Shaun's Kenya Blog

Rain rain, go away…

April 27, 2010
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I think I have a way to solve the problem of drought – wherever it doesn’t rain, send me there. The stuff won’t leave me alone. I am currently at home, school was cancelled for the afternoon because most of the kids couldn’t make it to school thanks to the heavy rain here, and in any cas the outhouse we call our school building lets in a lot of water. Hopefully, things will have improved by tomorrow.

A lot of people have asked me about nightlife here – on Saturday, I had one of the best nights out I had in a long time. We went to a club called “Bob’s Bar” which took a while to get to, but was well worth it. It was part inside and part outside, with the inside part being an Irish pub and the outside part being the ‘disco’ part. The atmosphere was great and I even danced to R’n’B music, putting aside how rubbish I am at dancing compared to everyone else here. I certainly hope to go there again.

Please keep your fingers crossed that the rain will stop soon!

Shaun

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Less than two weeks to go in Mombasa

April 22, 2010
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Very soon, probably on May 4th, I will head to Nairobi to complete my volunteer time there. I have some personal reasons for doing this, but also it means I have some time to take part in the activities organised by the Fadhili organisation, which are based in and around Nairobi. Most exciting of all, I will finally be going on safari while I am there! I cannot wait for that.

All the same, I will be sad to leave Mombasa. I like it here, and I now know my way around the place pretty well. Most of all, I will be very sad to leave the school and the children, who I know will not take it well when I leave – even my weekend away in Tanzania, which caused me to miss Friday and Monday, caused a mass celebration when I came back. It is not going to be nice to say goodbye.

Ah well, I guess I will just have to come back and visit them! 🙂

Shaun


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Back from Tanzania!

April 20, 2010
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Hi Everyone,

I got back from Tanzania last night. Dar es Salaam is a nice, relatively relaxed city, there is nothing especially spectacular to see but we had a good time. We had a very nice hotel (although as it was run my Muslims, it didn’t serve alcohol, which came as an unwelcome surprise for me). The people were a lot more reserved than the Kenyans, meaning a lot fewer shouts of “Hello Mzungu!” than I get here. Few people spoke much English, luckily Maggie was there to translate for me. One good thing for the tourist is that it is exceptionally cheap to eat out – even in our hotel, which was pricier than most restaurants, a meal for two including drinks only cost about €10, and the food was very good.

The worst aspect of the trip was the journey itself – ten hours by bus, including a long stop at the border to fill in immigration forms, and then two hours of absolute hell, hurtling along at about 100kmh in a rickety old bus down a dirt road that should not be used for anything but going on safari. Still, it was worth it and I can now add Tanzania to my list of countries visited 🙂

Best,

Shaun


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Rain, Rain

April 15, 2010
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First of all I would like to say hello to my suitcase, reunited with me today after a month. Better late than never.

The last two days here have seen constant, heavy rain. This is good in one way, as it cools things down a bit, and obviously it’s good for the crops. On the other hand, it turns all of the dirt roads into a mudbath. My walk to school is only five minutes, and my feet are black by the time I get there. And that’s before the kids plant their muddy hands and feet all over me!

An update on the insect problem – I have found out the creatures attacking me are centipedes. I thought they looked like centipedes when I saw them, but I had never heard of centipedes biting people. Apparently, here they do. And it hurts. Luckily there was only one bite last night!

It’s now time for my first bit of travel withing Africa – Maggie and I are going for a long weekend to Tanzania, leaving on the bus tomorrow morning and coming back on Monday. I am excited to see another African country, and relieved that Maggie is coming with me as I have been told that there is a lot less English spoken there than in Kenya. Here, everybody knows at least a little, and people with a decent education can speak it fluently. Anyway, we will be in the capital of Tanzania, Dar es Salaam, but I hope that one day we can get away to the beach as well. I’ll let you all know how it was when I get back!

Best,

Shaun


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One nice surprise, one nasty surprise

April 13, 2010
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I will start with the nasty one first. Twice in the space of an hour last night I was woken up by horrible-looking insects (about 5cm long) falling on me, biting me (once on the foot and once on the finger) and then scuttling off under the bed, where they sat making loud clicking noises all night. They don’t appear to be poisonous as I am fine, but I sincerely hope not to be woken up in that way again.

On a much nicer note, we were able to show the children all the nice new things we had bought for the school during the Easter break, mainly stuff for the kitchen. We are getting chairs made for them too so they don’t have to sit on the floor any more, but they don’t know that yet. I went out for lunch today, and when I came back, teacher Emily had arranged for the kids to sing a specially prepared song for me to say thank you. Needless to say, it was very emotional. The kids are hard to control sometimes, but they have taken me to their hearts, and I will really miss them when I leave.

I am currently in the process of planning a trip to Tanzania for the weekend, but booking a hotel online here is a nightmare. Hopefully I can get it sorted soon!

All the best,

Shaun


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New School

April 10, 2010
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Hi Everyone,

My Easter break is coming to an end, and it has been an inventful week, including trips to the beach, more phone calls about my bag and the discovery of a new addiction – fresh lime juice. It is the best thing ever on a hot day.

The most exciting part of the week was meeting with Emily and her husband to discuss building a new school. What they have now is completely inadequate, and we want to build something better. As we talked about costs, Emily revealed that at present, she spends about 100 Euros a month of her own money on the school (she opened the school herself and receives no salary). Emily, her husband and their two children live in a space of about 20 square metres. Despite being desperately short of money, Emily is spending nearly everything she has on these children. I (along with anyone who wants to help) intend to take some of this burden off her and help to finance the building of the school after I leave. By the way, to those of you who donated money before I left, thank you so much – we have used to it to buy chairs and a blackboard for the classroom, as well as pay for food for the children’s lunch (most of them eat at school, which Emily also pays for).

On a different note, I found out today that my suitcase was sent to Nairobi on March 18th, but nobody at the airport there has bothered to contact me about it. Words fail me.

All the best,

Shaun


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Obstacles

April 7, 2010
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Hi Everyone,

I thought I would write a little bit about the difficult aspects of living here, as a few people have asked me. Life is so different here that things I have always taken for granted are conspicuous by their absence, such as tea and coffee on the house, constant running water, and taking a shower free of visitors such as spiders, giant ants and the occasional lizard.

The most difficult thing has been finding my way around, although it is getting better. As I have said before, the main means of travel is with Matatus, which are minibuses that whizz around ferrying people to various parts of the city. Knowing which ones to get, and then where to get off, is hard as nothing is clearly marked, and there are very few street signs. And if you get lost in the dark, forget about it!

Another slight problem is the food. Although Kenyan food tastes good, it is very heavy and in the hot weather, it is hard to eat. I think Africans have much stronger stomachs than we do. Still it is not bad and I can get the occasional western meal in town.

One cultural difference is that people have no problem with asking you outright to buy them things. I am not talking about beggars, just people who you meet and even friends will just come out and say ‘hey, will you buy me this?’ I don’t want to criticise as it is perfectly normal here, but it is strange for me. People here are very generous and warm-hearted, and would give you anything  – I sometimes feel uncomfortable taking from them, and at the same time I also don’t feel comfortable with people just asking me to buy stuff for them. My closer friends here understand, but it can still be a source of awkardness.

On the whole though, things are great here and these are only minor issues. Life here is treating me very well and after a wonderful easter weekend, it is time to get down to some lesson preparation for next week.

All the best,

Shaun


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Easter weekend

April 5, 2010
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Happy belated Easter to everyone!

I have a week off work now, as the school has closed for Easter. I intend to use it to see a bit more of Mombasa, although I will have to work a bit too, as I am meeting the Headteacher to plan how we can best use the money that was so generously donated by some of my friends and family.

The Easter weekend has been very relaxing, Maggie and I have spent most of it at the beach, although on Friday I had my first experience of a Kenyan nightspot. It was a lot of fun, although being the only white person in there was certainly an odd feeling at first. I certainly generated a lot of attention!

I hope you are all well.

Shaun


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About author

I am going to Kenya for nearly three months to volunteer as a teacher for underprivileged children. This blog will be about my experiences and thoughts while I am there. Happy reading!

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