Monthly Archives: December 2009

The Backpack Hug

Peace Corps volunteers are always traveling around. If you plan on being a Peace Corps volunteer, make sure you buy a sturdy, drawstring daypack, and a good rucksack for when you are traveling around. The last thing you want to be hauling on and off public transport here is a giant rolling piece of luggage or duffel.

Traveling is also the most common way Peace Corps volunteers see each other. Very rarely are many volunteers close by enough to each other that they wouldn’t be backpack-ladened. Running into each other in the city, we all have our daypacks. Inlanders coming to the coast, they all have their giant rucksacks. Meeting up in Nairobi, a combination of the two.

Combine these burdens with Peace Corps volunteers being an affectionate bunch with one another and we have a problem. Have you ever tried to hug someone who is backpack-ladened. It’s awkward to try and reach all the way around the pack, usually only accomplished by the long-armed and lanky, while usually resulting in bodies pressed a tad to close together, even for Peace Corps comfort level, so the obvious method is not acceptable. Continue reading

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Sustainable Charity

Over the past year, a popular buzzword that I have picked up on in the development world is that of sustainable development. Of course, those of us who are skeptical of these development-world buzz words immediately cry foul, asking what that even means! What is not sustainable versus what is sustainable? Sustainable in what way? Monetarily? People supporting a project through labor? I became even more confused when people started saying that charity is considered a sustainable income source. Now I was really confused, but like all things that confuse me, I began to think about it; began to think about sustainable charity Continue reading

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Uporudi Chini

I thought I would go ahead for practice and translate one of my favorite songs into Kiswahili. For one, the translation does not sound nearly as nice as the original, and the translation is a tad more literal than a more emotionally meaningful translation might be, and finally the verb tenses and grammatical structures are far from perfect, but hey, gotta start somewhere, right? I hope you enjoy. Click through for the English translation.

“Uporudi Chini”
kwa Hori ya Nickeli

Uhitaji kuniodoka sasa, uhitaji kufanya peke yangu
Uhitaji kusaka ndoto, kimoja ambayo ni yangu tuu
Kabla ya imeponyoka
Uporuka kirefu, beba moyo yangu
Nitakuwa umoja pamoja ya mwimbo yote peke
Ambayo ujifunze kucheza

Uporuka angani
Nitakuwa ardhi yangu
Chakue kila hatari ambayo ungejasiri
Nitaka hapo badoo
Uporudi chini
Uporudi chini

Naendelea kuangalia juu, kungoja kurudi kwako
Hofu kuu yangu itakuwa kwamba ungepania na choma
Na sitasikia moto yako
Nitakuwa mkono mwingine ambao ikishike kamba milele
Kuleta moyo tamu yako na yangu pomoja
Mraibu ya ashiki yako

Na nitakuwa mwishoni mingine, kukusikia wakati ungeita
Malaika, ulizaliwa kuruka, ungekwenda juu pia
Upoanguka nitakukamata
Upoanguka nitakukamata

[Daraja:]
Fahamu yako ni jua ambayo kila siku mpya ileta
Najua kwamba anga inaita
Malaika, ningekusaidia na mbawa zako

Uporuka angani
Nitakuwa ardhi yangu
Chakue kila hatari ambayo ungejasiri

Nitakuwa hapo badoo
Uporudi chini
Chakue kila hatari ambayo ungejasiri
Nitakuwa hapo badoo
Uporudi chini
Uporudi chini
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Makindu

The next two days I will be staying in a town along the Mombasa/Nairobi highway called Makindu. I have been here a few times before, as I am helping out another volunteer’s organization build a website and run a computer lab. Makindu is an interesting place, nestled in Akamba ancestral land, but only recently growing in size due to its proximity along the highway (i.e. it’s now become a trucker town). On a good day, you can see Mother Kilimanjaro all the way in the distance, around 200 kilometers away. During the dry season it’s a dustbowl but now that the rains have come, the lands are lush, green and cultivated.

There is also a Sikh temple here. For those unknowing, Sikh is a religion originating in India around the 16th and 17th centuries. There are certain aspects of Sikh that one becomes immediately attuned to: the men don’t trim their beards, they wear turbans and they take very kindly to strangers and travelers. They also serve free meals at all hours at their local temple here (though I pay through donation), and keep a very nicely manicured property. It’s a great place to think about design and simplicity and just relax. It’s also a great reason to stop in Makindu if ever you are in the region.

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Loitokitok Round Three

The road is paved just a bit more. My body is just a bit more accustomed to the bumpy road. The Kimasai/Kiswahili/English language mix is becoming slightly more intelligible.

The air is crisp. Kilimanjaro is standing proud, her wispy clouds a perpetual wedding vale, waiting for the day someone worthy of her majesty presents himself. The land is green and fertile. Zebra graze and giraffe stride majestically across the plains.

I never know how much I miss it until I come back.

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