Thursday, September 30, 2010

Need help?

As I mentioned in my previous post I am looking for short term/part time work opportunities this fall as I catch up with friends and family and begin writing my thesis. I am interested primarily in remote-access work (i.e. online writing/special projects) OR opportunities from November 1st onward in or around Monterey. For very short term gigs (i.e. special events etc.) I am available for travel - especially in/around the SF Bay Area.

If you have any needs in your personal or professional life or know of any opportunities, please keep me in mind for the following. I am happy to provide references that can affirm my ability to jump in at a moment's notice and get the job done.

  • Writing/Editing: Copy, features, newsletters, website content, resumes, cover letters etc.
  • Special Projects Coordination and Project Management
  • Social Media Strategy/Consulting
  • Events Organizing/Customer Service/Sales
  • Personal Assistance (i.e. anyone with any special needs that a willing helper can take care of)
  • Photography
Finding some work to stay afloat over the next few months would really help me complete this journey more comfortably while preparing for next steps (which I hope include 1-3 months of finalizing my M.A. work in Kenya before embarking on my full-time job search in the Pacific Northwest).

Many thanks!

Oh, hello there

Hi friends. You know when things are about to get crazy and you sit yourself down and have a little talk about how it's about to get crazy and you're going to handle it smashingly, stay on top of your correspondence, make a daily call list? Well I'm still in stage one of the chaos and so far the new iphone is helping to read emails, but I'm not doing so great at responding. And I've been running around like a chicken with my head cut off but I still haven't even called some of my best friends or family members! Suffice it to say, I'm back in the U.S., and it's going to be like this for awhile. To my friends in Kenya - you are in my thoughts! To my friends here - I will see you soon!

Recap of Week 1: 1 night in Bay Area, 3 nights in Yosemite for a wedding, 3 nights in Monterey and 2 nights back in the Bay Area.

Week 2: Drive to Seattle, overnight in Portland, 1.5 weeks exploring Seattle, visiting Rotary Clubs, networking, visiting ROOTS (Simon's Church), drinking coffee etc. etc. Data review/analysis from my research during the days.

Week 3: 3-4 nights in L.A. followed by 4-6 nights in Orange County. Meeting the newest gaggle of babies from my college friends. Visiting my nephews. Starting aggressive short-term job outreach (see next post). Oktoberfest! Surfing!

Week 4: Back to the Bay - celebrating Cat's 30th, starting some short term work, continuing to write, visiting Todd and Julia in Florida (if I can swing it).

Week 5+: Monterey to WRITE and work where I can. That's my plan for the fall!

I will return to the 30 days of Asante as soon as possible. Cheers!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Day 18: Prayer

When I first returned to Africa in 2007 I found myself in an area with the highest HIV/Aids infection rates in the continent. Kwa Zulu Natal is the land of South Africa’s greatest and fiercest warriors, whose descendents have been crippled by a disease against which spears have no effect. A hardened development professional I met with after my return was quick to point out I’d never walked the rows of a children’s Aids' ward in west Africa where babies lay listless and ready to die. But I found the experience of living with Lindokuhle in the days before her death alongside the knowledge (confirmed two years later) that Noluvo’s lungs would someday give out was sufficient to drive home the devastation of this epidemic and the undeserved affliction of the youngest generation.

During that time I struggled to understand the seeming chaos of such inequality and powerlessness. While my nephews and nieces at home were thriving these children were covered in sores, abandoned by parents or surviving family members, scarred by abuse at the hands of impoverished caretakers. But each morning I would awake to laughter, singing and the sound of prayer over breakfast. And each afternoon as uniformed little bodies returned from school the yard would erupt in vibrant activity and the energetic throng of children’s energy. And eventually I understood, that as each of these growing beings had already faced challenges far beyond my comprehension, they remained children – not yet whole as individuals. There was room for hope that with the love and support of this home and the people that had taken them in they would triumph over scarred pasts. Such hope gave way to a bigger hope, that this region would begin to respond to the outreach of the health workers, to the growing awareness and education about how to protect itself from this disease. And this, in turn, gave way to hope that the global community would take greater notice, would make better choices holding this country accountable to the reality of the epidemic, using what capitol we could to encourage education, treatment and equal access to opportunity. And so I left with the understanding that in the deepest and darkest recesses of humanity, there is always room for hope.

Last night I returned from a visit to the boys’ homes in Nakuru. It was a delightful weekend although the same challenges continue to plague one group especially – how do you break boys who have been on the streets fending for themselves of the habit of doing the same when their needs are being provided for? I found myself worrying over the little boys who are, like all kids, vulnerable to the world around them. Growing in response to external forces, being moulded into people who can survive the world they are a part of. Here I was hoping for them to remain soft and innocent – and yet such traits would likely lead to their great disadvantage in the long term.

So I returned home and as I lay in bed last night I began to pray. I let go of any anxiety built up over the days as I acknowledged my role as a witness and a participant rather than an engineer. I asked for patience, for grace, for guidance, for faith. I prayed for these boys, for relationships, for humanity. And I found hope, and peace.

Please forgive the delays in posting - the internet is not cooperating with my 1 post per day plan!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Day 19: Old Friends

Planning multi-country travel from rural South Africa in 2007 proved fairly challenging. The result was a total change in plans that had me flying to Kenya by myself as my travel companions would still be in Mozambique. With no real plans and worry that I'd be a bit shell shocked trying to navigate the city on my own, I reached out to a professor at my alma mater who I'd met at a couple of Africa-focused dinners before my departure. She provided my first window into Kenyan hospitality by putting me in touch with her brother Daniel, who sight unseen picked me up from the airport. I am not even sure how we figured out who each other were, but that first greeting gave way to 4 days of total immersion into the Nairobi social scene. We did lots of tourist stuff, lots of craft market shopping (I mean this is me, right?) and lots of raising our bottles of Tusker. I met a handful of his friends who became my first friends in this country. They picked me up at the airport over a year later when I returned, and have provided some of my most fun (and crazy!) memories to date with camping trips and nights on the town. I saw a couple of them last night for the first time in ages and I gotta say, no matter how much time goes by I just love these people.

I haven't traveled widely in Africa but the countries and towns I've been to have all presented a similar reality when it comes to the passage of time. Relationships here do not depend on constant contact to survive. There is an understanding and an appreciation for the ebb and flow - and time ends up flying without the perception that it has passed at all. I love that the result is friendships and relationships that can be rekindled at the top of an evening and are always there to remind you of your roots.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Day 20: My global village

I just got back from the airport picking up my roomie from last year. It's been over a year and I can't tell you how good it is to have her back! As I started to tell her about my year in the car I realized that just like last year it has been full of friends coming in and out from all over the world. I have three new friends from Germany (Lars, Michael and Judi), Frederique from France and Angeline from Ireland. I have friends I keep in touch with in Ethiopia, Lamu and Zanzibar, South Africa and a host of other destinations. My friend Jeff from Canada has written me over the past two years after we met and cycled together to the Cape of Good Hope in 2007. Jeff went with another Zambian girl we met on that trip, Ronnie, to climb Kili last year - and I heard from her recently asking for Kenyan coastal vacation suggestions. These are just a handful of the people who have made the last few years that much more colorful during my time abroad (not to mention many of my own country mates who I've bonded with as expats in Kenya). All this simply enriches my community of local Kenyans - many of whom have global villages of their own. This is an international city and I love that when I leave I'll be able to share memories of this time wherever I end up going in the world with friends I met along the way.