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Jambo!


This post has been sitting on the back burner for a while.. better late than never! 

Jambo means ‘Hi’ in Swahili. Believe it or not, Disney has already taught you Swahili. 'Hakuna Matata' is Swahili for 'no worries', 'Simba' means 'lion' and 'Rafiki' means 'friend.' This blew my mind. I hope you're excited. 

A number of people have been asking me what I'm actually doing in Kenya. Good question. 

I wake up at 5:30am every morning and the first thing on my mind is mango. Real mango. Mangoes are a rare sight to behold in the frigid and barren land known as Canada. I am taking full advantage of all the tropical fruit I can get my hands on.. including the bananas growing in our back yard. 




I take a 30-40 minute bus ride with the school kids through the outskirts of Nairobi. We wind through villages or "slums", markets and farmlands. (to read more about my experience in the slum where the children live, click here)




One of the first things I noticed about Africa is the shear number of people walking.. from toddlers to grandparents. Some are carrying water or produce on their heads and backs, others are pulling wagons or trailers. 


I also noticed the red soil. It's a clay called laterite that is enriched with iron and aluminum due to heavy rainfalls and intense heat. When I wash my feet at the end of the day I can see the water turn red. 


We round a corner and see the school perched on top of a hill overlooking the valley. Koinonia.


The teachers start every morning off by singing in our daily meeting. On Monday and Friday mornings we have 'flag raising' and sing the national anthem. 


Then we break into our respective classes and I assist the high school kids with their school work. Whenever they ask me a math or science question I get giddy and excited. If they ask an english or grammer question I cringe and start to break a sweat. 


I've also been doing some simple science experiments. We examined a chicken skeleton, water pressure, static electricity and mentos/diet coke explosion. The children are extremely inquisitive and enthusiastic, it's such a joy teaching them.  


Then we have recess and the teachers drink tea, or 'chi'. I have never seen people fill their mugs up almost to the brim! They call it "African style". The teachers joke with me and say that africans can fill their cups higher because they have flat noses. White folk only fill their mugs half way because our noses stick out so far! 



The children are absolutely obsessed with 'football' and rush outside as soon as they're done their porridge.



We have Swahili classes 3 times every week and I have slowly been expanding my repertoire beyond Disney. We've all heard 'safari' before, but what you probably didn’t know is that it means 'to travel'.

Here are some key words: 
How are you – Hujambo
I am fine – Sijambo
Thank you – Asante
Welcome – Karibu
Sawa - OK

One good think about Swahili is that the words are spelled the exactly the way they sound. None of this silent letter nonsense and “ph = f” shenanigans. Teaching someone English makes you realize how ridiculous the language actually is.

I’ve noticed that some of the English phrases Kenyans use are very British.

‘To let’.. For 2 weeks I thought that someone was being mischievous and removing all the ‘I’s on the 'To let' signs. No, apparently ‘To let’ means ‘To rent’

A number of the kids have complimented me saying “you’re smart”. At first I was confused about what I could have possibly done to lead them to believe that I’m so “smart” and intelligent. It turns out that they were complimenting my outfits.

At 12:30 we break for lunch, every day the children are fed a hearty meal because most don't eat much at home. Chapati Thursdays are my favorite.




On Monday, Wednesday and Friday the children have an hour of cross-country running. These kids are fast as lightning.. no wonder Kenya always places in the Olympics! Joshua's shoes fell apart so he finished the race in sock feet. 



The air is thin here, Nairobi is almost 6,000ft above sea level. It's a great place to improve an athlete's endurance because their bodies get used to functioning with less oxygen.  However, the thin air also makes it difficult to get a deep restful sleep in the evenings.

Then the bus takes us home. I really enjoy the bus rides, they give me a chance to unwind and reflect on the day's activities. I feel so incredibly blessed to be here. 




Saturdays are my days for doing touristy activities... like kissing giraffes.


Sundays we have church under the warm African sun.