Today was the day of the exhibition. Though the start time was delayed, once it began, it was a great success in terms of the performances and the children enjoying themselves. The only thing I must question is the views on abortion. It appears the angle is very much: girls must avoid male temptation, and if they fall pregnant, they must not seek abortion as this can be fatal for the woman. Addressing the latter, it is to me unethical for children (or women of any age for that matter) to not have a choice over this; something that effects their body and life so greatly. Safe practice of abortion offers an alternative. In terms of women ‘resisting’ men, I feel this is hugely misleading; the failure of addressing the cause leading to the continuation of such attitudes. My thoughts today can be summarised as : education towards all ages is crucial to unlearning sexist and unbalanced ideas and beliefs within a community. This aside, we filmed everything necessary and are in our way back on the bus now. It was a tiring day, given the heat. I must have some time to unwind now.
Update: immediately after writing this, I fell asleep 😂😴
An early set off this morning. We drove to Cham Gi Wadu and waited a little while for the three social workers – the most wonderful and powerful women. We visited three schools today and each gave performances on, mainly, early pregnancy, abortion, and home life. It was a very long day, and as we had hoped to be back for lunch/dinner for 2pm, we no doubt began flagging. We recorded everything we needed and kept morale up through the day! We ate around 5pm, filling our stomachs with chipati, rice and soup! Then ended the day with games in the pool, and watched red tinted lightning in the near distance.
It would seem that sugar cane had an ulterior motive, as one by one, we seem to be falling! We left the hotel much earlier today to meet the community in Cham Gi Wadu, but had to wait a while at Rongo University due to difficulties with the transport. Once on our way, we collected the Rongo students and shared food out to the community. We set up the audio and video and recorded members of the Cham Gi Wadu community talking and explaining why they feel they would benefit from the community radio. The chief joined later and said that they were ready and eager and couldn’t wait any longer. I feel these words are important as it shows their eagerness right from the source. We visited a local school on the way back to Rongo uni. I felt quite torn here – the community and the students gave such a warm welcome and sat us on chairs whilst they sat on the floor. Whilst I appreciated their warmth, I couldn’t help thinking about how we ‘welcome’ people back home, shutting off our borders to those in need. It was very eye-opening and in future I would like to do what my gut tells me and sit on the floor with everyone 😊
The weekend was glorious. Both morning Emily and I woke up really early and went to lay by the pool to swim and read. Seriously my idea of a perfect morning.
On Saturday, we went to a museum. It was supposed to be a 2 hour drive, and we were supposed to leave at 11 but left at 12:30. The drive was more eventful than what I thought it was going to be. After we turned off the main road, it was just sharp rocks paving our way. At least that’s what it felt like, especially for the people in the back on the van. We held our breath a couple of times as we all thought we were going to get stuck, but thankfully we didn’t. I feel sorry for Emily and Libby who I was sitting in between ; because the van had to drive so slowly there was no breeze, so I was so sweaty. I felt like I was some awful pin ball of stickiness ricocheting off between the two of them.
Again, the grueling travel proved to be worth it in end. The picnic we had was sensationally idyllic. We ate samosas and donuts in the shade under a tree and reveled the cool breeze.
It was really interesting to hear about another culture and way of life from someone in that community. We were learning about the Lou tribe and how they lived back in the 14th century. We were thrilled about a huge bird nest, which I don’t think our guide really understood. Also, Anya and and Ellie were enthralled with the bats that were in one of the replica houses. Maybe I’m paranoid but being that enclosed with a bat freaked me out.
The ride back was long but we took a different way back so it wasn’t as rocky (haha). We played a serious game of Irish snap that gathered several onlookers, probably because we were all shouting and smacking our foreheads. Finally, we went to sleep, exhausted.
On Sunday we went to see Lake Simbi and see flamingos. It was overcast and cool and it was so beautiful. Seeing flamingos, real life wild flamingos, was so incredible. We sat and gazed at the flamingos as one of the locals told us the mythology about how the lake was formed. Getting to share the space with the locals and the flamingos was so special. It was a chill day but one of my favorites so far.
We ran pretty on time that day (shocking) other than leaving late. It was such a good day.
I’m writing this blog pos as I go along today because unexpectedly, we’ve had a good chunk of free time today which was not the plan. We were to promptly leave at 9am this morning but it turns out the sugar cane from the weekend is sneaking back up on a few of us and most have been hit with a dodgy tummy. Luckily I only had one piece and I’m not feeling any aftermath. Supposedly it’s well known that sugar cane can carry a few nasties inside it, but sure this is all part of the experience lol (I think I’m only in a position to say that because I don’t feel unwell).
The second hurdle was that of the bus. We were to meet the Chief and the community at 10am but this didn’t happen because the driver went off the fill the bus up with fuel, and disappeared for 2 hours whilst being completely uncontactable. Some of the villagers had started to leave the centre where we would be meeting them and I don’t blame them. It’s 12:10pm and we’ve only just set off. They’ve given up their time, some have left their work to come and meet us. I’m quite disappointed as is everyone else from our team and the University of Rongo team but we got there in the end.
We started to set up and we shared our lunch with some local villagers.
It was great to hear from them and why they want the community radio station and how it will help the sustainability of their businesses, farms and political issues. Everything we learned through our lectures as to why community Radio is important was raised by the people of Cham gi Wadu. I even noticed one person who seemed to be interested in journalism and I would hope they would get involved in some presenting, producing or research at some point.
The chief arrived some time after this and spoke to us and told us how he was happy to give the village a space for the studio. It was brief but an honour that he came to speak with everyone. As the day progressed, poor Katy got sicker and sicker and so we needed to cut some things short so we could get her home to rest in bed. There’s absolutely nothing worse than feeling ill and being far from your bed. We had a quick stop off to a school and a spring where we got such a warm welcome. I’m told they love to have visitors and they were so gracious. It was a lovely stop off. They kids were excited to shake our hands and the village people greeted us, shook our hands and gave us hugs. It was really lovely to feel so welcome into their small community. I was asked to stand and speak a little about the fundraising we did before our trip. It was such a lovely stop of, it’s a shame we couldn’t stay longer and visit their fresh water spring, but again, these things happen.
Today seemed a bit chaotic to me, but it was enjoyable nonetheless. I’m learning to really go with the flow and release and form of control on this trip. It’s been testing for me as I’m usually someone who likes to know what I’m doing and when but it’s made me realise that we can only do our best, there will be a solution and to really slow down. There’s no need to rush through life. Although I do wish today was a little better organised, even though I know it was out of our ands and the hands of our professors.
Woke up feeling significantly less gross – the power of a good shower is astonishing, seriously, they should write books about it. We went to uni fairly early, although we were supposed to leave at 9:00 and we left at 11:30.
I don’t know if I’ll get tired of looking out the windows; there’s so much to look at, everything is a picture. The bus ride was short, which was nice after so much travel yesterday, but our room at the uni was occupied so we had several hours to wait around.
Emily, Anya and I started doing cartwheels and acroyoga much to everyone else’s entertainment. I did get unnecessarily sweaty when I could’ve conserved my energy by jointing those in the shade, but it was so fun it was worth it. Most people got involved in the end anyways.
In the afternoon, we had our first lecture. We did icebreaker games with the University of Rongo students. If I thought I was outgoing, I clearly had never meant a Kenyan. They are so loquacious and genial that getting to know them felt so easy. We played games right up until we had to go back to the classroom.
They wanted loads of photos with us – I seriously lost count of how many we took. Finally we ate dinner and caught a glimpse of the sunset before went back to the hotel. We all had a drink and played games by the pool. I don’t know why we didn’t go inside because we were all huddled around one single light.
I realize that I never got that bonding experience that studying abroad with others gives you, because I’ve been studying abroad alone since I moved to Brighton. But now, doing this trip, we’re all in this together and learning new things together. I just feel so grateful that I’m able to get this experience with these people.
Today was our first trip into the community of Cham gi Wadu. We were to set up cameras for photography and videography and audio to capture the speech we would be given by 3 social workers involved with the Cham gi Wadu community. They spoke about modern day slavery and how it was affecting their people. We heard stories of child pregnancy and incestuous abuse, female genital mutilation and how control over someone involving an abuse of power is modern day slavery. Often when these things are reported to the police, they do not see any justice as the police are bribed.
The three women were extremely passionate in what they had to say and what I found particularly powerful was the fact that a lot of the community, women and children don’t know their rights. They told us that community Radio would have a massive impact and help to educate the people, so that they can make their own minds up as to what is right and wrong, so they know their rights and can band together to make a change. We’ll be meeting the Chief of Cham gi Wadu and the rest of the community tomorrow. I’m looking forward to speaking with them and hearing their stories and assisting the Kenyan students in collecting some quality content.
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.
The journey here was the craziest I have ever been on. It was nearly 30 hours of straight traveling, from buses to trains to planes. My eyes were burning from lack of sleep and I felt bad even being in everyone’s vicinity because I smelled so bad.
It was worth it though; it feels like I’ve been transported to another planet. The plants, the people, everything is so different. Emily and I literally gasped when we saw our view from our room. Instead of going to sleep, like we had so desperately waiting to do, we went down to the pool to enjoy the sun.
We waited 2 hours for soup for lunch and nearly 3 for dinner. I was falling asleep at the table waiting for my curry. We went outside and looked at the stars. You can see them so clearly. It looked like a movie, all of us exhausted but laying on the ground looking up above. I feel so grateful to be traveling with this group of people.
I had the best sleep I can remember – sleeping in a bed after traveling always hits different. So crazy to think a week ago I was home in New York, Brighton in between for a few days, and now I was starting a new adventure in Kenya.
Today felt very productive. Rachel, Joakim and I spent an hour or so setting up the cameras and audio, making sure the two connected. We then travelled by coach to Cham Gi Wadu, to meet the community this all revolves around! From a large, empty, echoy room, we set up chairs and a table in a way that would work with the camera shots. We filmed the panel of women at the front from one camera, and from the other we filmed a closer shot of the panel, and another of the audience. We recorded the audio through a zoom and a handheld, wireless microphone. The talk itself was powerful. Despite having heard about the issues back in Brighton, it was eye-opening and hit harder, hearing it from the community themselves. The three female social workers spoke of child pregnancies, child marriages and FGM within the community, and how the radio would help open up the discussion on such topics. The most hitting point was about education, their words being, “we do not know our rights.” This is what the radio will spread awareness of, alongside sharing knowledge on farming crops of higher yields etc. It was enriching to meet some of the community and I’m looking forward to meeting more members tomorrow! We stopped off at a supermarket on the way back to the hotel and played cards and werewolves at our usual table. A couple of us are getting ill – thought to be the price of the sugar cane!