In love with Nakuru National Park, Kenya

It might be hard to believe for many but my favorite place to travel to in Kenya was not Masai Mara but another, not so famous place called Nakuru. We spent about one and a half days and one night in Nakuru National Park. What I loved about it: it’s not as crowded as other parks yet one can gaze at countless amazing, pretty, cute wild animals. I’ll just leave you with some pictures – I promise you’ll love it!

What’s your favorite place in Kenya?

Exploring Kakamega Rainforest, Kenya

During our stay in Kenya, we didn’t want to miss to explore the country’s only rainforest. The famous tropical rainforest is 240 km² wide and inhabited by around 300 different kinds of trees, bushes, orrchids and farns as well as numerous different birds and monkeys.

Our guide Moses did a great job in explaining different plants’ functions – rural medicals use some of them to treat illnesses – and spotting monkeys for us.

Good thing I had bought a new camera before leaving to Kenya which enabled me to zoom in well enough to snap pictures of some of the monkeys high above our heads.

Visiting Kisumu and Lake Victoria, Kenya

Day trips are fun, especially when they’re distracting you from everyday life in a lovely yet tiny town such as Sega.

That’s why my workcamp group decided to take a trip to Kisumu, Kenya’s third largest town, and stop by Lake Victoria, the world’s third largest sweet water lake.

The matatu (small bus) or cashier (big bus) ride from Sega to Kisumu takes about 2,5 hours and costs 250 KES (ca. $2,50). There are numerous things to do in Kisumu, here’s what we decided on:

Visit the Kisumu National Museum

Learn more about the Luo culture and see a reconstruction of a traditional Luo homestead.

Reconstruction of a typical Luo homestad

Reconstruction of a typical Luo homestad

The museum also contains a collection of African snakes, sweet water aquariums and two crocodiles which are kept in tiny cages.If you’re an animal lover, skip those parts of the exhibition. It broke my heart to see those animal vegetating. The exhibition hall about traditional Luo crafts and handiwork also contains preserved animal heads as well as a preserved lion and buffallo body. The museum claims all those animals died a natural death and we’re preserved for research purposes only.

Entrance Fee: 100 KES ($ 1) for Kenyan citizens, 200 KES ($ 2) for East African citizens, 500 ($ 5) for foreign citizens.

Visit Dunga Beach

Eat freshly fried fish or your own picnic while enjoying a beautiful view over Lake Victoria. Watch the fisherman sail across the lake in their colourful boats and see the women prepare the fish to be sold on markets nearby. Watch hundreds of birds eat the fish leftovers. Go on a boatride across the lake (100 KES).

Last but not least: take a matatu back home and enjoy the silence in a small but lovely and wonderful town like Sega.

The workcamp I am conducting is organized by the German organization Kolping Jugendgemeinschaftsdienste. To learn more about their work and possibilites to participate in a workcamp in different countries all over the world, check out their website.

What we eat in Sega, Kenya

What we eat in Sega, Kenya

Our breakfast is plain and simple: toast with marmalade, accompanied by black tea with or without milk but always a lot of brown sugar.

Lunch and dinner are quite similar: simple yet very tasty.

We are using a “jiko”, a charcole grill/ oven,to prepare whatever there is to be prepared such as:

  • Sukuma wiki (fried green kale with onions)
  • White and brown Ugali (a cooked “cake” made of maize or wheat flour and water)
  • Rice
  • Spagetthi
  • Boiled potatoes with onions and tomatoes
  • Chapati (fried flat bread similar to those served in India)
  • Boiled peas in a sauce of mixed vegetables
  • plantains
  • Scambled eggs with tomatoes
  • Chicken or Fish (which I don’t eat as a vegetarian)
  • Bananas and oranges for dessert
  • Hand-picked and fried peanuts

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For each lunch and dinner, two or three of us join the housemaids, Vicky and Margaret, for the preparations. It usually takes about two to threehours until everything is ready to be served. They make a great effort to explain us how to prepare the traditional Kenyan dishes and are incredibly patient when explaining us how to correctly cut the kale and form a chapatti.

Fun fact: Sukuma Wiki is Swahili and means “pushing the week” (sukuma = pushing, wiki = week) because the green leaves are quite cheap yet yielding and filling so that they are often bought in order to save some money.

The workcamp I am conducting is organized by the German organization Kolping Jugendgemeinschaftsdienste. To learn more about their work and possibilites to participate in a workcamp in different countries all over the world, check out their website.

Learning Luo and Kiswahili in Sega

Our hosts in Kenya, the members of St. Anne’s Catholic Church Sega, did their best to introduce us to as many of their traditions and customs as possible. This also included teaching us Swahili and giving each of us Luo names.

Laura Atchiene

The term “Luo” determines both, an ethnic group located in Western Kenya, as well as this group’s cultural practices and language.

In addition to their regular first name, Luos use surnames according to their times of birth. For women, those are:

Assien = In the morning
Atchiene = during day time
Adhiambo = in the evening
Atieno = at night
Find a list of more Luo surnames here.

Since I was born around noon, my Luo name is Laura Atchiene. Sounds nice, huh?

Useful kiswahili word for cooking

Useful kiswahili words

Jambo!

Betty, a girl from Nairobi, who decided to join our workcamp group, is doing a great job teaching us Swahili. In return,we are teaching her the equivalent German phrases.

Swahili English German
Jambo! Hello Hallo.
Habari yaki? How are you? Wie geht es dir?
(Msuri) sana. (Very) good. (Sehr) gut.
Asante (sana). Thank you (very much). (Vielen) Dank!
Karibu! Welcome!

You’re welcome.

Willkommen!

Gern geschehen.

Karibu chakula. Enjoy your meal. Guten Appetit.
It’s delicious. Ni tamo. Es schmeckt gut.
Hakuna matata! No worries! Kein Problem!
Kwaheri Good bye. Auf Wiedersehen.
Lala Salama Good night. Gute Nacht.

This is my favorite song to remember the most important phrases. My friends from Tanzania tought me the song when we met during the International Youth Weeks in Frankfurt.

For the Germans among my readers: “Reise Know-How. Kauderwelch. Kisuahili Wort für Wort” by Hartmut Fiebig is a great book to learn Swahili. My travel guide recommendation is “Reise Know-How. Kenia kompakt” by Hartmut Fiebig. It’s a brief (300 pocket-size pages) introduction into Kenya’s culture, language and valuable travel advices for the major touristic places.

Jambo from Sega, Kenya

I returned to Germany in the end of September but didn’t find the time to organize and upload my pictures and articles yet. However, I eventually managed to do so. That’s why I’m happy no announce a series of posts about my life in Kenya. I’ll just pretend to still be on the road since I actually wrote the texts while traveling but didn’t get a chance to upload them due to a lack of proper internet connections. 

About Sega

Sega is a little village in Western Kenya. It’s located about 100km away from the country’s third largest city Kisumu and 80 km away from the Uganda border. It’s also one of the most peaceful places I’ve ever been to. The parish the six workcamp participants and me live in is located near a major route of this rural area yet you rarely ever hear a car passing by. Instead, the soundscape surrounding us offers gospel songs sung in church, playing children’s laughter, cocks, cows, pigs and heavy rains falling on our roof every evening between six and nine. If you walking down the road for a few minutes, you reach the market – the perfect place to buy everyday goods and jonnng the busy yet super relaxed and incredibly friendly Kenyans shopping, chatting and laughing together.

What do we do all day?

Most of our days start by waking up to cocks making a lot of noise and the sun shining through our windows, hitting our faces through the mosquito nets follow by having a rainwater shower by pouring the cold water over our heads and bodies using a little pot. Around eight, we have breakfast and afterwards split the group in two. One half, the four nurses in training among us, visits either the Health Center or the Mission Hospital to learn more about HIV- and malaria tests, voluntary male circumcision, family planning methods and the treatment of minor wounds and infections. The other three girls, including me and Betty from Nairobi, who decided to join our workcamp group, join the parish’s housemaids Vicky and Margaret in preparing lunch (I’ll tell you more about traditional Kenyan food in another post). After lunch at 1 p.m., we have a break, until those who worked at the hospital in the morning prepare our dinner and those who cooked lunch offer games and sportive activities to children from the near kindergarten or secondary school. Unfortunately, most teachers in Kenya have been on strike for higher wages throughout the past week, so that all but one schools in Sega were closed. Around 6 p.m. – that’s when the daily rainfalls usually start –our group meets back in our cozy house to play games and talk about the experiences we made that day. After having dinner together with Father Dan and Father Edwin, the two amazingly smart and funny priests of the parish hosting us, chattering with them and practicing our Luo (that’s the local dialect spoken in this area), we return to the guest hose to play games until we go to bed around 11 p.m.

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Make sure to stop by again to learn more about

  • What we eat in Sega
  • Learning Swahili and Luo in Sega
  • And many of our upcoming activities.

The workcamp I am conducting is organized by the German organization Kolping Jugendgemeinschaftsdienste. To learn more about their work and possibilities to participate in a workcamp in different countries all over the world, check out their website.

IYW (#6): Love, faith and hope

Throughout the past week, we have shared a great number of personal thoughts about spirituality, religion and many other very personal topics with each other.

After attending the service at a local church on Sunday, we talked about our personal values and religious beliefs. Chaplain Heinrich from Kronberg joined us for part of the discussion. One of the statements he made inspired me a lot:

It all comes down to love, faith and hope. The hope in the endless power of love is what we believe and trust in.

Kolping IYW International Youth Weeks Jugendwochen Chaplain Heinrich

Chaplain Heinrich talking to the group about love, faith and hope.