Monday, November 24, 2008


I've been waiting to blog until my internet at home was up, which was supposed to happen a week ago today. As of today, still no word on whether the problem that delayed it has been fixed. When you depend on internet for all your communications (phone calls are quite expensive here - so not only am I trying to keep in good touch with home, but all the various projects I'm working on are heavily conducted via emails and outreach), it's very challenging not having easy access to it. Anyway - all complaints aside, let me offer a few updates as things have been very busy and exciting. School is definitely picking up, but I'm also making some great progress on craft-group outreach and linkages with the U.S. (transport challenges second only to lack of internet!) and have started my Rotary presentations which have been great experiences as well. In a nutshell:
  • Two weeks ago I attended my roommate's (Megan White) official launch for the non-profit she's started called Zanna. Zanna means "tools" in Kiswahili and the organization is focused on coordinating the effort to provide sanitary pads to school girls throughout Kenya. Would you believe that 3.5 million school days are missed PER MONTH because girls cannot afford pads? The mildest result is staying home from school, the more extreme is literal prostitution in order to pay for something that I know most of us take for complete granted. Zanna is working with the Ministry of Education to coordinate outreach efforts and a comprehensive program to ensure girls can stay in school - translating to higher graduation rates, lower pregnancy rates and all around brighter futures. Zanna is also working on designing and manufacturing eco-friendly and locally produced pads - responding to the need for both feminine products and jobs.
  • I was introduced to Hannington Odame, Executive Director of CABE, which is a newish non-profit focused on technology advancements in agriculture in the hopes of creating jobs for youth who are looking to use their education and desire to innovate in one of Kenya's most important industries. Hannington and I have met a few times in the past couple of weeks and I am now officially a Research Associate in charge of Global Partnerships, helping the organization to find partners and funding to build on their expertise and program ideas. I'll share more about this soon as I have a feeling that some of you will have ideas or suggestions for this organization.
  • I'm trying to keep my ears and mind open as I go about day to day life, and this often results in meeting fascinating people. I recently took a short bus ride with a young man from Sudan, who later shared his life story with me over email, offering insight into Sudanese history (this too I'll have to elaborate on in the future). I am fascinated with Sudan right now as they have many untapped natural resources that they are aggressively looking for foreign investment in. How this investment is sought and acquired is likely to determine whether Sudan follows the brutal process that so many other resource-rich African countries have (especially evident in Congo right now). I feel like I am watching history.
  • I spoke to my first Rotary club (I've attended a number of meetings but this was my first speech) two Thursdays ago. I wasn't sure if my story about cultural sensitivity would go over well (it was about a time when I was 13 staying with a family in Taiwan and the father passed gas excessively throughout the duration of our first dinner there, and we had to try not to laugh) but it was a big hit. Of course the following week when I attended the meeting as a guest, I was asked by nearly everyone if I've managed to shake the habits I picked up in Taiwan.
  • I was supposed to visit a women's group in Nanyuki this past weekend to work on exploring product creation for Rising International, but my ride fell through. I'm going to attempt to get there this week on public transport - more news about that in future updates.
I'd like to thank everyone who continues to write and encourage me. This week was tough as my mom had her (successful!) back surgery and all I could do was sit and pray and wait for the phone to ring. I am sorry for those who are awaiting emails from me - I am working on juggling it all and it is so important for me to share my life here and hear about all that's going on at home. I write notes all the time about blog posts and then weeks go by and I realize I haven't shared half of what I'd like to.

I'll sign off with this story as it made me giggle and realize how all things are relative. In class recently we were talking about Newton's discovery of gravity, and the story that is told to explain it. One of my classmate's related it as such, "He was sitting under a tree, and a mango fell on his head."

1 comment:

uncletravlingfil said...

Good job it wasn't a coconut!