Saturday, August 7, 2010

My Last Week at Yehu by the numbers

2 new computer programs taught

3 discussions about management efficiencies and resource allocation

1 new outside consultant

1 new constitution election

2 visits to the beach (one with my new mat from the village)

9000 shillings spent on souvenirs

1 Kenyan holiday

2 new custom outfits made by Mzungo (oddly, the Kenyan name for white people), my Kenyan seamstress

1 new wikipage communication system set-up

4 new Skype users set-up

2 birthday meals with my roommate Mel (Happy 28th Birthday!!!) - 1 breakfast al a Denise and a much yummier dinner at a local African restaurant

1 Friday night out to the movie "Our Family Wedding" and a dinner at home using the rest of my food, since I was leaving at 3am to start my trip back to the US

1 Happy Intern, excited to start on Yehu's new Marketing and New Product Development Plan

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Kenyan's New Constitution Election - celebration or fear?

On Monday morning, when Mel and I arrived at work, we received a wonderful surprise! Because of the elections for Kenya's new constitution, we had the day off on Wednesday. While we quickly brainstormed on how we would spend our unanticipated day of freedom, many Kenyans were anticipating how thier lives would be impacted by this historical event.

In 2005 and 2007, Kenyans experienced turbulent elections wrought with controversy and outbursts of violence, but if there was trepidation about this election, it was not heard or felt at Yehu. It was business as usual.

It wasn't until Wednesday afternoon when I started receiving emails from my very concerned mother that I even thought about safety. Mel and I spent hours at the beach during the day, and other than being surprised that it was relatively empty for a holiday and seeing what we assumed to be a post-election party being set up in someone's back yard, we wouldn't have known a historical election was happening.

However, just to play it safe, we decided to stay in the rest of the day and check the internet from time to time to see if there were any election day surprises we should know about. Later that night, we heard the music and celebrations, which indicated that things must have gone well and we wouldn't have anything to worry about.

The next day at work was abuzz with everyone anticipating the announcement of the results, people showing us their pinky fingernails that had been stamped with ink to indicate they had voted (to prevent double voting), and sharing perspectives on their votes. One of the senior staff members shared with us that it was her first time voting. She felt like voting was much more important this time because it would change the history of Kenya and she wanted to be part of that. After the announcement of the new constitution passing, we were able to witness some of the celebration in the streets on our way home and I was able to snap a couple pictures from our matatu window. Although it wasn't my constitution and future being impacted, it was hard not to get caught up in the excitement and feel a bit of victory nostalgia.

Congratulations to the Kenyans for this monumentous event in their history! Overcoming their previous election precedents and have a positive new start to their future governance is definitely something to celebrate!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

My Second Week at Yehu - by the numbers

15 Matatu rides

1 Ferry ride

3 Beach outings

5 Center meetings - 3 urban, 2 rural

10 Client interviews (3 of which turned into group interviews, which illustrated to me that these groups of borrowers formed by Yehu are strong, cohesive, and truly interested in seeing the whole group succeed, not just themselves)

1 Branch staff meeting (thought it was going to be an hour, ended up lasting 3 - definitely should have brought snacks because the chicklet sized pieces of Juicy Fruit were just not cutting it)

2 Kenyan kongas purchased for future dresses to be custom made by the tailor

10 Cups of Milo and coffee (I am dangerously becoming addicted to the "future champion" beverage and increasing my daily consumption, which I won't be able to get in the US - I just wonder if there a 12 step program for Milo addictions???)

1 Beach bonfire

1 Hand-made mat (gift from the village borrowers)

10 New recommendations to be added to my plan (all derived from the client and staff interviews)

5 Pieces of chocolate cake (in 3 days, but a little known fact was discovered, that if you put a small slice of chocolate cake on a cracker with peanut butter, it actually tastes like a Reese's cup - and then add slices of banana and a cup of Milo and coffee, and you have breakfast)

9 New Yehu friends

1 Friday night out to the movie 'Inception" and a dinner that included a delicious chicken tikka sandwich and Snickers milkshake - YUMMMM!

Another great week indeed. It seems like it is all going so fast, but I am getting so much information that it will probably take me weeks just to process it all. Only 1 more week until I start my journey back to the US!