New in Nairobi, Volunteer Experience in Kenya

New in Nairobi, Volunteer Experience in Kenya

Hi there.

We arrived after long flights via Johannesburg in Nairobi and met at airport by VICDA’s Antony. The city is very busy like all others and traffic chaotic. Not many horns heard around here though!! We are staying at a volunteer house north of Nairobi near “Spring Valley”. It is similar to a youth hostel – well, that’s how it feels to us oldies!! At the moment there are 12 of us there. Intermittent water supply, but we have electricity, even TV and a wonderful “Mum” Charity – who is only 33!! She does all the housework, except washing, and prepares all the meals. There is certainly no dishwasher, or clothes washing machine for that matter. Water is boiled in a saucepan on the gas stove and the favourite tea is made by boiling 1/2 milk and water with two tea bags and some mixed spices on the stove and adding sugar!! A simple version of chai??

The last two days have been spent doing ‘orientation’ with three others. Whilst the traffic and especially the “matatus” or minivan/taxis are very fast, the people are operating at a different pace. We have learned a few words of Swahili. Jambo for Hello, Sante for thankyou, and of course Hakuna Mutata for ‘now worries’.

Our placement has changed to the Nakuru Pipeline IDP Camp which is still about 2 hours north of Nairobi near Lake Nakuru National Park. We will be living in a homestay with our own room. No electricity, outdoor pit toilet and limited water. Because it is very dry, everything is covered in the red dust. There are less people there apparently, but still very basic living in tents and it is really cold at night – similar to Melbourne, but they have no heaters of course!! We have been asked to take some first aid supplies with us, so have done some shopping at the local “Nakumatt” supermarket today. It’s surprising in a way, that the supermarket sells everything we cn buy at home, except Vegemite etc, yet two hours north people have little food, clothes and other basic supports. I am sure we will have lots to say once we have been there for a week or so.

We did go to the animal orphanage at Nairobi National Park today. Saw hyenas, lions, cheetahs, leopards and birds – even got to hold two seven week old cheetah cubs!!

We did buy a Kenyan phone and sim card, but can’t text to Melbourne unless you are with Vodaphone. Oh well, the least of our concerns for a while.

Tomorrow we leave for a three day Safari to Masaii Mara with some other volunteers and will go to Lake Nakura and be dropped off near our placement on Monday to start work. Can’t believe we will have been away from for a week before we start.

We are finding most of the Kenyan people very friendly and helpful and interested in the Mzungos or white people. The food is very filling, lots of carbohydrate so don’t think I will lose weight after all!!

Hopefully we will write (and add some photos) in a week or so.

M & P

www.volunteer.org.nz