For the love of Kenya

Let’s cut straight to the chase. I am confused. Confused and in Kenya. Before I can explain to someone else why I am here, I need to look deep within and find that out for myself. The reason I initially applied for the Balloon Ventures programme was because I felt lost. I felt like everything I did was for my own personal gain. I thought that applying for an ICS programme would give me a different perspective of life. It would open up my mind as well as my eyes to a different culture. A different way of living. A chance to meet people who I determined to be completely different from me. That was my train of thought pre-departure.

Upon arrival, when meeting the in-country volunteers, it soon dawned on me that we were more similar than I initially thought. One of the first questions I was asked over lunch by an ICV (in-country volunteer) was “who is your favourite music artist?” I ran it through my head, already knowing the answer but pre-judging whether this Kenyan girl would know of such an artist or would I have to explain exactly who he was. I decided to just go with the flow and tell her that I absolutely, positively adored J.Cole. She began to act hysteric which took me by surprise. She continued to pull out her phone and to my surprise, her screen saver was none other than J.Cole himself.

We immediately bonded over this and soon realised we had many more things in common. Jay along with another girl Joy have been my room-mates for the past 4 weeks and everyday we all find out that we have so much more in common that it is actually borderline spooky. Before coming to Kenya I thought there would be many obstacles I would have to face with the ICV’s even before we met up with the entrepreneurs. What I have realised is that regardless of culture, there will always be like-minded people who share your passions. I feel like I have already connected and created strong friendships with the ICV’s even more so than I have with my fellow Englishmen and that is something that I had never expected to happen. With it only being 1 month into the programme it is clear to see the friendship groups that have formed and it has been a breath of fresh air to watch people from different cultures coming together as one to socialise and work together in many ways.

Jay, Joy and Chelley (from left to right)

Jay, Joy and me [Chelley] (from left to right)

The hardest part of this programme, I believe is patience. There are many other things that prove difficult but without some degree of patience you will lose your mind. My time has not been my own and that is something I find challenging. We plan our day around our entrepreneurs schedules and find the best times to suit them and then somehow on more than a few occasions they are HOURS late. This has been a pressing issue around the group here in Kericho.

Personally, before I came on this programme I would have said I was probably the most impatient person I had ever come across but I am TRYING to learn and adapt to this during my stay here. I find even the locals are very much laid back. At restaurants I sometimes constantly time-watch as my food is being prepared, wondering aloud why my food is taking so long. The ICV’s chuckle and cry “This is Africa…no one is in any rush”. I realised that I am that typical Brit. I want what I want, when I want it…and I want it NOW. And what I want surprisingly is cheese. I was told that there is hardly any cheese around due to the fact that Kenyans do not like it. I have been on a mission. Find the cheese. Eat the cheese. While we’re on the subject of dairy products, I milked a cow for the first time in my life the other day. It was definitely an experience.

My first month in Kenya has been amazing and I look forward to the two more in front of me. BRING IT ON!