Lothar and I, the team co-ordinators for Kenya08 flew out on Saturday June 28th. Some tips for next years group:
The walk from Terminal 1 to 3 in heathrow is long so think about how much you want to take as hand luggage! I was wishing i had packed the Dorset college certs etc in my checked bag but had been concerned about them getting bent out of shape!

Virgin Atlantic served breakfast at 2.30 am on the plane (4.30 Kenya time) so if you fancy a sleep you might want to tell the person beside you not to have them wake you… or not. It was a nice warm wrap (egg and cheese or ham and something..) and I wasn’t sleeping but I did wonder if I should wake Lothar or not so may be worth asking in advance!

Best to check your bags just to Nairobi as have to clear customs there anyway and BMI took ages to check us through – we were half an hour as he made a mistake and had to redo it all! In Nairobi we went to the barclays ATM at the airport. 10,000 is about 100 euro. You can get a sim card there also – 100 shillings (1 euro) for safari com and I think 300 for celtel. Then buy some credit and you’re in business. My Irish vodafone would only receive, could not send a text or call (apparently they have no agreement for roaming in Kenya). we walked around the terminal after checking in the luggage and were impressed by how clean it was and then we saw a person pushing the polishing machines you see in hospitals on the outside tiles!!! The Kenyan Air short trip to Mombasa was fine, a little late as they had to carry out the luggage by hand. they serve a light breakfast on flight to mombasa…
The best side to sit is the right hand side to see the snow capped Mt Kilimanjaro.
Sunday night we went to a pub for a lovely dinner for about 6-8 euro and watched Spain win – guess who in our team was smiling? It was a good game and kept us up till midnight so we hoped we would get a good nights sleep after that but some one made a racket at 4am so that was the end of that!
However we found alternative accommodation which has

* Has hot water for showers
* has a decent sized pool !!!
* mosquito screens on the windows (hotel had neither)
* is in a really quiet compound – hotel is not quiet
* has a large communal sitting area and cooking facilities (tea/coffee or more if you want to cook)
* is near the beach and supermarket/restaurant/ATM/internet cafe and not far from hub
* we can leave stuff there when we go to Lamu / Malindi / both… no need to drag everything everywhere if you don’t need it all.
* there is a security guard and a safe

Monday was spent ironing out the schedules for the first 2 weeks in Mombasa. The basic teaching one we have arranged and David (called Dowdy) is sorting out who can come, there is a lot of demand for the places so he is walking a tightrope to keep folks happy but he is doing a great job. Due to the fact that we are on the site of a Muslim school, we are operating under their request to teach the men and women on separate days. The technical classes will be 2.5 days each (prob 5 x half days) and Lothar worked with Ali to sort out additional space so they can teach 2 batches over the 2 weeks as unlike our expectations that most would only want to attend one or 2 of the 4 options there is demand to attend all 4. Because it is more technical the male / female split into separate sessions does not apply. it will not apply in Lamu or Malindi either. We are planning on going to Lamu in week 3 and Malindi in week 4. Lamu is a unesco world heritage site so should be amazing. Malindi is only 90 mins away so we went there on Friday to check it out.

The Camara (Skomara – camara + SKOSA, the Sheikh Kaifif Old School Assoc, ie alumni of the school) hub is really inspiring, full of enthusiastic people. Monday was ladies day so lots of ladies in the black muslim garb but many had diamante and embroidery features which I had not seen before. Ladies come Mon, Wed and Sat. The men come Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. There are some who come everyday for specific tasks so it was agreed the advanced class (techy) could be mixed but the basic class cannot which necessitated changing our plans a bit!

There are 2 classrooms with 20 PCs each arranged in a U shape, about 4/5 each side and 10-12 across the back. all with the screens facing the white board so backs to the teacher but they can turn around for instruction. it is a wide but not too deep a room. The second classroom is just divided by a high partition which is not ceiling high but hopefully won’t be too much noise coming through the gap! The classrooms are airy and not too warm which is good. The students are keen!

Tuesday morning we went to see a school which has 2 computer labs put in by Camara. It was great to see. The little 6/7 year olds came in all enthusiastic to their bench. Their exercise was to open Write, create 2 columns, in one column write anything they liked about their school bus and in the other column put in a picture of a bus! they were just little kids! It makes all the refurb work and even cleaning those darn labels off the computers so worth while.

Late Wednesday morning I met the ladies who will be the trainees and gave them an overview and the needs assessment form to complete.
Wednesday afternoon we went to another school which had received omputers from Camara which was having its annual prize giving so we were guests of honor. The chief guest was the HR manager from the local cement factory who also support the school. The students performed some songs and dances and plays – about the importance of finishing education (not marriage) Aids, teenage pregrancy etc. Some were in english and some in Swahili. I had to say a few words so I used all 3 swahili words I have learnt – jambo = hello, karibo = welcome and assente = thank you (spelling is my own version). We were there nearly 3 hours.

On Thursday I met the faciltors for the mens course – 8 guys ranging from 20-35 in age. I brought them through the train the trainer course i had prepared from the dorset college material and then we handed out the needs assessment form to the trainees to fill in to understand what they can do already. The facilitors were told to pick something they can train on for 10 minutes as part of their train the trainer assessment. That will see if they took in what I was saying but I was impressed – when I was talking them through the learning cycle and used the example of learning to drive and asked what would be more appropriate Elias said riding a bike which was so simple and so relevant and will work everywhere so already we are learning from each other.

Friday we drove to malindi. we were ready to go at 8 but after 7 the bus driver sent a text to say the price was gone up 10 euro (from 60 to 70) and it was the principle that said we had to get another bus as he would do that again if we accepted it. So we stood by the road while they negotiated and then called another company who agreed to come. We went at 9am! It took an hour and a half and was a good road. We met the Lindsay project team – another Irish NGO who ship computers to schools in the Malindi region and we went to see 2 of their schools, both had support from Westport – schools and the Lions club there.
We arranged accomodation and a timetable and drove back, arriving about 7pm.

The elctricity has been more erratic the end of the week. Hopefully it will be ok for the teaching next week.

It is warm and humid after the rains but there is a nice breeze most of the time (when there is no breeze it is quite hot). The local restaurant has a good menu. The hypermarket has lots of everything. A mossie net ranges from about 3 euro to 10 euro depending on quality so no need to bring one if you don’t have one. The surge protector was 26 euro.
You see lots of familiar brands which are more expensive as imported e.g. Kellogs corn flakes but water is 50c a litre and fruit is very cheap so no one will starve. Next Monday classes start so we’ll see how the best laid plans work out…

Cheers Gayl