C-SPAN and Sparkletts
People always ask me what my days are like here, in Kuria. My standard response is that my life in Kenya is pretty similar to my life in Southern California- except different. My blog generally concentrates on the CED program. I try to give updates and unveil our plans for the project. Some of the feedback commented on the possibility that my blog could be boring for those who don’t live and breathe microfinance and international development. In all actuality, my writing “style”- if that’s what you want to call it- has all the captivating qualities of C-SPAN with less content.
Today will be different. No, I didn’t do any creative writing workshops during my home leave, so readers cannot expect any improvement in the quality of my writing; however, I generally can boast that my blog contains an above average usage of proper grammar and an over-active appreciation of alliteration, so if you are a lover of semi-colons and even full-fledge colons, then grip the reins for another bolstering blog:
I suppose my daily routine is pretty normal (if there is such a thing): I wake-up around 6:00 to 6:30; I make my morning cup of coffee; and I read the news. Sure, there are differences: I do get dressed in long-sleeves, long pants, and put on socks to limit the mosquito attacks; I change our nighttime guard with our daytime guard- when it’s my turn; I make my coffee with a little cafeteria and powdered milk (fresh milk isn’t easy to come by early in the morning and we don’t have a refrigerator); when I check the news, I start with Africa section to make sure that everything is still “OK”; and then I start my day.
My commute is like anyone else’s: I carpool; I try to avoid tolls; and I hope that I don’t get stuck in traffic on the way to the office. I guess what makes my commute a bit different than the “normal” commute is that: I carpool with two to three people on a motorcycle to get to the office; the tolls that I try to avoid are from the corrupt police trying to extort bribes from me because they see a foreigner (and Kenyans alike) as an ATM; and the traffic jam is either a herd of cattle or a lorry slipping around in the mud on the dirt road on the way to the office.
My office is an office like any other: we have co-workers; we have computers; and we have a water cooler. Nuru’s office might be a bit different than the one in which you work. Our office building is currently holding 200 tons of maize; the majority of the day is spent in the field (which often is in fact a field) training our members; we have a couple laptops run off of a solar panel, but the majority of our computer work is done over our Nokia mobile phones; and the water for our water cooler isn’t delivered by Sparkletts, it is collected from the local pump that Nuru drilled, and carried by head-top to our office.
My commute home is much like the way to work. Sure there are some other routine occurrences for which we need to prepare: sometimes the rains start early and the roads and bridges are impassable, and we need to go around by foot, which could add around five miles to our walk home; we pick-up groceries- produce at a market stall, meat at the butcher’s shed; and sundries at a “supermarket”; and we all have a curfew. The roads are dirt, so, on a rainy day, we can get trapped in the mud if we take a motorcycle. Rain comes down like a monsoon, so it is first waited out, and then followed-up on foot, which makes for a pretty messy walk home. The groceries on our way home generally require a fair amount of negotiation, which can be limited by prospects of rain and nightfall; the butcher shops are generally something that we would refer to as a shed. Beef hangs split down the center lengthwise on a hook. It is unrefrigerated, so it is good to adapt a keen eye for freshness- 3-day old beef isn’t great for the digestion. As far as a curfew, it is somewhat dangerous where we live after nightfall, which is why we have a daytime guard and nighttime guard. We all rush to get home before dark. It makes for an effective way to make sure that everyone gets home for dinner. We eat together, and talk about our days. After dinner we all do a little bit more work before going to bed. In the morning, we start all over again.
As you can see, my routine isn’t that different from a normal one that one has in the US or Europe, but what this description of my schedule fails to illustrate is why I get up every morning to face each coming day. I can give a normative explanation of my job or my day, but it fails to grasp the essence of my job or my life here. Everyday I wake-up like a child on Christmas morning. I eagerly await each sunrise to start this routine all over again because I work with some of the most amazing people I have ever met. We work together- everyone- to make lasting change.
About Aerie Changala
Chief Executive Officer — Aerie earned his BA in International Affairs from John Cabot University (Rome, Italy) and his MA in International Conflict Analysis from the University of Kent (Canterbury, UK). He served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in northern Burkina Faso. Aerie has been part of Nuru’s leadership since Nuru’s earliest days. Aerie initially served as Nuru’s second Team Leader in Kenya (following Jake) and has since led scouting, launching and designing of Nuru’s projects. Having spent the majority of his adult life living throughout Europe and sub-Saharan Africa, Aerie has traveled extensively, speaks seven languages, and brings a global perspective to his work at Nuru.Read More Stories of Hope