Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Special Delivery!

I started unpacking my memories today. It is pretty exhausting but so lovely to be surrounded by my treasures.

Monday, September 26, 2011


Current Triumph - 
 Getting my running grove back, slowly, and running for an hour in the forest on the weekend!Horay!

Current Fashion Trend -
Belted dark blue jeans with a plain white top or shirt (basically anything that I have with me...not much!)

Current Obsession  -  
Obsessing about my boxes and their arrival

Current Drink -
 Tusker...too much of it!

Current Food -  
School food - they feed us breakfast and lunch...so nice not to have to think about packed lunches!

Currently Wearing -
 a white skirt and a shirt with apples all over it -very teacher like

Current Wish List -  
 Flat heeled boots and tea tree concealer from The Body Shop (hint hint!)

Current Excitement -  
First road-trip, in my new car/truck, to the coast.

Current Mood -
Excited with butterflies - my new surf has arrived and is parked in the staff car park!!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Smiles on Silent Sunday

Notes from Nairobi: Reminders that I am in Africa

This weekend I visited the infamous Kabira  for the first time. This Kibera (meaning forest or jungle)...opposed to the country club I was a member of in Kampala...this Kibera is a community in Nairobi with over 1 million people. (I will write more about Kibera in more detail another time- but did you see the Comic Relief documentary that sent British celebrities to live and work in the ‘slum’ ; ‘Rich, Famous & In The Slums’ ? ) The problems of Kibera are known around the world and money is thrown at it.( I will write more about  There are said to be approximately one NGO worker for every person living in the community-quite a figure.

The projects that work are (of course) self-sustainable.  On Saturday I got invited by a friend to visit a project, Kibera Mpra Mtaani,which she is heavily involved in; it is becoming self sustainable and (more importantly) a success! 

The project works by using football as a tool to reach out to young people. One of the things the organisation was able to do was buy a small plot of land at Kibera (from the very rich landowners...) for an Education Centre. The facility is a haven for pupils that go to school, that need a place to do homework (with lights etc).  There are weekend sessions, to keep children from spending money on watching porn and out of trouble. A lot of these teaching sessions are fun and active using resources that are not always available in local schools (not something the children often get to experience at school)-for example paints and colours were taken today to do some art with the children. There is a full-time member of staff and volunteer teaching assistants that run study sessions. To make the organisation establish sustainability it spent donated funds on a satellite to view football games. People  have to pay a small amount to watch the game (which is above some Eco toilets...and has a good view of Kibera!) and the money is then pumped into the after school/weekend education facility. I was shown the new fridge that the organisation got from Cocacola to sell sodas at games to raise funds. Sounds simple, it is in theory, and it is massively successful.

I got to meet  Steven, the first pupil that has used the facility and was supported by the organisation and is now starting University on Monday, studying Education. 

The next step or the club is to expand their facility (as there are often days with over 200 children in the tin hut) and build an ICT suite – again which would be self sustainable.

It was great to see the project working and to think about future activities and how I can become more involved with the project. We are going to make play dough to take for the session.


Visit the website and show your support; it is a fantastic organisation!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Living out of a suitcase

My wardrobe  has become a bit of a staffroom joke.

It is now (officially) week 3 of the 'w' thing and I have rotated my 2 shirts, one pair of trousers and my one dress pretty well. I have accessorised with my 3 pairs of earring and tried to disguise my one dress with a flower on a pin...cunning!!  I have  refused to buy anything new, as I kept (keep) thinking my boxes would soon arrive from Kampala. Last weekend I broke and bought a towel...my kikoy was no longer cutting it!

On Sunday I received the good news that my boxes would be crossing the border on Wednesday, but yesterday I was told I wouldn't get them until next week.

Next week, when my boxes arrive, I am going to wear as many clothes I can..at once...and possibly have outfit changes during the day...just because I can! (I hope!)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Finding my norm

The ‘w’ thing has taken up a lot of my time since I have arrived. It is hard work and expectations are high.  5 duties a week, meetings (boy, do they like meetings!) and lunch times spent serving and eating with a table of pupils, frequent cover, running club etc etc ... non-contact time is precious. But I am getting there and although it is early days, I am so enjoying it and can’t see me wanting to leave for a while. (Which is not how everybody feels...the bets are on!) 

Some things have slipped...like my running...but I know I will get back into it with time.  My 6am training sessions are helping me get back on track.  I have run a few times since I arrived, but the change in altitude really hurts!

Little accomplishments feel so good at the moment ; getting into a routine at the lunch table (seriously, this seemed a mammoth task), learning new names, learning the route to the ‘w’ place off by heart and finding an amazing place close by for pedicures!! And I feel this week is going to be a good one-my boxes are leaving Uganda tomorrow (hip hip hooray!) and my Surf is being delivered...at some point in the near future!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Living in a village

We are constantly reminded that the world is just a village, even more true in the ‘international teaching world’.  Sometimes the 6 steps of separation doesn’t seem believable, surely it is less?

Everybody has stories like this, but I just have to share my most recent one.

This year I arrived at the ‘w’ place at the same time as a teaching couple with a young family. It took us a few days to realise that we both used to live in Kuwait and then we realised we both worked at the same school – they arrived from another school the year after I left. We were so busy that not much more was said. I then mentioned this ‘funny’ on the phone to my mum, who asked their names:  Turns out that my mum taught their youngest child last year. The couple and I spoke more and laughed at the situation; an easy time out of the present,  to reminisce a bit about our past lives and talk about friends in common. We then realised that for two years we passed each other running on the promenade every weekend morning. We would wave and say hello-as you do to fellow runners-and continue to run.

This week we are off to run together in Nairobi.

Funny village we live in.

Notes from Nairobi-The street where I live

This is my first weekend in Nairobi that is mine. There are no ‘w’ things planned or meet the teachers socials. I had drinks and dinner with some new friends last night, but today I just wanted some me time.  I hoped that I would be exploring my area with my new car (at 7am in the morning....the only time of day you can get very far in this city!) or would be unpacking one of my MANY boxes...but I won’t be ‘surfing’ until next week and my boxes are (deep breath...) still in Uganda. TIA.

This morning I had a wee walk around my area. Even though my little cottage is dark and requires candles or lights at all times of the day, and the Internet coverage is pretty much nonexistent, I think I am pretty lucky.

Monday, September 12, 2011

My challenging weekend

On the weekend I headed to Lake Naivasha to help out as an official at the Safricom Family Challenge which raises money and awareness for Kamili (one of the few mental health clinics in Kenya).  I had heard about the competition over the past couple of weeks; the competitiveness and seriousness of some teams versus the fun and games of others (and really...some teams took it VERY seriously! I think one couple has filed for a divorce!). My event was a tree planting challenge. It may not have been the most mentally or physically exhausting of the events, but it was such a worthwhile challenge, as all the trees were planted in the permanent staff quarters to give them shade.

The challenge was held in such a great location, just a short drive over the Rift Valley; hopefully I will go back to watch a Polo match another time.  After tree planting we walked where giraffes roamed and enjoyed some Tuskers looking over the open savanna.

Dinner was sponsored by Strathallan-cheers!

Now I am back in rainy Nairobi ready for another busy week at the ‘w’ place.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Hunting for cars in Nairobi

The car hunting malarkey continues. There are LOTS of cars available; some perfect for the city (small and easy to maneuver in busy car parks), others perfect for safari and road trips to the likes of the Abadares and the coast...and for nudging your way into busy roads and driving over pot(man)holes! But as I am not in the position to buy two-it is tricky finding one for  both jobs.
A car that doesn’t need its shocks replaced, or one that the owner still has its log book is quite tricky to find – but one with a sunroof is near impossible. 

So...a sunroof is not essential-but it is so good for safaris. Today, when I began talking to yet another car buyer/seller, I actually was agreeing when she said I could just cut the canvas roof of the jeep to create a sunroof!! (I must have been tried!)

Thankfully I have made friends with a teacher that lives in my neighbourhood- as the taxi bill is racking up as it is nearly $9 for a journey to school. Maybe the cut-out sunroof is not such a bad idea???

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Notes from Nairobi 3.

The Internet is not reliable, yet at the ‘w’ place it is apparently the best networks out of the schools.  We need to plan for usage of ICT, however not rely on them for lessons. I should be used this from Uganda, but it doesn’t make it less frustrating or time consuming.  My dongle reception from my cottage is also incredibly slow and if I am lucky to get online, I can only have one page open at a time –these are my excuses for not keeping in better touch. But what are yours? I keep turning my phone on and off and jiggling my SIM card around, as I have had about 4 messages in the same amount of days...and one of those was from a mechanic 
After such incredibly busy days at the ‘w’ place (a 6am personal training session with a hard-core Kenyan bloke for an hour, before work, has some down sides!!) it is nice to see you have news from the ‘outside’(as in ‘outside the world of school’).When I looked at my phone this evening I was pleased to see I had 4 missed calls and 4 voice mails...’horay, horay’...I thought! Nope, they were all calls from the said mechanic by accident and the voice mails were full of background noise. Fantastic!
Feeling guilty?


Mmm-if you are interested-the car hunting is taking a wee break and will restart next week, as on the weekend I am off to Lake Naivasha, to camp, to count dik-diks and to marshal  a charity challenge. (I don’t know much about the actual event, apart from the fact that  I am on the ‘tree planting’ challenge(!) and that Strathallan school (in Scotland) sponsors all our food and drink...wayhey!)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Notes from Nairobi, 2 - One week in

I've now been 'living' in Nairobi for a week. I am no further forward on the car hunt, but I have managed to employ a helper to clean and shop in the market for me...I have my priorities!!

I wish I could tell you more about the city, but my time has mostly been spent at the 'w' place. The ibis rule the school field in the morning and the avocado tress on site are preparing to fruit. There are worse places to be.