Ordinary things that make life extraordinary.

Ordinary things that make life extraordinary.

Category: Kenyan life

Not your usual signs made by Lowen Sign Company

It’s been two years since I came home from Kenya, the country where I lived for 14months to work with a local community in the eastern coast of the country. Despite the pre-departure training volunteers undergo before the big move, it was still a big shock arriving in a new country. My senses were assaulted (in a very good way, that is) with everything right at the moment we stepped off the airplane and set our foot on Kenyan soil! At that time I could feel the signs the heaven was sending to me – like those signs at that flag your attention right away- as if to tell me that it it was going to be a helluva experience!

At the airport, on our arrival, we were greeted by the following sign. Sure it’s not a professional looking one like the ones made by the Lowen Sign Company but we had no trouble finding our welcoming committee.

VSO Jitolee, Filipino VSO Volunteers
Here I am with a fellow VSO from the Philippines arriving in Nairobi. We had no trouble spotting the sign.

I was so tired; my head ached and my body was yearning for a warm shower and a nice, soft bed to lie on and have a shut-eye but you still see me smiling here because I felt so relieved to finally plant my feet firmly on the ground after a long haul flight.

We didn’t have time to go sight-seeing in Nairobi because after our orientation and language course we were immediately sent to our respective areas of assignment. I lived on my own in the community with only the very basic Kishwahili language skills as my tool to help me get by. My work as a VSO Volunteer in Kenya has allowed me to travel inside the country. Living abroad has made me notice new things around me, especially signs that are different or not found from where I come from.

There were so many new things around me! Imagine seeing giraffes walking along the roadside? Or the noisy babboons while stopping for a rest during a road trip? Oh, only in Africa!

 Here’s a friendly reminder that I keep in my mind all the time.

 And this I miss so terribly…. the chocolate, okay?

 These are actually great points here but, sadly, not strictly followed, especially the part of using a mobile phone when driving.

When you see this sign, you should be scared… Really scared. Riding on a matatu is not for the faint-hearted.

This is from my fellow volunteers Bara and Chinita. Matatus are vans turned into a public transportation.

amel advertising. Anyone? This is a very common site in the tourist town of Mombasa. We don’t have this in the Philippines.

There are so many stories I have yet to tell (or post here) but I’ve been caught up in my present life, working in an industry that is alien to me and in an environment that I’m not accustomed to. But a mama’s got to do what she has to do, right? Just like a real trouper, I picked up where I left off and slowly, but carefully, move on with my “now”.

My stint in Kenya was only short but the memories are enough to last me my lifetime. Although they are now in a special compartment in my brain, they have a way of getting creep out to me at times. Looking back, I should’ve taken more photos of the different signs there and compile them into one book 🙂

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This is a sponsored post, however, all the contents and views presented here are all mine.

Mellow Yellow Monday 026: Women at the market

Just a random scene at a market in rural Kenya. On weekends, oftentimes I went to the market just so I could soak in Kenyan culture. Although this market is small and not like any other markets in the western world, I love going to this kind of market. So many things going on at a given time – so many colors, sounds, and oh, the smell!

These yellow plastic buckets are used for carrying water and other stuff.

While I was there, I was trying so hard to speak the Kishwahili language. Although not fluent enough, I practiced by talking to the women in the community where I was working. Oh what fun. Imagine if I had mastered the language – not only it would have been very helpful to my work but I would probably bonded more with the locals.

Signs 013: Cut Emissions

A young activist from Mombasa, Kenya holds a sign for the environment. Age doesn’t matter when it comes to helping Mother Earth.

If only government officials all over the world can see and hear the pleas.

This was one of the  activities in 2010 with involvement of the communities that the VSO Coast Volunteers {of which I was a part of} initiated as part of the global grassroots campaign to raise the awareness and push forward the issue on climate change. Environment scientists/researches suggest that the world needs to cut CO2 emissions by 350 ppm (parts per million), or below, to stabilize the Earth’s climate.

It’s a gigantic task but we can all start right in our homes. Let’s find ways to cut our carbon footprints and help save Mother Earth.

Mellow Yellow Monday 024: My first breakfast in Kenya

It’s exactly one year and one month since I wrapped up my assignment as a VSO Volunteer in Kenya and returned to the Philippines. My stay there was a flurry of activities – time flew so fast, too little time to finish the plans. No matter how fast the time flew by, I still remember very clearly the things I did in the time I spent in a farming community in Lukore. Yes, including the first breakfast I had in Kenya!

Two slices of slightly toasted bread with butter, a serving of macaroni with tomato sauce, and a banana, to go with my cup of coffee.

Carbo-loading much? Hahaha.
The newly-arrived volunteers like me were advised to eat as much as we can by the old-timers for it could be the last proper meal we would have after leaving the city to go to our areas of assignments.

Mellow Yellow Monday 014: Yellow-striped matatu

My new job is keeping me away from blogging… tsk.. tsk.. tsk. So, being a Monday, I’m in a manic mode as I’m supposed to be in the office in… two hours. I can only post photo memes for now. So this is going to be quick:

This was my ride to work when I was in Kenya a year ago. It is called a matatu. You can find my posts about matatus under the tag "matatu". I promise to update when I can.

Signs 008: Climate Change

Signs,signs

One of the last activities I participated in on my last few days as a VSO Volunteer was an awareness campaign on Climate Change in Mombasa. It was a half-day activity that included tree-planting and beach-clean up. Here’s one of the signs that I saw there, it is in English and Swahili languages:

Climate Change sign in Kishwahili I’m not really fluent in Swahili but this is the rough translation:

Elimika Kuhusu Climate Change  – Climate Change Awareness

Mazingira Bora; Maisha Bora  –  Better Environment; Better Life

Basically, this is what the message the sign is trying to convey. If anyone of my colleagues in Kenya is reading this, please I welcome your feedback.

I love the yellow and green combination here. I used to hear my sister say that to get the attention, the yellow color should be used. The black letters with yellow outline also stands out, in my opinion.

Mellow Yellow Monday 010: Tree planting

mellowyellow Posting one of the last activities I joined as a VSO Volunteer in Kenya… a beach clean up! By noon time, we had filled about 50 bags of trash, mostly water bottles, to be taken to a recycling centre in Mombasa.

tree planting activity in Mombasa Afterwards, we, along with the local residents and schoolchildren proceeded to plant trees around the area.

More story and pictures about this here in my co-volunteers, Bara and Chinita’s blog.

Shadow Shot Sunday 006: Playing under the tree

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After my placement in Mombasa, I went down south of Kenya, to one of my co-volunteer’s area to do post-volunteer activities before my departure date.

With the help of a translator, I facilitated fun activities for these children who are part of the feeding program of an international organization. 

Signs,signs 005: Road safety commitments

Signs,signs

This sign is required by the Kenyan government to be put up in all vehicles:

I saw this sign in a matatu on my way back to Lukore from Mombasa. I just don’t know how much success it is getting though because for one, matatu drivers still drive like maniacs and there are times I saw drivers on the phone while driving. Seatbelts? Huh. Helmets? Hmmm… occasionally. I wonder how these are being monitored…

Signs, signs 004: Don’t feed the monkeys

Signs,signs

 

 

I am mighty scared of monkeys, I don’t know why. Stuffed toy monkeys are cute but the real ones – and there are lots of them in Kenya – I try to keep a safe distance.

Wordless/Wordful Wednesday 004: Gourds of Kenya

 

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My friends noticed that I’m posting mainly about Kenya. They are right. As of now, I’m waiting for a call to start work at a new company. So while waiting,  I am taking this opportunity to write about what I had seen and experienced in Kenya.

Also, I didn’t get to post much while I was there because I live in and with the local community where electricity is yet to arrive. I only get to be online when I am in the town capital or in Nairobi when we have important meetings. So what I’m doing now is like back-dating, or making up for the lost time.

But anyways, you know what they say, it is better than never, ‘aight?

So, on to my post…

Do you know what are these?

These are dried bottle gourds and are originally used (apart from being eaten as vegetable/food) as water carriers/bottles,  but now have other, multiple uses in Kenya and other African countries. The bottle gourds belong to the same family as cucumbers, squashes (including pumpkins), luffas, and melons. They are oddly shaped and hard-skinned.

The gourds are arranged creatively, as pictured above, to represent all the 42 ethnic tribes in Kenya that use them. That’s a monster gourd above there – the mother of all gourds in Kenya!

Mellow Yellow Monday 004: Yellow Kenyan license

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This is the license of a matatu in Kenya. Matatus are the most common mode of transportation in most African countries. They are actually vans that ply routes  between towns and cities.

This was how I go around in Mombasa. Of course, there’s also the motorcycle – an equally terrifying ride to my area in Lukore. Prior to my departure for Kenya, I underwent motorcycle training as a requirement and received additional sessions when I arrived in Nairobi. However, I didn’t get to drive my own motorcycle as I thought it was better to commute and take the public transpo. In a way, I thought I was helping the locals earn something, but you can only imagine the nervousness and anxiety every single time I hopped on a moto or took the matatu for my longer distance travels :]

Here’s a post I made about the first time I took a matatu ride.