16 Jun This is Africa: Snapshots of Our Week
Written by 2015 East Africa: Discovery
A snapshot of our first week in Nairobi and Kimende, Kenya.
May 25, 2015
Our journey began in the Zurich International Airport, where all of our program participants met up for the final leg of our flights into Nairobi. We arrived in Nairobi at 6:40 p.m. We obtained our visas without a hitch, collected our luggage, and met our Program Leaders, Shamira & Julius, shortly after. From there we headed into downtown Nairobi via matatu (a 14-passenger taxi) to the YMCA Central Hostel where we would be staying for the next 3 days.
May 26, 2015
The three days following were jam packed with meetings and activities. We began by visiting with Maasai Mbili in Kibera – the largest slum in sub-saharan Africa. This NGO is an artist collective empowering those with artistic talent within Kibera. Since arts education is not included in the school curriculum in Kenya, artist collectives like this one provide opportunities to discover, grow, and use artist talent. We took a quick tour of Kibera and walked over to Victorious Bone Craft, an organization that repurposes cow bones from slaughter houses into beautiful jewelry and crafts to sell at local markets.
May 27, 2015
The day after was a long one. We began by visiting PAWA254 located in downtown Nairobi. On their beautiful rooftop with a view of the Nairobi skyline, we discussed the socially conscious work that is done by local artists and activists. From there, we headed to the Mwelu Foundation and Femme International in the slum of Mathare. Here we visited two informal schools that these NGOs are working with in the slums, met and spoke with children, and learned about the positive differences these organizations are making.
For dinner, we headed back into downtown Nairobi. In an attempt at a change of menu, we ordered veggie burgers. To our surprise we ended up with a slice of tomato, onion, dried up green pepper, and a piece of iceberg lettuce on a dense whole wheat bun. We all found it absolutely hilarious and did our best to enjoy our ‘western’ meal.
That evening, our Program Leader Shamira took us to meet up with a few of her friends who happen to be in a band by the name of Sarabi. This group has grown in popularity in this region and has even produced a music video with PAWA254. We spoke with their lead singer about the work Sarabi does, and they even put on an impromptu show for us!
May 28, 2015
Today we left Nairobi and headed to the highlands of Kimende, Kenya where we would meet our next partner, KENVO, and begin our homestays. While there we toured KENVO’s water bottling operation, their partner schools which house tree nurseries, environmental clubs, gardens, and apiaries, as well as a local house that uses bio-fuel for cooking. After this we all split up, went to our homestays, and met our new families. There is no experience like a homestay to get a glimpse into the lives of the locals. The people in Kimende were more than welcoming and made us feel truly at home.
May 29, 2015
Our second day in Kimende involved tree planting and organizing books at a new library for a local secondary school. After this, we went to a local restaurant and ate githeri – a mix of beans and maize – with a side of managu, which is a type of greens.
May 30, 2015
We had a day off today for a hike in the Kiirita National Forest. In total we hiked for about 4 hours and a total of 15 km. We trekked up and down muddy, rainy hills in the middle of the jungle. We visited a breathtaking waterfall and an elephant birthing pond. Though we saw no wildlife due to the rain, the scenery was outstanding. The rains in this high altitude created a dense fog; everything appeared as if we were in a Brothers Grimm fairytale. The hike was a bit challenging, but rewarding overall.
May 31, 2015
As we said goodbye to our new Kenyan families, friends and to KENVO, we took a quick stop at a viewpoint of the Great Rift Valley, one of Kenya’s many gems. The view was all-encompassing and so vast we couldn’t help but to pull over and take it all in.
We had a couple of hours to spare before catching our bus from Nairobi to Kampala, so we spent some time exploring downtown. We indulged in some western food from Java, a popular coffee shop, and made full use of their complimentary wifi. We’re not sure what to expect on the 12-hour bus ride ahead of us, but we’re super excited to begin our work with RWEYOWA, our partner in Kampala.
Your 2015 East Africa: Discovery crew