July 08

Hakuna Matata

“It’s a problem-free philosophy” sang Timon to Pumbaa (the warthog) in the Lion King when he was feeling down, yet the translation ‘No Worries’ has really been brought to life in my first three weeks of being in this exotic, mysterious place named Kenya.

Greetings to all my family members, friends and coworkers. So far I have met GSK family at our Nairobi office and been warmly greeted and cared for in helping me get situated. The local non-Government Organization I am working for is called Amref and they supply visiting “flying doctors” to outreach areas across Africa, child protection and development services to kids they find abandoned in Kibera (2nd biggest slum in the world with ~1 million people) via the Dagoretti Centre, a local University, and many medical education programs across Africa since the 60’s when the needs were recognized. I have been through about 1.5 weeks of induction learning about all the different departments in order to be better prepared to help define the future operating strategy of Global Partnerships for the organization.

On a personal level, I have walked the streets of Nairobi, taken buses (Matatus), shopped in malls, visited parks, set up banking, searched for housing, and figured out transportation (initially Uber, but now have a full time minivan and driver as I am not yet comfortable taking on the madness of this traffic). I am called a “mzungu” which is Swahili/bantu dialect for white traveler. Personally, the Kenyans are warm, giving people who show their sentiments openly when dealing with those to whom they are attached. I have learned most of the people in Nairobi are not native to the area, but originate from one of the other 47 counties, so it is a bit of a melting pot. I am cautious when I walk the streets of Nairobi in daylight hours but not afraid. I see that people are easy going and patience is needed when dealing with them as I am commonly responded to with the popular phrase “Hakuna Matata”. It is clear to me that the people here know more about America than I do about Kenya. Despite their poverty wages (60% earn less than one dollar or 100 Shillings a day), they are fiercely proud of their country.

IMy family just arrived last Thursday on our proud day of Independence and already they have bonded with the neighborhood children. We traveled 15 minutes from our house and visited the local Nairobi national safari park, in which iconic wildlife are in the same view of the city skyscrapers. Today they will begin summer term at the Nairobi Waldorf school located just down the street from our rental house. More again soon…sincerely John