This is part of a series about the Kenya-Uganda Summer Project 2011. Read the other posts here.
Frances Sybilla Howell (UK, UWC AC 2010-2012)
We didn’t get to stay in Nairobi for very long – not for more than a couple of hours before our adventure to Kericho, a big tea plantation a few hours away. I found travelling in Nairobi a lot scarier than Kampala. We had to switch Matatu (the minibus taxi thing) along the way and the street-sellers were more forceful and their comments harsher. About four hours later we arrived in Kericho. I don’t really remember much of that night – I had started hallucinating because I was so sick!
My diary entries for the next few days read ‘Stayed in bed. Occasionally ate biscuits.’ The others visited a deaf orphanage, a school, milked a cow and visited houses of people living on the tea plantation.
A few days later, I was up and around Kericho for the last day. We visited an orphanage called ‘Agape’ (translated as ‘love’) which was specialised to look after children with illnesses which would be terminal were it not for the medication the orphanage could support. We were led in a church service with songs and stories and prayers and one little boy on the keyboard who had switched a kind of sci-fi style effect on (!) We took the games and things we had brought to a field where we played some games with the kids – their games were more fun than ours! We were given a traditional lunch of mixed beans and sat under shelter as the tropical downpour roared outside. The climate is what makes the climate so good for growing tea.
We travelled back to Nairobi and on the way saw wild monkeys and zebra (and a camel!). We stayed in Vincent’s house where we got addicted to a crime thriller programme and his brother’s cooking. In the morning we got up early to go and work with CraftSilicon. They are a company which takes a bus filled with computers around the slums of Kenya and train young people there in computer skills which can help them get a job in a school or office. Today we went to Kibera, the largest slum in East Africa. Walking around was an amazing experience because even though these people didn’t have much, they had a community that functioned in a way that could not be emulated in my town back home. There was this sense of belonging and purpose of every person in the Community that made the atmosphere warm. There were systems like a biofuel recycling system that functioned because people worked together. Obviously this place had huge underlying problems too complex for me to understand. But on a day to day level this place was spirit – we were taken around one school where they had ‘Kiswahili Corner’ – if you spoke Kiswahili in class then you were sent there as you are supposed to speak English. We helped a group of enthusiastic young people in their classes on the bus – they go through a three month programme and afterwards a select group are chosen to have more advanced training at the CraftSilicon offices. We worked on Microsoft Access and I helped a girl called Sophie who had very organised notes and was keen to understand the class.
Another day we went to one other slum which was not as typical as Kibera. The bus parked in a police base and again we walked around the local village – the biggest market in East Africa. There were people walking around with still-live chickens hanging from their hand and others with huge wheelbarrows of things so heavy that they could not stop them as they were coming down a hill. The whole place was so animated and so exciting. Our experience of the bus on this day was equally as exciting and a real learning experience. The people I worked with had a great sense of humour and were as interested as I was to share cultures and stories.
In the evening we went to the famous ‘Carnivore’ restaurant (with two vegetarians in tow!). It was a celebratory meal joined with. They start with soups and salads and then start to bring various skewers of meat (like whole chickens) and dance around the tables. They keep giving you food until you put down the flag on your table – surrender! When I walked into the restaurant I didn’t imagine I would have eaten crocodile, ostrich and ox testicles by the time I left! The kitchen looked like someone set fire to a pet shop. But it was so delicious. We somehow rolled our way onto an eight hour bus to Mombasa, now all the weight of a cow heavier.
-United Words –