Tuesday, June 8, 2010

By now you may be wondering if i actually made it to Kenya...

After a canceled flight, an extra day and an unexpected detour into London-Heathrow...i did finally make it here. The 1st week and a half we had an epic battle with the internet and the power so I did not blog. It will take me too long to go through everything now so I will just start from here on out. If you are interested in the events prior, I did keep a journal and I will fill you in when I get back. Pics will have to wait till im home cuz its too much of a pain to load them here.

I'm not sure how to start so i guess I will just set the scene a little...
I am living in an area of Kisumu called Kondele, in a neighborhood called Nyawita. I get there by paying 20KSH (equivelent of about a quarter)from town to my landmark hotel the New Donna. Only that main road is paved. The walk through Nyawita consists of garbage trampled into the uneven jutting rocks which pool the rain water so that i must hop from one side of the path to the other after the storms. There are baby goats, hens and cats which we have dubbed "carry-ons" roaming freely along with the not sooo cute cows and early-rising, dream-interupting roosters. We are stared at everywhere we go and greeted with dozens of cries of "Mzungu, Mzuuuuuuuuungu! How-are-you-i-am fine!" from the children too young to attend school yet. The women on our street sell fresh fruits, veggies, chapati, maandazi....and smile kindly when we greet them each of the 5 or 6 times we pass them everyday. Occasionally we are begged for money by a drunkard at 10am.

We are living in a beautiful home which seems a little out of place in comparison to the surroundings. I would compare the area to a slum, although this is not quite considered one here. We did get the opportunity to visit the Obunga slum the other day. It is 10 times as crowded and there is a small stream of water and filth that weaves between and around the homes.

We are volunteer teaching at the largest primary school in Kenya, Migosi Primary School. Free primary education has created a huge problem in the govt. funded schools, leaving them overcrowded to the point where it begins to take away from the childrens' education. There are over 2000 students and only 50 teachers employed by the government. Most of the classrooms have anywhere from 70-100 students and the rooms are slightly smaller than the ones in my primary school. My first day at Migosi, I sat in on a standard 3 class. The teacher goes through the material, gives them work, and starts marking their papers in class. The teacher moves right from one subject to the next. I helped mark some papers and noticed that most had above avg scores but those who struggled barely got any points. When I asked, the teacher told me that those who are weak might come back after lunch to learn more but often they must stay home and help the family with younger children. If a student falls behind, there is not much opportunity for one on one help.

The majority of the students at this school are from the slums. This area has been stricken hard by HIV/AIDS as well so there is a large number of total and partial orphans.

We taught classes last week but we are now shifting gears to start identifying students to apply for the scholarship given by EFF every year. We spoke with teachers who selected 11 students from standard 8 who score highly and would do well in secondary school but are also very needy. We interviewed the eleven and will begin visiting their homes in order to get a better idea of their situation and level of need before picking only 6 to apply. It is already proving to be a difficult process since the level of need is so great and widespread. If it was in the USA one could easily claim that an orphan should receive the scholarship because they will likely be one of few if not the only with the extent of need associated with the status. But here, every student selected is either orphaned or vulnerable. it is a situation that is an every day part of their lives and it makes it very difficult to weigh one circumstance against another.

so that is the summary of what we are up to at the moment. I will try to fill you in on finer details of my life here little by little. feel free to let me know if there are any parts you are extra curious to hear about and I will try to devote a post to filling in those details or answering any questions...miss you all!


  1. Habari ya Nichole!

    How's that chalk/blackboard business going? Thanks for the wonderful write-up on your trip!

    Pole kwa shida ya super slow dial up internet - we would have loved to see some pics. I'm sure you've now loved to appreciate the high speed connection everyone here in the States takes for granted:).

    Unfortunately, in most parts of rural or urban Kenya, the poor are really poor and the wealthy, obscenely so. Have you visited any of the other moderately better schools in town for comparison? I bet it is a night and day difference:)

    My thoughts are with you during your stay at Kondele and I hope despite some of the put-offs in Nyawita, you've had a chance to visit some of the more beautiful and amazing parts of Kisumu area.

    Are you doing any sight-seeing in Nairobi or elsewhere before heading back here?

    I look forward to reading more of your blog.

    Rafiki Yako,


  2. Well, now I'm intrigued about what happened those first 1.5 weeks too. That is to bad (for me, at least) about the lack of photo uploads, but I guess that will just force me to sit down and look through them while you say names that I definitely won't be able to spell or pronounce. I think that sounds like a good plan, don't you?