Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Kanyawegi children and I

On my 2nd day in Kenya, I met several children who I became very attached to by the end of the trip.  They made me smile throughout the trip despite the language barrier.  Eventually, they always came to say hello to me whenever I was near Obambo.  I did spoil them a little by providing them with sweets whenever I had some.  These kids wore dirty clothes with holes in them.  They didn't have shoes and played with tires but they were sincerely the most happiest children I've ever met.  I am going to introduce you to some of the friends I will miss very much.  Be prepared for a lot of photos.

 We were able to make them laugh :)

Wednesday, 6 August 2014


Rashma and I left the community on the 5th and took off to Nairobi on a Each Coach. Easy Coach is quite comfortable and safe because it goes directly to Nairobi without accepting new customers on the streets.  We got off the bus at this sketch junction to wait for our host family. Scott, a UBC commerce student who we met at Masai Maara, is working in Nairobi for the summer and he found us a place to stay.  We were continuously asked by many creepy mutatu dudes if we needed a ride and finally after about 40 minutes, Anne, the host mother showed up.  We got in her car and was taken to her house.  When we walked in, we were shocked.  We lived in a village  for 7 weeks where houses were mostly made of the mud and dung mixture. There was no electricity, water had to be carried from far away and being clean was a luxury. This house in Nairobi, was fancy with a flat screen TV, an enormous kitchen,  and.. a servant.  

Whoa. Talk about economic disparity.

Apparently, the husband is a senator or something… The first thing that went through our headss.. politicians= corruption (?) The youngest child of this family, Phil, was 3 and he was playing with a tablet.  This made me slightly sad because it made me think of Dadi and his shoeless dirty feet and his worn clothes.  Phil also spoke more English than Dadi who is 9.  I think people in Nairobi speak better English in general, possibly because they are not surrounded by their own tribe all the time. One thing that is obvious in Nairobi is that rich are definitely rich and poor are poor which is what you often see in developing countries.

Extravagant interior

Phil, smiling with his tablet

Monday, 4 August 2014

Rethinking about orphanages/ volunteering

Lily and I had a conversation about how some orphanages are businesses to pull money out of foreigners.  People need to be extremely cautious about where they donate their money because sometimes things aren't as they seem to be.  Lily told me that in Nepal, seemingly orphanages have a lot of children with living parents and they are sent here to receive better food/ clothing and of course, there are the corrupt orphanages where the money doesn't really go to the children. There is nothing wrong with children who are in need receiving the necessities but the process needs to be more transparent.  The people who are donating have the right to know where their money is going.  This shows that there are many even with parents, who are in dire need as well.  Some more than others, whether you are in an orphanage or not.  

Hanging out with the girls

We visited an orphanage called Brother Joseph orphanage near the Kisian Junction today. You have to make an appointment with them if you want to visit and take dry goods with you to support the orphanage.  This orphanage turned out to be only for girls and they were a lot older than what we expected.  Most of them were in grade 6-7 and some were in high school.  Many still have guardians such as grandparents, aunties or uncles but they stay at the orphanage because if they stay with their guardians, they are given too much work which deviate their focus from studying.  So they remain at the orphanage for most of the year and go back ‘home’ to their families during school breaks.  These girls were very well kept and they seemed content.  Their rooms were far better than most houses in the area and they had electricity, which is a luxury in the villages.  I think it is crucial that these girls are able to live happily and confidently as Kenyan women in this country.  Seeing their living condition and the well-structured orphanage building begs the question of whether this is the place for me to donate money or goods.  Children in orphanages have sponsors that can pay for their school and school materials.  Most orphanages prosper and do very well.  

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Kenyan food talk

I was extremely sick on August 1st for the 1st time in my life.  I vomited everything in my stomach, and had a severe diarrhea at the same time.  It is a horrible feeling when you can feel it coming from both ends.   I felt so cold I had to take my down jacket out.  I vomited till 4 am and managed to keep some fluids in after drinking a Stoney’s (Stoney’s is a strong ginger soda). 

Tanzania's Stoney Tangawizi.  The ones in Kenya normally come in 500mL.  The Tanzania Stoney has some sort of weird spices in it.  I prefer the Kenyan one. 

When you’re sick, it really makes you want to go home.  Forget everything that’s happening here but just wish to be in your comfortable bed with loved ones around you.  Sadly, or stubbornly, I couldn’t get myself to contact anyone back at home… I tear up a little in my bed thinking how sad it is to not have anyone to contact, not because I don’t have friends, but because I didn’t want to worry them.  I think I am just too stubborn for my own good.

Today is the second last day in the community.  I honestly don’t know how to feel. It feels numb and confusing.  Am I really going home? I am going to be in Vancouver in 9 days.  When I am back, the whole trip is going to seem like a dream… I am hoping to keep in touch with the people on the ground and hopefully, I can make it back to Kenya soon enough. 

Now I am going to talk about Kenyan food.  It may seem like a weird transition from vomiting and diarrhea but welcome to a health science student’s world.  When I first arrived, we only ate beans (oganda), or green grams, cabbage or kale (skumaweeki) and rice or chapati.  Very limited.  When my other 2 team members Lily and Esha arrived, we started buying more spices such as cumin, etc.  Mama Siprose who cooks for us, knows how to cook but she’s been cooking the same thing due to lack of ingredients we’ve been purchasing.  When she started cooking with spices, food tasted a lot better. We also bought a whole chicken from the Nakumat and… seriously, she will make you the best chicken dish you’ve ever had with a ton of flavours.  We’ve been avoiding meat as much as we could because we heard from previous teams that it made them sick.  But damn, we’ve been missing out. Kenyan meat dishes are always the best other than the fact that they overcook the meat all the time but the stew that it comes in taste heavenly.  Dip some chapati or ugali in it and it is om nom nom.  We haven’t tried the fish even though we live right by Lake Victoria. The lake is contaminated with schistosomiasis and we were told not to eat fish if we can help it.  I would like to try a tilapia though.  They deep fry it to the point it is crisp so I am certain that it will kill all the parasites but we haven’t been adventurous enough.