This week Nelson and me made a visit to Korogocho, one of the slums outside Nairobi. Situated next to the slum is the dump site of Nairobi, (Dandora dump site) which provides the daily work and bread for so many people in close by slums. Just by entering Korogocho we were faced with the extreme poverty in this area. One of the first people we met was a young boy. He was probably about 11 years old. Our guide, one of the local young leaders of Korogocho, explained that the boy is homeless and spends his time on the dumpsite, trying to find and collect things for selling and also to look for food. The boy doesn’t go to school. He has to make a way to provide for himself in order to survive so there’s no time for getting an education. On the other side of the river a man was emptying buckets of human waste. That is his daily work. People have him come and collect the waste and then they pay him something small for it. The people we met in Korogocho were very friendly, smiling toward us and greeting us as we passed by. Even the small children were laughing and running around us, wanting to shake hands and say “how are you?”. Even though the government made some improvements in the area, as building a main road and putting up lights along the road, there are so many more things to be done. The living standard for the people in Korogocho is extremely low. Most of the houses or shacks are built with mud or with big pieces of metal sheet. On many of the roofs you can see big stones and metallic pieces. They are there to prevent the rain from getting into the houses. Along with the narrow alleys between the shacks and houses there are streams of muddy water running, filled with trash and human waste. Combined with the heat, the smell is almost unbearable sometimes. The main streets are crowded with people selling things, most probably collected from the dumpsite, but there are also small kiosk where you can buy fruits and vegetables, milk and bread, hardware, get credit for the phone and other necessary things. One of the Mamas we met insisted that we should visit her sick neighbour. Entering the tiny and dark mud house we found the neighbour on the bed. There was no doubt what she suffered from. I had seen it before. Her bony body witnessed of that her state of AIDS had already gone too far. On the ground next to the floor a man was sitting and cooking over the jiko (a fire place made out of a pot with coals in). He was also a neighbour giving his time and effort to help the sick lady. I felt so powerless and stupid just standing there, watching the lady barely able to sit. In the middle of all the sadness, the heart of the people, sharing their time and their little resources with each other really made an impression on me. Another impression that I got, walking around in Korogocho, is that the people here are really hard working people. Many work from 4 am until late at night in order to get the daily bread for the family. We met an old Mama with a cattle of goats, that despite swollen feet, walks a long distance every day to get leftovers and food wastes for the goats and then walk the distance back again to her home where she let the goats eat what she has brought. I’ve been both visiting and working in slums before, but this visit once again reminded me of that we must never give up the fight for development and equal rights for everyone. That includes the rights to education, health care, sufficient shelter and sanitation and not least the right to food. And we must never take anything for granted. As for people in many countries, life can turn around in one minute. One day you have plenty the next day you have nothing. And I think that is why people here share so much with each other, because they know that next day they might be the one in need. It’s definitely something to give an extra thought about. Na Upnedo Anne
After moving to my new place in Saika (outside Nairobi) there is no doubt that Pauu has become my favourite neighbour. Pauu makes the best chapati (an Indian bread) in the world according to my opinion. He is at his chapati kiosk from 6 am until almost midnight six days a week, working hard with preparing, baking and selling over 400 chapatis every day. And in exchange for a meal of Swedish food (meatballs and mashed potatoes) Pauu gave me a lesson in how to make chapati – real Kenyan style. The people of Kenya (and probably of the rest of the world) eat chapati together with a meal of food, but my favourite way of eating it is plain with peanut butter and sliced bananas, it is a perfect meal itself. Bon appetite!
Three good months have already past since I arrived to Nairobi. In order to renew my visa, me and Nelson decided to travel to the neighbouring Tanzania. So with the bus company Riverside Shuttle, we boarded a bus full of Tanzanian nuns, a Spanish woman and a Tanzanian muslim and headed south. After crossing the boarder to Tanzania the view from the bus window just got more and more beautiful as we got closer to our destination – Moshi. The area from the boarder to Moshi is very mountainous and green with lots of trees and flowers. And the heat is hectic, just like in Mombasa, I even managed to get dyhadrated – again. After a 8 hours tiresome and sweaty trip we finally arrived to Moshi, a small and peaceful town located at the foot of Kilimanjaro, the mountain with the highest peak in Africa.
Altogether we spent 5 whole days in Moshi, just resting and enjoying the beautiful nature that surrounded us. If the weather was clear in the morning and evening hours we could even see Kilimanjaro from the back yard of our B&B. Everyday we walked the short distance into town to stroll around, buy fresh fruits and off course our new speciality – new made popcorn. We also found our favourite place to go and eat, named Kilimanjaro Coffee Lounge. For a good price you could get food of great quality and they had the best coffee milkshake ever tasted. Except from one grumpy waitress the staff was also very service minded.
After watching the peak of Kilimanjaro for three days we decided to get closer to the mountain. So we booked an one-day hiking trip. With our own guide and from a starting point of 1200m we managed to climb all the way up to 3000m (out of 5895m). The hiking went mostly through the Kilimanjaro jungle-like forest, so the tall trees covered us from the sun and heat. On our way through the forest we experienced many different types of vegetations, saw a couple of different monkeys and birds and a big variety of trees, plants and beautiful flowers. Our goal was the crater located on a 3000m hight, from where we also got a view of the smaller one of Kilimanjaro’s three peaks and a stunning view of the landscape below even as far as to the boarder of Kenya. After a pick-nick break at the rest camp close by, we hiked down from the mountain with aching legs and big smiles on our faces.
After 5 great days we left the green and sunny Moshi behind us and headed back to our home in Nairobi. Hiking at Kilimanjaro was such an amazing experience and I really hope we get the chance to come back and make it all the way to the top!
Just arrived back home to Kiambu from ten days of beach holiday with the girls. It was such a blast. We rented a villa at Diani Beach which is located on the south of Mombasa. To make our way down there we took the night bus from Nairobi all the way down to Diani Beach, it’s about a 10 hours drive. We didn’t sleep that well any of the trips. I kept waking up all the time, terrified of the feeling that the bus was about to tip over. Seat belts…none. Perhaps next time we won’t go with the cheapest alternative. But we did survive and became really good friends with the bus guy Levis who managed both of the trips. He was truly a blessing, caring for our safety and convenience and making phone calls to make sure we got to the right places.
The heat in Mombasa was almost chocking compared to the heat in Nairobi. Me and Mihane had the privilege of having the only room in the villa with air condition though so we did not complain. We named that room Sweden and we loved it. While the other girls were sweating at night we just put another blanket on our chilled bodies. High season for vacation and holidays in Kenya is in December so it was still quiet on the beach and in the hotels. That meant we had the pool for our selves. I was so happy being able to swim again after almost two months without it. And in the mornings me and Mira jogged on the beach. It was an amazing feeling jogging on the edge of the beach, listening to good music on the iPhone, feeling the warm waves splashing on the bare feet and looking out over the paradise view of green palms, the white beach and the turquoise Indian Ocean.
In the days we chilled, swam in the pool and ocean, walked on the beach, went shopping souvenirs and ate lots of ice cream and pineapples. In the evenings we just kept chilling, listening to good music and having our own small pool parties. The last night we all went out dancing at a local outdoor bar and we really had the time of our lives while we tried to tingisha matako – Kenyan style.
And now we’re back in reality again with a slightly better tan than before and with lots of good memories.
Pupils folding the Kenyan flag in the end of the school day
Early morning and me and Mama Florence walking to school over the hill
Some of the pupils and pre-school children
The chef cooking daily lunch, beans and corn
Girls playing on the school yard
Corn and the other vegetables and crops planted for school dried out due to drought
Donkeys, a common way of transporting water
End of school day and pupils taking down the Kenyan flag
Time for walking back home
During my visit in Masaai Land I spent quite a lot of time at the Oltanki Primary School where Mama Florence is a head teacher. I also did some research because my aim is to help them write a proposal in order to get donors for starting up a girls’ boarding school. The Maasai culture and lifestyle is fascinating, but the traditions also brings forth a lot of challenges and oppression for girls and women in the Maasai communities. If the school could turn into a boarding school for girls, it could decrease and even eliminate some of the challenges that these girls are facing as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), getting married off at early ages (from 8 years and up), early pregnancies and child labour. The Maasai people are traditionally nomads, which mean that when necessary, they will move in order to search for better pastures and water for their cattle and herds. Most of the times the children will have to come with the parents and they will miss out on their education.
In the specific area I visited there was currently a drought due to lack of good rains since April. A big part of the crops that was planted had dried out because of the drought, which resulted in that so many people struggled both with water and food. People walked half a day and sometimes even whole days to search for water and many schools were unable to make lunch for the children because there was no water to cook with. The Oltanki Primary School had been donated reserve tanks and waters so they were fortunate enough to keep cooking lunch for the pupils (consisted of corn and beans). The fields of vegetables and corn they had planted did not survive the drought though. Many children also walk long distances both in the morning and in the evenings to get to and from school, sometimes for an hour each way, and they might not either get breakfast or supper at home due to poverty. So if the school would be able to start a boarding school it would also mean that the pupils would be provided for the meals they need every day.
The school was also in need for more and better class rooms. Just two out of seven were permanent ones. The preschool group consisted of 75 children and the only classroom for them was not big enough so they had to either have classes outside or use the nearby church building.
The teachers at Oltanki Primary School had such a heart for their pupils. There was one teacher who especially moved me with her way of teaching the pupils with so much passion and love – Mama Agnes. She was responsible for the second grade and I got to participate in one of her Swahili classes. After every time one of the pupils answered correctly on a question (included me), the whole class replied with an encouraging jingle. It made me feel so happy. Mama Agnes explained for me that probably at least 10 out of her 38 pupils in that grade had special needs, as she called it. She discreetly pointed out one of the boys who probably was three years older than he was supposed to be attending second grade. He was one of them. She pointed out another boy who was standing beside the blackboard, really struggling to complete the task that was given him. Mama Agnes explained that she always tries to get these specific children up to the blackboard because then she gets a better opportunity to supervise them. Right there I wished I had money enough to pay for a couple of assistant teacher to make sure that the teacher had the resources they needed in order to give the pupils a good and sufficient education.
I really enjoyed being in Mama Agnes class and I had so much respect for her. And just being in the school and trying to understand the issues and challenges they were facing humbled me. I hope I will be able to help them write a proposal so they can open up a boarding school for girls. I believe education is the key to change the future for these young girls and empower them to grow up to be rivals of leadership in the community.
This week I started my internship at the Familycare Medical Centre in Thika. On Thursday we did an outreach in a nearby community. We got to use a couple of rooms in a clinic to set up our tools and things in. It was a long day, we worked from 8-19, offering free services as HIV-testing, counselling in family planning, breast examination for breast cancer and screening for cervix cancer.
The first part of the day I sat at the registration table where we took the name, age, weight and blood pressure of every patient before they went in for the services. I mainly got to take the blood pressure digitally which was interesting and made me feel as if I was a nurse. I also grabbed every opportunity I got to hold babies for the mums while they registered. After lunch, consisted of the classic chai tea and mandaza (similar to Danish pastry but more like bread), I got to help out in one of the examination rooms. I worked with two young admirable women, Fayth, a doctor and Alice, a nurse. They were so kind and sweet to me and taught me so many things in just a few hours. With supervision I got to do one breast examination and then I observed and held the torch while they did the screening for infections and cervix cancer. They uses two different types of vinegar to see wether there are any cell modifications or not. If there are, the vinegar changes colour and the patient will then be referred to the Medical Centre to do a pap smear, a screening which will give more specific information of the abnormal cells.
I was really amazed of this cheap and smart way of detecting cell modifications. Altogether it was a really good and instructive day and I think we were able to give services to about 130 ladies in different ages. Next week we will make two more outreaches in even more disadvantaged communities and I’m looking forward to it. It is such a nice feeling to get to do something practical for someone else. Even though it’s not much it can still make a difference in the daily life for people.