Friday, April 8, 2011

Kenya in photos 2010-2011

I could say that this time was different. I took far less photos. Luckily I had 4 friends with me who took many:)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


So today I try to describe my day as detailed as possible. No fame, no glamour, just my day.

I woke up at 8.30, opened the door and discovered that the weather was pleasantly cold - it rained yesterday. The milk that I bought a day before had gone off, so it was time to go fast to the small shop at the corner to buy new one. Real Kenyans ALWAYS drink tea with milk (or actually they drink milk that tastes little bit like tea) in the mornings. I have developed it into drinking hot chocolate every now and then – no big difference from distance: a cup, hot drink inside:)

Faster movements, copying photos and videos into my computer to make the memory card ready for photographing.

Leaving home.

Conversation with a motorbike taxi.
Me: "To Munganga secondary, how much?"
Him: "100 shillings"
Me: "80"
Him: "Ok, have a seat."

Motorbike driver starts asking, what am I doing in Shianda. I explain.
Him: "Do you support also adults?"
Me: "No, only primary and secondary school."
Him: "But I got C- and I really want to go to college. I finished 7 years ago."
Me: "No, we do not support college."
Him: "But maybe you find a way..."
Me: "No"
Similar dialogue continues until we reach to the school.

I pay for the taxi and sit in front of the school.

40 children from the neighboring primary school are lined up to stare at me. They stand quietly and just look. 39 of them are bare-footed.

I call Esther to let her know that I have arrived to our meeting (it should start at 10.00).
"You are punctual. I'm on my way!" Knowing that "on my way" could mean anything in Kenya, I sit back and relax.

One of the supported secondary school girls arrives with two others. They tell to the primary school children (who are still staring at me) not to waste their time hanging around me. Children run back to their classes and I feel good about it.

I enter to the school and all the possible teachers invite me immediately to all the possible offices, but I answer to all of them "I am just waiting for my friends, I am a camera-woman".

I meet with the guardian of one family that Mirjam has told me for long time and he asks me that where is Mirjam. "She is my best friend," adds he. It makes me feeling good again.

We make some videos with the supported girl and talk about different things. The girl explains me following: "I am not from a poor family. My family is an average. We just can't pay the high school fees. Poor family is the one that has no money for food. Fluent English becomes now a problem..." says she after she is not able to remember one expression. Her English is really good.

Esther arrives with another supported girl and we go to the office.

We are in somebody's important person office, Esther is signing papers and paying, I am taking photos, girls are quiet.

Out of the office, in front of the school, registering the girls. One of them has only one relative alive. A sister.

Girls need to show bible, geometrical set, calculator, dictionaries and other similar things before they are admitted to the school.

Arrives Gendrix, who also promised to meet us at 10.00. She brings the receipts that prove the payment of school fees.

We have finished with the registration, girls go to the class, we take motorbike taxi and go to the office.

I meet Hassan, who we will enroll to another secondary school. Esther finds out that the person who had to pay the fee yesterday, did not do it.

Esther takes motorbike to collect the fee, Hassan goes to bring the admission letter.

We meet in Bumini Secondary School. I also meet a boy, whose balance we paid last year and who continued education thanks to this support. "Be beautiful, Esther," I give instructions and take photos for the web page and newspaper.

First entry to the admission room. Four tables and way more people. Looks official. We pass the first table, but not the second, as Hassan misses some important books and so on.

Esther and Hassan leave on a motorbike to buy and bring the needed things. "It takes no, 30 minutes," says Esther before leaving. "Yeah right," is my only thought. I prepare myself for long waiting.

I decide to use the time and to start writing the article for the newspaper that I want to send in the evening.

I enjoy writing, but decide to call to Esther to find out, why does it take so much time.

I see Esther and Hassan entering the gate on motorbike.

"I'm back Janika. I had to go to the nearest town to find the equipment."
Back in the office. This time we make it to the table nr. 3. "You need to buy the sports cloths from the school," tells the teacher. "Now?" "Yes, without this you can't come to school." As Esther has no money in the budget left for this person, I pay for the cloths myself and we proceed.

Table nr. 4. We pay 250 shillings to get the ID card for school. In total it has been....much. Then we can finally admit the boy. "Religion?" "Muslim." Looks like he's the only one in that class. And he bough a obligatory bible for the school. Kenya.
Then comes next surprise: "It is only possible to pay the school fee through bank. Pay it and come back with the receipt today."
We squeeze 3 person to the back seat of the motorbike and start driving with my words: "Let's do it the Kenyan way!"
We arrive to Shianda post office to pay the fee. Post is closed. "Probably lunch," says Esther and it reminds me that I have drunk only chocolate and eaten 3 bananas today.

I help Esther to read and print out some documents in the cyber cafe and let her there to wait for the opening of the post office.

Finally at home. I start the computer and eat at the same time to save time.

I start copying, editing and naming the photos that I made of children.

My friend helps me and goes to take one program child to the hospital and to pay for the treatment for all week.

I finish with the photos and open the word file to start writing an article for the Estonian newspaper about the children who Estonians sponsored for school.

My computer switches off, because its over heated. I remove battery to prevent it.
My computer switches off, because there's a black out and my battery is removed.
My computer switches off, because its over heated – caused by the battery inside. I remove battery to prevent it.
My friend brings me ugali and I fry some eggs. After the dinner I decide to rest and to read blogs.
My computer switches off, because there's a black out and my battery is removed.
I have restarted computer and want to send the article and photos to the newspaper.
My computer switches off, because its over heated. I remove battery to prevent it.
I am finally able to send the email with the text file and 10 photos. The only problem is to get disconnected from internet twice during the procedure.
I start writing a blog.

I get call from Mirjam, who "comes tomorrow". I have heard it several times during last month, but well, let's see.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Make Your order today :)

Welcome! This is now the best catalogue shopping in the world. Simply, pick the one you want and it comes to Estonia with me without any costs of delievery or selling or anything. For free, yes! :) In more simple words: if You want a present, leave here a comment, witch one and to who.

The most left one is a hand, holding a heart with the text "love". Others should be understandable :)

* My neighbour shop is selling these necklesses with the price of 20 shillings (0.181010 EUR). So, welcome !

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Just for a week

"Just for a week" was my only thought in the first evening that I brought home a small 8-years old girl, Rael. As my friends know, I am not the biggest fan of children - I mean I can't actually imagine myself having one now to take care in long term. But Rael is a small disabled girl, who lives in a small village, very far away from any facilities for disabled children, such as hospital and special school, therefore she was just staying at home without going to school or treatment. So, on last Tuesday, I took the motorbike taxi, drove to her village and took the girl while getting many blessings by their parents, who lacked money even for a 100 shillings (1 euro) therapy hours and 200 shillings transport cost for a day treatment of the girl. They simply finished the treatment, when the money finished, but Rael is improving very well and treatment is absolutely nessecary.

So, due to the donations made by my friends, I was able to enroll Rael to the special school for disabled children. They promised to open the dorm (with a care taker) in the next week, so I decided to let the girl to stay at my place until this time and to try to improve her health situation. When she came, she had fever and bad cough, so one day was filled with the hospital visit and getting medicines. Next days with adjusting the crutches and teaching the correct walking pattern. Also school of course. Helping with the home work, taking lunch there and so on.

Now, after only one week, I feel like without this small girl something would be really missing. So, tomorrow they open the dorm and it's possible to take her there, but I am not sure, if I do it. There are still few weeks left for me in Kenya.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Alone in Kenya

Last weeks can get a general name as bad weeks. So, I start complaining.

Kenya made me a nice new year's gift - news that somebody had stolen everything valuable from my mudhut, including my documents and bank-card. After calling to the bank and looking for the Estonian representer's contacts in Kenya, I suddenly realised how easy it is to get into many problems, by just losing these few things.  

After few days, I got news that my documents are there. Life seemed so easy - no hussle with the new documents. After I reached to my hut, I could see, that these people were not joking - they had taken really ALL that had value, starting from money, bed-sheets, blankets, parafin lamp and cooker, ending up with my old t-shirts and bag full of old donated cloths. They even took flashlights and medicines. I could be only happy that my flute did not have any special value in their eyes. In general, the damage was not bad, because all my valuable things were with me in Iten.

So, as smarter people in Estonia say, during the time of problems you get to know, who are your friends. So, I could see that how people, to who I had given a lot of furniture + matress + blanket + sheets ect last year, how they started complaining about the blanket and matress that I did not replace (because I had given them these things last year). So, more "problems" were created out of nothing, mainly connected to the ownership and so on... people have just very different values from, no long thinking. Life is not very long to waste it on people who are not worth it.

Renting a new place had only one problem. As usually, my decisions need to be put into the actions already on the same day. With replacing the things and buying food, the last cash I had, was used and my bank card access was still limited - cause I closed it myself after the stealing and opened later, but the system was slow by opening it. So, I found a very nice (for my standards, yes) room and even told my story, hoping that I could pay few days later, but they asked the rent right away. So, I called to my friend, who sacrifised herself, by driving with the broken bicycle and brought the money in 30 minutes. Yep, I could see, who I can ask for help here.

So, no big discussions, the door was opened and I took my few bags inside and continued the life in style I know from Iten. No furniture, slim matress, things on the ground, cooking with parafin-cooker.

In general, the week was full of disappointments. For example my good friend who did not actually understand the word "borrow" and was suprised, that I actually want my 2000 shillings back: "I thought that you just gave it to me". This kind of behaving would not suprise in Kenya, but I was suprised by my friend's attitude. Or others who in general do not understand the amount of work that is actually behind all the support I manage to get for these children here and demand only more and more. "Why my children are not in the list" and so on. People make me feel even guilty. They think that if somebody is not supported, it's because I do not want to support them, not that the rescources are actually not easy to find. Only one person has said me "thank you". Many people see me as somebody, for who everything is possible. Seems like in their eyes I could help everybody, if I only wanted. People just do not understand. They put a huge responsibility on my shoulders.

I was just thinking that after this experience in Kenya and after hospital work in Estonia, I am never able to live careless life, worrying only about my hair and cloths, my personal income, the restaurant im eating in the evening and about my free time activities. I feel responsible for more people, because I know them and I have seen, how easy it is to change or save a life. Yes, they are one of the billions, but you and me are also one of billions. I'm wondering, how people often see africans as one big nation who anyway live how they live and there's no point to help them and in the same time the small-small problems of these Western people are made SO tragic, but somebody with big problems seems not to be important even to discuss about. So what, we are also just few of the millions of Eastern-Europeans.

To continue my thoughts, I currently read some Estonian newspapers that my visitours brought. Maybe I have not regocnized it before or maybe it's some new trend, but through most of the articles comes the fear of losing our nation and identity. While living in the country, where people speak 3 languages fluently (tribe language or "mother tongue", swahili and English), it is strange to even remember all this Estonian-language centered discussions in my country, where everything needs to be translated and so on (no bad words about that), but in the same time I do not get a job despite of my qualification and experience, simply because I do not speak Russian. And this is a general case - I can not even apply, cause most of the companies demand Russian. And then there is a big question that WHY people leave Estonia. Honestly, for me this is one of the reasons. Last year, when I was working in Sweden, I had to make phone calls to several countries - Sweden, Norway and so on. And I did not have communication problems. But the only problem occurred, when I called to Estonia. I had to call to two companies based on Tallinn. I was very happy finally to be able to use my own language, but what do you think, both times the person in customer service was not able to hold a basic conversation in Estonian and was constantly talking with me in Russian that I do not understand. Anyways, I think it's time to return to my Kenyan adventures.

So, the final "downer" came yesterday, if people assumed that I am definitely the one who pays the office rent without questions. If I said that the donated money is directly for children and families ONLY, then came sentences like "try to fundrise" or something. If I started talking about project that could help them in long term, people claimed me that no, we need the money now. And there was not told any other alternative as me. I was angry to be put this pressure and made to feel guilty about the thing that I had never promised to anybody, even not mentioned. So, after I expressed my opinion, people got silent and angry as well. One of them even looked away all the time. I m wondering that what do they think, if they treat me this way, do I really want to come back next time for such a long time. Like this place would be the only one to volunteer in the world. I guess not. And I am writing it here, not to express my anger (that I already did yesterday), but to give the realistic picture of the challanges that one needs to face here.

The constant imagination of a white person having endless money, is something you can make fun of in the beginning and even understand later, while thinking about it from the distance at home. But if these people have seen your problems, have seen you moving because of the attitude of others, have seen your things being stolen, and then they still behave with you not based on who you are, but based on the imagination of "white", then what? I would have never been treated the way I was treated if I had been a Kenyan. Next to me was sitting a man who has one business and who will open soon the second one and nobody asked him the money, instead they asked me, who has been volunteer for 2 years. Because people simply do not understand. And sometimes it may seem that they do, but most of them actually never will understand. So this is the thing that makes a Europen, who stays here alone, feeling sometimes stressed and lonely. Of course there are exeptions, but after meeting many...I mean MANY Europeans and people from USA and Australia who stay in Kenya, I know only one who does not have a serious issue with all that. 

Yes, there are days when you do not notice it, there are days when you make fun of it and there are days when you accept it, but some days you just feel tired of it. 

Not to finish with so negative things, I have here people who really care about me and who see me, not the colour. Last year I could not say it, but now I can.

People say that your new year continues the way it started. We will see :)
I am ready for everything, just bring it on.