Wifi is back ! Let’s catch up…

Disclaimer: Before I start today’s blog, I must mention that we have not had proper access to Wifi the past 3 days and keeping up to date with blogs has been a pain in the arse – 1st world problems in 3rd world countries.

Thursday 22nd – Kenyatta university Round 2

Heading to Kenyatta university once again on Thursday, I was quite confident that the day would be as productive, or even better, than the one yesterday. We spent the first couple of hours with the students of the audio workshop planning out what sort of audio footage would be useful to capture when visiting Ngong later that day.
After an early lunch, we all got into a schoolbus and headed off towards Ngong. The journey there as well as visiting various places within the town, was an eye-opener to say the least…a lot of what I had already heard about Kenya and African countries in general was confirmed throughout the trip. I’ve never really understood what it is like to have such little and grow up in harsh conditions, as thankfully I grew up in a lovely developed country with all the access to clean water and food I wanted, and in general had a great childhood. Witnessing the conditions people live in, where children go to school, what they have to do to survive and in general, what problems families in poor societies face, made me reflect on my own life and upbringing – I think everyone has to get a view once in their life of how people in poor countries like Kenya live to understand that what we consider as ‘problems’ in our country are ridiculous. At the same time though, it’s pleasing to see Kenyan students interested and determined to learn more about communities and how to potentially help tackle contemporary problems – I like to believe there is light at the end of the tunnel, despite all the obstacles along the way.
To top off witnessing these life changing spectacles, we ended the day with a short visit up to the Ngong hills. It was truly breathtaking – I was convinced that these kinds of mountain ranges and views only existed in fantasy movies like Lord of the Rings, and actually being on the top of a hill in view of endless valleys of untouched nature all the way into the horizon made me feel like I was at the top of the world. What a sight.

The day ended with dinner at the bar and a couple o’ Heinees of course, but I couldn’t help but think that while I’m here with a plate of food and a beer in front of me, just a couple of miles away a child is eating out of a dustbin. What a world…

Friday 23rd – Kenyatta university Round 3

Friday was a stressful day, as all the material we had gathered over the past few days had to be edited and put into one piece and presented by 3pm, and arriving at 9:30am really didn’t help. Nevertheless, as soon as we arrived we got cracking and did what needed to be done. We recorded some of the Kenyan student’s pieces they wanted to make that would support the recordings we had gathered the day before in Ngong.
After lunch at around 12 noon we started editing, but we were rather pressured with time as everything had to be done and ready to be presented by 3pm. The editing process was challenging, as during the editing we realized that it would be useful if we had some small ‘in-between’ clips introducing each topic, as well as some music which would serve as a background. Besides that, a few of our recordings were not of the best quality due to background noise interfering with the actual speech. Nevertheless, we managed to finish it off by 3pm and present it at the presentation and closing ceremony of our collaboration project with the Kenyatta university students.
The whole ceremony was great; it was amazing to see how much we had all achieved within 3 days and how much we had all learned about working with students from a completely different kind of community to the ones we are familiar with. Personally I was very impressed by the work the photography workshop group did, as I felt it really touched on topics and the honest reality of community problems and issues.

Leaving the university was accompanied by a mild sense of sadness as we had had so much fun the past 3 days with the Kenyatta students and we had grown to really like each other and enjoy ourselves, but at the same time we were all overwhelmed with a sense of achievement which we celebrated later on when we arrived back at our flat.
Probably my favorite day yet 🙂

Saturday 24th – FOCUSing on development – contructing Ciabbattas

Today we headed off to the Focus youth centre for the Ciabbatta forum, where we spent the day with the children that spend their days at the youth centre as well as the students from Zetech university. The day started off really interesting when we arrived there as we got involved with the making of ciabbatas while getting introduced to the Zetech students who were really welcoming and happy to meet us. Being around all the children at the centre was rather fun as well, especially since we got involved with their activities and games. I had a conversation with a few of the people that run the centre, about what the centre does and from what backgrounds the children come from, which made me really reflect on the kind of childhood I had and make me realize how well off I have been while growing up. You really need to see the grim side of the world to understand that the world is not always a beautiful place, and that many things we have in our life are taken for granted such as having clean clothes and clean water to drink.
Seeing the children in such a condition, but with a smile on their face was an eye-opener to say the least, and being able to play with them, talk with them and generally spend time with them really made their day and was probably the highlight of their week, month or even year… it’s strange how they react when seeing someone with light skin; they seem so amazed and interested as if we have come from another planet.
Throughout the day, everyone I met instead of calling me by my first name they kept calling me Jesus, and the kids picked up on that and they started calling me Jesus as well ! It’s funny that where I come from, if you have long hair and a beard it’s very likely that people will think you are a slacker or just ‘trouble’ in general, but here, in an intensely Christian community they seemed to be extremely fond of me exactly because they thought I looked a lot like Jesus. Go figure!

Sunday 25th – Slumdog ‘millionaire’

The ‘Stories from our Cities’ photo exhibition was held today in a place called Ruwaka, which is situated in the outskirts of Nairobi in an area of dense slums. Arriving there, I genuinely felt sick. Not because I was ill or had eaten something dodgy, but from what I was seeing before me. I can’t describe with words the abysmal living conditions people live in within the slums. I could tell that the others from our group were just as shocked from what we were seeing, and it made us consider if that was an appropriate area to have a photo exhibition in, even though the actual exhibition was aimed at portraying the real faces of Kenya, both the beautiful and the ugly, in order to exhibit that Kenya is not only a bad place, common to popular belief. With us were students from the university of Nairobi who were hosting the exhibition, which made me feel safe to have them with us as it meant we were not alone in the middle of a not-so-safe area. The exhibition lasted only 2-3 hours and as we left we got stuck into the most horrendous traffic jam comprehensible by man. We had gotten used to being stuck in Nairobi traffic, but this was something else – road etiquette is not a term in the Kenyan dictionary to say the least.
Thankfully we got home safe and sound and had the opportunity to sit down, have a rest and try to comprehend today’s experience and reflect on all that has been happening.

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