It’s all about new experiences…

The last couple of weeks have been somewhat mellow compared to previous months. The follow up sessions are far easier to run. They are less stressful, less demanding and involves a lot more singing and dancing and general whooping! 😀 The follow ups only take about an hour to run in comparison to the workshops which could take up to 4 hours! This however means that my need to be constantly challenged and stimulated goes unmet! The website design kept me busy for while but now that’s finished I’ve started looking elsewhere for challenges.

I’ve become quite friendly with the folks down at the Masai Market (numerous shopping trips down there buying several salad bowls! we don’t even eat that much salad!?). Anywho i decided it was time to flex my creativity again and asked Kennet if he would give us a masterclass in how to paint and carve the Kissi soap stone. We had such a fun afternoon sitting on a little bench in his shop painting the soapstone under his guidance and sporadic bursts of laughter! We couldn’t quite figure out if he was laughing at us or the situation in general, i doubt he’s ever had a muzungu in asking to paint their own plate!


Right since we’ve learnt to paint Kissi soapstone what can we learn next! How about fishing!! So off we went with some local fisherman to learn to fish Kenyan style! I have always wanted to fish but now having done it i’m not sure it’s the best activity for my inpatient nature. It’s lovely to relax and reflect and take in the scenery, but that takes like 20mins, then what do you do for the next 3 hours?!? The guys we went with were brilliant and I even managed to catch a small tilapia with my bamboo fishing rod! RESULT!

ImageImageLook how chilled this guy is!

Image Me trying to copy him in quiet contemplation :s


Having only caught one tiny fish (which i then felt bad about so threw it back in!) the fisherman got some bigger fish from a nearby boat and hooked a large tilapia onto the end of my rod for the purposes of a great picture!….. Hey least i’m confessing to the lie before I show you!


They then took us to the local fish market where we got to see all the weird and wonderful species that live in Lake Victoria!


Whilst here we also saw some supermen! I’ve talked about the women being superwomen here but these guys were impressively unloading these huge bags of charcoal coming over from Uganda.


So continuing with the new experiences this weekend we went to Kit Mikayi. Basically a huge rock formation with some caves inside. It was really cool but amazingly we were climbing all over this rock with the help of a local who only had flip flops on! There was a point where I was reminded of that film where the guy gets stuck between 2 rocks for a month! Oh god I hope that doesn’t happen to me! I would not be prepared to break my own leg! We did pretty well though, no accidents but it was amazing that there was absolutely no health and safety measures, no forms to fill, no hard hats, no harnesses, just climb where you want!

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This was followed by a traditional Luo dance which we were of course asked to join in with! It’s a good job I’m not shy to wiggle it!


After this we took a boat ride over to Ndere Island. We were supposed to see some animals but having arriving at midday this was a slim possibility. So instead we just hiked! We stopped under a tree to take in the views. I’m not sure how it happened but I ended up teaching the others including the fisherman that got us to the island how to blow grass to make it toot. It was absolutely hilarious to watch. They felt such a sense of achievement when they managed to get it to toot! I’m glad I was able to impart some wisdom! ;o)

IMG_2643 IMG_2647 David celebrating after his first toot!

I also climbed a tree!! Something I’ve never really been able to do. I think because my mum always feared for my safety – must have been a clumsy child! But no mother here so rebel that I am, I climbed the tree just as I recall my dad reminiscing of how he used to in Kenya! Only trouble is I got up it and then couldn’t get down again. Oops! Fortunately David our driver came to the rescue with a piggy back! My hero!

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This week we have a very important, very formal Healthstart Conference for 2 days. All the key stakeholders and donors (I think mostly from the UK) are attending plus all the big dogs in Ogra and the government. I have been asked to present on the MARS project including showing some data. So in addition my new experiences I have been entering data from surveys all weekend and doing some simple data analysis (I’m no data manager or statistician). Here’s a sneak peak of what my data shows thus far in relation to school attendance…

graph 1 graph 3

An early indication following analysis of half of the follow up data:

graph 2

Psst, for those of you who may not have been following we’re hoping for the attendance to school to rise by follow up compared to baseline. i.e. they come to school more after the workshop where they make the towels! So essentially the blue bar on the left should be higher than the pink! ;o)

So I’m not shy of public speaking and giving presentations is something I’m quite used to. However usually when I give a presentation on my studies I have back up in the room. People who are better at answering the complicated questions. In this situation I don’t have that. I am the ‘expert’. I am the only one who knows this stuff, or should know anyway. If I don’t deliver it well and convince them of it’s worth they could pull the funding and it will be MARS Project no more. Eeek, I feel like I’m going into Dragons Den all of a sudden…


  1. Harshna
    Good to hear from you. Hope you had an enjoyable Diwali and new year. We all missed you during the various celebrations.
    Having read your blog, I am pleased to see your continuing to engage and enjoy the various activities. Good to see too that you are on the home run with follow up workshops. All the planning, organisation, hard work in the early days have proved valuable.
    Enjoy the last few weeks of follow up workshops.
    We are counting the weeks and days left for your return.
    Mum and dad

  2. Sounds like you are enjoying the follow up sessions in a different way to the initial workshops – thats pretty cool – you seem to be enjoying having achieved something with the girls so good on you!

    Nice to see you cracking on with the next challenge! Maybe you could teach me how to fish now…That fish is not the most misleading picture – however much you try I don’t think you could do quiet contemplation! Pictures of Kit Mikayi looks awesome but that guy cut his arm off after being stuck for 127 hours (hence the name of the film!). Initial results look good fantastic so have fun doing the presentation, enjoy yourself and spread the word. x

  3. Hello Harshna
    That “kidogo samaki” you caught must be fun , though you did not find fishing as relaxing. Climbing tree with sandals is not very good , I used to climb bearfoot and this allowed to grip the branch or trunk of the tree
    Anyway the pictures look very good and very much enjoyed reading the blog. We are missing you and we know that you have achieved a number of things that you set your mind to and now the end is near for the project. I believe that it will not be long before you are in UK and we will all be looking forward to that.
    So enjoy the last few weeks and hope they all work out in whatever follow up workshops etc you do.

    All our love Mum & Dad

  4. We missed you during Diwali Celebrations but it was nice talking to you on Skype on that day. The photographs are very good and nice to see you are trying other activities which I am sure you enjoyed them. Looking forward to your return home.
    Lots of love

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