Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Finale

Date: Monday July 27 to Sunday August 23
Day 56 to 83
Quote of the week: "Making a million friends in 1 year is good but having 1 friend who will stand by you for a million years is better" - my friend Caxton

Okay so this is almost 1 year later but still...better late than never! This will be my final blog entry for my 3 month summer internship with Western Heads East (WHE) in 2009. My last month in Kenya was crazy busy and unfortunately my blog was never completed. I am returning to Kenya exactly one year later to my home in Oyugis for another 3 months to work on the sustainability and expansion of the probiotic yogurt project with WHE. Before I start my new entries for Amanda Heads East 2010 I will do my best to summarize the final month last summer. It was INCREDIBLE (of course), lots of fun, and very emotional. Saying goodbye to everyone was the most difficult part, especially when I had no idea when I would ever see the Mamas, the kids, and my friends again. There was always a possibility that I wouldn't return for 2, 5 or even 10 years. Thankfully I'm now home in Kenya again!

Distribution of the yogurt to the 300 clients for the World Bank study continued as usual and every day the daily operations were improving. The Mamas were getting a lot more efficient and no longer needed us to help them out at the distribution sites. We met with the Nyanam Women's Group several times to assist them with the development of a poster campaign in Oyugis. By the time we left Oyugis the kitchen had been in operation for exactly 1 month, the Mamas were doing great, and the study was going well. I was so sad to think that I wouldn't be able to know what was going on in the kitchen every day. I loved work and everything about it.

We did quite a bit of traveling in our final month making a trip to Kisumu, the 3rd largest city in Kenya, to celebrate our friend Nick's birthday and also a 1 week vacation on safari! It was amazing to see more of Kenya because it is stunning and it was really nice to have a break from work after the long hours and weeks we had been having. It was soooo different being a tourist and we didn't really like it. I love living in Oyugis where everyone knows us and we can speak Luo. Everything was so expensive and of course there were lots of mzungus everywhere. Our safari in the Masai Mara was pretty much like being in The Lion King and we saw EVERYTHING :) Lions playing, elephants, rhinos, buffalo, vultures eating a dead Wildebeest, giraffes, a leopard, and so much more. It was truly amazing and the Masai Mara was gorgeous! We also visited Lake Naivasha and Lake Nakuru which was beautiful and amazing as well.

By the end of July I was so comfortable in Oyugis and walking around and taking a matatu by myself was no big deal. I loved it and it was my home. It was the best 3 months of my life and it changed my life. I have a much broader view of the world and the real problems that exist. I have a much greater appreciation for everything that I have especially education, a healthy and happy family, the opportunity to travel, access to clean drinking water, and the opportunity to experience something this incredible. I will never ever forget the people I met...they will always be close to my heart. I now know what I want to do in my life and I aspire to help entrepreneurs start up sustainable businesses in developing countries. I am so appreciative and thankful to CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency), the Students for Development program, and Western Heads East for giving me the opportunity to go to Kenya. I love Kenya and I know that this will not be the last time that I will return.

Project Accomplishments:
• The Mamas distribute the yogurt at Ober Health Center and the Rachuonyo District Hospital on their own for the first time! :)

Most Memorable Moments:
• Our trip to Kisumu:
○ Eating pineapple on a stick while in the matatu
○ Taking a Tuk-Tuk (taxi-like small slow vehicle) into the city
○ Eating pizza for the first time in 2 months!
○ Dancing at the Grill House (a bar/small club) to Disturbia, Day & Night, etc.
• Taking long walks around Oyugis to the more rural areas and villages. It is so beautiful, quiet and peaceful and I love our walks. The photos I have don't do justice.
• Our day at Ongiya Disii Primary School donating over $2,000 of school supplies, sports equipment, roofing, fertilizer and maize, etc. Thanks to all of our friends and family who helped us raise this amount! The kids and parents were so appreciative of everything and I know that the money we donated went a long way.
• Sitting in a matatu from Kisii to Nairobi after leaving Oyugis. This was no regular was more like some ballin premium shuttle because everyone actually got their own seat!
• Mama Sophia wanting me to extend my internship for another 3 months

Life in Kenya:
• It rains a lot and when it rains it pours! The rain has held us up at the yogurt kitchen many times and it is so loud on the tin roof. There are always streams of water flowing outside the yogurt kitchen along the dirt road and one time the wind and rain was so bad that wooden stalls, mud homes, and tin roofs were significantly damaged.

Quotes and memories:
• "Please don't go until you sit down and sort out our problem I told you about. We need another Obama." - Joseph, a volunteer at the hospital, joking around with me

1 comment:

  1. good to see you finish up the blog for last year.
    looking forward to your new blogs for '010, now that you're back in oyugis.