My first week in Eldoret has went by so fast already. Heres the scope on what my daily life has been like and the people I've been with. Ill update soon about what I'll be doing and how well things are with Dr. Wanjiku and her family.
04.07.2010 - 07.07.2010 55 °F
Sasa Marafiki na jamaa yangu wa Marekani! (Hi my friends and family of the US)
Nimekuwa Eldoret! (I am in Eldoret!) Eldoret is MUCH different from Nairobi as it is a smaller town but still large with many interesting communities. I have yet to actually venture out but I did have lunch right in Eldoret at a great Indian restaurant that had amazing chapatti. Chapatti is very much like Naan and is eaten with most meals as is Ugali which is a maze/cornmeal food. I have some pictures of the food and will describe it in detail under the captions.
I had a quick easy flight from Nairobi to Eldoret and arrivd Sunday, July 4th morning around 10:30. Dr. Wanjiku Khamisi, my boss at Moi University’s IGERD programme (Institute for Gender Equity, Research and Development) picked me up with her daughter who is obtaining her Masters in health sciences. Both were very nice and the drive from Eldoret International Airport to Eldoret was about ½ an hour and then another 45 minutes from where we were to Moi University. I was very appreciative of their generosity to pick me up as an hour and half long ride in a matatu with ALL my luggage would be horrific. There is a lot of farmland; Eldoret is the main cheese manufacturing community in Kenya, but surprisingly, I haven’t had any cheese yet. We had lunch in Eldoret town at an amazing Indian restaurant with really good chapatti and lentil beans and a cucumber and cabbage salad. It was so good. In Eldoret town there are a lot of shops and I stopped at a supermarket that was like a mini Walmart. I got some water, Manji Digestive (odd title I know) bisquits which are made with wheat and are really good. I also go instant coffee which is POTENT and will keep you awake for hours (not as tasty as a Spanish cortado but not bad) and sugar. They put a lot of sugar in their coffee here but also steamed milk which I like.
I’ve seen many pictures of the university but the community was new to me. Most of the roads have a red dirt on it (it tends to get all over your shoes) and between communities is very rural areas.
In Kenya, I’ve learned, there are districts that are like towns or even states depending on the size here in the US and then neighborhoods in the states are equivalent to Kenyan locations. Next week I’ll be venturing into the different locations. There are four main districts as determined for the national representation – Eldoret North, East, South and West. Eldoret south has a VERY dynamic female MP (Parliament Member) Simam Perie and for my research I will be looking at the impact of having a female representative on enrollment rates for females in the district region. Kesses, another location, also is similar to Eldoret South as a former Professor, Deputy Chancellor of Moi University, current Speaker of the House and former DVC, Hon. Kamaar, is making strides in women’s participation for her region. My goal is to meet with each of these wonderful and inspiring women.
The community at Moi University is different than the surrounding locales. Most of the students attending lectures here are for the Environmental study forum that is ongoing in which the 7 American students I’ve befriended are a part of. Additionally, most of the students here are pursuing their Masters rather than their Undergraduate degree. All are welcoming though and we talk a lot during lunch. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I’m staying at the International students guest house and I have two housemates, Elizabeth (a Master’s student) and Sister Clara from Tanzania who is pursuing her Masters in Religious Studies. Sister Clara has been a wonderful friend to me. She has lent me her hot water boiler to make coffee and tea and she surprised me today with an avocado, mango, 3 apples and bananas from the market as I haven’t had the opportunity to go there yet. Sister Clara is very sweet and has been helping me with my Kiswahili as I am still learning. We attended mass this morning at 7am (early I know- especially for me ha) and she helped me the whole way. Most of it I already know from Mwalimu Leonora, but the practice is necessary.
My room is actually quite large and I have my own bathroom and yes, there is hot running water AND a shower so I am not suffering. It is chilly at night but I have my quilt and the guest housing provided me with a throw as well. The international guest housing also accommodates my new friends from Indiana University who are with the Environmental studies.
A quick description:
Malliron is a grad student at Indiana who is very outgoing, funny, has coined the phrase PTL – Praise the Lord, and is always smiling and encouraging me to join into their little family which I eagerly do. She has an internship in Kenya Industrial Estates about 50 minutes away that follows the same concept as 1000 villages where women make jewelry and is sold fair trade in the States and here. The benefits help with HIV AIDS treatment centers.
Candane is also a grad student and is originally from Jamacia. She already has an admirer here and is genuinely inviting and very intelligent (as are the rest of my new friends.) Jordan looks just like my roommate Barbie and is very atheletic, generous, and sarcastically honest about everything but she has an infectious personality and is constantly laughing. Abby, whose birthday is quickly approaching, is quiet but like the rest, very intriguing and also likes soccer a lot. Nikki is my yoga partner (ok weve only done it once but still) and had an internship in DC and has given me an honest opinion of living there. Definitely some things to consider from our talks. Nicole is very studious and is also a grad student who is married and is maintaining a long distance relationship (kudos to her!) She has been to Africa before and is definitely an asset Im glad to have here as I’m slightly oblivious despite all my research. Sarah arrived yesterday and I am just getting to know her but shes been in Kenya and Uganda since May and worked with school children in the slums. I have no idea how she did it but shes inspirational. And last is Justin who is the only guy in the group (poor Justin). He is also married to his wife he met while they were both doing the Peace Corps in Tanzania and his Kiswahili is amazing.
Their program directors, Dr. Henshaw, Dr. W and Dr. PW are very intelligent and captivating. Henshaw makes many interesting comments. Dr. W and PW are married (their first names are Henry and Phoebe) and they are both Kenyan and work at Indiana University. They are the definition of a perfect marriage and I love the fact that they are so welcoming to me as they are very calming and caring.
Dr. Wanjiku has been out of town the past few days but I will be meeting up with her on Thursday and shes invited me to stay at her house for the night and have dinner and discuss the plans for the next week. I’m very eager to start as Ive been doing a lot of research (which is necessary) with her PhD student, Miriam. Miriam is very sweet and helpful in helping me set up my plans for the next three weeks or so.
I’ll put more of my cultural observations in my next post but Im caught up on whats been going on in my life so far. Hope everyone is well – Miss and love you all!