I am finally in Nairobi, I really thought this day would never come. The flight was what I was most frightened of, but I had no idea what I would be in for.
I am staying in a modest home. A small tv sits near a window next to a stereo. Two armchairs and a couch sit in the middle of the room and seem to be more for display than anything else.
The roomI live in is small and quaint with a table pushed up against the wall and a bunk bed for myself and my roommate, Rose, pushed up against the opposite wall. The bathroom consists of a toilet and nothing else. A small rust covered sink is in the hallway for us to brush our teeth.
Taking a shower becomes an experience. A nozzle comes out of the wall and water falls on the laminate floor. A switch needs to be turned on for the hot water, which is separate from the cold. It gets too hot so a small green basin has to be filled before being poured over myself to wash off the grim for the day.
I have become most nervous about eating while I am here. For lunch we had liver and rice with cabbage and potatoes. It was incredibly difficult to choke down and a couple of thoughts crossed my mind. For one, I hope iI dont insult them by throwing this up, two, I miss American food, three, I guess I’m going to be a vegetarian while I’m here.
It is the rainy season here in Nairobi and the sun shines briefly in the middle of the day, but not long enough to dry upthe puddles that cover the sidewalks and the dirt road. Piles of trash line th e dlstreet and I can’t help but wonder why they don’t have an organization to clean it up. I know money is an issue down here, things cost almost nothing for me, but it could even be a job for the volunteers. Send people in to clean up the streets.
Yet somehow, despite being surrounded by so much g ilth, the people seem to be happy. I hear Rose in the kitchen humming to herself while she cooks. I hear children outside laughing while they play. At the Havilla Children’s Centre, kids are separated into groups and are learning in classrooms so small you can barely open the door. Yet despite all that they are so happy. They laugh and smile and sing; I was told to wait in a classroom for a few minutes and the children ran to me shouting “teacher nikki! Teacher nikki!” And held my hand and gave me many hugs. These children come from the Kibera slums, the worst slums in Kenya, and a place I will be visiting tomorrow. No, I am not prepared.
The power is out right now, which happens from time to time, so I have to write next to the window on the couch that no one sits on. I am sore already from the stiffness of the furniture and have already begun dreaming of home. “Am I crazy?” Is a thought that continuously crosses my mind. Three months? What was I thinking? I’m sure it will get easier, it is only the first day.
The people seem to be incredibly friendly. They smile and wave and ask me about home. One boy who lives with us, Jackson, suggested multiple times that maybe he should come back to the U.S with me. He asked about where I work and said he could work there too. It was very sweet to hear him talk about it.
There are so many people living in this house with me. There is Barnabas and his wife Mila and their son Joseph. Rose and Jackson, Tim (a volunteer from Indiana), and Virginia and Lydia (volunteers from Germany) and then myself of course. People are always stopping in and I’m surprised I’ve remembered as many names as I have.
This is certainly going to become quite the adventure.