Monday Mellow Yellows 058: Beautiful smiles

The summer heat in the Philippines is just unbearable for this pregnant mama. All I want to do is just take a shower again and again and again. If not only for the sight of our growing pile of laundry, I would have done so already.

Also the heat is making me feel nostalgic about my short volunteer stint in Kenya. So I opened my photo album named My Kenyan Adventure and looked at the photos again. The memories came back in a flash as if they happened only recently. Like this particular photo:

monday mellow yellows african smiles
These children are from Lucy Village in Kisumu. I just love how bright their smiles are.

I remember this particular photo as if it happened only yesterday. My volunteer assignment had just concluded and, with still a few weeks left before my flight back home, I opted to spend these days with my fellow VSO Volunteers who were based in Kisumu, nearly 400kms from Mombasa where I was assigned. It is where the popular Lake Victoria is located.

My co-volunteers’ work is mainly with children and mothers. There is a children’s center there where they help run. One of their activities is a feeding program for kids and their mothers and are held regularly. During my stay there, I assisted them in whatever way I could – helping make their food, distributing malunggay seedlings (moringa oleifera, which is high in nutrion and believed to comabt malnutrition), talking with the kids, or even playing with them. In this picture, I was playing snakes and ladders with these two bright kids.

My stay in Kenya was short but full of good memories. I wonder if I can ever go back there again.

 

Monday Mellow Yellows

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.

Mellow Yellow Monday 025: Sunrise in Kenya

I’m reminiscing my time as a VSO volunteer in Kenya with this picture. I was browsing through my digital files and got hold of this picture… it’s a picture of the first sunrise I witnessed in Kenya…

Glorious sunrise on Kenyan soil.

Looking at this picture, I can still remember the anxiety, anticipation as well as the excitement. New environment. New culture. New faces. New everything!

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 020: Stilt-house

I was digging through my files to find what to post in today’s MYM when I chanced upon this old photo taken some two years ago in Binangonan, Rizal. This resort – the name escapes me now – is a favorite venue for trainings and workshops by the VSO Bahaginan. I’ve been here many times during my pre-departure training and I can see why VSO loves this place.

It is very cool, quiet, and relaxing in this place. My favorite area has to be this stilt house – this is where I liked spending quiet moments by myself or with my Hippo batchmates at VSO.

My favorite place to hang out to during my stay there. The familiar sight of the yellow flowers and the sign reminds me of my training days with VSO Bahaginan.

So many happy memories were made in this place. As of present, two of my batchmates have already gone to heaven, and the rest are currently in different countries finishing their assignments. Hopefully we could all gather again.

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.

A secret no more

I was rummaging through my old files the other night and found some of my pictures in Kenya that I thought were already deleted!

Specially that of matatus – they are common modes of transpo in Kenya and are actually second-hand (or older) mini-vans and/or mini-buses similar to what we have in the Philippines – and these pictures evoke a particular memory while I was in Kenya.

I regularly take a matatu ride, especially when coming from the town to the jumping point to the village where I work. Because these are already used cars, more often than not, they break down in the middle-of-nowhere. See this photo:

stranded and waiting

If we are lucky to have a driver who knows how to fix car problems, we get stranded only for a short time. Otherwise, we painstakingly wait for hours till someone arrives to take a look at the  vehicle. Times like this we wish there are RepairPal Mobile we can call right away for roadside assistance just like what they have in the US.

The drivers are notorious for driving very fast and there was one time that I had the misfortune of riding in one that had an accident. I think the driver was racing against the other matatu to pick up passengers several hundreds of meters away and could not control the vehicle anymore. Even though he stepped on the brakes, it was already too late; the car swerved to the left and rammed against a tree. The front side of the car was badly wrecked, especially the driver’s side… I was sitting next to the driver and my feet got jammed between the car’s floor and the dashboard. Thank God the injury wasn’t serious. I was probably dazed and in shock and came to my senses only when the driver and other passengers pulled me out… oh the pain on my left foot. Up to now I can still remember every detail — about how everything went into a slow motion up to the impact, to being carried away to the nearest clinic.

Anyhoo, without sounding dramatic but also not downplaying what happened, I was not seriously injured. Nothing broken, just twisted ankle, or so they said, no open wounds (thank God!) just bruises and scratches (I instinctively used my bag to cover my face). So anyway, after receiving treatment at the clinic, I and the other passengers were asked to go to the police station  to report the incident. In my mind I was thinking what to say to the driver. In the end, I told him that he should have his vehicle regularly checked even if it’s just a simple brake pads replacement but very important for safety. After formalities at the police station I went home to Lukore with my new “shoes”.

my new shoes Nobody knew what happened except my older sister Sreisaat. We were exchanging sms for days and I told her to keep mum about it.  It was our secret as I – we- could not bear telling our parents then for they would have been at their wits’ end. Of course, my parents now know.

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 007: Diani beach

SSS #2 button

My favourite spot in Diani beach, Mombasa, Kenya. Taken while I was serving my one year volunteer assignment there with VSO Jitolee.

Imagine sitting there, under the shade of a big tree, the beautiful beach view and the lull of the sea breeze… heaven.

Shadow Shot Sunday 006: Playing under the tree

SSS #2 button

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.