Sunday, September 25, 2011

Kenya Ni Sambamba!

I realized yesterday that we've been in Kenya for about a month and I still think it's such a cool place! I mean, when you greet someone with a "mambo?" or "sasa?" they respond with a "poa" or even "sambamba" meaning "cool".  And boy, am I feeling cool today! Here are some of the really tight things I've done in the past few days:
1. I rode a pikipiki to my internship! What's a pikipiki? Oh, it's just a motorcycle used for public transportation! Yes, I got on the back of a motorcycle and rode through the streets of Githurai to get to the first of three locations I visited for the first day of my internship at the Center for Domestic Training and Development. One of the teachers there, Lilian, took us around, stopping first at their domestic training institute, the school they started to generate income to support the shelter. There students learn about housekeeping, childcare, cooking, and finances. Next we went to the main office in Nairobi West where students go to be placed with employers. Finally, after a long day of transportation (all of which, besides the pikipikis, was on hot and boring buses) we got to the shelter for refugees and victims of trafficking.  This is where Katie and I both really wanted to visit and unfortunately we only got to stay for a few minutes but it seemed like a great place for the people who need it.  It was kind of awkward though because no one knew what to do with us, Lilian had friends to talk to, and we still don't know what we'll be doing for CDTD so we just sat in a room sipping water for a little while. Hopefully when the director comes back from her trip to Dar es Salaam this week it will all start to make more sense.
2. I got an interview with one of 51 forensic examiners for sexual violence in Kenya! I tend to gravitate towards pretty upsetting research and this semester is no different. After noticing that in my Male and Female Creativity class, no one brought up the issue of body image as a problem in gender studies, I decided to research the sexualization of Kenyan women.  Because our research needs to have a development component (basically meaning we need to talk to NGOs or government agencies), our director recommend that I research sexual violence against women in Kenya. With this topic and an internship that works with women who have gone through pretty horrible traumas, I'm definitely going to see if I am going to be able to emotionally deal with these issues if I chose to work for international women's empowerment for the rest of my life.  Anyway, on Friday I went to Kenyatta National Hospital and just walked into a wing called "The Gender Violence Recovery Unit". Almost immediately I found a woman (who was a nurse, psychiatrist, forensic examiner, counselor, and maybe some other things) who was able to tell me all about the unit and, although she had to be careful not to reveal anything confidential about the hospital, the kind of cases they see. It was hard to hear about, but cool that she was so willing to take time out of her day and talk to me.
3. I learned to dance with my neck! On Friday night, Aileen, Aly, Quinn S, Quinn L, and I went to this super cool concert called "Spotlight on Kenyan Music". There were beautiful costumes, singing, and I even learned how to do a traditional Samburu dance!
4. I went to a mostly Kiswahili hip hop concert! Although we couldn't understand many of the words Aly, Quinn S, and I had a great time sitting at Sarakasi Dome listening to young guys rapping in a mix of Kiswahili and maybe some English. Those dudes have swag!
5. I got some awesome produce at a Nairobi market! I love matunda (fruits) and mboga (vegetables) in Kenya. At the markets they are so cheap, fresh and so delicious, I don't know how I am ever going to eat again in the US.
6. I have enjoyed some of the most fabulous weather ever! I also don't know how I will ever go back to DC/Cincinnati hot humidity or bitter cold. Almost every day this past week was gorgeous, sunny, warm, and breezy. Sambamba sana, Nairobi!

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