From Malaria to Violence: Experiences Working in Kenya

May 21, 2013

foreign-correspondent badge finalI have to say the last week and a half of Working in Kenya has certainly been a thorough introduction to the risks and pitfalls of living in a developing country.

Perhaps I should have seen it coming when a Kenyan co-worker professed his love for me.

I am so not going there.

Or maybe I should have suspected something was up when my travel mate Katrina got malaria last week.

Affectionately known as the ‘Kenyan cold,’ I am pretty sure just about everyone I work with has had it at least once since I arrived 10 weeks ago.  Of course, for the majority of the Kenyans the symptoms really were more akin to a cold because they have had malaria before. For Katrina, she had the full brunt of the worst symptoms and the poor baby was shivering in her bed for two days, watching movies as I plied her with fruit.

Working in Kenya
Working in Kenya

Thankfully, with medication malaria will only last for 2-3 days so she was right as rain when Martina came to visit!  Martina is based in Moshi, Tanzania and came for a week to see Kisumu and our projects. And she came JUST in time for the political ‘unrest.’

Last Saturday we ventured out with a coworker, Staula, to see an NGO she volunteers with in Homa Bay called LARCOD.  We had an amazing and inspiring day, meeting with various women’s groups and clinics in the area and even had the opportunity to boil eggs in a hotspring!

It was a fantastic day!  Until the Supreme Court announced the elections as ‘free and fair’.

For those of you not up on your international politics, there was a considerable amount of civil unrest following the last elections in 2007.  Protests lasted for months and hundreds of people were killed. This year was the first presidential election since that unrest. Well, in comparison to 2007, what we went through was a small hiccup that simply inconvenienced us because we were in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Despite that, I will admit that the drive home was sufficiently terrifying, might have involved large rocks being thrown at our car and me hiding out under a backpack and a box of meat as our driver bribed a mob just outside of town for safe passage.

From Malaria to Violence: Experiences Working in Kenya.

Oh Kisumu.

We indeed made it home safely with a bit of a (mildly hysterical) laugh and a million new stories to share with our friends at home.

We had an interesting time at the site of the water tower extension as well.  A slight miscommunication followed by a small mistake led to a BIG accident.

I am very grateful, however, that nobody got caught underneath it, or they might have resembled the ladder that broke the tank’s fall.

It turns out that even empty, a 10,000L tank falling 27 feet has quite a bit of force behind it, if this bent steel is any indication.


A new tank will be procured tomorrow morning and its ascent to the top of the water tower will be overwhelmingly supervised, signaling the end of the longest leg of this journey: the water tower extension.

With the pipes all in place, we will begin construction of the water kiosk on Pamela‘s land next week and concurrently begin the training that will expand the reach of our community sensitization.  With any luck, the village of Kadiju will have access to clean water by the end of next week.

After the last two weeks, what else could possibly go wrong?

About Sydney Gray

After graduating from UC Berkeley, Sydney Gray volunteered in Kenya.

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