January 25, 2013
Photo: some of the village ladies who helped make our lunch (and Tony, who wouldn't touch a pot or pan, or be allowed to - see below)
I'm readjusting to US life after spending most of January outside the country, including two fascinating weeks in Kenya. I was part of a 24-person Habitat for Humanity team that met in Nairobi on January 5th and the next day drove in convoy out to the Rift Valley and the small and completely untouristy town of Bomet. It has a population of just over 4,000 people, life is simple (read: many do not have running water or electricity) and we westerners attracted stares, and usually smiles, wherever we went. If you want to read more about my experience of the Habitat build you can do so here. Needless to say, I was particularly interested in the women's lives. In short, women work incredibly hard in Kenya, and what they can pull off on a daily basis without any of the things we rely on (from petty necessities like vegetable peelers to a decent roof over their heads to running water) is awe inspiring. The women in the photo above were helping to prepare our Habitat team lunch, a task I was allowed to take part in on that particular day (note the one guy in the photo is just sitting there. It was made clear to us volunteers that kitchen work is NOT a man's job unless he is a professional chef. But men helping in the kitchen? No way).
Before I met the other team members I spent a couple of days in Nairobi, where I interviewed two professional women whose stories will appear in the next episode of The Broad Experience. One is an entrepreneur, one a filmmaker who works with some of the adolescents in Nairobi's most notorious slum, Kibera, training them for employment in the film industry. That episode is coming soon.