Another week has gone by here in Nairobi at AMREF. So much to learn here. The week started off with no Internet when we got to the office. So I looked over a lot of documentation about my NGO, which was very helpful. I thought I knew quite a bit about what AMREF does, but this helped to fill in the blanks. While I was looking over the documents, one of the IT people came into my office and asked me if I worked in IT back at GSK. When I said that I did, she said that they were having issues with their internet firewall and asked if I could figure out what the problem was. Unfortunately, that is not my area of expertise so I was not able to help them.
When we finally got the internet restored, I was asked to look at a system that they wanted to roll out for their annual budget planning, and see if I could help write a user guide for the system. I had never seen the system before, but I decided to give it the old college try. So off I went to create a user guide and hoped that I would not bring down the entire network. Along the way I found a few problems in the system which did not show up during the testing of the system before. I alerted the developer who made the fixes right away. Best to find the problems now before the system was released for everyone to use for planning their budgets.
During the week I also researched some vendor products that could be used on cell phones to track safe wells for drinking water in the rural parts of the country. While only about 10 percent of the population in Kenya has access to the internet, over 80% of the people here have cell phones. They are very inexpensive here and people use them to for anything from making calls to paying for food and gas for their automobiles. There are applications for their phones, such as M-Pesa, that allow them transfer money from their account to a vendors account with no hassles or service charges. There is hardly any use for land lines here in Kenya so they don’t need to create the infrastructure for land lines.
The weekend arrived, and we were invited to travel out to Nakuru in the Rift Valley to visit some orphanages there. Along the way we saw many zebras and impalas in the fields by the road. After about a 3 hour ride from Nairobi we arrived at the first orphanage. This place had about 200 children; most of them lost their parents to AIDS and other 3rd world diseases. The children were having a church service so we sat down with them. While sitting there, a little boy about 9 years old turned around and asked “Mzungu, would you like to sit next to me?” Mzungu is a Swahili term for foreigner (usually a Caucasian). So I went and sat next to him for the rest of the church service. After the service he and another boy each grabbed one of my hands and took me around to see where they went to school, where they slept, and where they ate. We had lunch with them, but it was time to leave and return to Nairobi. Before we left, the boys agreed to have their picture taken with me. I will attach that picture to this blog.
On the way back to Nairobi, we needed to stop at another orphanage to drop off some items. When we got out of the van, the first thing that I heard was “Mzungus”. I’m here in Kenya for 3 weeks and I am now officially a Mzungu. This place had about 40 children all under the age of 6. Most of these children will hopefully be adopted by Kenyan families within the next year. Seeing these orphanages really drove home my goal for the next 6 months to help AMREF fulfill their mission to improve the lives of all people throughout eastern Africa.