Change Yourself…Change The World.


Giraffes and Elephants
September 7, 2010, 1:10 am
Filed under: Kenya, Pictures Post

Dear friends,

Yesterday was one of those completely perfect, amazing days, where everything goes right. If visiting an elephant orphanage center and watching baby elephants drink out of milk bottles and frolic in a watering hole didn’t get me as the most adorable thing I’ve ever seen, then it might have been the giraffe center, where I got to feed and pet the giraffes at face level- and even get a few giraffe kisses! Or maybe it was the Karen Blixen Museum, an artifact from both the amazing novel and book, Out of Africa (which I had luckily just watched Saturday night!), or the Kazuri bead factory. Perhaps it was from lunch at the laid back, quiet, and leisurely Tamambo Restaurant, overlooking a peaceful and sweet-smelling garden, where I ate the best cheeseburger in my life, downed with fresh squeezed orange juice.

But most likely, it was because I got to experience all of these wonderful things with another really interesting, amazing traveler, Emma, who spent the whole day with me to take in the adventure.

Continue for Pictures!



Watoto Wema Centre
September 5, 2010, 12:53 pm
Filed under: Kenya, Pictures Post

Dear friends,

I spent my Saturday in Nairobi visiting the Watoto Wema Centre, an orphanage on the outskirts of Nairobi. A project coordinator came from the orphanage to pick me up, and we took three different buses and an hour’s worth of traveling to get to a tiny sub-village within Nairobi, where 54 children are crammed into a small compound overlooking the plains of Kenya.

Continue Reading: Watoto Wema Centre



Inspiration
September 4, 2010, 5:22 pm
Filed under: Kenya

Peter and Helen

Dear friends,

I am really enjoying the hostel I’m temporarily living at. Recently, I decided that I am going to stay here for the duration of my fellowship in Nairobi, and I couldn’t be happier.

One of the best things about traveling is meeting new and interesting people, and one of the best places to do this is at a hostel. Recently, I came across two really amazing individuals, Peter and Helen, who have been traveling for four and a half years now. They travel somewhere and when they get there, decide how long they want to stay (the best way to travel). They’ve done all kinds of amazing volunteer projects, and are on their way to Madagascar to work with coral reef conservation. Interestingly enough, when asking them how they finance their travels, Peter and Helen told me that they rent out their apartment in Brooklyn, which enables them to live comfortably and travel wherever their hearts desire. I had never heard of such an unusual way of being able to travel before, but they make it work.

Here’s to you, Peter and Helen. I hope that I can be as cool as you two someday. Thanks for inspiring me.



Nairobi (The ‘Bubble’ Has Burst)
September 1, 2010, 1:50 am
Filed under: Kenya

I just keep on churning out these realizations right in a row, don’t I?

Over the past few days I’ve realized that the area that I live in Nairobi- the Kilimani area, home to a large number of expats- is a complete bubble, and not an accurate representation of the city at all. In fact, all of the areas I’ve traveled around in Nairobi the past few weeks: Kilimani, Westlands, Central Downtown (near the Hilton Hotel), all cater to expats, which means they are INCREDIBLY posh. These are hubbubs for those who work for the UN, USAID, or some other kind of international organization (mostly in development). The streets are clean and calm, chain stores in the imitation of Starbucks (I’m currently typing from a delicious café/restaurant chain ‘Java Café’) litter the sides of Ngong Road, shopping malls catering to every need and desire of what the West expects Africa would be (flower-printed dresses, zebra-striped tableware, giraffe carvings) garnish Kilimani like an overgrown garden.

This has been my experience of Nairobi: an upper-class, highly sophisticated city (at least compared to other major African cities like Addis Ababa, Ethiopia). How is this city even nicknamed Nairobbery? I remember asking myself. Admittedly, I’ve been EXTREMELY lax with my valuables, wandering up and down the streets without a lock on my backpack, pulling out my iPhone to check the time and maybe change the song while I stroll to work, flashing my valuables at the office and sometimes even leaving my hostel door unlocked while I chill in the garden. Not once have I been mugged, or turned around to find a valuable missing in my pack. I’ve even dared walking down the road to my hostel alone at night, without fear or threat. Where is this Nairobi I’ve heard so much about that are full of thugs, carjackings, and violence?

Reality check: Nairobbery exists, and I experienced it today.

Continue Reading



My Stint in a Nairobi hospital- New Kiva Blog Post
August 25, 2010, 4:17 am
Filed under: Kenya

Dear friends,

It has been well over a week since my last update, and you are probably wondering where I am and if I’m alive. Yes, I am alive. I have been thinking of how to talk about this past week, which has been very intense and takes a lot of explanation. I decided the best way to start was to present my blog post I just wrote for Kiva, which is about my stay in the hospital last Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Happy reading and more updates coming very soon.

Much love,

Brittany



The first Kiva blog post is finally here!
August 16, 2010, 1:25 pm
Filed under: Kenya

Hi friends,

Check out my first blog post on Kiva!

Much love,
Brittany



A Bit About Kenya
August 10, 2010, 1:59 pm
Filed under: Kenya

Dear friends,

Sorry I haven’t written in a few days. Finding reliable internet here has proved to be much more of a challenge then I originally thought!

Kenya is fantastic so far. I have successfully moved into a gorgeous and fully furnished 3 bedroom apartment. There’s hardwood floors and old-fashioned windows with lots of natural light, which is just what I wanted. I have a large room with red curtains, zebra-print covers on my bed, and lots of sunlight! Shower with HOT water! A maid that comes every day and cleans the entire house, does the dishes, and our laundry (and this is price-inclusive- and believe me, I’m paying less than half of what I would for a room in the US, so the amenities are amazing!) My roommate, Walter, is 25 and working in the financial sector in Nairobi (right up my alley, so it’s nice to chat with him about the social enterprise). We both love to cook, and I think we’re going to get along really well. We are renting the apartment from a really nice Kenyan/Irish couple, who have an adorable 2 year old daughter. Best of all, the place is located directly behind the ‘Junction Mall’– apparently in Nairobi ALL directions are given in vicinity to what mall you are by. The location is a HUGE plus- Walter likes to call the Junction Mall ‘a little slice of America.’ There are all kinds of stores, a ‘Java Cafe,’ movie theatre, and HUGE shopping mart featuring pretty much every kind of food you can possibly imagine. Directly in front of the mall is the bus line (they are called ‘matatus’ here, which is essentially a huge van which people pile into to get around the city) that takes me straight to work.

The first few days have been a lot of settling in and getting acquainted with my living situation. Buying groceries, getting sim cards (for phone AND internet- in Kenya they have sort of USB sticks where you input sim cards, and you can use the internet anywhere. Pretty ingenious method, but WAY expensive. However, I’m probably not doing it right yet), getting acquainted with Faulu Kenya, and basically trying to orient myself around Kenyan life. I’m taking in Kenya much slower than I did in Egypt, Jordan, and Ethiopia- maybe because I know that I’ll be here for awhile, so I have time.

I’m really excited to see where these next few months will take me, and the things that I’ll learn.

Speaking of learning, I’d also like to make an exciting announcement!

I am working with Faulu Kenya from Monday to Thursday, and taking Fridays to explore other organizations in Nairobi. Nairobi is one of the most densely populated areas in the world for international development, which means there are countless organizations in my sector that I’m really interested in connecting with and seeing what they’re doing. So to bring a bit of continuity to the blog, each Friday I plan to visit a different organization, and then feature them in a blog post! These organizations will all vary: non-profit, NGO, government organization, for-profit, social enterprise; one Friday I could be visiting an orphanage and the next a United Nations office. You won’t know until I post! Since a lot of my blogging is about traveling (change yourself), I thought this could be a fun way to integrate the other tagline of the website (change the world).

But I’d also like to get YOU, the readers, involved as well! If you know of GREAT organizations in Nairobi, then suggest them in the comments! I will definitely take them into serious consideration.

Whether I’ll actually be going THIS Friday is up to debate, as I still feel a bit disoriented with the city (but in reality, I’m waiting to hear back from an organization to see if I can visit this week). But starting soon, expect weekly Friday posts about what the international development scene looks like in Nairobi!

So there you have it guys. Time for sleep!

Much love,

Brittany



Kenyaaa (Cue Enigma’s ‘Return to Innocence’)
August 7, 2010, 12:53 pm
Filed under: Kenya

Hi everyone,

I got to Kenya yesterday afternoon, and I’ve been having the strangest, disorientating feeling since arriving. When I first stepped out of the airport, a sense of immense excitement and anticipation burst from my chest, and I could hear my heart exuding ‘FINALLY!’ As if I had been waiting my whole life to come here. This unearthly realization that’s plagued me since arrival is assuring me that these next few months in Kenya are going to be absolutely formative. Inspiring. Life-altering

I’m ready for it all. Nairobi, Kenya: nice to meet you. I have a feeling we’re going to become very, very good friends.



Kenya!
June 13, 2010, 11:02 pm
Filed under: Egypt, Jordan, Kenya

Dear faithful readers,

Sorry I haven’t updated in a few days. I am back home in lovely Florida, relaxing at my parents house. I’m not sure if you are all aware of this, but both of my parents have quite an unusual diet. You could say that they’re vegan, or raw foodists, or a combination of both (my mother has been this way for quite awhile, my father, more recently). My mom reads religiously on the benefits of raw nutrition and why they are so wonderful for your overall health.

So it’s wonderful to come home and reap the benefits, which means all kinds of delicious raw vegan cheeses, piles of fruit in the fridge for my sampling, salads galore, thai coconuts, and best of all, oranges and oranges for my parents’s pristine juicer. Whenever I come home it is paradise, and I am taking it all in and feeling so happy and healthy.

But this is not the point of this post, so I move on. I found out where I will be going for my Kiva fellowship! But before I get into the details, I wanted to explain a bit about what a Kiva fellowship is.

First off, for those that are unaware, Kiva is an online micro-lending platform, where people in developed countries can connect to entrepreneurs in developing countries, lending anywhere from $25 to an unlimited amount to these entrepreneurs. It’s a really fantastic and completely innovative concept to looking at development, and the best part is the lender gets back their money after usually a year’s time. Many people recycle their first loan right back into Kiva. It’s a wonderful system.

The way that Kiva does this, is by connecting with micro-finance institutions (MFIs) all over the world. Kiva currently has 100+ ‘field partners’ (MFIs) that submit Kiva entrepreneurs to the website to be lended to.

What a Kiva FELLOW does is work at one of these micro-finance institutions for about 4 months, overseeing the Kiva department and making sure that operations between Kiva and the micro-finance institution are running smoothly. And so with great excitement and pleasure, I’m really pleased to announce that I will be working with Faulu Kenya, the largest micro-finance organization in Kenya! They are a Christian organization originally founded by Food for the Hungry International, and they’ve recently started working with mobile banking, which I find fascinating (given my experience with mobile applications during my internship with Grameen Solutions, a software development company and subsidiary of Grameen Bank). While Faulu Kenya has branches all over the country, most of the Kiva borrowers are based in Nairobi, and so I will be stationed on the outskirts of Nairobi for the duration of my fellowship. I am incredibly excited to have such a wonderful opportunity, and I can’t wait to go!

But that’s just the beginning– I have a two week gap from the end of Kiva training (which is held in San Francisco) and the start of my fellowship- and so I will be going to Egypt for five days, followed by Jordan for four days! I plan to visit the pyramids and the Nile River in Egypt, and Petra (one of the seven wonders of the world) and the Dead Sea in Jordan! I am SO unbelievably excited to go to both of these places and have the opportunity to experience two countries I’ve been dying to see.

Moreover, after my fellowship ends, I have a month before I head home for Thanksgiving– and so I will be traveling to Uganda, Rwanda, and Tanzania, and maybe even stop by Malawi, or jet-set to Ethiopia.

So there you have it. My African adventures start on July 21st. At least six more countries in a duration of five months. Ready set go!

Much love,

Brittany