Saturday, March 31, 2007

Zippy Okoth performs at Alliance Francaise - Nairobi

Nairobi is flourishing with culture and it's hard to let it just pass you by while living in this vibrant city. Last night, Zippy Okoth, performed a 11 song set for her packed crowd at the Alliance Francaise. Sporting a rad yellow dress, her and her band got the audience dancing to her songs dedicated to mothers, fathers and victims of rape (an unfortunate act of commonality in domestic homes of sub-Saharan Africa). She is articulate and gets us laughing with her songs pulling male members to the stage and eluding to her tears of a shy girl (when she is most obviously not that shy!). She has a voice for African women and hope to see her perform down the road with the growing number of Kenya's upcoming performers.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Young Kenya Entrepreneurs keen for business

Last weekend, I was invited to attend a Young Entrepreneurs Symposium hosted by the Kimathi Information Centre. The organizers, Jose and Carthy, were kind enough to arrange my pickup and tour of their digs while organizing their first big event hosted by the centre. They were hosting this event because a number of young people had asked for information on how to start a small business and where to get financing. Within two months, they brought in the Kenyan government representatives of the Youth Enterprise Fund, a few microfinance institutions and motivational speakers to address the group of over 100 young people on how to approach small business in Kenya.

Just as an observer, I was blown away by the initiative of this group of young volunteers who came together and produced a well-attended event for their neighborhood. They also organized a Market Day to allow young people to display their wares and word on the street found some of the biggest sales happening due to the event. Impressive.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Bouquet to a stranger

Originally uploaded by make_change.
How little things can brighten one's day like yesterday's gift: a bouquet of flowers from a few schoolgirls as I walked home. "You can keep this one," they told me and little did they know it was my first flower bouquet of the year.

Kenya News: I learned yesterday that three Canadians were killed in a road accident on their way to Samuru Game Park outside of Nairobi. Their van was hit on the side by an out-of-control truck. Other Canadians and one Japanese were injured and in hospital. My condolences go out to their families back home for their children to be so far away and have a tragic accident to happen.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Endless Possibilities of E-Commerce

I have joined the digital world and bought my first e-book and e-magazine online. On the hard drive of my computer, I now have one PDF copy of The World of Goods: the Anthropology of Consumption by Mary Douglas and Baron Isherwood from ebookmall and for my closet-fan obsession of fashion magazines: Zinio's Elle Magazine. The downloads for both products were relatively quick (like any other kind of download), and I am once again amazed at the availability of information now here at our fingertips even here in Nairobi. Even working with this Canadian organization, I am fully connected to all libraries around the world and through inter-library loans, can access any publication. Now the question remains if the rest of the world can have such access, can the possibilities even be imagined?

Monday, March 19, 2007

News from Nairobi: March 2007

So I was doing a search on the web and found that a website had posted my blog on the Java House as "Kenya News". I guess the website gathers interesting stories pertaining to the region and puts them all in this one place.

Things are going real well in Nairobi. Within the country of Kenya, final preparations for the World Cross Country Championships race in Mombasa is underway. The local papers are posting photos of all the athletes flying into the country for the race and excitement building for this weekend. On the other side of the coin, the papers have also been reporting on the poor gentrification process. Instead of assisting to clean up the filthy alleys of the city, the committee responsible has instead put up large sheets of metal to cover up the realities. Also streetchildren have been "swept away" for the event and rumours of protest line the newspaper columns. It is a bit sad that some poor results of preparing well in advanced for a world class event has again surfaced and what can one do but hope the race goes well??

Aling Mary's on the Vancouver Sun!

After doing my weekly call back home to my parents, I found out my cousin and aunt were on the business section of the Vancouver Sun for their infamous Filipino shop on Main Street and in Surrey called Aling Mary's. The photo was taken by the Vancouver Sun's Bill Keay. Read more...

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Hoodo and I having a java jolt before concert!

Java House is this uber Nairobi trendy coffee shop that is making quite the scene in the city. The place was packed on the Wednesday night, but I've heard that it's always busy no matter what time of day. This can be saying something about demand for coffee by the middle-upper class of this place. Then we moved on to check a Kenyan dance performance by Alema Dance. Check out the photos by clicking on Hoodo and I!

By the way, check out the funky scarf that I'm sporting. Before coming over to the Java House, Hoodo and I did an out-of-town shop for funky goods at a place called maridadi fabrics. Some super finds and has been supporting poor women since 1967. I will be bringing back this product for sale to you in Vancouver! :)

Sunday, March 11, 2007

I touched a child's heart.

I touched a child's heart.
Originally uploaded by make_change.
I ran my first 10 km race during The Mater Heart Run on Saturday, March 10, 2007. This run was organized to fundraise for the children’s unit for the Mater Hospital in Nairobi. After picking up the troops (co-worker, her sister and her sister’s kids), we drove over the Nyayo Stadium, where the race would kick off. In Nairobi, I’m used to watching these kites (type of predator bird) circle the sky but here, the trees were lined with the marabu storks I first saw at the Nairobi National Park.

We entered the stadium and found a sea of green t-shirts. Of course, I pulled the usual t-shirt ripping tradition and re-designed a once warm oversized shirt to a sleeveless jersey. We were off at the sound of a marching band that squeezed and bottle-necked at the exit of the stadium and ran in the middle of Uhuru highway and around Nairobi. Running is actually a really great way to see the outskirts of the city but I’d probably not do it if it wasn’t for this race. The sea of green started to break up a bit as people started to run-walk but the kids I’d pass (or they’d pass me) were full energy! I finished with the first 2000 people (because the first 2000 get a certificate!) and then proceeded to see the rest of the festivities.

After run events saw loads of high school and elementary school students crowd near the stage to watch their school mates have dance-offs and watch performances by local Kenyan artists. There were also booths surrounding the stadium. One which caught my eye was the Alive and Kicking Kenya – NGO supporting unemployed youth to make hand-stitched soccer and volleyballs and also promote messages of malaria and HIV/AIDS prevention. Very innovative ideas so I bought one of their leather soccer balls for 1000 Kenyan shillings (about $12 CAD).

After the race, I relaxed at home before heading to the nearby mall, Yaya Centre. I enjoyed a healthy roast-beef and strawberry juice at some health fruit juice shop and then found a cute little bookshop called Legacy Books. The shop sells books and reports on community development and is attached to a small coffee shop. Brilliant idea!

Friends are popping over to Africa from the sounds of a few emails. One for child care in Ghana and another assisting with some program promoting Africa bike designs for Kona… sponsor an African bike! Such a good idea because most people cannot afford cars and the bicycle is the best and healthy method of transport considering the road conditions and inaccessibility to some of the villages!

I have just met these Japanese dudes who do a Japanese tour to slum programmes all over Kenya as well as throw in a bit of the tourism bit. One guy buys goods from Kibera and Thika slum workshops (hand crafted pen holders, wire /bead animals, etc) and sells them with their group in Japan.

So many wonderful small ideas assisting with development for the communities. One dollar goes a long way for many of these places so if interested, save your pennies and support a LOCAL African community group!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


As part of my internship, I stipulated on my workplan that I would create a blog corresponding to the work that I would be doing here in East Africa. Although most of my work so far has been limited mainly to literature review / desk work, you can check out some of the popular media links and articles that I am picking up on the field of ICTs and development. I have also listed all the partners of this IDRC-funded project with which I am attempting to coordinate. In the next few months, I will start heading out in to the field to participate with PICTURE Africa (Poverty and Information and Communication Technology in Urban and Rural East Africa), a project seeking to learn how ICTs are affecting poverty in East Africa. Take a look if you are interested in Africa's work in ICTs and development.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Diga with Orphan Elephants

Diga with orphan elephants
Originally uploaded by make_change.
I just watched the video twice and think it's hilarious! The baby elephant's trunk just poked right over the fence and stunned Hoodo and I, briefly until I was brave enough to tickle the young ellie! I added a few photos of the orphan elephants, just click on the photo to see! We spent a good hour with these elephants and their caretakers. They take donations and host an adopt-an-orphan-baby-elephant campaign.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Elephant Orphanage visit in Nairobi

This weekend, I took a break from work and cruised over to Karen to visit the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, an organization which cares for orphan elephants and rhinos. We spent the afternoon watching this playful bunch of ellies roam around like children playing in the blankets, and teasing you with their trucks. In our visit, one month old, Kilgoris, was found hanging out with some Maasai cows when he was swept away from his family during a major flood. The Maasai people had then informed Kenyan Wildlife Service to come and take care of this orphan elephant. Adorable!