Almost 2 years ago I travelled to Africa to help volunteer at a slum school in Kenya. It was a great experience as it allowed me to absorb a totally different culture, whilst meeting people from all over the world. Unfortunately for me during my last week in Kenya, a Norwegian girl by the name of Anna, managed to reformat my camera whilst taking a drunken photo of are group. I lost all the 900 odd photographs I had taken on my journey, although I suppose I still came back with some pretty decent memories.
The Photos I have Selected, although not my own, help to tell the story of my journey.
Like all great journeys mine started in my local pub, haveing one last pint with friends and family before jetting off for a month and a half. The New Inn is a great village pub and has been a home away from for as long as I can remember, the type of pub that you can walk into and providing it isn’t to busy, they’ve already pulled your pint by the time you reach the bar.
After the pub it was a long blast down the Motorway to my uncles where we stayed for the night before I was dropped at the airport the next day. Just to clarify I wasn’t the driver.
After six hours or so I was sat in my uncles living room with another beer. Both tierd and excited I soon took my self off to bed.
The next morning I eagerly boarded my plane at Heathrow accompanied my huge bag rammed full with football shirts, crayons and anything els I could give to the far less fortunate children I would be working with.
The plane I was on looked nothing like this plane. Thow I suppose unless its a private jet, they all look pretty much the same to me. I travelled coach working my way through the in flight movies excited to land 9 hours away in a much warmer climate.
I arrived in Nirobi, Kenya’s capital city, and was greated by the wide cheek to cheek smile of the dreadlocked fun loving local Chomlie. Chomlie Worked for the organization I was volunteering for and drove me from the airport back to what would become my home for the following month. The small house was situated just out side the slum I was soon to be working In, it was shared by people from all over the world. Familiar faces would change as volunteers from other parts of the country passed through and others moved on. I spent my first night playing football out on the street with a few local children before heading to a close by bar with an American soon to be teacher by the name of Rory.
Tusker was my drink of choice through out my stay, along with Kenya cane, a cheap spirit distilled from sugar cane. Being out at night in this area was advised against as many volunteers had been robbed most of which at gun point. During my stay I was told various stories of this happening the most extream case I heard of was a girl being put in the boot of a taxi at gun point, driven to an ATM and told to withdraw all her money. From what I heard She walked away unharmed although a little worse off and continued her stay in kenya. Luckily you can only withdraw so much at any one time.
Despite the various stories, we drank after dark in multiple bars on the edge of the slum over the course of the next month, and never ran in to any serious trouble, thats not to say there was’nt a few questionable moments, although over all the mojority of the people we came across were increadibly friendly. We spent our first night out sipping Tusker whilst playing and betting on pool games with a group of locals. The pool table was increadibly wonkie, and I won only one of the many games I played that night.
The conditions in the slum we’re extreamly bad and for many of us this was are first glimps at real poverty, seeing this in real life as apposed to on the charity tv adverts we are all used to was a real eye opener and really made me appreciate what I have and the things we take for granted. Despite this people in the slum seemed happy and content. I would find my self in random convosations with passers by daily, as I walked through the slum towards the school. It was increadible to see how many people spoke good english there. Making me realise how ignorant we are in the U.K when it comes to different languages, just because English is such a widely used language dosen’t mean we shouldn’t learn a few more are selves.
I tought daily in a class room alot like this one. Despite signing up to coach football I wound up also teaching English, Maths, and Science to years 3 – 6 the children we’re great and increadibly willing to learn. I was most deffinatley under qualified for the job and was out smarted by the children regularly, trying to recount work you did in primary school was no easy task, although I tought them what I could and focused on having a bit of a laugh with my students. I was working at the School with another english guy by the name of Ben, he was in his late 20’s and had recently married his australian wife. They had come out to volunteer before moving out to Australia. Between us we had dug a well, created a vegetable patch and fixed the school gate by the time we both left.
During my time in Kenya, me and some of the other volunteers spent a long weekend on Safari. Are guide was known as Safari Mike, in his white matatu identical to the one’s in this picture he drove us across country to the maasai mara. For those of you that don’t know what a matatu is, its a van that is often used for low budget safari’s, but more so used as taxi’s throughout Kenya, for a small fare you dive in an oftern over crowded van and get to where you need to go, whilst the fare collector hangs off the side jumping on and off at each stop.
During are Safari we saw all the animals you would excpect to see as well as stopping of to meet a maasai mara tribe. Mike was a great guide he seemed to know the area like the back of his hand and was constantly providing interesting facts about the animals. As the rest of the group were all girls that wanted to go to bed early in order to make the most of their days out on Safari, Me and Mike spent the nights getting drunk with other tour guides he intruduced me to. Me and mike got on we’ll. Upon are return to nairobi we dropped the girls off and headed out to a local bar, where he promised me if I ever come back to kenya he’ll take me and a friend on a free safari. Providing we hide in the boot whilst entering the game reserve, as the guide pays a proportion of their fee to gain enrty.
This image shows tribesmen performing a jumping dance, whoever can jump the highest supposedly gets their pick of the women.
Soon my month of volunteering was up, but after hearing about Ukunda a small island off the coast of Mombasa I decided to extend my stay. Me and 3 norwegian girls by the names of Hennrietta, Anna and Tiriel were all kean to cheque out the island. They had a week of work left in Nirobi so I decided to go ahead and meet them there. The organization we were working for arranged a place for us to stay, putting us intouch with a family that accomidation for volunteers to stay in. Chomlie dropped me off at the bus station in Nairobi and I got a 9 hour night bus across the country to Mombasa.
I didn’t sleep on the bus unlike the heavy set kenyan that used my shoulder as a pillow for half the journey. The sun had come up and I wasn’t quite with it when the bus came to a hault on a busy street in Mombasa. Suddenly the doors opened and people stated getting off, all of them leaving their luggage on the bus. I grabbed my bag and followed the other passengers. On my way off the bus I asked the bus driver whats happening to which he replied by simply pointing at the sea of people outside. I got off the bus and followed the huge crowd of people down hill, desprately trying to stick with passangers I recognised from the bus. When I saw the Warter and a number of over crowded boats, it became pretty obvious we were getting a ferry, Although which boat to get on and how to find my bus on the other side i had no idea.
Luckily in the hustle and bustle of the crowd I bumbed in to a group of canadians, who looked just as confussed as me. They were heading to the same place so we boarded a ferry together. I found my coach after the crossing easily enough and continued on my way.
Ukunda was a great way to end the trip, In my first few days there I befriended a local guy named Clinton we became good mates and he attempted to teach me Swahili, although I wasn’t very good at it. The Girls arrived a week later and soon after that Rory also found his way on to the Island with Hanna, another volunteer from Brighton.
For two weeks we spent every day on the beach, the tranquil island seemed worlds away from the madness of the capital. We would drink at Fourty Thives beach bar throughout the day, whilst in and out of the warter or playing football on the beach. Then head back for a shower and some rest before returning at night. Fourty Thives was often filled with people from all over the world, all their for different reasons. It was a spectacular two weeks, although sooner or later I had to return to England and my mondane 9 to 5 selling business insurance.
The only Photograph I have of my Time in Kenya, Taken and sent to me by Lina Garcia.
For me this task became more of a writing task as I tried to recount my journey in a journalistic manner. I would have much preferred to have used photographs I had taken on this trip, although as explaind in the article doing so was impossible. Despite this I tried to use photographs as closely fitting as possible to portray what I did and saw on my travles. I found writing this piece enjoyable as it brought back some great memories.