Habari! (Hello, how are you? in Kiswahili). It has been two weeks since my arrival in Kenya. My first week was spent in Nairobi. I was very fortunate to have been hosted by Kakenya and her family. I became well acquainted with Kakenya and her two adorable sons, Nathan, 4 years old and Liam of 8 months. Right away my name changed to Auntie Megan.
The city of Nairobi is bustling! There is no shortage of street vendors, shops, noise, air pollution, people and taxis. A matatu (bus) ride is like a rollercoaster ride. Squished like sardines everyone copes. Drivers tend to be ruthless and money collectors hang from a bar just inside of the entrance/exit of the matatu, coaxing people to load and unload. Their diligence is impressive.
Road conditions are like one speed bump after another, a smooth ride without potholes is unlikely. One must be very cautious when crossing the street as proven by random matatu anti-reckless driving stickers. Literally no one follows traffic laws in Nairobi. Sidewalks and some roads are made of red earth. Sidewalk dust is consistently kicked up into the atmosphere, leaving cars, plants, animals and people colored in a red tint.
I accompanied Kakenya to multiple meetings all over downtown Nairobi, that enabled me to experience the capital in a very unique way. We went to The Republic of Kenya Parliament, the Nairobi Club, and many more. Each meeting was very informative and fruitful, one of which made quite an impression on me.
In need of guidance and mentorship to expand KCE’s work and mission to empower girls through education, Kakenya and I met with Hillary Omala, Interim Executive Director of the NGO Carolina for Kibera (CFK). CFK is stationed in the heart of the second largest slum in Africa just outside of Nairobi. CFK was founded by a North Carolina University graduate.
The city of Kibera is home to hundreds and thousands of people. CFK’s mission is to promote economic independence, social growth, ethnic and gender equality and health for youth in Kibera.
CFK accomplishes this through housing a girl’s center, a health clinic, a sports program that emphasizes leadership, empowerment and entrepreneurship as well a Trash for Cash program. Trash for Cash is a micro-credit program that teaches youth business and financial literacy by recycling waste into products for sale.
Mr. Omala provided us with invaluable insight and a brief tour of CFK facilities and its neighboorhood.
This experience left me with a great sense that anything is possible if a vision is clear in the eyes of people whose hearts are invested in its growth.
Posted By Megan Orr
Posted Feb 23rd, 2012