Friday, May 14, 2010
Room with a View
Yesterday we flew from Nairobi to Kisumu, and as I write I am sitting on my porch at the New Victoria Hotel, watching the Kisumu townspeople as they head to work. On the corner below me a group of eight men is pouring over the day’s newspapers while nearby people are sweeping the streets and lining up their wares. A boda boda zips past and is followed by a cyclist with bundles of grain tied to the back of his bike. I can see Lake Victoria, and the surrounding hills. Kisumu town is colorful and vibrant, and very different from Nairobi. This morning I awoke to the 5 am call to prayer from the nearby mosque—it was long and beautiful, even at 5 am.
Yesterday I met the research team, and my enthusiasm has increased exponentially, which I didn’t think was possible. Jacob, Rena, Violet, and John are just amazing, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with them on this project. We spent time organizing our plan of action, and today we’ll visit the village where our trial run will take place in a few weeks. Jacob and Rena work at IMPACT Research and Development Organization, which was founded by Dr. Kawango Agot. Martina says Kawango jokes that IMPACT began as an NGI—a non-governmental individual—and now it’s a large NGO with big presence in western Kenya. I am really inspired by the story of this woman who has become an inexorable force for her people and I look forward to meeting her on my return visit.
Today we traveled to the village, where we looked for a suitable site for our intervention trial run. We spent a couple of hours walking around, and were introduced to several key community leaders. We gained the approval of these leaders, and one of them designated a young man to walk us through the village and serve as our “security guard.” I didn’t get the sense we really needed security, but it did make it easier for a group of outsiders to move around and meet community leaders and village residents. We were asked to meet the principal of the primary school, and guess what that means??? Small friends! Yes indeed, I was quickly surrounded by a mob of tiny faces eager to appear in my digital photos!
I’m including some photos from the village. It was a very productive day of meeting the people we’ll be working with, and explaining our purpose and intentions.