Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The end is near...

It's been a little while since I've posted, but that's because we've been on the road and busy! We took our trip out to Kisumu, and - aside from getting violently ill and missing out on one of the training days - everything went really well! We took a nearly 12 hour van ride to our destination. It was long but very beautiful. About an hour outside of Nairobi, we turned a corner and came upon the massive Rift Valley…a very green and nearly uninhabited valley, as far as the eye could see. We made a quick stop, very crowded with tourists and tourist shops selling polar bear rugs and hats (what?!).  After that, we passed kilometers and kilometers (excuse me, miles and miles - when will we finally join the rest of the world and start using the metric system?) of tea farms. In Achego, a small village outside of Kisumu, we trained 75 midwives. They came ready to learn, share stories, sing (there was lots of singing!), and bring what they learned to their respective communities. What a great group of women! We managed to fit in one day of free time, and our hosts took us out to Lake Victoria. We rented a small motor boat, saw some hippos (yes, again!), then went to lunch where I watched everyone thoroughly enjoy some giant, fresh tilapia. We rode home with a much less cautious driver in about half the time, and made it back to Nairobi completely exhausted.

We've spent the past couple of weeks wrapping up our work. We completed one last sanitary pad training with the women (and one very interested and entrepreneurial man) in Kambi Muuru. This is one of our new facilities and the group seems very eager to take advantage of any business opportunities. They are very into selling soap and Waterguard, and I have a feeling they will be making and selling their own pads when we check back in.  This past Friday, we had an incinerator delivered for each facility for the purpose of disposing of the sanitary pads. They are made by a company called re:char, and they actually convert the burned waste into charcoal. For the agricultural communities where they normally work, the charcoal can be incorporated into the soil to drastically improve yields, but in the case of Kibera, the coal can be sold for cooking. A guy came out to do a demonstration, and they should be up and running as soon as we can install sanitary bins into the facilities. One last step to wrap up this project for the summer!

This weekend we were able to take one last trip to Lake Naivasha. We stayed at a small hostel right on the lake, where we were able to relax, have some Tuskers, and continue our epic BvG euchre battle. On Saturday, we rented some mountain bikes (from a fellow named Dan- but you can call me the Philosopher- also known as Crunchy) and rode into Hell's Gate National park. What an incredible place! As soon as we entered the park, it was like we were in a completely different world. It was wide open, green, and we were surrounded by giant volcanic rock. We rode about a total of 20km and saw zebra, giraffes, wart hogs, antelope, and baboons - some of them were right next to the road! We have a little bit of a run-in with a baboon. Does anyone know what to do when you encounter a baboon? Yea, we didn't either. We made it out alive, with nothing more than an adrenaline rush :) If the biking and wildlife wasn't enough, the best part about the park was the gorge. We ditched our bikes at the top, and after fending off hundreds of swarming tour guides, we hiked down and wandered around for a couple of hours.  I wish my pictures could do it justice! We walked at the very bottom of the gorge and were surrounded by incredible rock formations on either side. We climbed, repelled, forged streams, risked our lives (okay I'm exaggerating, but there were a bunch of obstacles, and it was super fun). We eventually made our way up to see one of the most stunning views I'll probably ever see. It was just so HUGE! The feeling was hard to describe.

We've got a couple more days in Nairobi before we leave for Uganda. We'll be spending our time doing some data entry (from all of the household surveys), spending the last of the grant money, meeting with partners about future plans and follow-up, and saying goodbye to all of the new friends we've made over the summer. I can't believe that it's already time to wrap up and head out. These two months went by way too fast, and I wish I could stay longer. I am super pumped to explore Uganda, though, and we've got some pretty exciting plans. Canoeing and staying on an island in Lake Bunyonyi, white water rafting on the Nile, no biggie. I'll be seeing you suckers soon!

Lake Naivasha

Campground near the lake

There were birds. Lots and lots of birds.

Hell's Gate NP

A view of Fischer's Tower

We saw tons of zebras!

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A geyser at the park's geothermal station

Inside the gorge

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