Sunday, July 15, 2012

Love, Unconditionally

The other day, I had a sort of...epiphany. No, that sounds to dramatic. An important thought.

As a social work student, one of the first things you learn is about burnout. As in, you are so into your job...until one day, you aren't. Your compassion is lacking in the way it was when you started out. You're tired.

I've seen a lot of that here, in a lot of different situations. I've had my share of grumpy days, but I really hope that in my social work career, and my personal life, that I never get to the point of burnout where I neglect to help someone who needs it, or do it in a half-hearted way.

After some consideration, I made a new goal: to love unconditionally.

It doesn't mean you have to neglect your own needs. For me, it means empathy--or, just putting a human face on the situation. Putting yourself in someones shoes for a moment.

For me, it will mean being making each clients day, at least I hope, a bit brighter somehow. Making jokes, talking with them, sneaking them little snacks when nobody's looking.

It will mean not picking an eye for an eye. I'm not particularly that way, but I'd like to be more forgiving and to stop keeping track of little things.

Maybe you're sick. Get ready for some homemade chicken noodle soup and my, sometimes unwelcome, obsessive offers to get you some dawas (medicine).

If an argument comes up, it won't stay up. I also don't consider myself a yelling crazy person when it comes to these--but I just hope to have them resolved quickly and with everyone involved feeling good about the situation.

I hope it'll mean a nice, home cooked meal instead of whatever is in the freezer/ 'fend for yourself night' as it is so affectionately called in my home.

This has been my little goal for the past week or so, and I hope to keep it going. It hasn't been 100% successful, and I've had some troubles loving unconditionally (which in the name of this goal, I shall not name), I'm going to try my hardest. It can only get easier with time (and makes me feel great, too.)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Global Solidarity Challenge

Hi Everyone!

Sorry for my lack of postings lately! But I thought I use my limited computer capability for the day to tell you all about this awesome event that my friend Sabreena is hosting back home, through VIDEA (Victoria International Development Association)--it runs from the 15th to the 21st of July.

The focus is on global poverty--we've all heard about someone, somewhere, who lives on the other side of the world on only $1.25 per day. This is a topic particularly close to my heart, because I see firsthand every day people who live this way--it is happening, whether we like it or not.

That is where the 'Global Solidarity Challenge' comes challenges YOU to live on this amount, in solidarity with those who always must live on $1.25 per day. Could you do it?

Here is the idea--collect donations from family, friends, get it! It doesn't have to be that awkward door-to-door fundraiser. Make it fun! Host a foreign-themed dinner or barbeque (its the season!), check out some businesses, have a garage sale, whatever it takes! You can even make a team and put your heads together to come up with something fun

Need more incentive? Every $500 you or your team raises gets your name put in a draw, for a trip to South Africa! You'll get to visit some of VIDEA's awesome projects there. But if you aren't the $1.25 per day kind of person, thats ok too (sometimes McDonalds fries call to you a little too loudly) can throw in whatever you feel comfortable with to a team of your choice (I recommend Sabreena's, its called 'The Globetrotters'!).

Want to find out more? Check out:

The Site:

The Email:

Good Luck Everyone!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

What does AIDS look like to you?

About once each month, Lea Toto takes a Saturday to train the children on a topic of relevance to them--and there is a ton of options to teach about! This past month, the age group was from about 8 years to 12 years and I decided to go back to basics a little and find out what they knew about HIV, and then give them some information on what HIV is (and what it isn't).

One of my major challenges in working with the age group was the issue of disclosure--I was teaching them about the details of HIV, without letting on to them that they were positive. Some children can reach age 14 and not know their status (their parents tell them the drugs they take are for something else).

Note: After taking some shots while at the training, I found out that this was not allowed. I completely understand why, and the following photos are to depict what was taught, not who was there.

I started by asking the kids what they did know about HIV--'What is HIV?' and 'How do you get it?'

For the most part, they were right on the button! I was pleasantly surprised.

To discover their honest perspective on HIV/AIDS, we asked them to draw 'What AIDS looks like to them'.

This exercise is a common one in teaching children about HIV/AIDS, and always seems to bring out some varied responses. Many drawings can depict the stigma that surrounds HIV in the Kibera community, while some can range from silly to serious (to completely unrelated). Here are some of their responses!

I really appreciate anyone taking the time to read my blog while I'm away--it really means the world to me! My apologies for being MIA for so long--but, as promised, I've added some new photos below that I took around Nairobi. Feel free to check them out!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Mzuri sana

Just a little note to let people who read this and/or care about my well being that I am doing very well (mzuri sana). I haven't updated in ages because there has been rain, thunder, and lightening each evening which causes power outages and therefore no internet. But I am well, (relatively) healthy, and definitely safe. I have a ton of updates and have been up to some good, and this week I go on a mini-vacation to Ethiopia which I am looking forward to.

Back soon (and with pictures!),

Kayla :)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Things to Smile About

Remember when I said I would take a daily photo of something wonderful? Admittedly, I haven't been doing it as often as I should. But here is the first (of hopefully many) albums of awesome.

This was my birthday treat to myself. A delicious slice of cheesecake and a milkshake. Awesome!

Some pretty jewelry being sold at Maasai market downtown. Beautiful.

Funny sign in Nairobi encouraging people to get enough Vitamin C. Hilarious and therefore effective.

A nice text from my co-worker Juliet that made my day.

Some traditional/slightly tourist oriented art for sale in the Maasai market in downtown Nairobi.

The Hilton hotel in the middle of Nairobi is a wonderful meeting friends place/people watching spot.

My computer will not accept that I took new photos of cupcakes, so I'm just putting this one up again. For my birthday, my roomate ordered me some delicious cupcakes! Yum.

Contrary to some stereotypes at home, Nairobi City is very developed and has some cool architechure--here is a shot of Times Tower in city centre.

Some beautiful, modern African art in a downtown coffee shop.

My apologies for the delay in adding more photos! I jumped on the opportunity of good internet today and hope to be updating a little more often, provided things go as planned! :) Thanks for reading!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Rosalia's Letter

This past Wednesday at Lea Toto, we had a 'Teens Day', where all the HIV+ teens in our program came together to learn about drug adherence, teen issues, and were also able to socialise with others sharing the same experience as them. Rosalia was brave enough to share this letter with the group, and it sets her far beyond her years. She gave me the 'okay' to share it with you!

Presenter: Rosalia (Form IV Candidate at State House Girls)

Greetings to doctors and staff of Lea-Toto and my fellow teenagers. It is a privilege for me to stand before all of you today in an effort to touch at least one person’s life.

As we all know, we are living with a virus in us. The first thing we should do about this is to accept it. The truth remains that there are things that are beyond us and that we can’t change them. The best we can do is accept God’s will to be done in our lives. God does everything for a reason and his reason is never negative. We should always know that God has a plan for us. There is a reason why we are bearing that virus and the worse we could do is deny it. Always remember that every person has their own cross to bear, ours is this tiny, stubborn virus. Once you accept that you can do less about it, all will be fine. With God on our side and with our hearts willing to accept our cross, we will surely go places!

After accepting, it is important that we do something about it. We are extremely blessed to be receiving medication for free. God shows us his endless love every month when we come here and go home with enough drugs. It is important to remember that not everyone is able to get enough medication like we do. It is just a grace from God and we should all say a big ‘Thanks’ to God the almighty. We should therefore ensure that we all take our prescribed drugs without failure, because that is a way of showing gratitude to God.

By refusing to take drugs for any reason whatsoever, we are just hurting ourselves and tormenting our bodies for no reason. Refusing to take drugs is just the same as slapping God on the face. It is like telling God that we are tired of receiving his graces. Is it really right to throw back to God what he has given us for free? Please, let us not do that to our heavenly father who gives us these drugs with a lot of L O V E!

Away from drugs and now to studies. We should all keep in mind that the world today requires only learned people. Nowadays, your face, your body, your cash, your beauty, and your fashion cannot take you anywhere. The only thing that can take you where you want is education. With good papers, there is nowhere that you cannot go. There is no one who can stop you from pursuing the career of your choice, so long as your grades are satisfactory. I strongly believe that no one of us has heard of anyone who was stopped from doing Medicine, Engineering, or Law just because they didn’t have a figure-8, six-pack, or nice clothes. Your papers will always speak for you.

It is quite normal for some of us to doubt our abilities compared to other people, at some point. There was a time in school, when some exam papers for a certain subject were returned and I emerged number 2. At that point, my heart justified itself by saying, “It’s okay, how can I be the first one and yet I have this virus in me?”. Just then a voice talked in me and condemned me harshly for that statement. The voice reminded me that the virus inside of me does not stop me from shining; it does not stop me from being the best. The same applies to all of you; the virus inside you does not make you less able that the rest. What they can do, you can do even better.

Another fact is that, the sun will never stop shining because some teenager somewhere has a virus inside him or her. The world will never stop developing because some teen somewhere is HIV+. The cutpoint for the university will never go low because some student in a certain school takes ARV’s. The requirement for a certain job will never ever be changed just because one of the applicants has HIV. The constitution will not be changed because of you and me.

This calls for extra strength and power from us. We are expected to work harder in everything that we do, in order to reach the same standards as our fellow teenagers. We should not expect the world to treat us more fairly than others just because we are living positively. In our studies, let us work extra hard and for sure, God will reward us.

The greatest thing is to always put God first. He created all of us and has a plan for us. Let us not forget God’s word; the bible which speaks to us every time we read it. I would like to believe each one of us has a bible because that’s the only way through which we can listen to God’s very own words. Worship him and remember him in everything you do. Most of all obey his will because he tells us that obedience is far much better than sacrifice.

Last but not least, this short prayer should always keep us going:

Dear God,

Give me the strength to change the things that I can change,

Humility to accept the things I cannot change,

And the wisdom to distinguish the two.


God bless us all!

Isn't this inspiring, especially when coming from a 15 year old? My favorite part is 'Refusing to take drugs is just the same as slapping God on the face'. She is so wonderful, simply put.

Friday, April 6, 2012

21 22

Yesterday, I turned 22. It seems that with each year older I get, the less crazy excited about it I become. I remember making lists upon lists to do with birthday parties in elementary school. Who was invited, what things to eat, what to do. This year, I just enjoyed my day--which was quite a bit like my other days but with a bit of birthday happiness mixed in.

It was the regular things that made my day so nice! The social worker I was shadowing was gone for the morning so I got a bit of responsibility--a few people had to pick up WFP rations, so I greeted them and got them to where we keep all the corn, beans, oil, and flour. Then I got to do some home visits in Makina--I hadn't been there in ages! We went on 3, and I talked (sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly)to each family about what is going on for them and what any needs might be. A couple of big things I've come across lately is food insecurity and rent issues--food prices are going up (Milk went from 35 cents to 45 cents a couple weeks ago)and rent is increasing due to a variety to issues, some of which are slum evictions (So the government can make roads and housing in their place--when there is less housing in the slum, the prices go up. There are few rights here too so it is technically legal I believe). After the home visits, I got to fill out the per visit paperwork (which is nice, if you get to do the home visits). Then just some filing and hanging out with my coworkers-I took the matatu with one of them too so it made the ride a little less boring during the traffic.

When I got home, I treated myself to a precious bowl of KD, a soda, and a hedgehog from Purdy's that I had been saving. Awesome!

What was even more awesome was finding that I have one more macaroni and cheese package left after this meal--thought it would have been done! So, happy birthday to me.

In my humble 22 years on this earth I think I am blessed in that I have experienced a lot and therefore, learned a lot. I have grown in ways I didn't think were possible. This past year, I feel I've had an exceptional amount of 'learning opportunities', which I am sure are truly positive things and that are good happening sooner rather than later. They aren't mistakes if I learned a valuable lesson from them--and each one will definitely guide me through my 22nd year and beyond.

In true Kayla style, I think this is good opportunity to make a resolution. This year, I am going to choose happiness.

Don't we so often not? The bus is always late, someone said something mean at work, or they ran out of your favorite thing at the shop. This year, I'm glad the bus arrives at all. I'm understanding everyone has bad days and that it isn't personal. That if they ran out, you're saving a couple dollars and likely didn't need it badly anyways.

That is one thing I've noticed this past year--the ability to choose your happiness. There have been times where I've thought 'Does God not really see me as worthy of something good, so now I am experiencing this?' or 'Why does this person get this, while I do not?'. Now, I'm seeing things as the opposite--I get to learn a sweet lesson. You aren't being deprived of something, you are being given an important lesson that not everyone might get! I'm going to try to take a photo of one awesome thing each day, and post it. A visual diary of wonderful things to share.

I've still got a ways to go, but I'm grateful what I've come to know in my 22 years here on earth. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Choose happiness. Worry more about impressing yourself, and less about impressing others. You get one body, treat it right. Learn to forgive. Stand up for yourself. Don't sweat the small stuff. You're worth it. Reward yourself. Be honest. Give. Love. Be a good friend, a good daughter, and a good person in general.

I've also come to realize that as a person of 22 years, I cannot really get away with procrastination. I'm going to sleep early, reply to emails in a timely manner, clean up right away, and write papers and reports on time. I assume this will save me a lot of grief and will also help me choose happiness!

Asante sana for reading :)

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Volunteering Update...

My main premise on coming to Kenya was to volunteer and help in as many ways as I could, and to hopefully broaden my social work skills. I thought I might give you all an update of where I'm at with that :)

I'm still volunteering at Lea Toto, and it has been good. Not always perfect, but good. My day to day activities can usually include:

-Filing Social Work and Medical Forms
-Going on home visits in Kibera, to check and see how our clients are doing (this includes assessing any new needs of the client, any new events going on, checking on their drug adherence, and seeing how their health and schooling is progressing)
-Going to the bank, the school outfitters store, the shoe store, and to various schools to pay school fees and check on quotations for school uniforms
-Visiting any clients who may be in respite, or the hospital
-Filling out per visit forms and writing down everything I've done with the clients
-Handing out vouchers for school uniforms and shoes, sometimes assisting with World Food Program food distribution
-Going to some sort of training (sometimes in Swahili, but still--a good way to broaden my skills and connect with clients)
-Helping out in the pharmacy, packaging Septrin (inhibits growth of viruses in the body--I believe), sometimes administering prescriptions
-Taking tea and bread(if you don't, its considered blasphemy)and sneaking some to sweet little kids

These are some of the things I love love love doing! My favorite thing is to connect with clients, and see when we've made a positive difference for them. Yesterday, I had a woman with a young girl thank me on behalf of the program for the food aid she had recieved, because the family had been going hungry lately. It is good to see a positive change happen for someone.

I heard from a friend that people come to Africa with this fiery compassion and just want to do everything possible--but that after around 3 months, you get a sort of compassion fatigue. It is such a buzz word in the social work field, but I can see what is meant by that statement. For instance, while I should be shocked at what I see in Kibera every day, I have grown used to it. I don't flinch at having to long jump over streams of garbage and sewage, and my first time here I cried when I found out some of the children were HIV+ --but not anymore. Since I see these things daily, they become less of a shock to me. I'm choosing to see this as kind of a blessing though--that because of this level headedness, I may be able to connect with people and help facilitate some manageable change here, no matter how great or small.

I have encountered more struggles this time in Kenya though, both work and non work related. Included are.....

-Feeling as if I cannot connect with my clients and coworkers properly. My manager asked me about this and was very honest in saying that it is likely because I am white and foreign, with the language barrier being significant. Sometimes clients feel nervous to encounter me, and you can't exactly have water cooler talk with your coworkers when they are speaking a language you don't fully understand. My way forward with this is to convey kindness and compassion in any way and to everyone I can, in addition to broadening my language skills.

-Lack of a support network. Man, do I ever appreciate having coffee after work with Michelle, Ann, Angel, and Mauricio last time I was here. It was an excellent way to unwind after encountering whatever in the day. It has been more difficult this time around because I come home straight after work to an empty house (Emmanuel gets home late) and because I have 1 foreign friend to connect with. My goal for this one is to try to meet some more people, either foreign or Kenyan.

-The heat. I'm pretty sure all the mabatis (tin roofs) in Kibera just suck all the heat to that one little area. I lose most of my body weight in sweat daily. Gross, I know. I'm going to invest in some tank tops, shorts, and sandals from Ngara market to help this. Also to be supplemented by ridiculous water intake, sunscreen,and hiding in the shade when possible.

-The thought that I'm not doing enough here. There are days in which the most satisfying part is seeing all the dirt wash off of me and knowing that I am now a clean person (Gross--again--I know.). Sometimes it seems that filing odds and ends and sitting at a desk isn't the best I can be doing, that more assistance could be done if I were down in the deepest part of Kibera, problem solving with clients or something. I know that filing helps, but sometimes I get kind of grumpy that my social work skills aren't exactly being ameliorated that way. I've heard social work is 20% field work/80% paperwork, which is both daunting and comforting. Way forward with this is to do a variety of things at the program and try to stay inspired.

-The bank of Kayla. My Dad always used to joke that I saw him as the bank of Dad. Growing up, I needed food, shelter, field trip money, whatever. Because Dad is Dad (And Dad I am grateful for--thanks, Dad.)Here, there is a stereotype that white=rich. People see my fair skin and ask me to buy them things. In fairness, Canadians do on average make more that Kenyans. But if you know me, you know that I am pretty careful with my money and dislike being taken advantage of (who doesn't?). So sometimes I struggle to figure out who to help with what I have. When I'm downtown usually I'll buy a loaf of bread and give some to people I come across who are begging. Constantly I am asked for school fees, to buy lunch, or 'Mzungu, buy me a sweet!'. I can't help everyone, but I can help some people. My idea for this is to just use my better judgement--know what I am truly able to give, assess who is truly in need and who may be targeting me based on my appearance, and to generally give at my discretion. I think it is everyone's job to look out for others, but also to look out for themselves.

-Dirt. Gross comment #3: Haven't had a proper bath or shower since I got here. I bathe out of a bucket with about 12 litres of water, and just pour it all over myself and lather until I'm acceptably clean. The first thing I will do when I get back to Canada is take a long, hot shower. Then grab Tim Hortons (Steeped Tea, double double), grab my besties, and go watch some Timbits hockey (I highly recommend it--its adorable.)

So yes, life here in Kenya is not always perfect. There are days I feel I haven't done enough or days I feel down. But the good always seems to outweigh the bad, and paying school fees for a young girl, holding a new baby, and seeing a child eat after going without always warms my heart. Getting down and dirty is well worth it. It is part of what makes Kenya so lovely, and what makes me want to spend my time here.

"Go now to make a difference in this perilous and broken world.
May you all hold each human life in the same regard as your own.
May you bring serenity and peace to the lives of others.
May God's Loving Spirit go with you and guide you this day and always.

- Convocation Benediction Given by The Rev. Brian Yealland,
Queen's University, 30 October 2003.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Dear Aga Khan University Hospital,

You are a business, not a hospital. And your customer service sucks.

Attempt #1: Sent with a letter marked 'URGENT' from your sister clinic downtown (to whom I paid a handsome consultation fee which was to be extended to my hospital use) to see a ear specialist since I am going deaf. Ear specialist decided to take the day off. Rescheduled by nurse for ear clinic.

Attempt #2: Come for the ear clinic. Find out it has been cancelled by the doctor. Reschedule appointment.

Attempt #3: Since I didn't see the specialist after I had gone to the clinic, they wanted me to re pay the consultation fee. Not my fault, your doctor went home early, then cancelled the clinic. I will not re pay, my pride is too big and my bank account too small.

I'm better going off to KNH, where the nurses are striking. Even if they aren't showing up for work they are at least doing something productive/more than you are and I bet the service is better too.

I'll be back only to insult you in sign language, since I am still going deaf.

That is all.


Kayla Woodruff.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

My Week, In Point Form.

-My volunteer social work placement at Lea Toto is going well. I asked my boss to give me some criticism so I could make more constructive use of my time, and she said be flexible--so now not only do I do the social work stuff, but also pharmacy stuff too and trips to town/wherever to get quotes for things clients need, etc.

-That also being said, the social worker I shadow thinks I do already make myself flexible, which is nice to hear. I walked all the way to Lea Toto to Soweto Primary (by myself!). It took a while. Then when I got there they offered me a job teaching. Ha! And also got to do some other social worker stuff on my own, which was great.

-I took a picture of myself intending to post it so that my family and friends could see a recent photo of me. Then I decided It looked ridiculous, since I was making the 'I don't know what face to make' face in it. I'll try harder this week...

-After typing this whole post I realized I wouldn't be that motivated. Here is what I look like after 3 months in Kenya, flaws and all. I decided to allow myself to black and white this (I always think it looks nicer...even if I am making this face.)

-I got my hair cut. I realized that the heat here + hair half way down my back was just not ok anymore. It is shoulder length now and is subsequently healthier and easier to manage. (The hairdresser triple checked to make sure I was sure I wanted it done--haha.)

-In relation to the last point, I got my hair cut by a woman from Texas in this suburb of Nairobi known for having a large expatriate was both wonderful and strange to be around people of my culture. Pro: Similar senses of humour, being able to connect with someone from home. Nice smelling products on my hair. Cons: Culture shock. Seeing people pay huge amounts for temporary things like nail painting and having their hair curled. Myself paying foreigner prices for foreigner services. (Since so many foreigners here make a hefty paycheque, you can't exactly find a cheap haircut here.) But it had to be done.

-I lost my hearing in my right ear. Panicked a little at first, but then I just went to the clinic, and they referred me the hospital to see some sort of ear specialist. Now, after a couple days of drops, I am still without a functioning right ear.

-Ran out of water today. Finally cracked and am paying someone to do my laundry so that I don't become a dirty person this week. I solved my previous dilemma of what to pay this person by paying more than what she might normally get from others, for less laundry. I worked it out and it will be a pretty solid wage for the time it will take, etc. This had been weighing heavily on my mind.

-Have been trying to broaden my horizons and learn more about the particular group of people I work with. Did you know that HIV isn't contracted via kissing and is not airborne? Also, it dies outside of its host body rather quickly--so sharing a waterbottle or shaking hands really won't be that harmful in regards to HIV transmission. It should also be noted that you do not get sick or die specifically because of the HIV virus infection--the virus attacks your immune system, so you die of things like pneumonia, TB, or other opportunistic infections because your body is lacking the antibodies to fight them off. That being said, if you properly adhere to anti-retrovirals (the drugs you take for HIV) you can live a long and happy life provided you have proper nutrition and care. HIV does not have to be the death sentence that society has made it out to be.

-An HIV test can give you results in under 15 minutes and doesn't have to require blood being drawn, just the prick of a finger. Its easy, and looks almost similar to a pregnancy test strip. I've heard a place in the West End of Vancouver can do this for you, and there is likely a place in Victoria that offers the same services. Check out Island Sexual Health.

-Made my best investment yet in a plug in that repels mosquitoes. I have yet to be bitten this week.

-I really am loving Kenya and feel at home here, and my future goals are divided. Do I want to live in Vancouver, working in the Downtown East Side, or do I want to live in Nairobi, working for an NGO or at a place like the UN? Hmm.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Saturday Musings

The man in the beige shirt is our caretaker. In this photo, he had gotten drunk and proceeded to play with the children in our complex for an teaching them military drills and karate exercises. It was so silly, but the kids had fun and were following him around. Everyone came out of their houses when they heard him yelling and marching around. It was funny.

My last Coke (Sort of). I've decided to stop drinking soda. I'm starting with Coke then cutting out the rest. It just isn't healthy. I might have one if I go to a party. But its just not healthy. I want to treat myself and my body right. Maji it is.

Also, (and I do not have a photo of this, but I will get one eventually) I drive by this 'toilet' everytime I go to town. On the side, it says 'Vankuva toilet, 3='. Its just a toilet you pay 3 cents to use. Yesterday someone laughed at it and I asked why, and they said because it is called Vankuva toilet. Oh, good lord. They mean 'Vancouver' toilet. Vankuva is exactly how a swahili speaker would spell it I think. I was heartbroken when I came to the realisation that my lovely birthplace had been reduced to a hole in the ground you pay to do your business in.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Maple Leaf Love


Yesterday I went to party near Yaya and was so glad to have found some Canadian girl time! I met May (from the UK, but lived in Toronto) and Glennys from Ottawa! Seriously, how good it was to have some Canadian friends. Now I do love my Kenyan friends so, so much--but it is also nice to sit and talk about how lovely Canada is, how it is adjusting to being an expat in a new place, or our interests--which were pretty similar. We could all relate. Everyone I met had these amazing areas of work and study advocacy, street children programs, human rights law, Kenyan political science. I'm pretty sure I'd talk about that stuff all day if my friends back home would tolerate it, ha! So it was nice.

I also rediscovered something about myself. I like to drink tea. Probably more than the average person. To supplement this idea, I also don't like drinking. So therefore, I last night I drank tea while others drank Tusker. This makes the game 'Never have I ever' slightly more awkward. Ha, but really--to the point: I used to feel kind of ashamed for being the non-drinker (I sometimes get : 'Is it a religion thing?')But really it isn't. I just don't like to. I've decided to embrace it. So here is the truth. I love my friends. I love my time with friends, and I love meeting new friends. I do not like drinking, and by extension, usually don't like parties either (It's why Andy Samberg and I fell out after he made 'Hot Rod'...). I will always vote for Saturday night tea on the couch instead of get drunk Saturday night/not be able to function Sunday. I'm embracing that fact. That is me.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I'm Legal.

And by that, I mean I am legal to be in Kenya for another 3 months. I renewed my visa and it went more smoothly than I expected! Plus, I had to apply for an 'Alien' card since I'll be here for a while. Ha, it is almost as offensive as it sounds.

The good/bad news (depending on how you look at it) is that after 3 months, I have to leave Kenya and come back. So I'll probably be hopping to Ethiopia or somewhere for the weekend in May. My other options include UAE and India. Ironically, it is cheaper to fly to India or the Middle East than it is to fly to Juba. Which I think is silly, but I'm sure there is a perfectly good economical explanation for this.

What I've learned from 3 months in Kenya

Sometimes I forget how crazy it is that I just up and moved to Kenya for a while. I no longer feel like a tourist. I know my way around and what the prices of things at the market should be. A small source of pride for me :)

I thought I'd just give a little reflection of what I've learned and gotten out of my life here so far...

-Nobody really keeps time. It is both frustrating and refreshing not having to stress down to the minute on every little thing.

-Kenyans can be really, really kind and helpful...or the exact opposite.

-We have it so, so good in Canada. Even if you don't think you do, you do.

-Kenya/Africa is not what you might think of it if you haven't been here. People here wear the same clothes Canadians wear for the most part. There are tons of wealthy people. And I'm pretty sure only the !Kung of the Kalahari in South Eastern Africa have clicks in their language.

-If you knew half the stuff that went on here regularly, you'd be outraged. Things fly here that would be front page news back home.

-Not that it matters to a health role model such as myself (ha.), but Coca Cola is making a huge profit from North Americans. You can get a 300ml soda here for 30 cents.

-If you've emailed me, commented on/read my blog, or skyped with me while I've been here I appreciate it so, so much. You guys are real friends and I love you for it.

-I really, really miss Kraft Dinner. I barely ate it at home, but at least there I had the option.

-I usually forget I'm foreign until a watoto (children) shout it at me. Or adults. Yes, that happens.

-Foodsafe is non-existent.

-Neither is road safety.

-You have the ability to make a difference. You don't need to make a Bill Gates sized donation or be an Angelina Jolie type of advocate. You can split a child sponsorship with a friend or volunteer once a week helping someone out in an area of your interest.

-Nobody listens to Westlife at home, but they are so popular here.

-For the down payment on a place in Victoria, you can buy a beautiful apartment here. I'm considering it.

-Some people see poverty and struggle as a reason to not believe in any religion. I'm starting to see it the opposite way. If a person in Kibera can thank God for what they've been given, I feel obliged to super extra double thankful for what I've been given.

-Tetley tea, KD Easy Mac and Purdys chocolates are almost always special occasion items. I have a cup of tea, a bowl of mac and cheese, and a hedgehog waiting for me for on my birthday.

-There are people who will treat you well in life and people you won't. If somebody isn't, stand up for yourself...if somebody is, don't let them go.

-I'm thankful to have had my family around to show me the ropes about life. This is how to do long division, this is how you get a drivers license. Not everyone has that.

-I'd rather take the matatu than drive here. There are so, so many horrible roundabouts. And horrible drivers.

-Please remind me not to haggle when I get back to Canada ('$5 for this grande latte? Ha, I'll give you 50 cents'). I'm worried that this will actually happen.

-I have yet to be robbed since I've been here (minus the case of the missing jeans from the clothesline). I feel proud.

-I really won the lottery by being born in Canada, by having my awesome family, and by having a group of friends who are so wonderful.

-I really, really love Africa.

Asante sana,


Sunday, March 11, 2012

My Week, In Photos

I found this online deal where for 400 shillings (about $5) I got 16 gourmet cupcakes. Blessing or a curse? You be the judge.

Me and my roommate Emmanuel. Caption this photo for yourself (if you dare).

Emmanuel and his girl Tatu. They will be embarrassed that I wrote this about them, but I'm doing it anyways. Their love is just so pure for each other. I imagine that is what love should be like. It makes me weepy. As you can (kind of) see, they even dress the same. True love.

Ok, this photo is embarrassing. If you know me, that is the face I make in photos when I am not quite sure what face I should be making. The house flooded.The tap was in 'on' position when we had run out of water, and it came back during the day. It ran for 10 straight hours. Emmanuel helped me clean up my room, and Tatu did the hallway/kitchen etc. They are excellent roomates.

Highrise at dusk. The view from my bedroom window.

Ok, this business is not as terrifying as it sounds (or looks--can you see the flank of meat hanging in the window without regard for foodsafe regulations? Gasp.)I get meat when here I have guests. The word 'hotel' is often used in the same way Canadians would say restaurant. Confusing for tourists.

We had our first piece of junk mail, so I felt it deserved to go on the fridge. Points gained for advertising well and for free delivery. Points lost for 'super'. Maybe they meant the food is super? I'm still going to check them out. Another ad around here implicates they serve delicious continental cuisine as well (they showed a picture of a burger...). I'll keep you updated, because I know you are dying to know (Jordan Rockerbie, this is me speaking directly to you--we unite in our love of food).
Note the Canadiana reference magnets and David Odanga's business card. This man lives above me and while hanging my laundry, told me to give him a call when I am single, or find him a white wife. This is my official call to my female readers: Please, someone date this man. He 'happens' to be leaving his apartment everytime I hang my laundry with 'where is my white wife' inquiries.

I bought this bag for 60 cents (Canadian). Yesterday a young boy downtown was trying to sell it and I passed him by. When I passed again, he stopped me and I asked him what he was doing selling a single plastic bag for 60 cents. He said he had bought it for 50 cents, and was trying to make money so that he could afford to take his KCPE exam (it is the most important exam here--it dictates which public schools you can get into. I think just over a third of applicants get in--the competition is fierce.). This encounter with the boy has gotten me thinking a lot, and I'll be posting again soon about the different issues Canadian and Kenyan children face.

Other things that happened this week (which I do not have photos for):

-My roommate Irene moved to Doha, Qatar for work. I am going to miss her so much, since she was so kind in offering to show me around when I got here. We went out for dinner at a little African hoteli.

-Took Joram for his birthday dinner. Went to a place called Savanna and had a veggie burger with mushrooms and cheese. After weeks of githeri with rice, I forgot food could taste that good.

-A truck delivering beer to a shop downstairs hit our internet cable and snapped it, leaving us without internet for the week. I was reconnected today and was happy to catch up on the news and what has been going on. I am in disbelief (happy disbelief) that a little video called Kony 2012 garnered over 70 million views in 5 days. The world is good. If you haven't seen it, watch it here:

Nairobi Grenade Blast

Last night, there was a grenade attack at a bus station in Nairobi. At least 4 were killed and many others were sent to hospital.

In this photo (which I borrowed from 'The Standard' online), victims from the attack are tended to by nurses and good samaritans (more on this below) at Kenyatta National Hospital.

Although I live a great distance from North-Eastern Kenya (where Somalia borders with Kenya), and even a little ways away from where last nights attack took place, it feels strange to have something so serious happen so (relatively) close to home.

It is suspected that Al-Shabaab (or supporters of Al-Shabaab) carried out the attack.

Last year, the Kenyan government sent troops into Somalia because (in short) aid workers and tourists up north had been kidnapped by Al-Shabaab, with Dadaab refugee camp in North-Eastern Kenya being a centre of activity for many foreign aid workers and therefore being a place of heightened kidnapping risk.

Since much of Somalia is controlled by the group Al-Shabaab, they want the Kenyan troops out of their territory and have carried out some small scale attacks outside (and within) of Somalia since the entry into Somalia by the AU/Kenya

Recently, Kenya has been in the midst of a nurses strike--and this last week, all the public sector nurses on strike were sacked. In situations like this there is an especially large weight on the already strained public health system, so please keep in mind the people affected by the blast and hope with me that no more lives are lost due to these recent events.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

My Lovely Saturday Surprise!

Ok, there were a few surprises today. The first one: I have internet! A truck hit our interweb cable last weekend and snapped it. Today we are with internet! I am thankful.

But the real surprise was in my email inbox! My wonderful friend Erin sent me this photo from my goodbye tea before I left:

Lovely Ladies. (And lovely Tim, taker of this photo)

Thanks Erin! I miss you guys :)

Friday, March 2, 2012

Cherish Every Moment

Yesterday was a sad day.

On my way back from downtown Nairobi, I saw a man laying, dead, in the middle of a busy street. This was the spot where he had died, clearly after having been hit by a car.

Pray for that man and his family. Nobody wakes up in the morning expecting to die that day, and I'm sure his family is hurting so much right now.

I hope to be, everyday, the exact person that I would like to be remembered as. Today I will be cherishing each moment as I go about my day. I hope anyone reading this will too. You never really know which moment will be your last.

Much love,

Monday, February 27, 2012

An Open Letter... the laundry thief in my building.

It was not ok when Ali's shirt disappeared, and it was not ok when my coveted 'Canada' tee went missing either. It is especially not ok that 1 of my only 2 pairs of jeans are gone now as well.

Kayla Woodruff, Disgruntled Tenant.

I have an idea to catch them, but it involves propping a box up with a stick which has a string tied to it...and that might only be for mice. Other Suggestions?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Enough food to last me a week...

I really, really hope that by posting this I am not one of those crazy (thrifty? frugal?) people from that extreme couponing show, but I thought I'd share how much some food items just cost me at the market and supermarket...

Handful of Baby Bananas: 60 cents
5 apples: $1.50
10 potatoes: 48 cents
3 onions: 22 cents
Head of lettuce: 72 cents
1 Kg of Beans: 96 cents
Small bag of green maize: $1.00
Small bag of peas: $1.00
Yogurt: $2.90
Bread: 47 cents
1 Kg of Rice: $1.83
3 Roma Tomatoes: 24 cents
Packet of Milk: 42 cents
2 packets of Peanuts: 48 cents

I had some leftover pasta, mushrooms and cucumber from last week, which would probably end up being around a dollar. And some condiments of course, so I'll be able to make breakfast, lunch and dinner all week without eating out...for under $15. I am proud.

Friday, February 24, 2012

My week, In sentence form.

Sorry for the lack of updates, I've been busy this week with life in general. I'll give a more substantial post later, but for now (to keep it simple) here is my life this week, in sentence form:

-Started with regular work at Lea Toto, whereby Juliet and I went many home visits in Kibera and my swahili improved, however marginally.

-Had a couple uncomfortable situations which turned into one, larger positive situation--I counted my blessings.

-Was sent on an adventure downtown to get quotations for school uniforms, which I took to be a very exciting break from filing.

-Discovered how good it is to be a woman in Canada vs. a woman in Kenya (A large generalization, but still.)

-Discovered why I so love sociology--we are individuals, yet products of our culture and society as well.

-Took the day off yesterday to figure out visa stuff, only to find that I had messed up in such a major way that it turned back into a positive thing again(Counted my blessings a second time).

-Today, my plan is to do laundry, go to the market, and find some mandazi somewhere.

-As an extension of the last point, I hope to find an appropriate way to address the mango seller at the market who, each time I walk by, tries to propose and tells me that he loves me (Last time he tried to use a custard apple as a ring, and has said 'I love you' more than any guy I've there potential here? Ha.)

-I am thankful for my roommate Irene, and am sad that she is leaving for Dubai--but am also really excited that she was scouted and got a job offer to work in Dubai!

-I realised how much in fact I would miss her when she said 'Kayla, I'm going to get a drink of milk, like a cat...would you like some?' Myself: 'No thank you'. Irene: 'Meow'.

-I have discovered a new found interest in personal finance, courtesy of Krystal Yee @ (She is like a welcome financial slap in the face). I read her entire 480+ page blog in a week and a half.

-I am also thankful for my roommate Emmanuel, who usually helps catch all the bugs I encounter.

-A while ago I purchased 16 cupcakes from a Kenyan deal website, and the deal runs out Monday--so I have 16 cupcakes to deal with Monday night + a stomachache to contend with Tuesday morning. Help.

-For the past couple of days I have been trying to properly articulate a post on slum tourism. It is a kind of serious/argumentative topic, so I want to do it right.

-I heard from my Mom! Through a second hand source, but still. It was nice to hear from her and know she is thinking of me.

-Hakuna maji, again. Both a blessing and a curse, because while it sucks to have no water, it also provides a convenient way for me to procrastinate on doing my laundry. Whoops.

And now, for a photo I didn't take myself. These are Mandazi, and they are delicious. At only 5 cents each, they'll be the reason I : 1. Get a stomachache from eating too many, and 2: Look unrecognizably large upon my return to Canada.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Kidogo Kiswahili

Translation : A Little Swahili.

If you know me, you know that I always want to improve, and be the best I can be at whichever. Sometimes this is horribly detrimental. But in the professional/social work aspect of things, I always try to learn something new so that I can be the most constructive version of myself.

The other day, I asked Juliet (the social worker I shadow at Lea Toto) what she feels I could improve on, or what she feels might be holding me back. She said it was the language barrier, since many of our clients don't speak English. She is constantly translating for me while I try to pick out words from the conversations. I get the general idea of what they are saying (As in they are talking about children, food, school, water, drugs) but I can never tell what they are saying about those things. I want to do more while I'm here, so I am finally cracking down and pushing myself to learn swahili.

Many travellers here I feel don't make the effort to learn the language. I even met a friend who was seeking an NGO job yet when I asked her, she said she didn't really care to learn to speak swahili. I can't think of any better way to connect with others than being able to speak their language. Depending on how life goes, maybe I'll try to learn a little Kikuyu or Luo (tribal languages) too.

I got all of my weekend chores done today, so that tomorrow (Sunday) I can dedicate to learning some swahili. My hope is that within a couple of months I will be fluent, but we will see how that goes. It will all come down to hard work and dedication. I think I've got that.

My Swahili learning supplies. I've got the lesson book, the swahili-english dictionary, the phrasebook, the online course to accompany the lessons, and a book (however, in English) on African political history. I'm counting it as part of the learning because it'll add some much needed background and perspective on both the language and life here in general. And of course, post-its :)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

From Kibera to Muthaiga

Yesterday, I thought it would be interesting to go check out the 'Village Market'. Contrary to what it sounds like, the Village Market is actually a luxurious shopping complex with over 150 stores, along with a food court that caters to a variety of international cuisines. It is located in Muthaiga, arguably the fanciest part of Nairobi--the president's home and the United Nations compound are located here, and many expatriates working for the UN and foreign embassies alike also call it home. It is often said this shopping centre is for Nairobi's elite, and people joke that its full of wazungu (white people).

Upon arrival, I found these claims to have a grain of truth. In Kibera, I am among the few white people within the slum. In the Village Market, I was hard pressed to find anyone who was not a foreigner, carrying bags of shopping. So along we went, exploring the indoor/outdoor maze concept that is this shopping mall. They had a health food store, an art gallery, a hair salon that caters to foreign people (not joking, they had a 'European/Asian' price list and an 'Afro' price list), and some art galleries. It was fancier than any mall I had been to in Canada. Nicer than Metrotown, for any of you who have been there.

Initially, my intention was just to have a little day trip, do some exploring, relax, and show Joram some of the funny things that Canadians eat (The Nakumatt there sells McCain superfries - the smile ones!).

I had just spent my week in Kibera. I had visited homes half the size of your living room (and with twice as many family members), discussed adherence to ARVs, talked about solutions for children who were unable to attend school due to lack of school fees. I conversed with a woman whose only option lately to feed her 6 children was to sleep with a man who would give her 50 shillings (about 60 cents) for ugali flour. I measured and distributed food rations for the World Food Program. And while I do love what I do, none of this seemed fair. At all.

I passed a furniture gallery, and in the window was a couch for 300,000 shillings. That is about $3500 Canadian, or enough for a family to move out of the slum. For a year. And eat nutritious food all the while. I started to well up. How unfair that 45 minutes away, a third of Nairobi's population (1 m.) lived in a space the size of Stanley Park and was unable to afford even the most basic necessities. And here everyone was, spending 2 months rent in Kibera on a hair cut or the equivalent of a childs lifetime of school fees, from K to 12, on a couch.

It was difficult for me to decide whether or not I should be there at all, and I felt kind of hypocritical. How could I, who came here under the pretense of assisting others, justify just checking out of that for the day and going to the Village Market? I felt lucky to have the luxury. To have the option to come across town and look around the mall, to eat a variety to nutritious foods of my choice, to have a latte if I did so feel to. To fly back to Canada to a loving, healthy (relatively) family and friends, a refrigerator and pantry full of food and a washing machine that did all the work for me. And to a house without holes in the roof, or to a country with free, quality healthcare.

In reality, I have that option, but for others, it is a struggle to find enough shillings to eat, for rent, or to print out a resume if you want to apply for a better job. And even that is dependent upon if you are able to read, type, and speak English.

The rent in Kibera can range anywhere from $3 to $30. At most, $50. Enough food to feed a large family would be under a dollar, for a packet of ugali flour. It could last 3 days.

At the Village Market, you can buy fancy granola at the health food store, buy a $3500 couch, go to the waterpark, see a movie, go bowling, or buy Prada.

As some have told me, it is unfair to compare myself to others or to compare Kibera and Muthaiga. I know it is not wrong of me to have things like enough food to eat or proper shelter. I just need to find the balance between compassion and the ability to take care of myself as well. As a social work instructor might put it, the ability to practice self care. It doesn't mean stop caring, nor does it mean to overindulge. Balance is key. I will always count my blessings, and I'll try to use the education I have been blessed with to assist others in rising from poverty.

"Go now to make a difference in this perilous and broken world.
May you all hold each human life in the same regard as your own.
May you bring serenity and peace to the lives of others.
May God's Loving Spirit go with you and guide you this day and always.

- Convocation Benediction Given by The Rev. Brian Yealland,
Queen's University, 30 October 2003.
(Borrowed from the website of Gen. Romeo Dallaire).

Thursday, February 9, 2012

"Hakuna Maji"

English Translation: "No water"

My time spent here so far has taught me many things, but my Kiswahili skills are yet to be determined. One term I do know well is "Hakuna Maji". It is known among the people in my complex that water problems persist here. Usually however, the kitchen tap will stop and we can collect water from the tap in the washroom, or use our 100 litres of water we have set aside in a smaller kitchen tank for these things. Today, the kitchen tap has stopped, along with the bathroom sink and wash water tap. All the water is gone! Since there was also a water shortage yesterday (and usually it comes back within a few hours), our kitchen water tank is at most a third of capacity! Bad news for my Thursday night plans of washing my clothes, washing myself, and cooking dinner. Aren't I exciting?

I encourage anyone with a tap in their vicinity to go over, grab a glass, and get a drink of water! I'm definitely feeling sorry for all the times I've taken that lovely Sooke Reservoir for granted.

Fingers crossed that the maji comes back soon!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Karibu Kibera

After a few 'This is Africa' moments, I finally found my way to my first day in Kibera. I was feeling a bit anxious pre-arrival, but tried to put that off a bit. Luckily, I arrived quite early and that gave me some time to collect my thoughts.

And there were many of them. I arrived on the other side of Kibera (Technically, I live in Kibera, just not 'Kibera Slum'. It took 2 matatus to get there!) at around 7:30am--just in time for the sun to finish rising over the homes there. Some of the things running through my mind were : 'This is beautiful', 'This is unlike many of the stereotypes from home', and 'Finally, what I moved halfway across the world for'. All of these things are true. There is something so wonderful about Kibera, in contrast to the poverty that envelops its citizens. Like I've said before, it can be unlike the stereotypes of 'slum' or 'Africa' that the west is so accustomed to--No old man wandering the alleyways asking you to donate to World Vision, no Sarah McLachlan strumming the acoustic guitar from somewhere out of sight. Its a bustling place, where friends greet each other with a friendly 'Habari asubuhi?' (Whats the news this morning?) and a handshake, where small businesses dot the way to and from wherever your destination, selling nearly any thing you can think of (Knockoff Adidas and Gucci not exempt). Where I become acutely aware that 'Mimi ni Mzungu'(The greetings, stares, and handshakes from children tell me this).

But despite all these things, I was there to assist. Yes, Kibera is unlike many of the stereotypes that are common for westerners to hold. Yet many things ARE true--the piles of burning garbage polluting the air, the stench of open ditches, the high incidence of HIV/AIDS, orphaned children, tin roofed shacks, people suffering from hunger, and oftentimes, a lack of hope.

The day started with an impromptu meeting ('Meet Kayla!') and prayer. You'd be hard pressed to find an organization free of religious affiliation here, although I'm beginning to see this as an okay thing. More on this in some future post. The day saw me in the pharmacy, doing something I felt extremely unqualified for (Kayla the pharmacist? Go figure.). But 3000 pills later, the clinic was prepared for at least a week of children needing medication to combat infection. Wonderful.

Since the social worker I am going to be shadowing, Juliette, was still upcountry, I got to take tea with the staff and learn about the goings on of Nyumbani in a more relaxed atmosphere. The nurse told me they have a pharmacist only a select few days of the week, so he often goes back and forth between testing, diagnosing, prescribing, and then filling prescriptions. I was glad to have assisted him in some small way.

If you want to check out a bit more about where I'm at, visit:
In short, they are an awesome organization, funded by US AID, that cares for HIV + children in low income areas of Nairobi. The great thing is that in addition to that, they take care of malnutrition, housing, school, food, and medical issues. I think it's great they address all of these, as opposed to one specific thing--a total life enrichment.

More to come! Asante for reading.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

New Years Resolutions

This post is quite late, but I figure its never too late to set some goals. I've had some things of my mind lately so I figure instead of just thinking, I should probably turn that into doing. Here goes!

1. Treat myself.
Usually I'm a really, really frugal person. Or I don't think I deserve stuff. Or I save it for a special occasion. My friend Ali brought me some Kraft Dinner from the great white north and I've been hoarding it for some reason. I decided that today was a special occasion, because I wanted it.

2. This is Africa.
Not a resolution in and of itself, but more of concept that I am hearing everywhere here. It is usually what I hear when something doesn't work out as planned or when something is different than what you're used to.
-"The water has stopped working and the electricity is out".....This is Africa.
-"Sorry, we gave your order to someone else so now you can't pick it up".....This is Africa.
-"You're supposed to start volunteering in a few days, so we'll figure out the particulars 'soon', ok?".....This is Africa.
You get the point. I need to accept that this is Africa.

3. Appreciate more.
Every once in a while I wonder why we wait for certain occasions to show the love. We wait for someone to go missing or die or go away before we say how great we think they are or how much we care for them. I think that's silly. Life would be a whole lot better if we knew how much we meant to the people in our lives. So I will appreciate more.

I will start by saying I love and appreciate anyone reading this blog! :)

4. Be a bit healthier.
I'm not ridiculously unhealthy, but I could take a lesson. Since I got to Kenya I've learned that Africa is the worlds largest Coca Cola market and half of that is likely attributed to myself. Ha, kidding. But also, to pay more attention to what I eat- I don't eat 'nyama' (meat) and I should pay some more mind to getting the proper vitamins and nutrients and other unexciting health stuff.

5. Let it go.
It can, and does, take me a long time to let things go. Sometimes I think of a bad thing and it just stays in my head for a long time, or turns into a bunch of other bad things. I am going to try to not let that happen and to replace each negative thought with a more positive thought.

6. Read More.
It should be known that I do read already, it is just usually either textbooks, the news, or perez hilton. Right now I am just finishing Gretchen Rubin's 'The Happiness Project', then hope to get 'The Alchemist' by Paulo Coelho, 'The Fate of Africa' by Martin Meredith, and 'Shake Hands with the Devil' by Romeo Dallaire read as well. Books suggestions welcome! I need to broaden my repertoire.

To be Continued!

Monday, January 23, 2012

"Wageni, mwakaribishwa! Kenya yetu, hakuna matata!"

The wonderful thing about having Ali here is that I:

1.Get to have a lovely friend around to spend my time with!
2.That I get to experience things I normally wouldn't.

After hiking the Ngong Hills/Rift Valley, going to Maasai market, and seeing a bit of Nairobi, we got down to some even more interesting stuff. I was worried for a while that it might not all pan out, but of course it did in the end.

We stayed at Bamburi Beach Resort in Mombasa. The staff were ridiculously kind, and as you can see the view was amazing as well. If any of you come to visit, I'll be sure we stay a night here. Best Part: All Vegetarian menu. Worst Part: Beach Boys (they wait on the beach for you to come from the resorts, then offer you 'snorkelling, dhow rides, and more')

Our next exursion took us to Naivasha, a town about 1.5 hours out of Nairobi. Its a small town in and of itself, but is home to tons of flower farms and Hells Gate National Park, where we spent out day.

The beginning of our Naivasha trip, before moving on to the gorge. Something silly happened here but I can't for the life of me remember what it is.

We hiked down into the gorge, which was carved from the volcanic eruption of Mt. Longonot which occurred in the early 1900s. The spot we are in here is called 'The Devils Bedroom', titled by the Maasai tribe because of the many of them killed here post-eruption. Joram had a 'family emergency' that day but was able to join us :)

Ali expressed her distaste about the black mamba baby we almost stepped on. Hint: This type takes home the prize for being among the the deadliest snakes in the world--its the fastest, most aggressive, is highly poisonous, and it attacks without provocation. We felt brave afterwards.

The view was breathtaking.

I took Ali to the the Nairobi restaurant called Carnivore. Concept: They walk by your table with a variety of meats, and slice it directly onto your plate from the sword it was roasted on. Until you flip the sign Ali is hiding behind over, in all you can eat meat defeat. Ironically, this place had the best vegetarian food I've ever had. Some drunk tourists were singing this song that went "Wageni, mwakaribishwa! Kenya yetu, hakuna matata!". Translation: 'Foreigners are welcome! In our Kenya, we have no problems!'. I'm not sure they were welcome after their 3rd bottle of wine/10 millionth recitation.

We went to the Giraffe Centre in Karen, where you can feed the giraffes--and they are eye level! Apparently you can use some feeding technique to get them to kiss you. I did not want to find out much about that however.

Last but not least! City Park in Ngara. I lured Ali here under the pretense that the monkeys were actually pretty friendly, but after one ran up my back and sat on my shoulder I changed my tune. Ali ended up getting comfortable with them but I was still so distrustful. Ha! I felt betrayed.

A wonderful time having Ali here. I hope she will come back, but until then you all are invited!