Tag Archives: cross sector

My Past Month Recapped

It’s been a week or two since I last updated, and even longer since I have been home in Mtongwe, but I am back at the Peace Corps office in Nairobi with not much to do, so I thought I would do my travel recap while I have the free (but still slow) internet.  I might even throw in some pics if the connection lets me.

So my first week was spent working with the WCE and KSPS volunteers, as you already know, setting up computer labs all around the Nyeri District and prepping them to receive internet connections in the hopefully near future.  It was a good time and I believe I have chatted about it enough so I will leave you with some pictures:

WCE and KSPS volunteers working hard in a Nyeri District secondary school

WCE and KSPS volunteers working hard in a Nyeri District secondary school The Nyeri District Attendees of our Sys Admin workshop

After that it was off to the Yatta Campus of the National Youth Service where I helped a fellow volunteer, David, with some technical issues in his computer lab.  David is basically doing the same job I do but at a different campus of NYS.  It’s always fun to visit fellow volunteer sites, though I didn’t take any pictures, sorry 😦  We got a lot done, but as with everything in peace corps, there just wasn’t enough time and always more to do.  But with some work accomplished we headed off to Nairobi…

 
…where we got to see the new group be sworn in as official volunteers.  We now have 24 new Public Health volunteers doing all sorts of good stuff around the country.  It’s sad that a lot of them got placed out in Nyanza Province (near Lake Victoria), but we got a healthy crop of newbs on the coast as well.  I’m laying on all the newbie speak partly because I am happy to no longer be considered one!
 
Then it was off for a couple days helping out my friend Gavin up in his town of Nanyuki a few days before even more volunteers got there for a Permaculture workshop.  Gavin, Paula and I helped the Nanyuki River Water Users Association clean up a section of the Nanyuki River, which is heavily tapped and polluted and thus a mere trickle of its once glorious self.  Also got to play tourist a bit.
Me Standing at the Equator Sign in Nanyuki

Me Standing at the Equator Sign in Nanyuki

After a few days of hiking and recouping from two weeks of work and travel, the third major event of my travels began: Permaculture Workshop hosted by the Mt. Kenya Organic Farming (MOOF, don’t ask, I don’t get the acronym…).  What is permaculture?  Well, it stands for Permanent Agriculture, and I am going to try really hard not to sound too bitter about the whole thing, but it just seems like a rebranding of good agriculture techniques.  Now I am no farmer, but some of what we learned seemed common sense, such as using compost for fertilizing, crop rotation and planting kitchen gardens to supplement your diet with healthy, easily accessible food.  We also learned some really useful facts about the nutritional benefits of a lot of local foods that can easily be added to your meal with added benefit.

Some ants on a plant at the MOOF Center

Some ants on a plant at the MOOF Center

The bitterness comes because it seems like agriculture techniques that I know existed in Africa before colonialism, but seem to have been lost since then (or because of it…) and the Kenyan government hasn’t done its job disseminating the

Placing some seedlings into the sack garden at the MOOF Center

Placing some seedlings into the sack garden at the MOOF Center

information to those who need it.  This basically sums up all my grievances with the development scene here: not only are the development workers bringing in needed skills with a very small, and not-quite-yet self-sustaining culture (such as ICT), but we are also bringing in the basic skills that Kenya had, and seems to have lost 😦

A bucket filled with green material and chemical for composting

A bucket filled with green material and chemical for composting

After spending a good week in Nanyuki, it was back to the coast finally!  But not quite home.  First I had a Cross Sector Workshop to attend.  Basically, its a workshop where all the volunteers of a specific region, regardless of their sector (Education, Public Health, SEDICT), get together and share their different perspectives on a particular topic.  In this case, being a President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) sponsored event, we talked about AIDS.  But we also talked about other stuff as well.  And they put us up in a nice hotel, so I can’t really complain.  I even got to swim some laps every morning, which I haven’t been able to do since leaving America.
Our PEPFAR Cross Sector Group
Our PEPFAR Cross Sector Group
Also got to hit up the Coast Province Trade Fair, which is like a county fair in America, farm animals and ginormous vegetables included.  But we were there the day that Kibaki, our lovely president, was in attendance, so everyone was asked to keep down the noise (and excitement, and fun, and everything else that probably would have made this a much more enjoyable experience).  I did learn an important cultural fact though: it seems that one of the favorite forms of booth-swag would be the cardboard and elastic sun visor.  I wish I had a photo.  By the end of the day I was sporting three: one for AIDS Relief, one for Grape Juice and one for Yogurt.
And now I am back in Nairobi for a medical check up instead of sitting on my couch before school starts again in a couple weeks.  My anti-malarials were making me feel a little sick, so medical wants to switch me.  I’m not going to complain.  Of course it also means I am in one of the most expensive cities in the country unexpectedly and not-budgeted-for.  Needless to say, my friend Harmony and I ate peantut butter and banana sandwiches at the hotel last night.  She’s in a similar boat as me.
And to reward all of you for reading this somewhat short post (given the time period it’s covering!), here’s a picture of a giraffe from the Nairobi Giraffe Center, taken by a friend I met one of the times I was traveling through the city this past month.  We all went to the Giraffe Center together, but I didn’t have my camera.
A Giraffe at the Giraffe Center in Nairobi

A Giraffe at the Giraffe Center in Nairobi

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Off on an adventure… or two… or three…

Ok Folks, this may be the last update you get from me for a while?  Oh, who am I kidding, I always find a way, but just to cover my bases, i’ll pretend like this is it for about a month!  “A MONTH!!!” you shout at your computer screen.  I know you will all survive without me for a month, though I also know it will be difficult, but just think, if I am gone for a month, I will most certainly have heaps of fun stories to share.  So just hang on, and maybe this little sneak peak of my adventures to come will let tantalize!

Next week I will be in the lovely, cooler climate, Nyeri Town.  Myself and two volunteers from Costa Rica will be working under the World Computer Exchange (http://worldcomputerexchange.org) banner in secondary schools in Nyeri town, from what I can guess, doing general computer maitenance, internet, fun stuff like that.  I believe we will be accompanied by Kenyans from the Kenyan School for Professional Studies.  It should be  a lot of fun, and I really liked Nyeri when I was there this past March, so it will be nice to get back.  Of course, don’t go thinking Peace Corps just lets us all go willy-nilly where we want.  Getting this clearance was a give and take.  I tried to take some time off from the end of the semester (all my students stop coming anyways in preparation for finals), and I was given an assignment.  I need to compile a report on my experiences teaching computers to various levels of Kenyans, to be used as a resource by other volunteers.  Fun.  Worth it.

After Nyeri, it’s off to the wonderful city of Nairobi again for a few days of report writing (no laptop yet) and medical.  I have a dentist appointment and just some general check up stuff they like to do while you are in Nairobi.  Whatever.  Anytime you are called in by medical, Peace Corps foots the daily expenses and accomodation for the night, so that’s always nice!  Medical is not really an adventure, but pretty much any time spent in Nairobi is always an adventure, so it gets the classification anyways.

After NRB, hopefully it is off to Yatta.  A fellow PCV, David, works at the National Youth Service there as a computer instructor.  He is basically me, but in Yatta and not on the Coast, though he is also considered much more amicable than myself, has far more patience for the average individual, and is just a generally nicer guy I would say.  But I have more computers.  And we all know what is more important right?  So David and I will be doing any general tech work that usually requires two minds instead of the one, and of course comparing notes from the semester and seeing how we can help one another improve.

Then I am hoping to head back to Nairobi for an evening to see the swearing-in ceremony of the new volunteers.  Hopefully.  I don’t know if peace corps is letting me.  I guess we shall wait and see!

After swearing in, it’s off to a the town of Nanyuki (even cooler than Nyeri I believe!)  The first few nights will be spent visiting PCV Gavin, another friend in my training group whom I have not seen since april, which is just wholly unacceptable in all things concerning Gavin.  Then, it’s off to the Peace Corps Permaculture workshop hosted in Nanyuki (and more nights on Peace Corps dime!!!).  I am not 100% sure what I will learn at this workshop, but I think some topics include soap making, gardening, and other forms of sustainable, earthy, living.  It will be interesting times spent with the few volunteers who are able to make it.  Cannot wait!

Finally, after Nanyuki, it’s back to the coast.  BUT, not home yet.  The coast is a big place, and Peace Corps loves its workshops.  I will be attending the Cross-culture workshop, where any volunteers currently serving for over 3 months are invited, with their Kenyan counterparts from their projects (I don’t have one…), and we basically sit around and bash heads and figure out how we can help one another.  For example, someone might as me, being an ICT volunteer, how to use mobile phones to distribute public health notices most effectively (mmmm, sms aggregation… it’s a current hot topic).  This goes on for like a week.

Then I might come home.  If you can find me!

Until then, stay tuned for little snippets that I might be able to get online!

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