Kenya Blog 3

Oyawre (Good morning)! Yet another eventful week has come to an end leaving us with many highs that will be cherished forever, but also challenges that we’ve had to overcome. Each day has felt long and draining, however the week has flown by and left us wondering where all the time has gone. With only one month left, we’re keen on making the most of our time here. Our spirits are still lively and motivated thanks to the warm welcomes received from every school, the positive energy radiated by each student, and the gradual sense of Mikei becoming our new home away from home.

Teaching this week consisted of two very engaging lessons focused on ‘Sex and Consent’ and ‘Pregnancy and Contraceptives’. Each lesson had activities that the students were extremely fond of and prompted lots of laughter as well as great class discussions.


Munyu class 7 participating in an activity on the proper use of condoms.

Upon our arrival at Radienya Primary on Thursday, where we were expecting to teach a new lesson, we were invited to participate in a school-wide debate. Over 100 students were seated in a large classroom to discuss whether polygamy or monogamy is more just. The debate was structured to represent Kenyan parliament with various students taking on the roles of the speaker, Minister of Education, Minister of Health, and more. After our lesson at Radienya Secondary we ended the day by playing volleyball with some of the students. We played a mini Canada against Kenya game and we’re proud to say our volleyball skills aren’t lacking.


Claire and Marika’s Radienya Primary Class 8 after the debate!

Our culinary practices have also been improving owed to a little help from our friends. On Thursday, Marilyn, Derek, Elvis, and William (also known as Jakwoth!) came to our house and taught us how to make chapati, a favourite local food of ours. Chapati is round, thin, made of flour, and is served often with savoury dishes. In exchange, we made our guests spaghetti with tomato sauce, which they quickly told us they loved. On Saturday, they invited us to their home for dinner where we and the four youngsters, their younger sister baby Jill, and mother Alfa all enjoyed a spectacular home-grown chicken dinner.


Eating homemade chipati with William, Elvis, Derek and Marilyn.

Saturday in Migori we met up with Carissa Novak, a Master’s student studying global health from Duke. Her project looks at the prevalence of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) in the Migori region and its effects on the increasing rates of cervical cancer. Current research shows that administering the HPV vaccine to young females significantly reduces their risk of cervical cancer. Carissa aims to encourage females to take the HPV vaccine while also addressing the stigma associated with it. Since Carissa enlightened us with this pressing issue, we are hoping to teach a lesson on HPV to our schools in the next coming weeks and add this topic to our curriculum!


Fresh fruit and veggies at our favourite market in Migori!

We are looking forward to another fun week of teaching and hope that each day is one to remember. This week our lessons will likely focus on Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and begin to touch on HIV/AIDS. We hope that all is well in Canada!!


Chris and Jenna dancing with their Class 7 students after their lesson at Nyandema Primary!

Erokamano ahinya! (Thank you very much!)

Kenya Week 2 Blog Post

Week 2 is done and we have officially taught lessons in 15 different schools! Our days are long and packed full of walking, lesson planning and teaching. We are beginning to settle into a routine, we have cooking and cleaning down to a science, and the sign of rain clouds in the distance is becoming a welcome sight (showers!!!). Mikei is quite a small village but there is never a lack of stimulation. Everywhere we walk we are greeted by neighbours, smiling children, and animals (cows, chickens, goats, dogs). We love to play with the neighbourhood children who are often found outside our gate awaiting our arrival home from school.


Chris playing with Sancho and Rooney

Tuesday was a very exciting day for the QHO Kenya team! Two members of our group got accepted to MacMaster University for their subsequent post-graduate programs. Claire was accepted to Macmaster for Medical School and Maddie was accepted into a Global Health Master’s Program. We are so proud of them, congratulations Claire and Maddie!

Wednesday night, Fred and Beatrice hosted a farewell dinner for our wonderful PD’s: Maddie and Katie. Fred, in addition to being one of our neighbours, is Edward’s brother and most trusted confidante. We had a delicious meal with their entire family, but the evening was indescribable! We enjoyed Beatrice’s homemade masala tea, chipati and pea soup, and we brought some Canadian cuisine for their family to try. The extended family is quite large, and we felt so lucky to be included in such an amazing night, filled with dancing, laughter and love.

The following day we woke up early to say goodbye to Katie and Maddie before they left. We are so grateful for all their hard work throughout the year, and thanks to them we feel prepared for the next five weeks!


Katie and Maddie on the walk home from Masara Primary

Teaching has been going well, especially in our second week, as the students have been able to warm up to us. The students are becoming more engaged in all our classroom discussions, which is super exciting. They are opening up to us with regards to the day-to-day issues that they face and the struggles they encounter; this has helped enormously with our understanding of the culture and also with planning future lessons. This week, our lessons were mainly focused on healthy relationships and puberty (depending on the age of the students). We are looking forward to starting lessons and discussions regarding sex, consent, pregnancy and contraceptives in the upcoming week.


Lucie and Maddy with their Radienya Secondary class

On Saturday, we went to Migori to go to the market to pick up this week’s groceries, and to meet Edward for lunch and a meeting. Over a long lunch at the Migori County Lodge, we had the chance to chat more with Edward and get to know more about his organization Rieko Kenya. We also had the opportunity to discuss several QHO matters, and are looking forward to planning a new addition to our initiative; a community outreach day in mid-May to get to know more of the Mikei residents, and families of our students. Stay tuned!


Edward showing us one of Reiko Kenya’s other projects

We are so beyond happy to be here, and are all so shocked at how fast the days have been going by. Each day brings new experiences and opportunities, and we are looking forward to seeing where the next 5 weeks will take us!

Asanté sana! Thank you for your support!!

Kenya Week 1 Blog Post

We’re through week one here in Kenya and we are absolutely loving life! After a long travel period, we landed in Kisumu last Sunday morning, greeted by smiles and hugs from Edward- our contact from Rieko Kenya! At the airport we took a quick photo, met Cosmos (our driver), loaded up our bags and headed to The New Victoria Hotel to have our first Kenyan meal with Edward. After our meal we went to the Nakumat to stock up on groceries, and some treats that we will not see for the next 6 weeks. Once we finished our shopping, we started the beautiful drive to our new home for the next couple months. When we arrived in the evening, we were greeted with so much love! Edward’s family and friends had been prepping our house, and helped us set up. We got organized, and headed straight to bed!

 

We woke up on Monday in absolute awe of where we are to spend the next six weeks… IT’S BEAUTIFUL! We took the day to relax after all of our travelling, visit Mikei town centre, and meet some of the neighbourhood kids!

 

Drinking tea and eating Chapati at Grace’s restaurant

On Tuesday, we met the elusive Duncan! Duncan works for Edward and Rieko Kenya (our host organization), and he is our contact with all of the schools. We drove to all 15 schools, introduced ourselves and QHO, and invited each school to attend our teacher’s conference the next day in Mikei.

 

Wednesday was another very exciting day for us! We had the chance to chat with teachers from each of the schools about QHO, our curriculum, and listen to any ideas or advice they might have. The conference was incredibly fun, but also very informative! We were thrilled to have the input of teachers who interact with our students every day, and who know the specific needs much better than we could ever imagine.

 

Thursday and Friday marked our first days in the classroom, and we couldn’t be happier! Our three pairs of teaching partners (Jenna and Chris, Maddy and Lucie, and Claire and Marika) tackled 5 classes on Thursday and 4 on Friday. The students are amazing and our lessons were so much fun!!

Getting ready for our first day of teaching

 

Aside from teaching, we have been getting into a groove with cooking, cleaning and just embracing the Kenyan lifestyle. We have been quite creative in the kitchen, making some yummy pasta salads, veggie patties, curries…and of course avocado with every meal! We had our weekly grocery shop and meeting with Edward on Saturday- he welcomed us into his beautiful home for an amazing meal with his family, and a check-in as to how our first week went. We all went to church with some of the neighbourhood kids today (Sunday), which was a very cool experience! We are looking forward to having a few more days with Maddie and Katie before they leave on Thursday for a new adventure.

 

Outside Edwards home

 

Everyone has been so kind and welcoming (“Karibu!”), our students are incredible and the Mikei community is so close and caring. We really couldn’t ask for anything more, and are looking forward to getting back in the classroom tomorrow morning!

 

Oriti masani!! (Until next time)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The spectacular view from our front lawn