Hello everyone! My name is Amy Ma. I am from California and am currently a rising sophomore at Gettysburg College studying Health Science. It’s been about a week since Augie and I have arrived in Kisumu, Kenya. The dirt paved roads are filled with people, tuktuks, pikipikis (motorcycles), bodaboda (Bicycles), matatus (minivan bus), cows, goats, and bigger cars all driving in a small cloud of dust. If you are imagining how the roads are: think cozy. My favorite mode of transportation thus far is a pikipiki. I love the weather here, even though I’m consistently sweating. The sun warms you up to the core and there is a light breeze of wind that will make you feel legen— wait for it—- dary. People here are always updated on the current political issues of Kenya and I had already discussed with my host parents about issues in the Middle East, poverty, and access to health care in the United States and Kenya. There is also a very strong presence of religion. Most Kenyans are Born Again Christians. Their faith and love towards God is limitless. Church is always filled with song and energy.
As a foreigner, strangers address me as a ‘mzungu’ or ‘China’. Surprisingly, there has been an influx of Chinese people to Kenya who can speak fluent Kiswahili.
For those who are unaware of my purpose in Kenya, I will be interning with Kenya Medical Education Training (KMET) in Kisumu (KMET.co.ke) whose mission is to promote innovative and sustainable health and education programs to underserved communities. KMET offers reproductive health resources, assists in community conversations, offers vocational training for girls, has a school branch— they do a lot that empowers the community to take leadership roles. You can really see the footprint it makes with the people and in the communities. What I like most about KMET is that they empower and do not aim to save or run the community. I know that I will learn a lot from KMET during my stay here.
I am living in a host family, where I get to eat Ugali (cake), Chapatti, vegetables, fish, and fruits. Their youngest son, Mark, loves to draw and read. He assists me in getting to know the culture more and educating me on whether I have been overcharged for a pikipiki ride. Rachael, who is around my age, is who I will talk to when I need a laugh or a shoulder to lean on. My host dad is a principal at a college and my host mom works with KMET in the Youth Empowerment Program, which I will be working with.
Thus far in KMET, we are going through orientation. We have met the girls who are taking the vocational classes in tailoring, catering, or beauty. We also went to community meetings where they talked about their concerns and discussed solutions.
Though Kenya is about 10 hours ahead of California and thousands of miles away I can say that Kisumu is starting to feel like home. Everyone is extremely welcoming and loves to smile. Every morning I have this beautiful view of the mountain skyline and the sun rising behind it.
As my time in Kisumu progresses, I am learning more about the culture and the dedication people have towards developing their society to a place where everyone is able to practice their rights. If you, readers, have any questions about the conversations I had or clarifications of what I said, shoot me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org and I will respond as soon as I can. Or comment here! Woo Woo!
See you later!
Amy Ma ’18