Monday, May 30, 2011

East Africa Day 14 (Fri May 27): My First Ventures into Nanyuki’s Government Compound

I went back into town today with the newly arrived volunteer Sue from Marin County, CA – as well as Pamela, Andy, Wa and the mechanic, Peter. (There are a few Peter’s on campus, including Mr. Wa.) Full car!

Stopped at the local branch of Kenya’s big supermarket to pick up some snacks. I found a few products made by the brand name “Organic”. I inspected the products’ ingredients and found that the items don’t contain anything “organic”, and instead contain a lot of chemicals. Reminded me of the US where the word “natural” isn’t regulated, and as a result is used to advertise unhealthy products full of chemicals. (Can you tell that this is one of my pet peves?:) So “Organic” brand, fair enough!
I had been asking Wa for information leads the other day. He referred me to someone he knows who works in the District’s Education Office in Nanyuki. Today was the first time I’d been in town since then, so I excitedly walked over to the Government Compound across the street from The Eatery, while Andy, Pamela and Sue had lunch and used the wireless.

Since my contact at the Education Office was out to lunch when I arrived, I went to the Customer Care free-standing office, which looked kind of like a pre-pay booth in a paid lot at a sports stadium. The young woman in the Customer Care booth, who was wearing a red skirt suit, walked me to the Statistics Office. (Each government office has its own building, in the compound –it’s set up kind of like a college campus quad.) I met with a civil servant who not only took me seriously, but told me that he would do some research for me, and told me when to come back. Next week – fast turnaround! He also referred me to one of his colleagues in the Statistics Office, who coincidentally is just starting a project that will be very helpul to me. Yay!
After lunch – during which I learned that Nanyuki does not recycle - I went back to the Education Office and eventually connected with Wa’s contact there. He also took me very seriously and spent about an hour with me, thoughtfully answering my questions. A colleague came in while we were meeting and gave me some additional information, too. We didn’t have time to finish our conversation because our ride back to campus was departing, so he told me that I can come back next week. It was a great conversation that clarified a lot of things that I’d picked up from internet research, and I learned some new things, too. Plus, it was really fun to check out the Government Compound!

When I got back to campus, the students were playing sports. I watched the volleyball team practice from the sidelines with Jacinta, and Teacher Paris. Paris is so nice – we talked about my research project, and she gave me additional first-hand information about the Kenya Public University application process and bursaries. (Bursaries are scholarships – essentially “free money”.) It was great to be able to run what I’d taught myself by Paris, to make sure that I am understanding things correctly. Today was a very fruitful day! Plus, my netbook is back on campus!

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