Sunday, August 9, 2009


To keep both Irene and myself alive, we spent the past two days in Nairobi resting before we embark on our travels through Burundi, DRC and Rwanda next week. A number of participants from Nigeria, Rwanda and Ghana stayed with WYA and one participant from Sierra Leone arrived after it ended so was thankfully still able to meet some of our other members and discuss issues. I've used this time to attempt to catch up on some emails, I discovered a restaurant near the Africa office with wifi and have yet to be kicked out :p since the office internet isn't working.  I'll leave the password with Irene for future use!

The jerseys I had donated from 5Ultimate are still stuck in customs.  We've been making daily trips/phone calls/emails to try and get them out, yet each time the requirements change - from an email to an email addressed to a different person, to an import form, etc.  At this rate we could have flown them hot air balloon and they would have arrived sooner...

I was so annoyed that the participants didn't get jerseys, after all the work I'd done to get them donated and the generosity of 5ultimate to donate 100 for the conference.  Thankfully, Mr. Beauttah knows a school in Nairobi where 90% of the students are from Kibera slum, Nairobi's (and possible Africa's) largest slum.  So those kids will get to benefit from DHL's unprofessionalism, and the jerseys will still go to a good cause.  On the bright side, the participants did each get a disc to take home, so they can continue to promote good governance through sports.

Yesterday, I went to the Maasai market on my own as Irene had other errands.  Of course, I was greeted by numerous people willing to "bargain" for me, and receive a lovely sum for themselves in the process.  I've learned that the minute you shake hands or exchange names they become 1000X more persistent in attempting to sell you or not letting you leave, so I refused until I was interested in a person's goods.  A few of the "negotiators" tracked me down even in the market and accused me of rudeness for not shaking hands.  I attempted to explain to one guy that the minute I shook his hand he would never leave me alone and I wished to bargain on my own.  The woman running the stall cracked up when I said that and then helped me to shoo him away. She then also gave me a reasonable price to start bargaining from as I obviously knew how the market worked.

My favourite purchase from yesterday, which I absolutely had to buy, are covers for pots to keep flies away. The edges have a lovely beaded fringe and the material is... mosquito netting! As I bargained the woman down she appeared outraged as she was telling me of all the work it took and she had to buy the materials - buy?  I don't think she buys her materials.

It reminded me of a story I heard where an aid agency was distributing mosquito netting within a region and couldn't understand why the malaria rates were not dropping - until they investigated and realised the girls were hoarding the mosquito netting to make their wedding dresses.  So they gave the mosquito netting to the men instead, yet still the rates didn't decrease.  They investigated and discovering the men were using the mosquito netting as fishing nets. The lesson learned? Never under-estimate the creativity of those you are trying to help.

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