Different Setup

December 4, 2013 - Mombasa, Kenya

Getting used to the “rural-area-life”, I can now recount some events which surprised or astonished me. Eating outside, maybe during a walk, is not good. When my host-sister and I walked and I considered eating a Banana, she told me to wait until we are home, because people could give us “a bad eye” what can result in stomach-pain.

When I walk somewhere, it’s likely to happen, that somebody calls my name from far, but I don’t know the person. It’s because I am the only white girl in this area and especially after I have been introduced in front of a big congregation, people know I am here. It’s nice, not to be called “mzungu!” anymore.

We had an activity, where we went to every school, to deworm the students. The small children were eager to get the tablet from me and looked at their hand, after I touched it. As if their color would change.

During rain, it gets loud enough not to hear your own word thanks to the iron sheets that cover the houses. And most iron sheets are leaking, therefore I learned to check on everything, if it’s being rained on while being inside the house.

Many children greet me with “shikamoo”, the respectable greeting for older people. I feel honored answering with “marahaba”. In general – everyone greets everyone. It feels nice. This way, I never feel alone, even when I walk alone somewhere, there is always someone around who knows I am there.

One thing disturbing me a lot is the fact that many people (especially men) are idle and then start to drink. It’s normal to find drunkards at 9am. The common drink is a local brew from banana or coconut and contains a lot of alcohol, most spiced up with a dangerous substance risking their eye-sight. One drink is enough to make someone drunk and costs about Kshs 10. Less than 10 Euro-Cents.

Our neighbor’s cat is my friend now it has a name and sleeps in my room. I miss our cats at home a lot. They always give me soothing company.

A common habit is to post pond events or promises. If someone invites me to digging in their shamba and I’m on the way to somewhere, I just say “siku ingine” (another day) and that person is satisfied. If a child wants something, for example a sweet, parents will just say “another time” and it’s fine. The word “hapana” (no) is not being used often.

Corruption is obvious. The news often bring cases. I remember one, where a policeman has been recorded taking money from football-fans to let them inside the stadium. People seem to complain about these problems, but at the same time small bribes are normal.

Another thing: I know about someone who is cheating in national exams. It’s easy, since every school has the same papers, you simply need to know someone who knows someone. This particular person knows a staff in the packing office for the exam-papers. He takes one from every subject and then sends it to people in each county. Having leaked one paper, each student has to pay Kshs 500. Less than 5 Euro.

Official opening of the facility

This health-centre is big and fully equipped to be utilized as a 24 hours-based hospital. The only problem is- there is no staff. Still, the responsible person for Taita/Taveta County decided to open it officially, so that the government may start using it.

The few days before the opening, we cleaned everything thoroughly. When the final day arrived, we waited for the politicians. Around 3 hours. As soon as they arrived, the governor cut the rope and signed papers. The rest of the day was reserved for celebrations. Masai-people came to dance and some Taita-women showcased their traditional dancing. Every politician got his time to speak and after all that went through, we had very good Pilau (a Swahili-Rice-Dish), cooked by Mombasa-Chefs.


It was a nice day, but as soon as the politicians left, we closed the hospital, remaining with the Outpatient-Department which had been in use all this time and normal work continued. What my colleagues told me – it’s not likely to be used as a hospital until a long time has passed.

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