First day on the job in Kenya!

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Africa » Kenya » Western Province » Kakamega
July 25th 2013
Published: July 25th 2013
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the boyz & Johnthe boyz & Johnthe boyz & John

John in the green, black & white shirt is Sylus, Hilary in the red polo, And big nelson on the far right.
This entry will be about my First day working in Kenya. Kenya is a Beautiful place with people everywhere, I’am located in a small town called KakaMega. Kakamega is about 40 clicks from Kisumu; which is the 3rd largest city in Kenya. I am staying in A very nice two story house which is located inside a compound; that is 360 degrees fully walled in with a main gate and a guard. The home is Beautifully designed with a custom floor plan, low and high window vents that provide a very nice breeze that keeps the home very Crisp feeling. Melissa, Carol, or the varying daytime guards always attend the house. They are all very friendly and nice; Plus Melissa and Carol cook dinner every night and the food is to die for! Seriously though I’m not going to lose weight living in Africa; I’m going to gain weight! So today I went out into the field with a man named John, he is the director for the Stoves for life project at Eco2librium. Three workers named Hilary, Sylus, and Nelson accompanied us. We rode in what the locals called a Laurie, which means Truck; but it is a large diesel truck with a 7ft cargo walls. A hired driver drove the Laurie, john and I rode in the cab while Hilary, sylus, and nelson rode in the back. We drove out into the surrounding forest to pick up newly made stoves from one of the six stove producing families. From this first producer we acquired 270 some stoves. We then traveled to a second producer to get another 130 stoves in order to meet the order for delivery for today. This is a family’s main income; they earn almost 200Ksh (Ksh is short for Kenyan Schillings) per stove. To come to the homes of these people to buy their stoves, was really something that really opened my mind to how Kenyan people live. These families work very hard to create each stove perfectly by hand, but sadly many crack when fired in their home made kiln that can fire up to 160 stoves at once. Once we got all five hundred stoves; we were back on the road to deliver the orders. On the highways in Kenya; the police wait on the side of the road and flag down passing trucks and other vehicles for inspection. Instead of writing tickets for violations such as in our case; people riding in the back of the truck the policemen take Bribes. So it is an unspoken expected rule that you have money ready, when they flag you down so you can just go on your way unhalted by their roadblock. The first two points on the way to the producers we paid with no problems. But on the way to deliver we drove right through the 1st roadblock because the officer on duty was on his phone. But we got flagged down on the second one and this officer was out to get our billfold. We pulled off onto the shoulder and one officer walked up to the passenger side window. Instead of paying the man right away the Driver chatted up the officer in Kiswahili, me I Have been here for two days and don’t know much Kiswahili; but they seemed to be having a calm conversation. I was riding in the middle of the cab and John was sitting at the window(So they were talking over me). I thought we were going to be on our way until John was ordered out of the car, and the officer got in the cab with me. I was completely confused, especially when we started to drive away without john! I could smell the Officer sitting next to me and I could see john walking behind the truck in a plume of black smoke through the passenger side mirror. The only thing I could think of was holy Shit we left john! Then the officer started to sing a Kiswahili song to him self, then him and the driver started chatting and we pulled over about three miles down the road! When we pulled over he started to ask me questions, I answered I was a Student from Boise State studying Sustainability in Kakamega and I handed him my Passport( I had heard the police dont like to mess around with americans and I heard Right!). He looked it over, and I snatched it off of his knee when he was done looking over it. Then I started talking about the US Embassy and how they don’t have a Phone number list in the passport itself. I had already given this cop 100Ksh and I knew some of the other guys gave him some too. He slowly got out of the truck after I got my passport back. But he just seemed to linger on the mirror of the Truck. Off in the distance I could see john! He had caught a motorcycle taxi and had caught up with us! So it turned out that we had ended up paying this officer 500ksh and wasted nearly an Hour! Later i talked to John about the confrontation, and he said it was because we didnt pay right away that he was then asking for 1000ksh! Once john made it back to the truck, we continued on to make our deliveries. We drove all over; making a total of four stops. It was amazing to see the Locals in their rural villages outside of Kakamega. The kids would point and shout as we drove by them “Makajenga!” (which means outsider); all the kids were very young, and I Understand that I was the first outside face they had ever seen. So I wasn’t insulted, scared or angry that they would point and laugh at me. I was Honored to be laughed at by these little kids. I made a lot of eye contact with people on the side of the road as we drove by, id watch their eyes grow big with confusion as they realized I was a MakaJenga. When we stopped to deliver; the kids would literally stand and stare in amazement at me as I helped unload the truck. They honestly looked me over like I was from a different planet or if my hair was on fire! It didn’t bother me one bit I just carried out my job and kept my feet moving. I took a lot of pictures of the locals and their homes and the stoves. Please give all the captions a good look over.



Additional photos below
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these kids were amazed by my camera

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