambu Forest!

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Birthday party in Kiambu Forest!

Today is Megan’s birthday so we are having a little party for her here at our place. It’s Megan (of course), me, O.J, MIra and my three new Swedish friends Ida, Mihane and Emelie (volunteering for Angaza). We even tried to make a French chocolate cake for Megan with candles. Got slightly burned (it was a little tricky to bake in a gas oven) but with a white chocolate glazing it turned out ok. Tomorrow we will wake up really early to go on our safari trip and I’m sure we will have an amazing trip together!

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Adventures mpya (New adventures)

My meeting with the manager for the Familycare Medical Centre in Thika went very well today. The clinic runs different projects and services in the area of Sexual and Reproductive Health. The people I met seemed very passionate about their work and clients, and I got a good feeling that this organisation might be worth getting involved with. After studying courses in Public Health in Humanitarian Action, the subjects are most relevant for me as well and it would be excellent to obtain some more experiences within this field. I agreed to try out 3-4 days in a two weeks time, but first I’m heading west and south for some adventures.

My awesome house mates O.J. ad Martin are running a travel company, Zurura Kenya, and they have set up a two days trip to Maasai Mara National Reserve. It’s them, me, Mira, Megan and three Swedish girls that just arrived to work as volunteers for Angaza. So it’s time for some safari and I feel happy that I soon will get to see some elephants again and even perhaps some lions… On our way back the guys will drop me off on the countryside outside Narok. There I will live in a Maasai village and help out in a local school. Martin knows some people living in the village and he sort of bet that I wouldn’t manage a week out there (due to harsher life conditions) and so… challenged accepted! I feel honestly very privileged for getting this opportunity to go and share these peoples’ life, even though it’s just for a short while. I hope that I will learn some new things and experience a different perspective on life. So to be continued…

Na Upendo

Anne

Weekend njema (A nice weekend)

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On Friday I went out to Thika again. The mission was to visit the Angaza project but also to meet with some other organisations to talk about opportunities for me to get involved as a volunteer. We also wanted to try to find good projects that Angaza might can cooperate with. When I go to Thika I stay with some of the guys that are volunteering for Angaza. At the moment it’s Zach, a Kenyan guy, Mira, a Finnish girl and Megan, Mira’s friend visiting from France. So there are quite a few nationalities. In the afternoon, after meeting with one of the organisations, we went out to the office in Kiandutu (the slum). Megan had brought with her bags with new football equipments and clothes, donated from France, so we just tried to organise it in sizes and colours. I spent most of the time with the children outside the office though. I just enjoy sitting there and watching the people in their daily activities. And I especially love talking with all the children passing by and hanging around. It’s also a very good practice for my Swahili skills, because some of the children haven’t learned so much English yet. In the late afternoon, when the children were coming back from school, we went out to the different fields where they have their football sessions. We watched them practice on the dry and reddish fields until the sun set and we had to make our way back to town.

On Saturday I met with another organisation running HIV projects for mainly adolescents, but also for older people in Thika and the neighbouring areas. I had the privilege to go with one of the fieldworkers as she went out to Kiandutu to make a visit to a client. We were invited into the clients’ home, a very small and dark shack. A small couch, two chairs and a table was squeezed into the one and only room. I assumed that the bed was behind the drape hanging close to the sitting area. And that bed was shared by the seven people living in the house, the lady and her six children. Unfortunately her husband recently passed away so she was alone in the struggle to put food on the table and paying the fees for the oldest children going to high school. The lady didn’t have a job but she tried to make at least a small income by washing people’s clothes, whenever she got the opportunity. Unluckily, this semester she couldn’t pay the fee for the oldest daughter’s last year in high school, which meant the girl had to drop out. The lady spoke with a low voice in Swahili and her face was concerned while she shared with us her story.

Moved by the reminder of how big the needs are for so many people, I made my way back to the town on the motorcycle taxies. My father has taken me on his motorcycle before and I loved that feeling of freedom while we drove along the roads on the countryside. This was a slightly different experience, driving on the bumpy dirt roads in the slums and then out in the crazy traffic on the main roads. Off course I didn’t wear a helmet but I decided to skip the safety issue and instead enjoy the new type of freedom feeling being on a motorbike. And so I did.

Me, Mira and Megan decided to have a girl’s night at my place in the forest. We took the matatu back to where I live and new record broken, 21 plus a baby. I didn’t feel bold enough to turn around and count again, but i think that the number was quite accurate because the doorman (as I call him) just kept taking new people into the vehicle. The girl’s night was really nice and we had the honour of having O.J. joining us. Perhaps I should let him write a few sentences to give a guys perspective on our girl’s night but I think he enjoyed as well (at least most of the time). We baked chapati and filled the house with thick smoke from frying the bread in the oily pan, watched a movie and took turns in talking on the phone with Mira’s boyfriend back in Finland. Yeah it was a good night, but today we have to leave this luxury hotel (that’s the standard of this house according to Mira) and make our way back to Thika. Tomorrow I’m meeting with the manager of the health centre running the HIV projects, so let’s see how that goes…

Na Upendo

Anne

Washa mwangaza uenee (Let the light shine)

Today we were out of electricity all day long, the whole area was. I spent the day at the house studying, which means I had no reason to complain at all. But when power breaks down like this, it hits hard on the people with the small businesses, trying to make a living in order to survive. To give you an example: My house mate Martin went away in the afternoon to get his car washed, it took hours before he got back and me and O.J. (my other house mate) wondered what took so long. The washing company couldn’t use the pressure-wash, due to lack of power, so they had to wash the car by hand. The bigger issue was that there was no other customers besides Martin. So the guys really struggled.┬áBack in the house me and my friends had a nice time just talking. But when the sun started to set and Martin lighted the first candle, the electricity came back. And five minutes later we were watching the new Superman movie. It’s a little ironic I suppose, though I must say that we’re quite good in communicating with each other, even when electricity is working.

Being used to have electricity and then loose it is really a challenge though, especially in the long term. And I think most of us can agree on that. I still remember when the storm Gudrun swiped over Sweden in the winter of 2005 and left some people without power in their homes and businesses for up to 2-3 weeks, if not longer. I worked in the elderly care at that time and I recall memories of driving around checking up on people so they managed without electricity all by themselves out in the forests. Some elderly people were even evacuated in order to get the accurate help and care that they needed.

So to have electricity is a really good thing and it makes life so much easier. It means that you can communicate and share knowledge and information over media. People can cook their food with other alternatives than making fires indoor, which makes a huge difference from a health perspective. People don’t have to destroy their eye sight while studying in the light of a candle when they can turn a light on. For me it also means that I can have my little mosquito lamp trap on in the night time and don’t worry of getting malaria. Electricity is such a brilliant invention, but not to be taken for granted. And once in a while I think it might be good for us to be reminded of that and just let the light shine a little bit longer…

ImageNa upendo

Anne