Saturday, July 23, 2011


first there was the jersey shore.  
then there was the geordie shore
now you can follow 5 housemates in their summer share in rural kenya.

we may be on a different continent and mtv may not have been documenting, but the same basic principles held true: GTL.


kick ass kenyan kardio anyone?
it was as if they knew I was coming when they built the house... the septic tank in the front yard doubled perfectly as a platform for yours truly to lead early morning aerobics classes!  the perfect pump-up playlist? the lion king soundtrack coupled with "it's raining men", of course!


trying to catch some rays on the coast to even things out? fail.


ruth anne assumes the perfect power stance for scrubbing socks in the bathroom sink. 
the cow assumes perfect power stance for protecting our drying laundry from african critters in the front yard.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

mrs. kenya.

mom and dad, I have something to tell you...

the apollo family: july 2011.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

a day at the office.

so know that you know I've been flying with suspicious pilots, riding rickety bikes, playing with farm animals and laughing at corruption in africa, it's time for me to finally give you some insight on my project. the project that most of you have funded through your generous donations and attendance at my relentless fundraisers.  the project that spurred me to leave behind a summer of bartending in kits to work in kenya. the project that I couldn't adequately describe until I had arrived in africa, was in the schools and working with the community.   

let me give you an overview:
 {#1: girl power.}

our main focus while in kanyawegi is to initiate "girls club".  we intend for girls club to be a district wide after school program for girls in standards [grades] 6-8 where they can talk about issues directly affecting females students, and ultimately reduce the rates of drop out, early pregnancy and hiv infection. a staggering percentage of female students are forced to miss school each month because they cannot afford to buy sanitary napkins.  to compensate for this problem they find themselves staying at home until menstruation is finished, or finding alternate ways to acquire funds to pay for these products.  unfortunately, these girls often see prostitution as the easiest way.  our project is aiming to provide a comfortable environment for girls to openly discuss issues that are relevant to them . our ultimate goal is be to provide a sustainable source of sanitary napkins to these girls.  most of our time has been spent collaborating with locals to build the curriculum, research existing clubs within the area and finding reliable ways to measure the success of our project in the long term.  this is a lengthy process and at times it can be frustrating not to see the fruits of our labor, but I trust that the work we put in now will align with GIVE's goal: to initiate village empowerment so that the girls will continue getting the support and supplies they need even when the muzungos are gone. 

{#2: hiv/aids education.} 

hosting a weekly soccer tournament: different schools from across the 17 school district meet once a week to play soccer.  during breaks they are supplied with lunch (which is another controversy in and of itself), and hiv education.  this includes question and answer periods, an hiv+ guest speaker and a condom demonstration (as you can imagine, another controversy).  posters, prizes, playing… it’s a fun way to spend a saturday.  
education is also provided in the schools throughout the week.  hiv/aids is actually part of the school curriculum in kenya, and when time allows, we travel to schools and teach refresher workshops on the subjects taught in each grade. 

{#3: education day.}

education day: GIVE funds a series of exams to students in the ojola school district between grades 6-8 .  we have worked on writing, editing and printing the questions to the hiv/aids portion of the exam (if only the kids knew this when they were dozing off during our workshops!).  each exam costs 100 KSH/student.  GIVE requires each student be responsible for 10 ksh and then funds the remaining 90.  unfortunately, corruption runs rampant and we’ve had to take on the responsibility of counting each student in each grade, and ensuring that we receive the adequate amount of money from each school.  this requires numerous visits and is the reason why I have so many stories to tell about bike rides.  fyi: $1.00 cdn = ~80 ksh.  this means kenyan student = $0.13, GIVE = $1.13.k.  education day will be held when the results from the compiled and the schools and students have been ranked.  more prezzies + prizes.  yipeee!

so there we have it.  I have traded 7 weeks of muddling mojitos and perfect pint pours for being a hiv educating/tax collecting/soccer star/girl power enthusiast.  as anticipated, time has absolutely flown by.  the next members of our team arrive soon, and we will spend our final week tying up loose ends and handing over the GIVE education team baton so that they can continue working on the projects for the rest of the summer.  it will be hard to say goodbye, and leave without seeing concrete results, but I know that I am part of a much bigger story and am thankful that I could play my part.

it has been the perfect combination of 
exhausting + exhilarating and humbling + hilarious.

next stop...?  unganda.  stay tuned if you want to hear about rafting down the nile!