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Orientation Updates!

March 4, 2010

So I have 4-5 handwritten pages of observations and thoughts to put into blog form and get on here… unfortunately I left them back at the hotel Sheywe when I came to town today with Nick (the other intern) to buy water and visit the cyber (internet cafe). So next week there will probably be a couple of out-of-order/delayed posts on here. Sorry in advance for the confusion!

I’m definitely still somewhat in what’s called the “honeymoon phase” of international travel. There are so many cool things to observe, learn and experience here – from the food (ugali and chipati) to the way you walk on the street (no pedestrian right of way!!) to the culture and the language (Kiswahili). I can now congugate regular and irregular verbs in 7 tenses and for 6  subjects! The language isn’t too hard, it’s just a lot to learn, and it turns out that most people in this area speak Kiluyha – the local tribal dialect which is just something I’m not going to learn.

I’m pretty excited that so far I haven’t had any major stomach bugs or anything like that. Just hoping that it continues once I move in with my host family and am exposed to more foods (and pathogens). Sleep is pretty awesome now – I’m so exhausted after everything that we do in a day for orientation and all the walking around the town of Kakamega that I sleep like a baby under my mosquito net at night! The weather isn’t too bad, although I have a bit of a sunburn on my face from being so close to the equator. It rains most afternoons for an hour or too – which (despite the mud) is actually really nice as it makes everything MUCH cooler.

Yesterday, we went to a nearby village (and by nearby, I mean it took us almost an hour by car because of the roads) and a few rural clinics. It is VERY different in the rural areas around Kakamega than in the town itself. Our director, Peter, has a house where his mama lives in the rural village of Shikoho so we went there for lunch. His mama cooks over a wood stove in a 3 room mud hut. Turns out this isn’t too bad – especially considering that she has a tin roof! The clinics were even more interesting – small and without a lot of the equipment that we expect from modern medical treatment today. There focus was clear – malaria, AIDS and pregnancy. It’s hard, but good, to see all of the areas that even small things can be done to improve the lives of the people in Western Kenya. I’m really excited to start my internship and actually dig in and get to work in the field. I hope that all of my business/economic training in college can actually be put to good use for the women microfinance clients and the organization (K-Rep) that i’ll be working for. More on that to come next week.

I’m still on the job hunt in Kenya for when I get back… although I can sense already that it’s going to be hard to leave and I’m gonna want to come back. Any ideas or options you might think of for jobs are much apprecitated!

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