Perhaps there will not be so dramatic a reaction, but I for one will be sad to leave this clanging, frightening, kind and laid-back city. Looking back at what has been one of the most tightly packed two weeks of my life, I have seen, heard, smelt, tasted and touched many an experience that I will do well to remember long into the future.
Starting my first day with the Nairobi Child.org team, Doreen and I headed to Westlands Health Centre where we picked up the Baby Boxes, on the way carrying what was only a small pile of blankets, I managed to trip and fall down some steps. Determined to carry on I shuffled my way around work for the best part of the day before begrudgingly accepting that perhaps some ibuprofen and a support sock might be in order. Returning home later that evening and putting my foot up to rest I realised that the damage was more than just mild. On doctor's orders (I happened to be sharing an Airbnb with one) I spent the next two days recuperating in bed, literally crawling to the bathroom at one point. I told myself it can only get better from here.
Which it did! Now I had the gift of mobility restored to me, I headed out to the Kangemi settlements where Doreen and I met mothers who were three months in to using their Baby Boxes. Doreen carried out her survey on the usage and effectiveness of the box whilst I interviewed the mothers on their experience of motherhood, personal history and collected advice for our Team Mum campaign. Chris, the community health volunteer who took us around, was an undeniably great help, someone trusted by the mothers and who was on hand to answer any post-natal questions.
Over my first weekend I frequented the national museum and to my absolute delight met three lovely cats who had nothing to do with the museum, but it was probably the best part of that day, that sounds terrible I know.
Starting my second week, Doreen and I (we are quite the power couple by this point) headed off to Meru at 5 AM on Tuesday, arriving sooner than we thought due to our driver’s high concern for the speed limit. Our work here was to conduct interviews and photograph women from the agricultural groups and new mothers partaking in the nutritional seminars.
Margaret, who heads the CIFORD office in Meru explained the programmes' work, how they are implemented and what form she hopes they will take in the future. She took us to meet groups at different stages of their agricultural training and they showed us around their kitchen gardens, explained to us their new initiatives of saving water by re-using what they washed their clothes and utensils in and proudly displayed their kales, tomatoes and potatoes.
Many had goats, cows and rabbits which is made possible through the micro-finance scheme that runs within the agricultural groups. Women can borrow and lend money to one another through a collection pool that occurs weekly, many spoke highly of the scheme and hoped in the future to use it to purchase more animals and farming equipment.
We must offer our thanks to the Soroptimists of Great Britain and Ireland for their three-year long support of the Meru Women’s Garden Project. At the end of this month they have their annual conference, so we filmed a video of Margret with some of the women saying thanks, having a sing and a boogie.
When visiting the Nutritional groups, as well as the continuous voicing of appreciation of learning how to provide a balanced diet for themselves and their children, was the acknowledgment of the support gained from meeting other women in similar situations. Many opened up about how alone they felt in their pregnancies, all were 22 years or younger at the time and many fathers of the babies had left them. Having a safe place to communicate, laugh and lean on one another has increased their confidence, feelings of self-worth and hope for their future. An unmeasurable success.
Returning to Nairobi, I spent the Friday doing paperwork, a welcome respite from the long hot days spent in rural Kenya, the burn on my neck can vouch for the heat.
My last weekend was spent visiting the gorgeous if slightly slobbery giraffes at the sanctuary and mountain biking through Karura Forest with new friends.
All in all, it has been such a thoroughly appreciated and fantastic placement. My heartfelt thanks go to all the Child.org team for making this happening but especially Ellie and the Nairobi office. Your advice, co-ordination, assistance and comradery for putting up with my unrelenting questions about the country from corruption, cultural taboos to religion. These conversations with you have offered me an insight into a country and a continent too often mis-portrayed back at home.
I recommend all future Charity Fast-Trackers to grab opportunities like this one. It may sometimes be difficult or feel strange but that is often quite the brilliance of it.
If you want to train yourself for a fantastic charity career, you should apply for Charity Fast-Track 2019! Find details here on the Utopy website.