Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Adventures in Kenya Series - Day 2 - Hello Nairobi and Kibera

Last night's flight was uneventful.  It was nice having an aisle seat so I could get up and stretch my legs every hour or so.  I got about 2 hours sleep before we arrived at 6:15 AM.  The sunrise as we walked of the plane onto the roll-up steps was stunning.  It was a "Wow. I'm in Kenya" moment for sure.

It took me about 45 minutes to get through customs and baggage claim.  Livingstone and his friend Jackson were there waiting for me as I walked out.  We hugged and said our hellos before Jackson drove us in a van back to Kibera to drop off my things.

The ride from the airport intoduced me to two things: the Nairobi traffic jam, and the Nairobi way of driving in which you apparently aim for other people and cars in an effort to make them get out of your way.  The drive took well over an hour to go about 8 miles.

We arrived at Barnabas's house (He's the director of the Havilla Children's Center) in Kibera, I organized my things, took a quick shower, we headed off to Downtown Nairobi to buy school supplies with Kyrsha, a member of Next Generation Global Education who is here working to better education.  To get there we had to take a bus, which was an experience in itself.  I've always believed that the best way to experience a place is by acting as a local.  This was definitely a "local" experience. There's simply no way to explain the experience to someone that hasn't done it.  It's half roller-coaster, with lots of swerves to avoid potholes.

The shopping was rather uneventful. My son Michael had privately raised $50 for crayons for kids, so we cleaned one office supply store out of every crayon they had for sale, plus a ream of paper for kids to draw upon.  We also bought a projector for one school of 300 kids so they could make their virtual field trips and Skype experiences bigger than a laptop screen.

In the middle of shopping we stopped into a place to gran lunch.  I asked the waitress what was good, and she said, "The fish."  So, I ordered the fish.  Fresh caught tilapia, breaded and fried, with a side of chips masala, which are French fries covered in masala sauce (an Indian spice.)  It was all very tasty.

 While shopping, Livingstone played the role of tour guide, and took me around to some landmarks like the Kenyatta International Conference Center where we stood on the helipad on the roof with amazing views over the city, some memorials, and several of the important government buildings.


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 On the bus ride home, I fell asleep several times.  Doze off, hit a pothole, doze off, cut off a car, repeat.

When we arrived back in Kibera I got to meet Barnabas and his family for the first time. I feel so incredibly blessed that they have opened their home to me.  I couldn't feel more welcome here. Dinner was pasta with beef stew, steamed cabbage, and simosas. Delicious.

The peope in Kenya are among the friendliest I've ever met.  Many times today I was the only white guy in sight, but never once did I feel like anyone looked at me even the slightest bit differently.  We can learn a lot from them in the States.

And, now, after the pre-bedime prayer, which is tradition in this house, I am turning in for the night. Tomorrow I will be visiting the Havilla school to start shooting documentary footage, to learn from the teachers and students there, and to help them in any way I can.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Mr. Soskil,
    We are so glad to have the opportunity to follow your trip to Kenya through these blog posts! Thank you! We have a few questions and comments:
    -The reckless driving seemed quite comical (and scary!). Did you see any accidents? Would you be able to post a video?
    -Where did you take your shower? Did you have hot water?
    -All of the food looked and sounded delicious! We noticed a bottle of water on your table. Is bottled water readily available to people outside the slum? Is it expensive?
    -It is so awesome that your son personally raised money for the kids to get crayons. We hope you will post pictures of some of the pictures they draw for you. We are extremely happy that you bought a projector with some of the money we helped to raise for the schools. That will be much better than having lots of students looking at a small laptop screen.
    -The view from the rooftop was amazing. Nairobi looks like a very modern city. Could you see Kibera from the helipad?
    -We're not surprised the Kenyan people are so friendly. We also wish that some people in the USA would be accepting and kind to all.

    Thank you again,
    Mrs. Cunningham's Class