Hey everyone! I am currently in Ngong, Kenya. Ngong is a small working class community, 30 minutes outside of the capital, Nairobi. It’s still hard to believe that I am actually in Africa. Six months ago, I made the extremely tough decision to take a gap year. Like all Carpe Diem students I had mixed emotions. I was super excited, nervous, and had no idea what to really expect. I just knew that I was taking a major step in my life to learn more about the world around me and myself. I spent the best three months of my life in Central America during a group semester and it changed my life. Living and experiencing the different cultures of Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Honduras gave me a totally new perspective on my life. (Shoutout to my group ITZA!)
As the semester came to a close, it was time for me to choose where I wanted to go for the second semester. I really wanted to go everywhere that was offered but I concluded that Africa would the be the best for me. I saw Africa as a place that was so unique and different then anything I have ever experienced . I thought that it would take me completely out of my comfort zone, help me grow and give me a chance to help people in need. With the help of Carpe Diem and my family, I ended up in Ngong Hills, Kenya.
I have been living in Kenya for the last five weeks. It has truly been an amazing experience. The people here are very nice. I have had a very unique experience because everyone thinks that I am a local. At least twice a day someone attempts to try to speak Swahili to me. I live in a volunteer house about 15 minutes from the place I work. In less then five weeks, I have lived with 11 different people from around the world. The volunteer house is very comfortable and spacious. Besides losing power and hot water once a week, its a the perfect living situation for me. The food here is also very good. My favorite food here happens to be their traditional foods, choma, chapatti and masala chips. Although I am guilty of traveling 40 minutes for a BBQ bacon cheeseburger at the Hilton Hotel. I miss American food!
As regards to my work, I volunteer for an organization called Living Positive in Kenya. LPK is an organization the aims to alleviate the problems caused by HIV/AIDS through women empowerment, job training, child care services, micro-financing, social services and a host of other things. In short, they basically do everything for the community. There are over 80 women living with HIV in LPK all in different stages of the program. These are some of the strongest women I have ever met in my life. Their stories, perseverance and love for others have truly inspired me in ways I can’t describe. LPK has become my family away from home.
A day at LPK various from day to day. There are so many options and things to do. In five weeks, I have worked at the orphanage, the child day care, conducted in-home visits with HIV positive women, and worked at the local hospital. My main job at the office is working in the communications department. That entails responding to emails, updating their social networks and taking pictures/videos of everything LPK. I also work at a daycare in the slums three times a week in the morning. The children are amazing. Aside from my video work for LPK, I have started two documentaries. One is a personal documentary about my stay and the other is about the biggest slum in Kenya, Kibera. I will be positing videos on LPK’s Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/livingpositivekenya
After a long work week, I am very tired. However, Kenya offers so many opportunities, that I always make sure I do something on the weekends. So far I have visited sunsets at the savannas, church, the monkey park,the westlands, played soccer with locals, visited museums and downtown Nairobi. I have been super busy! This weekend I am going on a 3 day safari through the Masai Mara! I also plan on visiting other parts of Kenya such as Hell’s gate, Mombasa and Malindi before I leave.
So that’s what my five weeks in Kenya looks like. I have 2 more months that I never want to end! I wish the rest of the latitude students a great time and I can’t wait to hear all of your stories. I want to give a special shootout to my fellow ITZA latitude students Kaki and Tom, and my amazing group leaders James and Cheriydn who I know are doing a great job leading their trips. Lastly, thanks to my family and friends who have given me so much love and support.
P.S- Please like LPK’s Facebook page and find ways to help out: