Wi-Fi, Tusker and the Bag of Toys

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November 22nd 2009
Published: November 22nd 2009
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I’ve not moved much from Nairobi this week. Even though I’ve been busting to get out of the city, I’m glad I stayed for a few days. I’ve settled into the new vibe a little bit and it seems to me I’ve done a lot. The bugs are gone from my room, and so has the bag of toys I lugged over here. It was entirely worth it.

The plan had been to visit a school with a deafblind unit with Geoffrey locally here in Nairobi, but a team was doing a trip to visit the unit in Kitui, about 240kms east of the city and, having made the effort to bring all those toys, I was invited to go along. I jumped at the chance.

At 5.30am I took a cold shower to get downstairs for 6.15 to meet Geoffrey. To cut a long story short, I left the hotel with a lady called Sandra, a Sense International VSO psychologist from Philadelphia at nearly 7am. We took a taxi to outside the city - about 20mins away to the new rendezvous. The taxi had already left when I realised that the bag of toys was still in the boot! By a stroke of good fortune, Geoffrey had taken down the driver’s number and the driver returned to save my day - phew. So, finally we were on our way.

I’ve wondered before why people insist on describing road conditions whenever they’re travelling - well, now I know. This road was what I would call ‘varied’ and with that said, I’ll try not to speak of it again…

The way there was hilly and green. There were enormous views with trees that looked like broad horizontal scribbles being funnelled into pastures, also with terracing and exposed rock. It was not what I had expected from this area, but it is the end of the short rains and the landscape will be a different scene by March or April.

The school at Kitui has 148 students. There is a deafblind unit across the playing field which assists 9 children to cope with this very challenging handicap. As we walked across the field, I began to worry that, had it not been for the bag of toys, I would be completely redundant. When we reached the classroom there were five or six teachers who welcomed us and we tucked straight into the bag. Every toy in there was played with and explored by at least two of the children by the time we had to leave. I was still in London-mode at first in terms of personal space, which of course was completely useless, but before long we were holding hands through working out the building blocks and cuddling the soft toys. Each of the children was so gentle, and happy to have us around.

I could talk for ages about how attentive the teachers were, and how much difference the unit is making for the children. Now I’ve been here and made the journey, the value of the work Sense Intl is doing here is even clearer to me. At lunch afterwards and during the journey to and from Kitui, my companions discussed issues, considerations, objectives and needs of the East African projects. Between the UK Head of Projects, Amy; East African Regional Director, Geoffrey; Kenyan Projects Manager, Edwin and VSO Clinical Psychologist to Sense Intl of one year, Sandra; I learned an awful lot from that day. I am sure it will feature again on the blog. Of course, I also got to play with some great toys with great kids. Thanks to everyone who had contributed. The youngest in the class is in the picture. He loved the fire-engine.

As for the rest of my time in Nairobi: The Tusker beer is pretty good - I sampled some of that this weekend, it’s very easy to get chatting - and there is Wi-Fi… In my hotel it works in one room anyway. I’ve visited loads of museums and shops and viewpoints, and I’ve been soaking it up (pic. is from the helipad on Kenyatta Conference Centre). Although, less of the semi-combusted fuel fumes would be nice! The congestion is horrid and fuel is taxed so high it’s about $6 to the gallon. Emissions limits - what’s that?

Billy has tonight arrived from London, and tomorrow we are heading for Masai Mara and then on to Mombasa, so pictures should get a lot better from then - maybe I can quit some of the words!

Big Jambo (ooh, that sounds rude!?)


23rd November 2009

You are amazing
Nikki finally subscribed thanks to a nudge from George. I am so pleased you have made it to the unit in Kitui.... I can imagine how you must feel now you have seen the brilliant work that they do. I bet it brought a tear or two to your eyes... I visited one of their projects in Romania so I know how you feel. The teachers have an amazing presence about them. Anyway, it sounds to me like you are having a fabulous time, and I look forward to hearing your updates. Love Anne xxx
23rd November 2009

you're a star....many many thanks for visiting Kitui....the blog is wonderful jx
23rd November 2009

Can't see the photos...?
23rd November 2009

Please add me to your blog
3rd December 2009

Hey Nikki! I'm so pleased you finnally made it out of London, though sad we didn't get to catch up beforehand. Looking forward to following what surely promises to be an incredible journey. With much love, Nana xxx

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