Friday, November 28, 2008


By now, I know my name pretty well - muzungu, it means white person. I've also learned the slang, mlami.

Leaving Bungoma, one of the shuttle drivers was very kind and put our luggage into another driver's shuttle. He kept saying in Swahili that he was so excited to have a muzungu there, and he wished so much he could have the honour of taking me in his bus, and that he wished he spoke english so he could speak with me. It was so funny, Irene was translating and we were cracking up.

We then drove to Bungoma, met a former WYA Africa intern, who took us to speak to another youth group. This group was quite receptive and restored our faith in youth groups. They are from the country and only 3 of them had emails, they also couldn't understand my accent at all, so I chipped in to say a few things but mostly Irene spoke.

Then we travelled to Terige, where a seminar for almost 200 high school kids is taking place and Irene and I were scheduled to present the following day. In a little car we had, taking up a full seat, Irene's suitcase with my rucksack on top, Irene and myself squished into the other seat, and in front another passenger. The roads, even without extra people and luggage would have been rough travelling. I fought a battle with my rucksack for an hour as every time we went over a bump (every 3 seconds to 5 minutes) it would attempt to land on me. Irene commented that I looked like I was in a boxing match. We finally arrived and met the teachers and coordinators responsible for the seminar who were quite welcoming.

By 8pm exhaustion had hit in a big way, and I was no longer capable of even pretending to be sociable, they were kind enough to take us to our sleeping quarters.

Today, we spent the day giving a full WYA seminar to the kids. They were quite enthusiastic, but again struggled with my accent. I've learned that english here is taught sans pronunciation. The teachers make sure the kids know what the words mean, but few of them even know how words should be pronounced so it ends up being a bit of a free for all, that then translates into some pretty funky pronunciations and difficulty understanding english from outside their area.

It was a great seminar and I think most, if not all the kids, became WYA members. We also received our evaluation forms at the end of the day. It was pretty unanimous that we were not nearly entertaining enough and needed some dramatisation to illustrate our points. Next time, perhaps we can work on translating our workshops into song or play form.

We've got a few minutes now before we board the night bus back to Nairobi. We discovered yesterday that apparently bus hijacking along the route have become common recently, we then went back to the bus station and checked on safety precautions. It turns out we'll be travelling in a convoy of 20 buses back to Nairobi to prevent hijacking and robbery. I just hope we're the middle bus! The consensus from people here though, is that the convoys are safe, and only travelling alone is dangerous - I hope that is the case!

If I don't post again, you'll know why... I joke! and I know it isn't funny. I likely won't have internet access again till I'm back in NY, so don't expect a post till next week. If I'm lucky I'll get to internet tomorrow afternoon.

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