“SCREW MOSQUITTO NETS..Lets Just Get Malaria”

Hello Amazing OG’ers around the world and everyone following in. Right now we are just entering our second week in our own little paradise known as North Maragoli. We’ve been super busy, super innovative and super epic as we work away on our amazing projects. The last week has been totally crazy, but we have accomplished a lot and are loving each other more than we ever knew we could! So here are the dirty details:

1) Laura has dreads as Rachel tries to convert the world to rasta

2) Siobhan and Meg have been getting into a lot of fights with their mosquito nets and are now willing to forget them and risk malaria

3) Everyone is making lots and lots of friendship bracelets

4) Tiny pubs and huge games on Never have I Ever

5) “Kelly” from youtube, has made his/her way onto our team in some way or another. “Gimme that _blank_!” comes up about every 3 minutes.

6) Yesterday we learned that the Kenyan Immigration Offices Vision is to “Be the best immigration service in the world.” The pictures they took for our visa extensions had used the fish eye effect, and our noses looked HUGE! we also got to finger paint (a.k.a. provide like 20 finger prints) all over our application. We agree, they are the best immigration service in the world.

7) Amy continues to impress with her sweet dance moves

Anyways, down to business

Last week we went to the local community Baraza, a meeting where the community gets together at the chiefs office to discuss projects and community matters. It’s a tradition of OGEA to hit up these Barazas to check out what the community thinks and what they need, and that is usually how we determine what projects we will work on. So we’re in the Baraza (in a tiny room, packed with Kenyan men, the slight scent of stale B.O. drifting through the room) and for the first time ever we receive a legit, written proposal! It was so exciting for us, because usually we just get a verbal lowdown of what needs to be done. Anyways we went right to work on this project (building a 8 meter long bridge across a river) and we sat down as a team to really talk about how we were going to make this project sustainable. We chilled with Ahuga (our amazing mentor) and talked about the communities past, about the politics and about what we could do to make the community feel responsible for the project amongst a bunch of other stuff. We came up with a huge plan for sustainability which involved us speaking to the issue at the next baraza (yesterday) and to make a community action plan where we would meet the community half way when it came to construction and material costs etc. This went well, and currently 8 workers, 4 members of the team, an engineer and the community leaders are managing the construction of this bridge which will help the community cross to school and church. Tomorrow we are also hosting a workshop on proposal writing and community unity and the chiefs office which will be super fun!

We also decided to pull another first and head over to the Municipal Council to speak with the Mayor and Town Clerk about assisting us with the bridge. To our surprise the town clerk provided us with an engineer who came up with all of the designs, materials lists and a technician for free! This was so awesome to see, because so often here we blame the government for not assisting the people in need, but the Town Clerk explained to us that they simply did not have the money to construct the bridge, but were eager to partner with us to make it a joint effort. The knowledge and tools which they have given to us are so valued and for the first time in Maragoli we feel like we are in a true partnership with the government, community and OG. It is such an amazing feeling to be doing things so officially, and hopefully this connected partnership will lead to an amazingly sustainable project that will improve peoples lives.

We are also having an awesome time working with the Muungano Special School in kiritu! We spent the other day chilling with the kids as they were receiving their football uniforms. These kids are so incredibly cool, and you can just see it in their eyes. We spent the day blowing bubbles, throwing balls and just connecting with this amazing group of children with special needs and we instantly fell in love with the school. This week we have been contributing towards the construction of a dorm which will house some of the children who may find the conditions hard to live in their own homes as we continue the work on the foundations we made during the discovery trip. It’s going up so fast and we celebrated with Mama Louise the other day over a dinner of 5 famous “William fried Chickens” and the best potatoes on earth! This week the team will continue to work with the school, as we take some of the children to hospital and just help out in the classrooms. Lubabah is in the process of filming a documentary about the kids and today she is conducting interviews with the teachers and staff at the school, and we are so stoked to see it!

Other than that Saturday was pretty huge. We are now V.I.P.’s and totally poa sana! The day started at 5:30am, and by 7 we were sitting in the living room of Kenya’s Deputy Prime Minister! No big deal. After a great breakfast of sweet, milky chai, bread with (REAL BUTTER!!!) and Mandazi (pretty much the only thing that Amy eats) we headed in for an hour long interview with this amazing minister. We were able to ask some awesome questions about life in Kenya, life as a politician and also a lot about the Orange Democratic Party, the more liberal Kenyan party who many believe won the 2007 elections (a major cause of the 2008 political violence in Kenya). It was so amazing to get the insights of someone who has so much power in this country and it was really epic to hear about his optimistic vision for his countries future, but also the obstacles in achieving it. We also had a great chat with the Mayor of Maragoli who helped explain some things about youth politics and youth involvement in politics, and in the end we came to the conclusion that when it comes to youth voting, Canada and Kenya aren’t too different.

Following the meeting with the DPM the team headed off for two nights with host families where bucket showers and Mud houses are the norm. From what we know there were intense political debates about womans rights, lot’s of changaa (the local brew), lots of Kids taking headlamps and um..tampons…apart and a bunch of other crazy stuff. In the end the team loved it, but we are so happy that everyone is back together as we’s be so close!

Anyways, we need to get back to work, but just know. WE ARE HAVING THE TIME OF OUR LIVES, WORKING LIKE MAD MEN AND WOMEN and getting stuff done! In 1 week we’ll be back on the Nile in class 5 rapids!

Adios Amigo’s