Coming back from the beautiful and serene national park of Amboseli to noisy and polluted Nairobi was quite a dramatic shift. However, we had a very interesting week ahead of us, doing field research and meeting people. Finally, the week would end with a special community visit, so we really couldn’t complain!
Monday 12th: Interviews and meetings at the clients. We sweated in our suits as it was a nice, hot and sunny day!
In the evening, the travel agency came to brief us on the
following weekend’s trip to Hell’s Gate Park/Mount Longonot, Lake Naivasha and
Lake Nakuru. This trip is very special since all 15 of us are joining. When we got back to our rooms, we could listen to our evening lullaby, the occasional
growling of the watch dog. The security industry
is huge, for example between us and the outside world, we have a bedroom lock, apartment
lock, a gate to the hallway, a security guard accompanied by the watch dog, regular
fence topped up with electric fence and razor wire, and two security guards at
Tuesday 13th: More interviews and meetings, which allowed our teams to see and visit different sides of Nairobi and its surroundings. One thing is common though, everywhere you go, there is a church. Kenya’s population is around 80% Christian and it is amazing how many churches there can be even in the smallest area. And when people go to the church on Sunday, it can apparently be a whole day event.Wednesday 14th: Morning started with the usual taxi drama. One team’s taxi (KAAA) had gone to their destination instead of the pick-up point and they were over half an hour behind their schedule. The other taxi was simply late for 25 minutes, no confusion or anything, just being on Kenyan time, which has become a bit of a joke among us. Most people have heard about the mañana mentality, and the Kenyan counterpart for that is definitely “Hakuna matata” (= no worries) combined with “polepole” (= slowly). In the afternoon, our team interviewed Kenyatta University. On our way there, we witnessed someone riding a bike in the middle of the six lane Thika highway, a donkey grazing on the roundabout and 2 guys riding camels on the same motorway.
|One of the unconventional sights on the highway
In the evening Muriuki Mureithi from our local NGO partner Digital Opportunity Trust visited us with his three daughters. We had ordered take-out Chinese, and Mildred Otsieno from the local IBM office also joined us with her two sons. We ended up having an impromptu cultural exchange evening part 2, as we all wanted to share some souvenirs or treats with our visitors. Good times!Thursday 15th: Taxi confusion continued, one team had taken another team’s taxi as theirs didn’t show up, and getting a replacement for the WEF team took forever. Another difficulty is that addresses contain only the street name and often a building name, such as “Uchumi House”. Obviously the driver doesn’t know all the houses (nor streets for that matter) so the customer will have to know enough to give some common cues, such as “it’s close to the Serena Hotel”. My taxi came 35 minutes late and took me to the wrong place. I had planned on being really early and finally got to the place 25 minutes late. Nobody cared, except me.
In the evening we had a simple dinner in house and experienced the daily routine: burning of grass in the yards, creating heavy smoke and making it impossible to keep the room windows open. We haven’t been able to figure out why it's necessary, but it is definitely the signature scent of our apartment.
|This is what our mornings look like, standing outside, calling the taxi company, again.
Friday 16th: Morning started with, you won’t believe this, taxi not showing up. Who knew! We had gotten a confirmation for 2 taxis, but the office had thought that “it must be a mistake” and sent only one.
After some morning interviews/meetings, it was time to rush back to the apartments, change into something more comfortable, and head out to Jacaranda school for our community visit! Jacaranda school for mentally handicapped children is doing amazing work in teaching the kids on different levels basic life skills and vocational skills. We were assigned to four teams and we played games outside with the kids on the school yard. Later the kids performed songs and dances and even put up a great fashion show! We responded with the Jambo song which we had practiced together. The afternoon was so much fun and we all made great memories that day!