Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Petting baby Elephants! Saturday 7th - Sunday 8th

Busy Busy weekend!!

We decided that on Saturday we would meet up with a family friend of Alex's, also called Alex, who lives in Nairobi. Alex M (I will call him) originally comes from Kisii which is on the west side of Kenya, by Lake Victoria. He then came to England to study at University. Since coming back to Kenya, two years ago, he has been living in a hotel type place as he apparently does not want to cook for himself or wash his clothes! Men are apparently the same everywhere in the world...

So we set out to Nairobi at about 10am and wandered into the city amrket, as it was Alex's first type into this type of market he was shocked at the way the men hassled you to buy things!! I did actually buy a large painting of the massai for 2000shillings - 16GBP ish, managed to get the guy down from 15000ksh, 120GBP!!

They Alex M picked us up in his car and took us to his hotel where we had a biffet lunch (everywhere we've been to in Kenya prefers a buffet style to a menu). We then went for a walk around the area his hotel is in, sat in a lovely grass area called Central Park. We then went for a cup of ginger tea (ginger = tangawizi) in a 5* hotel. We sat aroudn a pool and ate some delicious samosas - it was really lovely!

He then took us back to his for dinner, he wouldn't take no for an answer! even though we had dinner waiting for us back at the orphanage!! He ended up driving us all the way back to Mlolongo as it was very dark and too late for us to really safely have caught a matatu.

On sunday we got up early and although we were going to go to Nairobi Museum first, we realised that the orphan elephant sanctuary was only open for 1 hour a day 11-noon! so we quickly changed our plans and headed off to the Ele sanctuary. We guessed which Matatu to get on and whilst on it, even the driver didn't know where this place was! Luckily a passenger told us that we were on the right matatu and we eventually saw a signpost.

One thing that the guidebook didn't tell us, however, was that the palce was in Nairobi National Park and as the guard for the park told us, it's evry dnagerous to walk in there and even if you did risk it, it would take to long to walk it! Luckily about 5minutes later a taxi appeared out of the park and offered to drive us to the orphanage!

When we arrived there were a lot of tourists! I had not seen so many since I got to kenya, I think they all stay hidden in the hotels and on tour busses! Luckily we got there at 11.05 so we had plenty of time and I got to take hundreds of pictures of the cuties and got to stroke a couple!! The landscape itself was beautiful and all you could see for miles was the park!

Next we got back on a matatu to Nairobi where we met Alex M, had some luch and he dropped us off at the museum. It was 800ksh each which we felt, once we had been round, was a tad pricy for a fairly small place. It was interesting nonetheless and we learnt some interesting things about Kenyan history. There was a snake farm in the grounds but it was an extra 800ksh each which we felt was a rip off as it didn't look that great!

We grabbed a cold drink at Alex M's and then grabbed a matatu back to Mlolongo! phew! Very busy weekend and quite tiring but it was fanatastic!

Lottie x

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Thursday 5th - Friday 6th

Although nothing 'exciting' or 'out of the ordinary' happened, I feel that these days still deserve a mention because I have found out some really interesting things about why Grace has come back to Kenya so soon after she was last here!

She came to Kenya in January? of this year to do exactly what I myself am doing and through the same company! Although she was here for 2 months.

Whilst in Mlolongo she discovered that there was a huge problem concerning 'street boys'.

These are almost always boys and they are a variety of ages and due to being either orphans or coming from poverty stricken families they end up on the streets. There can earn a tiny bit of money picking up 'plastics' and taking them to buyers who in turn receive money from large companies who recycle them.

However, not only do these boys have no shelter at night and minimal food during the day, they also very easily get into bad habits such as drug taking, a very common form you see daily on the streets is glue sniffing. It's a type of gum used to glue shoes back together and the empty or nearly empty bottles are tossed onto the streets (there are no rubbish collectors here, it gets tossed onto the street and then burnt in piles) where the boys pick it up and sniff the remainder. The boys can also not afford to go to school, and they are very often of primary school age which means that they have future, so to speak, other than living on the streets for the foreseeable future.

So when Grace was last here, she decided that she had to do something to help and so set up a rehabilitation for street boys project. This involved finding a cheap but suitable shelter, a teacher and a cook. I have seen, since being here, that she now has all three and she also funds the lives of 11 boys. I know that this is quite a financial struggle as apart from a few bits of fund raised money and the occasional offer of food, she pays for it all herself and this comes in at around 1000GBP a month. I think that she is amazing and once I am back in the UK I want to provide all the support I can, in terms of fund-raising and also just being someone else who has seen first hand, the change she has brought about in these boy's lives!

this is just a brief delve into what she does but I am sure that as soon as I am back home and she has set up a website etc I can provide more information and start to fundraise.

My primary objective is to raise enough money to provide the boys with a school sports kit!

Lottie x

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Wednesday 4th August - The new orphanage!

Wednesday was the day of the big national vote! Yes or No to a new constitution. No one was quite sure whether there would be any rioting as there had been at the last vote! As it was a voting day, many places were closed, including the animal orphanage where Alex works so he had a free day!!

And so, I decided to show him how to hand wash his clothes! Which he struggled with slightly... Must get a picture!

Theresia and Joseph, the founders and the 'parents' of the children in the orphanage took us to the site of the new orphanage! Basically, the government had allocated 3 acres to the project and with this, they could start to build their own orphanage in a nice new community. Although there are very few houses around, the community is just starting and it aims to be a really nice place, nicer and safer than Mlolongo, for the children especially. Once the orphanage is finished, they hope to also relocate the school to the grounds and build a church, amongst other things. However they still need to raise over GBP100,000 to finish a building which will house around 300 orphans! It will be fantastic and there will even be running water! No more bucket showers! ([pictures to come)

In the afternoon Alex and I were shown how to make chapattis from scratch. First we rolled the dough into similar sized balls, we then rolled them into larger flat circles, although mine and Alex's were slightly more square.... You then put them on a metal dish, like a frying pan but without a handle. This was on top of a coal stove. You then used your fingers (ouch! hot) to spin it around to stop it sticking! Firstly you did this for 30secs each side without oil. yiou put these to one side and then you did the same to them but for longer and with oil to brown them and make them into chapattis!


Lottie x

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Tuesday 3rd August

Monday night was lovely, Alex and I chatted to two of the older boys, Patrick and Thuko about England and the differences between there and Kenya. Thuko is also responsible for preparing our food day and night and is a really lovely 16 year old! Polite and respectful but also a good laugh! He has also offered to show me how to make chapattis and Mandazi!

Tuesday was a really exciting day! Grace decided to take me to the Massai Market which is held just once a week. She promised me it was going to be an experience and it certaintly was!

I washed my hair and dried it in the sun before we went out, it's difficult to wash in the evening because where you wash yourselves is poorly lit. We caught a Matatu at around 11am, as it was my first time in one it was quite an adventure. We manage to get front seats which is apparently a lot nicer and less cramped than the back! We got off in the city and made our way to Patrick and Grace's (our volunteer company) office. We had some really yummy mango juice, it was thick like it had just been squeezed out of a mango and nothing had been added! Must get some more before I leave!

Grace (volunteer company) then took Grace and I (it is confusing with everyone having the same name!) to the Hilton Hotel, where underneath there is an arcade with shops selling souvenirs. This was so we could see how much items cost in a shop as markets will easily rip off tourists! After lunch in the office, fried potato things, we made our way to the market! It was quite a walk!

It was such a unique experience it's hard to describe. As soon as you enter and you look like a tourist, you are accosted by a couple of men who promise to take you around and get the best deals (I later found out from a shop keeper that this is not true and to always buy froma seller direct). They follow you everywhere and if you bend down, or even look at something for longer than a second they will pick the item up and carry it around and say 'this is a maybe, if you like you can buy. no pressure. no pressure' but of course there is! They will not let you walk away empty handed!!

after the market we went to Tusky's which is, I think, the largest supermarket chain in Kenya, or at least in Nairobi. It was gtting quite late by this time so we went to catch a Matatu from the main Matatu station (next to the train station). There were crowds and crowds of people and not many matatus so the price was slightly more expensive back home. The ride home was more of an experience than the rest of the day put together!! Firstly a car crashed into us which was quite scary as the brakes we slammed on and we went up an embankment! Grace told me that this regularly happens as matatu drivers are notoriously bad! Then the engine seemed to die and struggled to get us back to Mlolongo!! We didn't think we'd make it!

But we did! Alex couldn't believe that we were later than him! It was an exhausting day so I had a very early night!

Lottie x

Monday, 2 August 2010

Monday 2nd August

There was a power cut in the village on Sunday at around 6pm which lasted until the morning! Apparently this is a very frequent occurrence and and it involves a lot of candles! this did, however, mean that Alex and I had a lovely candle lit dinner!

Yesterday morning, Sunday, we woke up and attended the orphange's Sunday Service which is held on the roof! It's the largest space they have and half does have a roof just in case! I really enjoyed the singing parts, they love to sing voer here, but as the service was 95% in Kiswahili, and it lasted from 10am-2pm, it was a bit tiring and got slightly boring for us! We were going to watch the African Athletics final but the service went on longer than we had anticipated so it was too late to go :(.

After the service it was lunch time and we spoke to two of the preachers - Francis and his wife Susan, who offered to show us around Nairobi! Francis spoke English really well and fantastically clearly! We also spoke to the minister and he explained that he was sorry that the service was in Kiswahili but as he was from a french speaking part of Africa, his english was not that good!

After lunch, Alex and I went up to the roof where we got to know some more of the younger children. We played a sort of skittles game with them involving old batteries and a stone each! Some of the names we learnt were: 2 Esters, Blalia, Leah, John, Elizabeth who were between 5-7 years and Helen who was 12.

When we woke up this morning (Monday) there was still no electricity so Alex had to get ready and shave in the dark!! haha! (it was 6am so there wasn't much natural light either!

I was given a Mandazi for breakfast which was yum! It's apparently just flour and water which is fried - must get shown how to make them!

Grace then took me on a tour of the markets in Mlolongo. Food is so cheap here! Nothing costs more than 5p except whole pineapples which are around 40p and enormous watermelons which are around 1.50 for the whole thing - they are bigger than any I've ever seen in England!

I'm now just waiting for Alex to get back, he is quite late so the traffic must be really bad! That's one thing I wasn't expecting in Kenya! Just how bad the traffic is around Nairobi!

Lottie x

Saturday, 31 July 2010

Friday 30th July 2010

Alex had to leave early again - 6.30, but surprisingly the children were not already awake, well, not all 100 of them! So I actually managed to get a better and slightly longer sleep yesterday morning! When I got up I went down and had tea and this lovely pastry type food - Madazi?sp - Which is apparently just wholemeal flour and water which is ten fried in oil but it was yummy!

I then wandered down to the school and spoke to Steven briefly about Scouting as they have a Scout group at the school, I will hopefully learn a bit more about their meetings when school starts back up again! I then met Kate (a volunteer from Reading). She had gone to a local salon the day before and had had her hair braided and extensions put in! It looked very nice but very heavy! It took 5 hours!! But it only cost 800shillings which is apparently twice the usual cost, but it's still only about 7GBP which is not a lot!

I then came back to the orphanage with Grace and Kate for tea and and bread. Grace decided it was time to teach me how and where to wash clothes, hang them and the device she uses to warm up water, looks a bit danegrous to me though so I shall stick to cold water.

Oh yes!! There is no running water here! Our shower is a bucket of freezing cold water and our toilet is a hole in the ground! You do get used to it quite quickly though!

I then decided to walk to the cyber cafe myself and check my emails, although it's not far it's an experience as everyone shouts 'Jambo' out to you (a Kenyan greeting).

I then went back to the school! They were getting ready for their class presentations which were being held in two of the classrooms which have a division which can be opened up completely allowing the whole school to fit in!!

the teachers still had a bit of marking to do and the children were getting a bit restless sat down so Grace and I decided to lead a little sing song as the children love to sing! e struggled to come up with songs they knew but 'heads, shoulders, knees and toes' went down extremely well!

Once the teachers had finished marking, they came in and sat down. Teacher James had his camera at the ready on the video setting ready to film, as did Kate! I was only able to take photographs but I took lots! One class at a time, starting from the nursery, then pre-unit, standard class 1 --> 8 came up and sang a song which they had prepared. It was lovely to watch and at the end some girls from class 8 did some traditional singing and dancing and invited Grace and I up to dance with them along with some of the teachers! It was very fun!

The children then received their marks from the exams they had sat, again in order of class (nursery -> 8). With each class they called out the top 3 and their marks and then they carried on in order from high -> low the marks of every child. The children must get quite nervous by this as the whole school is watching them and hearing the marks they achieved! Theresia and Joseph (the founders of Heritage) had come to watch. They are known as mum and dad to all the orphans and they in turn treat treat the orphans as their own children, even though they have 5 of their own!

After the marks had been read out, we volunteers were asked one at a time to make a speech - I just said how happy I was to be here and how welcome I felt! After James and Steven made their own speeches it was finally lunch time! Everyone was very hungry as it was 2.30pm before we could sit down and eat!!

I spoke to the children after lunch and was introduced to the family of rabbits who live on the roof - they are very cute and fluffy! I then went to my room and rested for a bit - Alex surprised me by coming home early - 5pm! For dinner we had rice and cabbage which was really nice!

After dinner we spoke with Grace, Thuku, Patrick and some other High School Boys who were home for the holiday! Grace showed us some videos and photos of two nearby lakes she's been too (well, 4hours+ away). One looked amazing with thousands of Flamingos! I must go there!

Lottie x

Holding Baby Crocs and Riding Camels! Sat 31st July

We left the orphanage at 9.30am for our 'orientation day', run by the company we booked through! Alex, their driver picked us up and drove us into the centre of Nairobi where we picked Patrick up, one of the owners of the company (Gracepatt Ecotours). Patrick is a lovely man and went to a lot of effort to make the day fantastic! We briefly went into a supermarket where I bought a HUGE avocado, bigger than Alex's hand, for 20Ksh, about 15p!

We then drove around Nairobi city centre and Patrick pointed out the main buildings including the British Embassy and I managed to take quite a few photographs which will be put up on facebook when I get back! We stopped at the top of a hill overlooking the centre and I have a few nice photographs of Alex, Patrick and I which I will share with you soon!

We then drove out of the city center, past the KWS centre where Alex is working and arrived at the giraffe centre! It was erally good and there were even a few warthogs snuffling around! There was a fantastic viewing platform where you could get up to the height of the giraffe's heads and feed them pellets, they started to eat my hand after a bit though...

We then drove off to find Mamba Village. Mamba means crocodile in Kiswahili. When we got there we were greeted by some Massai and got a couple of photographs with them :). When then had a lovely lunch of chicken and chips! After that we went to see the crocodiles and we got to hold one which was around 1-2 years old!! It was an interesting experience, the guide told us to make sure we held the head so it didn't bite us!

We then saw the much older crocs! They were huge and the guide kept poking them with sticks to make them snap which made me jump quite a bit! They seemed so fast and deadly! The guide explained to us that the larger, fatter bellied and tailed ones were the females. They lay their eggs in september but the temperature in Nairobi isn't hot enough for enough of the year so if hey wanted another crocodile they would send the egg to Mombasa. Excitingly, we were told that the temperature an egg is kept at decides the sex of the baby!

When we had another look at the babies, I noticed one had a gaping hole where it's forearm should have been! Apparently it had escaped into the pen where the 5-10yrs are and because crocodiles are cannibals (and eat their young), they had bitten the little croc before anyone could rescue it! Apparently is should make a full recovery and be fine as the most important limbs are the hind legs and the tail.

Next Alex and I got to ride a camel together! it was hilarious and Patrick took lots of photos of us! Standing up and sitting down was an interesting experience! I nearly went flying!

Mamba village also keeps Ostriches and an orphan giraffe they had been given to raise as it lost it's mum when it was tiny! And apparently it gets on well with the ostriches as they often share territories in the wild!

Once we had seen all of the animals we went for a lovely boat ride on the man made lake in the middle of the village! It had been made into the shape of Africa! The scenary was lovely and it was so peaceful, the weather had also turned very hot so I could have stayed on the boat for hours!

On the way out of the village I spotted a tiny chameleon which I just had to pick up!!

When we got back to the orphange we played and spoke with the children and that evening they were allowed to watch a tv for a bit! They were even watching music videos WWE!!

Well, I think that's one of the best days I've had in a long time! So much exitement!

Lottie x