Sunday, May 22, 2016

Visiting Makuyu

Today I returned to Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (where I had attended 2 years ago) to train students to be research assistants for my Masters project. After an hour of trying to hunt down a projector and wait for all the attendees to arrive, we were able to have a successful meeting. These volunteers will be extremely helpful in collecting data in the small amount of time we have, and with interacting with local women in the slums. As a Muzugu, the women we are interviewing might not give the most accurate information to me, nor feel as comfortable as with Kenyans speaking in Swahili. I am very excited to be partnering with Mary Mambos clinic, and their community health workers.

The following day, William invited us to Murang’a county to visit the Makuyu Empowerment Center, which was just in the planning stages 2 years ago when I was in Kenya last. It is always a joy to see the amazing progress of great community initiatives. Will is now taking student interns to assist with the several community initiatives run by the center. They have a soccer team, otherwise known as football here and a Kindergarten class. They also partner with other schools, and women’s groups. Will brought us to visit a primary school near the Empowerment Center. After the children graduate from the kindergarten class at the Empowerment Center, they will be able to attend this primary school. Our group got to interrupt a grade eight class to offer them encouragement for the next stage of their lives. I am not the greatest at impromptu speeches, but lucky Christine and Francisco had some great words to offer these kids! Often in Kenya you will randomly be asked to present who you are and offer a small speech when you appear at a new place (this happened quite a few times I when I was in Kenya last).  

This particular day Will and his intern from Spain took us to a rural village to meet the women’s groups they work with in Murang’a. The girls were the lucky ones that got to ride in the full car while the two boys were gentleman and took a boda boda (motorcycle).Yup, that’s one motorbike with a driver and two grown men on the back! Little did they know this was a very rough road that included crossing a river, massive rocks, and over 20 minutes of driving.

 These women gathered together in matching uniforms and coordinating chairs to listen to a teacher instruct them on how to rear kuku (chicken) to make an income for their families. Even our Kenyan friends we had with us has trouble understand what the teacher was saying, as this particular area didn’t speak Swahili (the national language), but rather Kikuyu and Kamba. We each got to share a little about who we were to the women, and Will translated for us. It is an interesting experience having someone translate what you say, you must speak slowly and wait for a delayed reaction to your comments.

On our way back we opted to squish 9 people in a 5 seater car to save the boys from riding on a boda boda. The road we were on had clearly not been fixed for years, and recent heavy rainfall didn’t help the cause. As we drove, each of us cried in pain as we heard the bottom of the car scrape against rocks, and thuds of hitting high ground. The car we took was obviously weighed down from the excess people, and was much lower to the ground then manufactures intended. We also managed to get jammed in a large pool of mud, but the perk of fitting 9 people in a 5 seater care is the abundance of people to push the car to mud free ground. Overall it was an eventful day, and I am looking forward to continuing partnering with Makuyu Empowerment Center. 

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