Tuesday, 24 July 2012

A weekend in Nairobi

So this weekend we were unexpectedly treated to a full weekend in Nairobi. We were scheduled to take a trip down into Masai Mara to visit a new rural health center that's being built. The organization in charge is hoping to enlist Global WASHES to do some health and hygiene trainings for the community once the center is up and running. Unfortunately the guy we were supposed to travel down with had a family emergency and so the trip was cancelled at the last moment. Fortunately, we have a running list of things to do and see in Nairobi so we took full advantage! 

On Saturday we headed a bit outside of the city to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust - otherwise known as the elephant orphanage! It was awesome. Their mission is to rescue baby elephants from the wild - typically those whose mother's have been poached or killed before the babies are able to fend for themselves. They care for and raise the elephants until they are old and strong enough to be released back in to the wild. What's really cool is that they group the
elephants, so they form a family (the natural way that elephants live) and are released together so they can maintain the natural elephant social grouping. The orphanage is only open for an hour each day, when they bring the elephants out and let you see them up close, and the rangers tell stories about each one - where they were found, how old they are, etc. All in all it was pretty great and seems like this trust is doing incredible work. If I had brought enough money with me, I totally would've adopted one :)

After the elephant orphanage we headed to the Kazuri bead and pottery factory. It's a business that employs single mothers to create beautiful handcrafted jewelry, pottery and other trinkets. We got to tour the whole place and see how their beads are made from start to finish - quite an operation. In addition to providing single mothers with a solid source of income (and a social network of support) they also provide free health services on site for their families. The store was completely overwhelming, as I wanted to buy pretty much every single piece in there. But I kept it to just a few gifts... for others and myself. 

On Sunday we took in some of Kenya's culture, history and art at the Nairobi National Museum. We all really enjoyed it and learned a lot, it's quite a museum. (Though getting there was a bit hectic, when a matatu dropped us off on the side of the highway and told us to cross over 4 lanes and walk up the on ramp. Alas, we made it.) There were some great exhibits on the Kenya's political history, the transition from British rule to independence, and the history of the many tribes that exist (and still play an important, sometimes tense role) throughout the country. My favorite part of the museum focused on early human history, with tons of castes of human fossils and skulls and tools that have been found in Kenya, particularly in the Rift Valley and in the north near Lake Turkana. I can't claim to know much about our first human ancestors, so it was pretty fascinating. After the museum we made our way over to Nairobi City Park to lay in the grass and people watch - or should I say monkey watch - for a while. This park has monkey's everywhere. In the trees, running around on the ground, stealing people's food and children's toys. It was pretty hysterical. They are totally accustomed to people and have no problem just walking up and climbing on you out of nowhere. It made for an entertaining afternoon.

This week we have been doing another hygiene training, this time in a new community in Kibera where our project has not been before. The people are really in to it so it's been pretty awesome to experience. Only the second day and they were asking about how they can take this info and train other community members. Really couldn't ask for more! Tomorrow should be exciting - we'll be watching a huge water tank get moved into Kibera... basically by hand over roof tops since their aren't any "roads" wide enough to get the tank through. I'll have photos to share after that!

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