Thursday: We have FINALLY arrived in Rongo after 27 hours travelling. I got a total of 40 minutes sleep in that time, my bag did not arrive in Nairobi so I’m without all my clothes. It’s a bit of a nightmare but there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it so I’ve just got to carry on. I’m like a zombie so it’s time for a nap. Today is a complete write off.
Day 1: Friday morning in Rongo, Kenya. I wake up having had a full, uninterrupted nights sleep after 27 hours from Gatwick to our hotel. My bag has been left in Istanbul Airport and I quite literally only have the clothes on my back which are not suitable for the 30 degree heat. Luckily I’m with a kind and generous group who haven’t left me unclothed. There’s nothing I can do but wait for my bag so I’m going to enjoy everything while I can.
Loaded onto a bus with the rest of the CM4K students, we set off for the university of Rongo to meet the Vice Chancellor of the University of Rongo. In what we would soon learn is true Kenyan fashion, we waited around for an hour or so to be told that he could not meet us but we would meet him on Monday. We had a morning of exploring the grounds, sunning ourselves and chatting to various teachers and students who were excited to meet us. I was really surprised to see how happy they were to have a group of students from The West come to learn and collaborate.
After lunch we met the UR infocoms students and after playing a few ice breakers and learning names we had a really interesting discussion about what community means to each of us and how community Radio comes into play there. The Kenyan students had a much different perspective of uses and why it’s important to the community compared to us Brighton students who often don’t think of the importance of farming and politics when it comes to listening to the radio.
I’ve also been really pleasantly surprised by how well all of us Brighton students have gotten on together within a matter of days. They’ve been so accommodating towards me as my case was left behind in Istanbul, giving me everything I could possibly need. It’s made a crap situation so bearable and I’m very grateful to be with such kind, generous people so far from home.
Day 2: Feeling even more rested today, loaded up on breakfast and excitement for the day ahead, it started to hit me that I am in fact, in Kenya, in Africa and I’m here involved with something I’m passionate about, people and sharing experiences via radio. No case today but it has arrived in Kisumu Airport which is a development! We had no class today but went set off on another long journey to an archaeological site, Timlich Ohinga, where we learned about tribes from hundreds of years ago and how they built their villages. A lot of it reminded me of old Celtic and Irish stone walls and thatched roofs. We had lunch among the cows and dogs on the site and it was one of the nicest picnics I’ve ever had. The Kenyan people are so keen to share their history and educate visitors on their roots which is really lovely to learn about. They want you to feel welcome and at home while understanding how they came to be. They’re proud of their heritage and it’s something I can relate to.
Day 3: Lake Simbi and Homa Bay
It’s Sunday in Rongo and after breakfast and a bit of sunning myself, we all got ready to head off to Lake Simbi in the hopes that we would spot some flamingos in the wild. With our packed lunch in tow, we reached Lake Simbi and at first, we thought we were out of lucky but as we slowly drove around the lake we spotted a small flock of flamingos hiding in a corner. Some locals took us down the the lakes edge and we sat down for a story about the history of the lake. I’ve noticed that the Kenyans love their mythology, again something I can relate back to my own Irish heritage. We got to try some sugar cane today which was really sweet, fibrous and had a bit of a watermelon taste.
My bag has FINALLY been returned to me after 5 days without it. A special shout out to Jerry and the Acopé who drove a gruelling 7 hour round trip to collect my bag from the airport. I’m sooooooo happy I have my belongings again. I’ve never properly appreciated having my own clothes and toiletries so much. It’s made such a difference to my confidence and comfort. Another special shout out to Peter for constantly pushing and doing his best to arrange collection for me. And another huge shout out to my team mates who have been so generous and accommodating. They’ve lent me all of their clothes, shoes, toiletries and a compassionate ear. It’s made it a lot more bearable. We’ve all gotten along so well and very quickly. We’re a proper little team, banding together in the day time and playing the funniest card games by night. I’m really enjoying getting to know everyone one on one at a deeper level and I’m very glad I get to do this with this group of people.
Day 4: Meeting vice chancellor and doing practical work with the students.
This morning we met the Vice Chancellor Samuel Gudu, of Rongo University who was a very gracious host. The VC and Peter spoke about CM4K and the partnership between Brighton and Rongo and the impact it has on both sets of students. After lunch it’s back to class with the Kenyan students for a lecture and a bit of practical work. I’m quite experienced with audio and I got a little group together. Some Kenyan and Brighton students didn’t have any experience with the equipment we used so we did a little tutorial and then got recording. We all picked it up really quickly. I felt like we all got to know each other a bit better.
The heat is starting to get to us all, we’re usually exhausted at the end of the day but we still manage to come down for our game of cards before bed.