Finally, I can say JAMBO FROM KENYA!!!
I have officially returned home to Kenya, and, as the title suggests, it’s like I never left. Moments after walking off of the plane things just suddenly felt Kenyan. Everything was familiar from the Swahili chatter to the smells (oh my, the smells!) to the crazy, unorganized visa line. Irene greeted me at the airport with a huge hug and we headed to her apartment where I will be staying for the next couple of days for some Kenyan chai and catching up.
Of course I wanted to head to Mary’s school first thing this morning to see all of my babies, but Irene reminded me that Kenya schools are at the very end of their break (year round schools get April, August and December off) so I am better waiting until next week when all of the kids will be there. I don’t know if I will be able to wait that long, but Irene certainly kept me busy today with other things. First we met with Kennedy, the man doing the drawings for The Lord’s House of Hope at Java House Junction then headed to the Ministry of Health to meet with someone about importing medical supplies for clinics at the Nakuru IDP Camps. Next we headed back to Java for two more meetings with current and past volunteers before heading to Ngong to see Mama Tunza’s new building. Mama Tunza’s Orphanage used to be located in the Kibera slums but generous past volunteers and donors bought new land in Ngong (about 20 minutes away) and then TARA, an Irish organization run by a man named Paddy, raised money and brought in 31 Irishmen to complete the construction in just two weeks! What a difference all of this has made in the lives of the 130 children who now live there! Seeing them now compared to when they were living in Kibera is like night and day – in Ngong they have their own beds, actual toilets, limited electricity and even a small playground where they can play! Paddy will be here for another 3 weeks and I look forward to talking more with him about TARA’s projects in Kenya. Anyway, after visiting Mama Tunza’s we hurried back into town for another meeting with the PPO. I’ve visited two official offices on my first day back – lots of face time with the Kenyan government, should I ever need to “know” someone in the future!
Early tomorrow I head to an IDP Camp called Pipeline with Irene and several other volunteers. A new clinic built by two volunteers is opening and even the District Commissioner will be present for the event. I’m anxious and nervous about visiting the camp – to this point all of Kenya has seemed pretty much the same to me, but the hundreds of thousands of displaced peoples in Central Kenya weren’t there two and a half years ago. This is the part of Kenya that has changed and, as Irene has warned me, it’s difficult to prepare yourself before seeing it for the first time. It is something like Kibera – it needs to be experienced.
I won’t be getting back from Pipeline until late tomorrow night, but look for a post about the day, along with photos (I promise!) sometime over the weekend.
Also, I’ve bought a new SIM card (sadly my old number has expired) so if you have international texting on your phone or if you want to call me dial from the US 011 254 718 769 115. And, since I’ve brought my laptop, I will occasionally be on Skype. My username is jenn.winter
- First sip of Java coffee… ahh!
- Little girl in the red dress at Mama Tunza’s. I wish I had a picture.
- Being the only mzungu in not one, but two government offices today
- Hearing waaaay too much John Mayer and Celine Dion on the radio. They’ve replaced James Blunt and Toni Braxton for favorite Kenyan artists.
- Seeing cows grazing by the Karen roundabout. Irene explained that the drought is so bad that the Maasai are bringing their cattle to graze in the city parks. Over half of their herds have died.
- Understanding more Swahili than I thought I would… especially when people are talking about me!