I am still getting settled into Hakijamii, which is easy and hard at the same time. As I’ve said before, the staff is great, so growing comfortable with them has been easy. They have been so welcoming and even let me follow them around like a lost puppy (especially when we venture out of the office). The bustle of Kenyatta Market has become nice background noise; there is definitely a rhythm to life here. I still haven’t found my way around the maze of narrow corridors, though, and I’m not sure I ever will. The market is quite the thriving exchange, even on rainy days.
What has been the most difficult is finalizing my work product goal and figuring out the “system.” I knew coming into this experience that NGO work can be frustrating on its own; add in a new culture and the challenge is bigger. Hakijamii is shockingly organized. Their filing system is all online and is so structured, the day-to-day operation is seamless…what is less apparent is the way Hakijamii operates in the larger system, or I suppose how I can function with them in the larger system. There are so many active organizations in Kenya, and while the NGO community here is really inclusive, I am having trouble seeing where I can be operational.
I’ve had a continuing dialogue with AP about this and what would be the best takeaway from this fellowship for everyone: Hakijamii, AP, Kenyans, and me. I will be contacting Ngazi Ya Chini to see what the status is of the railroad expansion and how I can assist, hopefully with their legal team. Luckily, there aren’t too many railroads cutting through the largest settlement in Nairobi, so I know where they live. If I can’t get a hold of anyone soon, I can march down to Kibera to talk to some people (that sounds gallant, but really what I mean is, “I will closely follow on the heels of one or two Hakijamii staffers,” like that lost puppy again).
I need to write about my experiences at the past few meetings I’ve attended, but for the sake of brevity, I will save that for another blog. In the meantime, here are just a few photos of lovely Kenya. You can click on the photos to be taken to my Flickr album, which has more explanations for each photo.
Posted By Kristen Maryn
Posted Jun 16th, 2011