Day 3: Steps outside the comfort zone

This morning, the five boys and Jeanne, we got up at 6am to go to practice with Uweza Senior team (semi-professional team in division 2 with players from 18 to 25 years old). Chilly morning but we had a great time. Jeanne came back very happy even though she had to play a game which, except Paul and I, nobody understood the rules as senior team players were speaking in kiswahili.

Everyone met at the Red Rose school and dispatched in the classrooms. Dimitri and Jeanne were teaching how to count in French and learning the response in kiswahili. Alice attended a class where children were learning how to read the clock. She received as a gift a little notebook with very sweet messages from the children of the class. Malo and Gabriel played some math games with the 8th graders. Paul got plunged in kiswahili litterature. The 3-4 years old sang to Marie about hygiene. The song talk about how important is brushing teeth, be clean and comb their hair in the morning before going to school. When they sing this at home, the parents feel compulse to buy tooth paste and brush to them.

On my side, I was put on the spot by the 7th grader teachers to talk about the different branches of government and called Gabriel, the expert in politics, to come to the rescue. The teacher while explaining the Judiciary system and the necessity to bring evidence in a trial, also talked to the children about the case of the Kenyan elections and how Raila Odinga had to bring evidence to prove that the presidential elections were falsified.

At lunchtime, all of them helped to serve the plates to the children and played with them in the courtyard.

We went to Java House for lunch were surprisingly we could order quesadillas, fagitas and lemonade. “Los Angeles food”.

After lunch, we met the Young mothers at Uweza community center. Most of them lives alone with their babies or young children and have no support beside Uweza. Here, they find a safe place where they meet other young mothers but also make soap or hygien products to sell on the market. They can also receive advice and loans to create small business.

We left the center to walk through the streets of Kibera to go to Uweza Art Center where we met the different artists. The center welcome whoever would like to develop their artistic talent. Uweza provides the material and also help them to sell their art. With the money they earn from their paintings, they are able to pay the university fees.

They then asked us to sit and draw a story. Everyone, even the ones who declared “i am so bad at drawing”, had to go through the challenge to draw something in 20mn. Lots of laugh…Artists were very happy to share their experience with other teenagers.

We returned to the hotel and invited the senior team to join us for a pizza-movie night. We watched the movie “the Queen of Katwa”, the story of a girl who lives in a slum in Uganda and becomes an internationalchess champion after lots of challenges. With resilience and thanks to her talent, she succeeds to install her family outside the slum in a regular house and to attend University. This true story shows all of us how talent can open the door to a bright future to escape a life of poverty. This is exactly Uweza’s objective in Kibera: develop talents in soccer, in art, dance or else to help the children to shine one day.

Day 2: First meeting with the children and walk through the slum. Word of the day: happiness!

This morning, the eight of us were welcome at the Red Rose School by the children in rows, all dressed with their red uniforms and singing different anthems to us. The scouts raised the flag and the director of the school introduced us to the 420 children.

After meeting with the teachers to talk about our program for the next two weeks, we visited the different classrooms where each grade greeted us with songs and questions. More than 15 rooms where 20-40 kids are seated on wood bench. Each of the seven teenagers were dispatched alone in classes and had their first individual interaction with the kids.

At recess, everyone played in the courtyard with each other and everyone of us got surrounded by many children who wanted to do high fives or shake our hand or try the cameras or ask questions. For lunch, they got ugali(corn flour boiled in water) with cabbage and kale.

On our side, we went to have lunch at Urban Burger at the local mall. Lots of snapchatting at the table.

We then left for Starray high school located in the slum where underprivileged kids from the age of 16 to 20 are inviting to continue their high school studies. Most of them had to stop because there are no parents at home, either sick or dead, or they joined a gang or got pregnant…the director spent lots of time with us explaining the objectives of the school and how they are saving these kids from hanging out in the slum by giving them the chance to come back and finish their studies.

We then went upstairs in a large room where the high schoolers from Staray performed for us songs and plays about environmental protection, respect due to the girls by the boys and peace. Lots of dancing and emotion…but also a big laugh when Malo started dancing in front everyone. Kids had so much fun together. A great moment.

We came back to the hotel to relax and had our evening journaling before dinner.

Here are some thoughts which came out during the meeting: “you cannot prepare yourself to this trip. So many shock factors. So many kids are happy. It seems like they have found happiness in many different ways we have forgotten or not paying attention to anymore in the US.” “The feeling I have tonight is indescribable. I felt confortable right away in the classes. I felt lots of joy but at the same I could feel the surrounding pain while walking through the slum. I realized how lucky we are to be able to sleep in our bed at home. It is an eye opening experience for me.” ,” now I know that we are not appreciative of our life when I see those kids so motivated and happy to learn even with so little material.”

Everyone had an amazing day even though the weather was chilly and very humid. Tomorrow wake up call at 6am for the soccer guys…

Day One: Arrival at Nairobi

Everyone landed today. The first 4th at 6am and the last 4th at 4pm. Everyone had the chance to meet Johnson and Collins, our drivers and also to at last meet one another.

On the way to the hotel, we noticed the level of pollution in the street everywhere. With the grey weather, everything appeared like foggy. But we saw the towers of Downtown Nairobi far away, the gigantic billboards and the cows eating grass along the road.

We are sharing four bedrooms at the same floor at the hotel which is almost empty. The 6 amers got the chance to nap while I went pick uo the 4 pmers who had to get into action right away. Quick shower and then meeting to prepare the following day.

Jeff, director of Uweza and myself, the trip leaders, briefed the kids about our expectations in term of behaviour and safety rules. We remind them that as we are responsible for their safety, they are responsible of their own behaviour during the trip. We expect that they fully engage with a responsive and positive attitude in the service and learning activities and that to be able to help other people they mind need to forget a bit about themselves. Jeff describes how they should behave with the children and adults of Kibera as we are disrupting their everyday life. “No pity when you look at them but at the opposite give them hope.”

After that we went to have a delicious dinner cooked by the chef of the hotel: beef stew, rice, spinach, fruits. Watching the soccer match Germany-Mexico together was fun.

Everyone went to the room at 8.30pm knowing that curfew is at 11pm. Hum hum will they respect it?

While in New York…

Jeanne Merveilleux took off for Paris…and Malo Guerin is packing packing packing. He collected 152 jersey, 45 shorts, 15 socks, 2 sweat pants and sweat shirts, 15 shinguards, 5 soccer shoes. Is all going to fit in the luggage?

Both are attending the Lycée Francais de New York.

Dimitri and Alice landed in Paris and are already enjoying some delicious croissants and crunchy baguettes.