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First Day in Kakuma

Woke up at 5am, packed and headed out of the hotel with a few slices of bread and butter. Our trip to the Wilson airport was short and the roads were quiet. We were able to check out bags, but not our boxes, they say they will ship them to us on Friday. Luckily, I packed my student cameras in my suitcase so I am hopefully set!

We finally loaded the 1960s airplane, the beautiful flight attendant wearing a blue head scarf read the safety schpeal the propellers are spinning and 5 minutes later they are off the doors open and people are coming in and out of the cabin. Finally, they announce that there is a mechanical issue and take us off the plane. We get back the waiting room and don't wait long before we are back on the plane. Then I fell asleep.

Once our plane landed we could see little children running along the fence line chasing the plane. We got off the plane and met our Film Aid driver and met several people at the offices. Through a slightly secure gate, we headed to the main house for breakfast and met more folks, got WiFi, and a security briefing. Basically, its safe but watch for snakes and scorpions and don't walk alone at night.

We got a brief walking tour of Kakuma 1 the oldest (25 years) area. It was better and worse then I expected. There were plenty of store fronts, restaurants, and other businesses that were busy and active. Lots of motorcycles and people everywhere! Its certainly a busy place. People are active and happy. I find it hard to really write how I feel because its conflicted, on one hand people don't seem to have much and are living in tin shacks on the other they are active, social, interacting and living very normal lives. But normal is the word which is impossible to use, I feel folks are poor here, but are they in every sense? No, this is my first reaction. The kids are dirty, but then its dusty as all get out here and I'm just as dirty!

Anyway, we stopped for an Ethiopian coffee and some sort of meat and crepe type thing, which was awesome! Then we visited a family that Marti had met last time she was here, the father was an artist. They were very sweet people, with 2 small children. The most shocking part was that the baby had a onesie on that was too small an no underwear. This broke my heart but he seemed comfortable- after all its hot!

On our walk, we were greeted by many children, "how are yooou?!" One little girl even ran up to me and gave me a big hug. I cannot wait until our books arrive so I can walk around and hand out books to the kids!

Later that day, we got a driving tour of the camp, Kakuma 4 - the newest part 2014 looked much different than Kakuma 1. It has mud brick shacks and is less congested. As we toured there were many education signs on sex, young marriage and health. Again, there were many store fronts and people everywhere talking and riding around on bikes and motorcycles, kids playing together- school doesn't start for another week. We stopped at 2 schools the first had this beautiful tree in the court yard and seemed like a bit of a far walk. The 2nd had a garden! We walked into a classroom and there was a statement about discovering self through the camera, I knew this was the school. There was also a huge carving in the wall of a "SYPDER" web- another sign! I'm excited and hopeful that this will be the place I spend the next 2 weeks with my students.

We also went to visit the camp manager to inform him about what we were doing at the camp. He was jolly and seemed friendly as we told him about our projects.

After a long wait we were finally, taken to our rooms and were able to settle. No air...its hot. The rooms are old, the bed is actually almost comfortable. Its not the cleanest place but it will do. I was happy to unpack my things and take a long cold shower.

Marti and I walked back for dinner, goat, ugali (bread like, rice like, tasteless thick and white) and plantains that tasted like potatoes. We ate with all the other staff and other workshop leaders in the living room type place of the main house. Next we visited a bar, where I ordered whiskey and a pineapple juice. Well she brought me the whole bottle! You apparently can't just buy one drink! The bar was a big outdoor place with tables and plastic chairs and a tv. There were these glowing colored orb lights that lit the area as loud music played in the background.

About 9pm we headed to home to bed. I slept well until about 1am then I was so hot I couldn't handle it. I tossed and turned, finally getting up to soak a wash cloth (slash the only thing close to a towel that I have) in order to put on my forehead to sleep. It roughly helped. I think sleeping and the lack of towel is going to be my personal frustration - a small thing in the grand scheme of things.. but I'm tired!

This morning was relaxed, got up showered and ready and a nice 10 minute walk to main house. The mornings are quiet and cool. We gather for breakfast, today a pancake like thing and time to catch up on the internet.

I'm shooting mostly with my camera and currently not sure if I'll have time to upload my camera images- so I'll probably add them at the end of the trip- unless I have time! I'll continue to take a few images on phone that are easier to get online quickly.

We are waiting now to go and start our programs! We will see how it all goes I'm read to meet these kids!

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