Friday, June 12, 2009

Keep on Running

Date: Tuesday June 9 to Friday June 19

Quote of the Day: "Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."


These past couple days have been pretty relaxing which is nice and Jen and I have made some BIG steps forward venturing out on our own! :) Roy is still being a little overprotective stepping in as our worried parents but we finally convinced him to let us walk home alone from the marketplace (its less than 2 minutes away) and go to the Oyugis Primary School down the road (also less than 2 minutes away). We still get stared at all the time and the children still ALWAYS yell "Mazungu! Mazungu!" but besides that it is very safe, the people are really nice, and I really feel at home here now. 


Life in Kenya:


Our lunch and dinner is usually: Chicken or beef with rice or chapati or ugali + pop (Fanta, Coke, or Sprite). Portions are HUGE and unlike us in North America no one is trying to lose weight or is on a diet. 

·         Coca-Cola is EVERYWHERE...they pretty much have a monopoly and are taking over Kenya.


·         It’s really interesting how opposite it is here from North America and other parts of the world. In Canada everyone is obsessed with fashion and everyone judges people by what they are wearing from your shoes to your jewellery. In Kenya NO ONE CARES what you wear and fashion does not exist. People really like to wear graphic Ts with random stuff written on them. I found some pretty hilarious ones today. :)

·         Women do not wear clothing that shows off their best feature and Roy told us there is no "perfect body" for a one cares. This definitely results in fewer eating disorders (if any at all) and women never having to feel self conscious.


·         The marketplace is the busiest place in all of Oyugis. It is truly incredible and I love it! It is packed with people, Matatus, bikes, and shops. Many people are selling the exact same things side by side so competition is tough, everyone wants us to buy something from them, and I don't really think anyone makes that much money.

·         Sometimes straight men hold hands...I'm not really sure why, it’s random.

·         The life of a child is so different. Freedom to go wherever and play but also many chores at a young age...and by play I mean whatever they can find/do to entertain themselves (I haven't really seen any toys at all) which is why we are so popular with the kids.  A lot of them have extremely limited opportunities and I'm assuming very limited dreams as well since there is so much in the world that they don't even know exists.

Most Memorable Moments:

·         THE CHILDREN:

o    Bubbles with the kids across the street! This caused quite the scene...children were pushing and shoving each other to get their turn blowing the bubbles.

o    I helped a 2 year old girl out of a tree today. She was with her older sister in the tree but she was at least 6 feet off the ground and I have no idea how she got up there in the first place but she was crying. Of course her parents were nowhere to be seen.

o    Young children as young as 5 years old carrying babies. I also saw a boy about 8 washing his younger sister, about 3, in a basin of water outside my hotel window.

o    The youngest ones are usually NEVER wearing shoes...and they are all extremely dirty.

o    A group of about 12 children (ages 3 to 9) followed Jen and I running around the field at the school, stretching, doing yoga, jumping jacks, etc. THE ENTIRE TIME. It was pretty hilarious and they really didn't care what we were doing they just copied us like Simon Says until we had to leave. Some of the girls then grabbed our hands and we struggled to communicate to them that they had to go home. Eventually two young 8-year-old boys who knew the most English helped us tell the young girls that they had to go home.

·         Football! Or as we would call! I finally got my soccer ball, which I had packed in my suitcase, blown up at a little bike hut down the road. The pump wasn't exactly meant for a soccer ball and didn't have the needle so it took about half an hour to get the ball pumped up.

o    The kids play without shoes on and some of them are really really good!

o    Today was our second time out playing, we got some kids back who were there the first day, and we're hoping they will continue to come back because they play with so much heart, they love it, and I love it!

o    The field we play on is on a slope with ditches, huge rocks, and cow poo everywhere and we used bricks for our goals

·         Seeing other white women for the first time in Oyugis! They were from the UK and stayed at our hotel for 1 night and they just kept saying "Blimey!" was hilarious.

·         Our adventure to Kisumu, the third largest city in Kenya. This was our first time riding in a Matatu, a taxi bus that can seat 15 people (5 rows of 3) but they cram AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE into the Matatu so we had 20 people in there at one time. Ours was more like a pretty sweet party blasting on a TV screen with a music video of some Kenyan guy named ____ Basement who sang a song called "Obama". Many people got on and off throughout the trip to Kisumu and along the route every time we stop people come up to the Matatu selling different things (newspapers, candy, socks, watches, water, and the list goes on...)

o    The Matatus do get pulled over by police along the highway. Each time we got pulled over the driver/Matatu man would just pay off the police and we would drive away. That is how things work and no one cares.

·         Things I have seen women carrying on their heads: bowls of fruit & other items, potato sacks, pails of water, planks of wood, a suitcase + mattress on top. A lot of these items are extremely heavy and I am still so amazed by the women and their balance especially walking on these uneven rocky roads.


The Project Work:

We are still waiting for the Yogurt Mamas from Mwanza, Tanzania to arrive in Oyugis to train the Yogurt Mamas here. Until then we are preparing for the kitchen to be up and running so we can start production! There are still some necessary supplies we need to purchase and we are still waiting for some funding from KEMRI (it takes FOREVER!) in order to cover the cost of the raw materials for at least the next 3 months. Jen and I have really started to get this project moving and we are making some extremely efficient progress. Unfortunately we cannot move forward until the training is complete.

·         Made posters for the kitchen: quality control, the production process/steps, and milk tests for quality

·         I designed some marketing materials using Microsoft Publisher, my favourite! :) I created a poster, flyers, and the packaging inserts for the yogurt. We are hoping to distribute these materials to the advocacy group within the next 2 weeks.

·         The Data: established the intervention & control group (the control group will not start consuming the yoghurt until 6 months after the first group), assigned study subjects to the appropriate distribution centres

o    Unfortunately it will be very difficult to notify the control group about their status...they are not going to be very happy

·         Our adventure to Kisumu: Visited KEMRI and purchased necessary supplies for the kitchen



1 comment:

  1. Amanda, the blog is awesome! I'm trying to catch up and I only have one more post to read- yaay!!!.. first i have to get back to work though. Keep them coming!

    ... I have a million things to say but one thing I just HAVE to say! Amanda, straight men hold hands for the same reason straight women hold hands- its a nice gesture. It happens all the time in Europe also. Straight guys go out, party and dance together at the bars. They also kiss cheeks (italian style) ... you kill me!