Friends of Lake Turkana

As of now I have spent just over two weeks in Turkana County. My first two weeks were spent in Lodwar networking and getting both my head and my way around my study and my approach. As mentioned in my previous post I had a few meetings and todays post was going to introduce my meeting with the organisation Friends of Lake Turkana.

I was met by the executive director, Ikal, and her colleague Andrew. They were both happy to receive me and assist me in answering questions in regards to the current situation of extractives in the area. Friends of Lake Turkana are actively working in representation of the local communities as well as communicators to them from both national and local government and were therefore very well informed and had no hesitated answers to my questions.

I introduced my study and my aim from which we had discussions of how I could possibly move forward and how they could be of help. It led to contacts in the field in Lokichar, as well as being invited to come with one of their representatives to a meeting held Tuesday 27th when Kenya Land Alliance was launching a report regarding land acquisition and community compensation. The meeting lasted for approximately 6hs, and was not only informative and contributed to material to my study, it was also a great opportunity for further networking.

Through connections received by Friends of Lake Turkana, that is on site in Lokichar where the oil fields are, I have now started my interviews with the local communities. I left Lodwar after the meeting on the 27th and arrived in Lokichar in the afternoon. In the photos below you can the landscape we drove through to get to my new destination.

Next week I will write about my first time and experience in Lokichar and the plan for my coming weeks as I have had to rearrange and re-plan most of the rest of my trip due to new circumstances.

My first week in northern Kenya

Welcome to Lodwar (see photos)! This is my new home, at least for the first two weeks (as I will be going back and forth to Lokichar), and in this post I will introduce to you my first week in this town.

I have now been at my study destination for exactly one week, and I have experienced both difficulties and progress. My first two days were fairly quiet and were used to try to get to know my surroundings and how to make my way around everything. I quickly noticed that everyone is very curious of me and walking around in central is not done discreetly. Everybody is starring (in friendly ways) and many come up just simply to say “Welcome!” and shake my hand. Those who do not come up still wave hello from a distance. So, during my first couple of days here I was taking in the whole picture of my new environment, locating myself, finding places to eat and finding my permanent boda boda/piki piki driver (motorcycle taxi) as it is easier to have one or two you can call when you need to go somewhere.

Although its rain season in Kenya, we experience very little of this and temperatures reach up to 40c every day in the sun, and approximately 33-35c in the shades. There are two hotels here where there is access to swimming pool, and one can pay a fee (500 ksh/43 sek) for a full day access to the pool, and this is where I spent my weekend :).

I had my first meeting with a girl I got in contact with through the project leader I am cooperating with. She works at an NGO here, and I am very pleased with how successful this meeting was. Other than this I have had a bit of a slow start but things are falling into place and I am getting more and more prepared to head out and commence the actual interviewing and field study!

In the next post I will write about my meeting with Friends of Lake Turkana that I have on Wednesday and our potential cooperation that I hope for!

Lots of love, Emma B

130111–Matataus, Kibera and KiSwahili!

Mambo! Sasa?

My swahili, or kiswahili is getting better. Especially now that I’ve got to practice all day with a bunch of amazing kids in Kibera. Today was the first day I got to experience another reality here in Kenya. No armed guards or running water. Sophie, the director of 5 C Human Rights Theater group very kindly invited me to her home and let me hang out with her family and friends all day. She met me at a mall close by my house and then we took a matatau, a small minibus, to her house. Now I’m her adopted Swedish daughter and she’s going to teach me some genuine Kenyan cooking and take care of me whilst I’m here. The older kids taught me how to count in Swahili and I taught them how to count in Swedish. And Sophie also told me to stop being a baby about the matataus (apparently they drive like crazy and are quite crowded and a haven for pick-pockets, so I still need to keep my guard up though) and just go ahead and take them. Something that will save me around 570 KSH a day. The taxi to her house is 600 KSH and the matataus are only 30 KSH combined.

Besides hanging out and taking about life, eating really good food and messing around with the three youngest ones Sophie also told me a lot about what she does, what’s she’s passionate about and what some of the struggles women in Kenya face on a day to day basis. We also of course got to talk a lot about Kibera, and since she lives in the highest building in Kibera she showed me the view from the rooftop. We also walked around in the local market where food is like three times cheaper than in the supermarket I’ve been to. It’s so strange to imagine that Kibera, one of Africas largest and most crowded informal settlements is so very close to where I’m sitting now, I’m my very comfortable and spacious living room–we are three people on four bedrooms and a large living-room. It’s only about 15 minutes by car. But in these two worlds the reality of everyday life is so different. Tomorrow I’m heading back to Sophie’s and staying until Sunday. Mama Reina (that’s what the children calls Sophie since her youngest daughter is named Reina) has fixed me my own bed in the same room as Patty and Ryan and since it’s weekend tomorrow I’m hoping on meeting more people who can share an insight into their everyday life. Also. I’m brining my camera tomorrow so hopefully I’ll get some great pictures!

/ Irina Bernebring Journiette

130109–Karibu Kenya!

I’m in Nairobi! Sitting on the floor in my new livingroom grasping the fact that I’m for the first time in my life ”south of Sahara.” The journey here felt much shorter than I was expecting–even though it was snowing i Istanbul and I was rerouted via Amsterdam. I arrived this morning and D. and O. the couple I’m living with had sent a driver to come and pick me up. The driving here is almost even more crazy than in Riyadh, but my new ‘rafiki’ (friend in Swahili) and driver David felt safe. However, I don’t think I will be heading out on the roads driving by myself anytime soon. Today I’ve spent getting acquainted with my neighborhood Kilimani, just north of the city center. This will be my base for now. But my goal is to explore as much as possible. Of course I’ve already gotten lost once, but during the day time most places around here feel and are safe, and people are in general very helpful. Looking for a small supermarket a woman guided me in the right direction, offered me some nuts and told me a little bit about her work with a local NGO. For now things are pretty relaxing. Tonight we are having dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant and I’m going to try and get a hold of a Kenyan number so I can start contacting people to talk to about my project. And I need to figure out what I want to do and where I want to go when I’m here–as I feel and fear that these eight weeks will pass much faster than expected.

Tuonane baadaye–See you later!

/ Irina Bernebring Journiette