”Traveling. It makes you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.”
After I was back from Kenya for about 2 weeks, my dad started to say the same thing each time I told about Kenya. ‘Once I was in space…’ (Shout out to the people who know where this reference is from). In a series my parents and I watch frequently, one of the main characters goes to space and after returning cannot stop telling stories about the experience. Now every time I mention Kenya, he says that as a response. But I cannot help it. Kenya silenced me for a few moments; made me think. Only ever since I came back, I have plenty to say about it. Traveling does make you a storyteller. I love that about traveling. It creates so much memories, moments so precious. ‘Remember the time we tried to eat sushi in Italy? What a joke!’ or ‘Remember that time we saw 7 cheetahs in one day? Such an amazing experience!’.
One week. Only one freaking week and I will step on a plane to Palermo, Italy. I can’t describe to you how nervous I am. 5 whole months I will live there. Its exciting too though. Don’t get me wrong; I want to do this more than anything. The nerves are good nerves. Healthy nerves.
Obviously I want to write some nice little posts about this experience. After all, this blog is kind of my not so secret-diary. It is rather therapeutic to write your thoughts down sometimes, I can recommend it to everyone.
I want to kick off this series of blogposts (called Erasmus, in honor of the people who gave me money to do this expensive experience) I wanted to write down my lists of things that I need to get done before leaving. So much to do still *freaks out in silence* *mental breakdown*. Continue reading “ERASMUS: a new chapter”
A country like Kenya has lots of different sides. Maybe as a tourist, you won’t see much more than the luxurious ‘too good to be African’ lodges and villas, with western foods and toilets. Because Kenya still, even though there is in fact lots of development, has poverty and corruption. I am lucky to discover both sides. After 4 weeks spend in the Masai Mara, the south-western part of Kenya, I find myself now at the east cost of Kenya.
We stay in an absolutely gorgeous villa, which we rented through Airbnb. After the Mara (and Uganda; the other 3 people we are here with did their research there) we craved a more tropical climate. So the east coast of Kenya was a perfect destination. We are now in Diani Beach, about 30 km south of Mombasa. It is everything you need when you want a dreamy, sunny and relaxing holiday. Big house with a pool, sunshine the whole day and a cook who makes whatever you belly desires. A strange experience if you just spend a month cooking yourself (which is a big challenge when you have to keep the cockroaches out of the pan) and slept in beds that are not really beds as much as a matress with a hole in it (weird beds). I feel like I experienced two extremes, with Nairobi as a perfect middle of those two extremes.
Anyways, I am enjoying myself in the ‘sunny’ side of Kenya. While writing this, our cook is making us breakfast, which is still a bit weird (I can obviously also make my own breakfast) and after we’re going to lay next to the pool and work on our tan. BTW, how’s the Netherlands? Hehe.
Prepare for a safari pictures overload. Yesterday we went on a full day drive in the Masai Mara National Reserve, after being so lucky to spend a day in a fancy lodge in the Reserve the day before. Since I have not posted that much pictures from my trip in Kenya, I thought this would be a good moment to share some.
‘A free massage’. That is how they call the road from Nkoilale to the biggest city in the county: Narok town. Imagine the most rocky road you have ever driven on. Now double the amount of rocks, sand and holes. To make it even worse, it is rain season in Kenya right now. So mud everywhere on the sandy roads. We even got stuck in a mudbad, which is not exactly what you want at 6:30 in the morning. But it was good to go to a city that has access to sanitary and served food. And a supermarket!
Narok was an interesting experience. We went there to interview some important stakeholders for our research. The chief officer of youth (the department that is in charge of the Vocational Training Centre), Jane, was our first interviewee of the day and a welcome addition to our data collection so far. Her job is to manage and finance all the Vocational Training Centres (we do our research about a possible VTC in Nkoilale, a VTC is comparable to MBO in the Netherlands) in the Narok county. She had so much knowledge about where it went wrong with Kenya its educational system: practical skills were taking for granted and academic knowledge was according to many the answer for poverty. Only a few years ago they discovered that academic studies are not for all and that practical skills such as mechanics, carpenters and plumbers are needed as well. Especially in deserted places like Nkoilale, where unlike Narok development of infrastructure, sanitary and houses stood still.
Our research takes us more and more into the community and its needs and wishes. They need an institute that takes the ‘slow learning’ youth of the streets and makes them useful, they wish the youth was not so idle and above all, they want to have growth. We realised in our trip that the community here is ambitious, wants more than the situation they are in now. In the beginning, we discussed whether we should research if the people wanted evolution; culture can stop growth because they want to keep their traditions. They proved us wrong. While speaking to the education officer in Narok, our second interviewee later that day, he told us that in the whole Mara region Nkoilale is the most open. Open for education, social development, a more sustainable and carefree life. In some villages this is not the case. Families keep their children home to take care of the cows. They think education is a waste.
In Nkoilale, every child gets send to at least primary school. The nearest secondary school is not near and expensive. For the ‘slow learners’ with low grades, the opportunity for a scholarship is not there so they become the idle youth. Simply because they cannot go to school to learn and have no skills to find a proper job. For them, a Vocational Training Centre would be the solution.
Reaching the end of our stay here in Nkoilale, and the end of our data collection, we have grown alot to the people here and their passion to make Nkoilale developed. I say we because I know my other team mates feel the same. We were sometimes in doubt whether the VTC would actually be build or not, but with talking to the staff of Ministery of Education our hopes got up. They are pro VTC, but finances are at the moment lacking and that is a problem right now. It might not be easy, it is an even more bumpy than the ride from Nkoilale to Narok, but eventually they will get that VTC. I’m sure of it.
The last few days it has been raining a lot. Now, it is pouring. This morning, while on an amazing first day of safari, the sun was shining though. More on that later. It is almost 18:30, time to make dinner. Only a week before I leave this place, time goes fast….