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First Day

Posted by: | October 5, 2009 | 1 Comment |

I am quickly falling for Kenya; the land is beautiful and the people are many.

I arrived in Nairobi late Thursday evening. I stayed the night at the guest house of Mary & Richard, owners of Primetime Safari. In the morning, Richard drove me to the Easy Coach stop in Nairobi and helped me get my bus ticket for the 9 hour ride to Bungoma.  I unloaded my bags and waited for my bus to arrive. I was a bit uncomfortable as everyone was looking at me. For the first time, I really felt like I was a minority.  The bus ride out to Bungoma was interesting. The roads here are terrible at times, nothing more than a dirt track. When they are paved, there are many potholes. People pass when they can’t see and everyone seems to drive dangerously fast given the condition of the road. An ICODEI driver picked me up at the bus stop in Bungoma town. Bungoma town is filled with people! There are people everywhere here. On the 9 hour ride from Nairobi, there were always people along the road.

I arrived in Kabula Friday evening in time to get settled and eat dinner. There were four other “volunteers” here, all quite nice.  They had been planning a weekend trip to Kisumu and invited me to come along. I gladly accepted. After dinner, I met with Joe until about 10:30PM to go over the MDP program and a few goals.   Joe returned to the U.S. this weekend; I hope to have a Lending Basics manual and Income Statement manual prepared before he returns in a few weeks.

Early Saturday morning we left for Kisumu.  There, we were complete tourists. We hired a local man to take us on a boat to hippo watch. We saw a handful of hippos! The local people bathe and fish in the same water as the hippos; there appears to be no conflict. Later, we went to the souvenir market to purchase gifts for friends and family. We stopped for lunch around 4pm and took quick naps before dinner.  I shared a room at the hostel with two other girls. The third to shower, the electricity went completely out when I was in the shower.  Regardless, we went to dinner as planned. During dinner I began feeling a bit ill. After dinner, I was escorted back to the hostel where I spent the evening in bed. Toby, Adrian, Amanda, and Holly were out dancing until 4am. We were up early for breakfast then found a swimming pool where we relaxed and spent the day overlooking Lake Victoria. I found some local boys and fished with them a bit.  I caught a tilapia! The young boys told me they usually fish on Sundays. The fish they bring home feed their families for the week. The fish were quite small and I wondered how much more food they could bring back to their mothers if they had fishing poles.

At breakfast, we made friends with a Belgian architecture student named Tim. Tim joined us at the pool and agreed to take me into Kisumu town to help me get a wireless modem. We headed into town (piling 7 of us into a tuk tuk) and the others went for dessert while Tim & I headed to the telecom store. Tim’s savvy was much appreciated when the telecom worker tried overcharging me.

Our matutu (mini-bus) driver arrived (on time!) and we headed back to Kabula. We had two flat tires along the way. Apparently this is not unusual.  We got back to the farm late, but thankfully the others had saved some dinner for us. While we were out, three medical students from Maryland arrived. I will be sharing a hut with them for the next few weeks.

This morning, I enjoyed my first shower on the farm. A “shower” consists of a large bucket of water and a small pitcher used to pour the water over my body.  I then went to meet with the program coordinator, Joyce. Joyce and I worked together the first half of the day.  I reviewed a binder of all of ICODEI’s past loans that have been repaid. I sorted them into high, moderate, and low potential categories. I have asked Joyce to request meetings with the groups showing high and moderate potential.  I would like to meet with them and arrange business seminars, if they’ll have me. At the business seminars, I will provide basic business education. Should the groups show promise, I will work closely with them to prepare a formal business plan, work with them on their bookkeeping, teach them about financial statements, and hopefully prepare a loan package that will look quite attractive to the microfinance institutions in town.  — Tomorrow I will be meeting with two groups (one before lunch, one after) to assess their projects and gauge if they are good candidates for our microenterprise development program.

At this time, I feel more like a tourist than anything else. (Largely due to the weekend trip to Kisumu.)  I am very excited to begin work tomorrow.

I feel as though this is a long post that says very little. I hope to have more to report soon.

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1 Comment

  1. By: Mark & Resa Hamilton on October 12, 2009 at 4:13 am      

    Dear Kate,
    Hello! I’m so glad you arrive in South Africa in one piece.
    Both Resa and I are praying for you daily and hope you are doing ok. Please take lots of pictures if you can, and hope your new watch is working ok. Take care. God bless you in many ways.
    Mark & Resa

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