Sylvia Sabarth reports on her time with Sauti Kuu in Kenya
20 Juli to 8 Oktober 2012
My fist trip to Kenya was in 2009 when I visited my extended family with my parents. I was able to see a lot and enjoyed exploring the country, which was new to me. But I some how never quite felt that I was actually there. My second trip was very different. I was there longer and really got a chance to experience the country and people. I tried out delicious cuisine, met great people and got a lot of work experience. I loved it!
I immediately fell in love with the Sauti Kuu office. It is situated on one of the longest and liveliest streets of Nairobi, Ngong Road. Despite this fact one had a sense of the outdoors, thanks to a huge fig tree that our office window overlooked. It was possible to watch the comings and goings of a large variety of birds. The then (still quite small) team welcomed me with open arms and managed within seconds to make me forget how nervous I was. I was embarking on a new episode of my life (I had just finished high school). This was easy in the warm and friendly environment.
My first task was small. I was asked to update the profile information of all Sauti Kuus beneficiaries. Eventually I was given more responsibility and was allowed to update our Partners on the status of projects, coordinate the exchange of photos and information for the development of a project concept. I also supported our Edc Program Project Manager, Wachuka Njuguna, with some areas of her work – at least I tried to. It is not possilb to list all of what I did at Sauti Kuu, but I would like to highlight a few of the experiences I had.
First and foremost; dealing with the Microsoft program ‘Excel’! It sounds unbelieveable, but despite 12 years of high school and successfully completing my final exams, I had not once used Excel! Now after three months of “learning by doing”, I have no problems conjuring up Budgets or workplans on Excel that actually add up!
Another great experience was observing and taking in how efficiently the Organisation operated. Before coming to Sauti Kuu I had never worked in an office. The only experience I had with deskwork was the few times at school, when I would get seriously studious and desk bound. I had to learn to be disciplined, organized and set priorities. At the latest all tasks needed to be completed by the weekend. As far as I can judge, these skills will help me and work to my advantage when I, following the internship, persue my studies at the Univerity.
Of course I did not spend all three months just in the office. I was lucky enough to also be able to travel the counry and see not just Western Kenya but also the Kenyan coast. I visited Mombasa, the Tsavo National Park, Alego (where Sauti Kuu implements its work) und Kisumu, on the shores of Lake Victoria. It would again be too much to try to list all the highlights of these trips. I fell in love with the most generous of people in the whole world, with the scenery (most have seen pictures, but the reality is breadthtaking) and, yes, the food. The first thing I would advise potential visitors to Kenya is to be prepared to travel back home with at leaset two kilos more than they came with. Few can resist the magical taste of of Chapati, Mandazi, Mukimo, Nyama Choma, Samosas, Ugali and lots of other tasty Kenyan dishes.
I would really love to be able to convey even more clearly than I have done, how special the memories of this time are for me. This would have not been so if not for the people who accompanied me on this journey in those three months. Thank you Wacu, for going out of your way to show me and help me understand how Kenya ‘ticks’. Thank you Patricia, Atieno and Cathy for the many lunch picknicks we had in the office. You all managed to create an atmosphere of harmony and warmth befitting for a good working environment. But most of all: Thank you Auma, for giving me this opportunity to contribute in my small way to the amazing work being done by the organization. Thank you for being a great boss – tough but caring. I will miss you all and hope to be back soon. Or better said in NGO speak: My WORKPLAN anticipates that my BUDGET will improve and thus allow me to return ASAP!