Bright Spots in the Work Week

Generally my weeks have been pretty busy at work and exhausting. I want to recount the memorable moments of the week to remind myself of the little pleasures I am experiencing.

After feeling in a rut for the past couple of days I was reminded of my passion and what I can learn here. I spoke to an amazing woman who introduced herself with a big smile by pointing at herself and stating, “This is ‘Jill’,” which I find such an endearing introduction. I also hear people introduce themselves as “Jill is my name.”

This woman wore an amazing blue and white long draped dress in a traditional fabric and she had an immediate warmth about her. She told me about the dire health situation of women in Somalia and that focusing on women’s health has been her passion her whole life. The stories and experiences she shared with me had such an emotional effect and I did not want the interview to end. We then talked about my research interests and she confirmed my belief that through my research I was discovering something that no one else was paying attention to. I think I kept her too long, peppering her with questions. because finally she had to stand to end the meeting.

I promised her that I would devote myself to publicizing this information and that we shared the same passion. I hope to keep in touch with this woman who seems to be a beacon of hope for Somalis in a dark place.

Lunch Breaks

 The sun has finally emerged after weeks of grey and everything in Nairobi looks completely different in sunlight. The dust on the road is much redder than I realized, the billboards shine with brighter colors, and everything just seems a little cheerier.

My office provides lunch for the staff once a week and I arrived earlier and waited outside on the little balcony off the kitchen. I took some pictures of Nairobi in the sunlight. The food was delicious Kenyan food and I had chicken, rice, chapatti (my new favorite), and this Kenyan kale type dish. The lunch could have been slightly awkward, but I just smiled and introduced myself to every person who glanced in my direction. I could not have asked for a friendlier environment to step into. Everyone seemed welcome to chatting with me and it was as if no one was totally comfortable so we were all kind of in this experience together. I sat around the table at lunch and learned about how hard it is for some of the staff to be in Nairobi away from their families. A middle-aged woman from Liberia, a man from South Africa, and a young American from California all recounted a similar feeling of precious time with family going by too quickly. The Liberian woman shared that her granddaughter thought she worked at the airport because whenever she said she had to go back to work she went there.

Pictures from the balcony

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The next day, I decided to continue taking advantage of my lunch breaks and instead of ordering food to my desk with co-workers I walked to the restaurant a few blocks away. Despite being afraid of being hit by cars as they sped by me on the street (due to lack of sidewalks) I enjoyed the walk in the sun. There were a few comments yelled from people hanging out on the street, but I felt pretty comfortable on my walk. It felt rewarding to walk somewhere on my own, after being pent up in a car most days, even if it was only two blocks away. I sat at a table in the sun and enjoyed a leisurely lunch (something rare for me who is usually too hungry to speak during lunch). I read my Kenyan newspaper and even though the waitress warned me that my veggie burger would take awhile (twenty minutes) I said it was okay and just relaxed. The veggie burger wasn’t bad, although of course the french fries were the best part. I returned to the office feeling more positive and ready to finish up the day.

I hope to continue my nice lunch breaks today and instead of ordering Indian food to go I am going to sit outside and catch up on my Kenyan news in the sun.

Our apartment complex in the sun

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