The Toughest Job You'll Ever Love...Kenya

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Friday, March 31, 2006

Busy Times

I feel like I haven't spent but 10 minutes in Oyugis in the past month! After the rafting trip, it was time to come to Money Sucking Nairobi for a whole host of reasons. First, Peace Corps is celebrating its 45th Anniversary, so some nice folks decided to throw a party for Returned PCV's living in country and the current PCV's. It was a nice affair, but we had to pay our own way to Nairobi and our own accommodation and the like, no cheap feat I assure you. Welcome to the frustrating world of being a PCV.

But the other things that brought me to Nairobi was heaps of work. I had many meetings to go to and these were the kind of meetings that one can't waddle in looking like a PCV from the village, so I had to remember how to do my hair and find a pair of shoes that weren't Chacos sandles, yet again, no easy feat. Although, it was worth every bit of hair gel and taxi money, it was a seriously productive week! Emily and I met with a group called Liverpool VCT, a NGO doing all kinds of health services work. They sponsor a Post Rape Care program at our district hospital in Oyugis. That program in its current form is not really working, so Emily and I are working to energize it. This means many different things, but the cool part is Liverpool is going to take us through the training that they give clinicians soon. That is totally cool. We'll then go about doing some supplementary training in Oyugis, creating a mobilization and prevention campaign and generally being pests until the program is running well.

The other meetings took me back into a familiar, dearly loved and a horribly missed world: Television Production. One of my current endeavors is to create a stock of PSA's (Public Service Announcements) on different subjects. They don't really exist here in Kenya, so I had to first see if the three networks were even willing to devote time to them. KBC, KTN and NTV are the NBC, ABC and CBS of Kenya, with a few differences. One of the major ones being that if some straggly PCV called any of America's big 3 asking to speak to the head of Production/Programming, they'd be laughed at until the phone went click with a swift hang-up. I called Kenya's big 3 and got swift appointments with some really nice people who are totally keen on the idea. I still am in some shock at just waltzing into these peoples offices and presenting my idea with none of the political and ego BS that would have happened in the US. Then I needed to find some production folks who would help in the big obstacle, getting the PSA's made. Well, I was also blessed in this part, I met with some stellar guys from Cinematic Solutions, a Kenyan production company, that were warm, open and inviting. They simply rocked! This company was great, if for no other reason, two of their three editors are WOMEN. That doesn't even happen in America. They have a 24p camera, two editing suites and a wealth of experience. We sat around and talked shop for a couple of hours. I can't even put into words how much I missed Production Speak. This is the world that I am at home in. It was a thrill to be talking cameras, crew and compression rates again! When I told them that my friend from the business in Nashville was coming to visit they got stoked. I was talking about how much of a respected Gaffer she is, and they were blown away. First, that it was so cool to have a chick Gaffer and second that she might be able to impart some of her hard won wisdom upon them. Watch out Nashville, you haven't gotten rid of me that easily...I miss my job and seems like I'll be returning to it. See ya next year!

So, during this week in Nairobi I have indulged in a few ex-pat luxuries. First, I paid $6US for a box of Capn Crunch cereal. I'd never seen it before here, and just had to have it. Next, I saw the "Constant Gardner." While the group I was with had mixed reviews, I really liked it. It is an extremely accurate portrayal of Kenya (including the bits in the Slum - Kibera). It was beautifully shot and only had few spots that annoyed me. The glaring error was representations of tribes, they put the Masai in every tribal shot. I know why, they couldn't film in the areas they said it was meant to be, and most people think of them when they hear Kenya. Well, I know I am internalizing the prejudices of my own tribe (I live with Lou's) but not many folks like the Masai due to ancient feuds over cattle rustling. The tribal splits in Kenya are quite extreme sometimes. But overall, what is shown in that movie in regards to Kenya is shockingly accurate.

I am on my way back to the village in a few minutes. I'll have to make another trip to Money Sucking Nairobi in two weeks though. I have decided to join DPS (Diversity Peer Support) and have to come back for the training. Whoever said Peace Corps gives you enough money to live on was out of their minds! I'm so lucky that I saved up some money before I left or I would be seriously out of luck.

Until next time...

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