Lucy was a young, bubbly, tall and sufficiently built Kenyan woman.
She walked tall, with her chest puffed out, shoulders back and her head pulled back even further, somehow oozing a cool nonchalance, even with such a rigid physical stance.
If she had something to say, she said it and she said it loudly, often with a laugh; an infectious laugh, but with a twist of an evil cackle under the surface. Sometimes it was hard to tell whether her laugh was at us or with us. Continue reading Part 11 – Not the Western Way
Our coordinator met us from the bus and walked us into the grounds of the children’s centre, through the front gate and along the temporary pathway. Is that an old toilet bowl just there on the ground? Continue reading Part 10 – Mzungu!
The bus came, as expected, at 8am on Tuesday. Naturally, most of the girls were not yet ready.
Not my group though, we were fresh and new and still total geeks – we were first on the bus. Continue reading Part 9 – The First Group
The tiny, gated community of Brakenhurst was the most picturesque little corner of the world I’d ever visited. Small huts and cottages were dotted around a steady green hillside, each separated from the one next door by rows of perfectly trimmed hedges and beautiful flower beds. A thick woodland lined the driveway to the village and beyond that, lush green fields in every direction. Continue reading Part 8 – Limuru
The journey from central Nairobi was an interesting one. It was the first time I’d set foot outside of my hotel since arriving two days earlier, and the absolute first time on the city streets in daylight.
Nairobi is an insanely busy city. The rush hour I travelled through felt like it went on for days and I’ve never seen so many people entering and exiting buildings at one time.
The roads were so hectic throughout the city, I can’t imagine how anybody ever reaches their destination. But there seemed some order to the chaos. To the untrained eye this was an absolute circus, but I could tell that everybody around me knew their next move in this city-wide morning dance routine. Continue reading Part 7 – Onwards
It hadn’t crossed my mind that since my charity weren’t expecting me for another 24 hours, neither would my hotel.
The agent who had helped me with my travel arrangements had done a mostly wonderful job of setting me up with beautiful charities, hotels, tour companies and generally life changing experiences, with only the small minor mistake of booking my very first flight 24 hours too early for everything. Nobody in this country was expecting me. Continue reading Part 6 – Bookings
After some time, and several more phone calls, it had become clear that this woman, this helpful stranger, was my only hope. In hindsight, I probably could have been a little more confident and independent and selected a trustworthy taxi driver from the crowds of men shouting “Taxi? Taxi!” in my face.
But I wasn’t confident.
I didn’t feel independent.
I was totally alone.
I was starting to question whether my charity was even real. Continue reading Part 5 – Westgate
Three hours after my flight had touched down in Kenya, I was relieved to be sitting.
Sat on a knee-high wall at the exit to the airport, I had finally given up and removed my backpack, resting it safely upright between my knees.
Still no sign of a pick-up. Continue reading Part 4 – Stranger
The first time alone away from home can stir up a lot of new feelings and emotions.
As I strolled through Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, my first feelings were of apprehension, sadness and frankly, surprise, at how shoddy the airport looked. The entire building seemed to be made of canvas, as though it wasn’t meant to be there. I vaguely remembered something about a small fire in recent months, but even with tents and canopies in place of the permanent building, the crowds around me were overwhelming and disorganised. Continue reading Part 3 – Pacing
On August 7th 2013, at approximately 4.30am local time, a raging fire broke out inside the main terminal building at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, in Nairobi. The fire destroyed two of the three units within the building and incoming flights were diverted to alternative airports in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Thankfully, there were no fatalities as a result of the blaze. Continue reading Part 1 – Beforehand