Wordless Wednesday: Volunteering in Kenya

Six years ago, I went to Kenya for a one year stint as a VSO Volunteer.
It changed my perspectives completely.

Farmers meeting in Lukore.

Now I am back in my country, the Philippines, and I am still working in the development field. My experiences in Kenya have made me a better development worker and prompted me to work even harder for the advancement of the farmers, with particular interest with women.

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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.

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 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.

Signs, signs 003: Camel advertising

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Every time I descended to Mombasa for my weekend rendezvous with my co-volunteers and expat friends, it’s the beautiful beaches of Diani that beckons to me the most. Not only that, we also marveled at the sight of camels at the beach! I have never seen a camel on a beach before but in Diani, they are every where and they are for rent. While I was afraid of camels (still am, and they’re stinky too), a camel ride added fun to every tourist’s visit to the beach, especially the kids.

One weekend, my co-vols and I were lazing out in the sand, this camel sauntered lazily in front of us…

… just slow enough for us to be able the signboard that was attached to it. It was advertising for an “Abenteur-Safari in der Masai Mara”. A perfect mobile advertising, eh?

Signs, signs 002: Group photo

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Last week I blabbered about how lonely my life was as a volunteer, but I tell you, it’s not that bad. Really. Once we had a long holiday in Kenya last year,  I and several expat-friends of mine made a trip to Amboseli National Park.

We were all to excited to be there… Never mind if it was a very long road trip inside a cramped van and the weather too cold. When we finally arrived, this big sign welcomed us. Before we went in, we just had to take a group photo at the entrance gate, with the huge sign, of course.  It’s for souvenir. LOL.

Wordful Wednesday 002: Making fire in the bush

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This photo was taken last year on my first visit to Kenya’s Amboseli National Park along with other co-volunteers and expat-friends. I had a great experience sight-seeing and ooh-ing and aah-ing at every wildlife I encountered there!

The local people living in the Rift Valley Area are mostly Maasai and we were greeted by a group of Maasai men who were actually the guides. They were shy but friendly to us muzungus (foreigners). Before we went on safari, the guides demonstrated a lot of things depicting their way of life and I only managed to take a photo of this one.

  I love this photo – look at how these Maasai men work on that fire. Even when clad in their traditional colourful shuka (piece of cloth wrapped around their body), they didn’t hesitate kneeling on the ground to show us how they it is done in the bush – using two sticks rubbed against each other and sprinkled with a generous amount of goat manure.

Don’t you  just love the shape of their heads? I certainly would like this picture framed some time soon.

Shadow Shot Sunday 002: My shadow on the waves

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This is another shot I took of me while walking along the shores of Diani Beach (in Mombasa, Kenya). I love to feel the fine sand under my feet, in between my toes, while the waves playfully lapped in the background and tickled my feet once it reached the shore… it was such a perfect Saturday afternoon.

Signs, signs 001: Threesome

 

Signs,signs My days, and nights, as a VSO Volunteer in Mombasa, Kenya are long and lonely. I live in a rented room within the community I was working in, and lived amongst them. They were very kind people, and never did I feel like an outsider. However, when homesickness and loneliness attacked me, there is only one thing in my mind that I know would erase these off my mind. I looked forward to escaping to the town center, to meet my co-Volunteers, and go for the only one thing in our minds …

 

This is a prized commodity by every volunteer I know in Mombasa… it’s a best-seller and for a time it was out-of-stock we were panicking! It’s a yummy combination of white, brown and black chocolate… this one threesome I certainly wouldn’t refuse! LOL.

Shadow Shot Sunday 001: Gallivanting in Diani Beach

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Hi everyone.

This is my first time here at Shadow Shot Sunday. I saw a beautiful shadow shot while blog-hopping and followed the link. It led me here. I thought it’s fun. I am fascinated by shadows and I love taking pictures… So this week, and I hope in the following weeks to come, I’ll be posting my own shadow shots photos.

I am not expert in photography, but I just love taking pictures of things that fascinate me. I also appreciate comments from visitors.

So here is my first entry:

When I was still in Kenya, my VSO co-volunteers and I spend our weekends in Mombasa. After spending the week in our placement areas, a weekend in the “city” was a much-awaited time to come.

Diani is one of the popular beaches in Mombasa. Diani is a beautiful white-sanded beach and turquoise waters lying along the Indian Ocean coast of Kenya. And this is where we volunteers loved to go. We shared stories of our work in the different areas of Mombasa, partook of the delicious meal, and just relaxed and enjoyed the view.

The photo above was taken during our Christmas holiday in 2010. I was with my co-volunteers walking along the beach. I noticed how enlongated our limbs were we looked like aliens. It was very hot that day but it didn’t faze us, we walked for an hour, just talking and talking, hoping our homesickness would go away.