New place, new challenges

I have really neglected the blog since coming to Kenya, so I wanted to give everyone a new update. There is too much going on to share here, but I promise to tell all when I get back.

I left Mama na Dada about 2 weeks ago for my current placement at Common Ground (Not related to Search for Common Ground that I interned with in DC).

I am living 30 min. from the city of Kitale in a village called Keminini. The placement I am currently at includes several projects: a primary day/boarding school, water filtration factory, and an organic farm and training program.

I sleep in a concrete hut that is furnished with a bed, table and cupboards. Unlike the other places I have been I have access to the internet about every other day or so.  There is another volunteer, Kristi,  here with me from Canada, so I have someone to talk and hang out with.

Like Emmanuel’s we eat meals with the family in the house. I have had the most variety of food here including fried/stewed chicken, chips, cabbage, french toast, fried egg, and beef that taste like cows from home. The best is when we have fresh mangos.

We live in a compound that contains the school, our house and the farm. Everyday like clock work it rains. I thought it would be a nice tropical rain, like in Hawaii, where you can still do things outside, but its not. A few drops come down and then it just pours and the temperature drops at least 10 degrees. Within an hour you go from sweating like a pig to needing a jacket and maybe pants.

I am doing several different projects here including teaching English, Health Education, and facilitating a girls’ leadership group.

I teach English Mon., Wed., and Fri. in grades 6, 7 and 8. The students here are more advanced then the public primary school I taught at in Kunya, but there is still work to be done. They speak English very well, but their compositions are just as poor as some of the public school students.

Tuesday and Thursdays are my community outreach days where I go to public schools and do health education. The Kenyan school system includes life skills (HIV/AIDS, STI’s, hygiene) in the curriculum, but most teachers do not feel comfortable talking about these topics, so they do not teach beyond what is in the book. Our goal is to go beyond the book and make sure the students have all the information they need to protect themselves and those they love.  For example, the book tells students to wear a condom when having sex to protect against HIV, but most of the students dont even know what a condom looks like outside of the packaging, let alone how to put it on properly. Kenya has the 7th highest HIV/AIDS rate in the world and the 2nd highest rate of AIDS orphans after South Africa. I think it’s time to teach young people how to put on a condom incase they decide not to abstain. Kristi and I are also going to try to get the mobile testing clinic to come and do testing at the schools for those who want it. Many of these students have been orphaned because of HIV/AIDS and they don’t even know their own status. They just assume that because their parents had it they do too.

For 2 hours on Sunday I facilitate a girls leadership group for 7th and 8th grade boarders. Last week we talked about characteristics and attributes of a leader and this week we are talking about setting and achieving goals. I asked the girls during our first meeting if there was any topics they were interested in covering, so future topics include female reproductive system, hygiene, and self defense. It has been wonderful getting to know the girls beyond the classroom and learning about their lives and dreams.

Other Observations:

* They love watching Spanish soap operas dubbed in English. The most popular show is called “In the Name of Love

* Many of them think this is the first time we have seen a black person. A director of another school told us ” you are very lucky to travel because it allows you to experience new things like meeting black people”. We had to explain that we have black people in North America.

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3 thoughts on “New place, new challenges

  1. Alisa, you’re an inspiration. I hope you guys are able to get the mobile clinic in!
    Those foods are all over the map. What’s your favorite food so far at your current project?

  2. My favorite food is the kale. They make it for lunch and dinner because I like it so much. My favorite meal here is chapati, lentils, kale and cabbage. Yum.

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