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What to Bring to Africa

I spent 6 months in Liberia, Uganda and Kenya and learned some things about what is helpful to bring to a tropic, hot, developing world location from the Western world. If you’re going to stay for 1 week or 2 years, take a look at this list. If you’re going for just a week or two and staying at fancy, civilized places, than you might not need all of this, but you can use your judgement.

Water Filter
In most places that I visited you can buy bottled water. But I had a couple times when I couldn’t and I was very thankful I had my Sawyer Water Filter. I will also say that all the bottled water had outside seals on them so you know they’re good. And they were good. Except one in Kenya, Tiji. Even though they were sealed they had floating crap in them. Yuck. I whipped out my Sawyer filter for those! read more

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Kisii and the Orphanage

The Lonely Planet guide for Kenya does not speak highly of Kisii. That’s too bad, I really liked this hilly, bustling little town.

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These Hard Times

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Animal Farm.

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Best Friends.

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The corridor of my apt. complex. 24 rooms total.

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My room. Gotta love Hanna-Barbera.

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My room is on the left. The shower and toilet, straight ahead.

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The other side of my room. I estimate these rooms to be no more than 12×12 feet.

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Some of the school on a lazy Saturday.

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Another part of the school.

I have written and rewritten this article many times. I’m trying not to say too much negative, but this has been a hard place. I’m teaching at a school in the Lake Victoria region of Kenya. The culture is male dominated. The people are not as friendly as in Uganda, by a long shot. The community is small and there is not much to do and most comforts are non-existent. I’m including some pictures of the area so you can kind of imagine what it might be like.

It has been hard since before I even got here. Yesterday made one week with this assignment. Actually, typing that makes me feel better! Time truly is progressing! Most of my past African situations were good. The one in Uganda that was bad, there was no question in my mind that I had to leave early. In this case, I felt God say “You need to stay.” I admit that I don’t always do what God says, but in this case I’m obedient. read more

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My Friend Fran and Her Gorgeous Henna

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Me and Fran, Indian Ocean.

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I was like “Let me fix my hair.”

(click on any picture to see its bigger version!)

In Kilifi, I met the lovely Fran from Germany, living in Zanzibar. When I first met Fran, we were in the gift shop. It went like this.
Me: Hello, I’m Laurie.
Fran: Hi, I’m Fran.
Me: Nice to meet you. Can I ask what country you come from?
Fran: Germany.
Me: Wow, I’m surprised, your accent is so much more beautiful than the German accents I’m used to.
And that was the beginning of our friendship.

Fran was a great friend to me, including taking me to the hospital when I got stung by an unknown marine animal (not jelly fish, not sea urchin). Fran does have a BEAUTIFUL voice. I told her she should do some books on tape or something. It’s a voice that reminds me of Mia Farrow in The Last Unicorn. So soothing. When I asked Fran, “Do you know the movie The Last Unicorn?” She said, “I love that movie, it’s such a beautiful movie.” For sure!

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Fran!!!!


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Majestic boabob tree at Distant Relatives.


Fran and I had great times, fun times, peaceful and relaxing times. We shared many swims, dawas, stories, amongst other things. We sat under the baobob tree for energy and peace and it was such a nice friendship in such a magical place. I will absolutely see Fran again! read more

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Taata Kids, Mbale and Teaching P6 and P7 English

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Volunteers at Taata Kids Guest House. From left: Rushmi, Joelle, Me, Pablo, Peter and Esther.

I feel very comfortable here. I have my own room, my own space, my own bathroom, my own mirror, my own life. Mbale has a mountain to the East, supermarkets, lots of wifi bar and cafes, lots of good restaurants. It feels very safe, I have never felt anyone trying to hurt me or rip me off. How I feel now really makes me think that I’ll be coming back to Africa for a longer stay, maybe to Mbale!

It’s great that there are so many volunteers here at Taata Kids. The first batch that I met here: Esther, Pablo and Devon were young, fun, risk takers that helped me do crazy wild things like ride motorcycles, stay out after dark and climb insanely unsafe looking ladders. They have all gone now, though Pablo and Esther should return for a couple weeks about a month from now. I am looking forward to Pablo and Esther coming back for sure! This week, a Spanish girl helped cut my hair!

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Mbale from Bam Supermarket’s balcony.

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TAATA Kids – The Storm is Over!

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My new home!

Friday January 29 I arrived at TAATA Kids in Mbale Uganda. I love it!!!! (The Storm is Over is Taata Kids’ motto, and I think it’s a good omen for the storm I just went through!)

I was originally going to stay here for 4 weeks after 4 weeks at my previous place. But, since I was only at that place for 1 week, I’m changing this one to 7 weeks. But, if I love it and want to stay here and cross some other orgs off the list, I will. Frankly I am a little sick of moving around and showing up at an unknown place…. read more

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Hell Week

Right now it’s 6:15 am and my last day of one week with an org in which I did not have a good experience.

This week I have dealt with baby cockroaches in my toothbrush and mouth piece case, living in a storage room, bedbugs, mice (living in the home at peace with the family), compulsive lying and finding all my luggage had been looked through. I stayed in two different homes because I was not comfortable at the first. I would have been comfortable at the second, but that is where there were bedbugs were.

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This is how I spent yesterday. All day. Busted my butt. Nice lunch, huh?


I don’t know if this org is a good one or not but I couldn’t work on the website when I couldn’t trust the information I was being told. While I was doing the website I realized that they had lied to me prior to my arrival too. I do have to say the org isn’t totally bad, some of the people I met were great, and I know this org is doing good work because I did witness some good projects. They are probably doing other great work too, that I didn’t get a chance to see, but I’m just done. read more

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Teaching and Making Websites

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A 5 min walk from my Kalisizo home.

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Some serious local cuties.

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Another 5 min walk from my Kalisizo home.

I have spent the past month teaching a basic English class for adults and working on a website for a non-profit in rural Uganda, south of the Equator, in Kalisizo.

This has, hands down, been the best month of my life. Every day is not “perfect” and there are things I dislike but duh, that’s life. In fact, there were times that were VERY hard. But again, that’s life and it always felt good once the struggle passed.

My English Classes

I have two classes, each meets two times a week. This is my last week. 🙁 At the first class, many of the students, when greeted with “Hi” or “Hello”, would reply “I’m fine”, which is very understandable when you consider how their language, Luganda, is. They don’t have “Hi” or “Hello” in Luganda. Their simplest greeting is “How are you?”. So I can see why some have trouble with “hi”. read more

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Ok New Year’s Celebration, Fabulous Life

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Me and my village English class.

The end of the year! When I think back to what I was doing last New Year’s, I knew I wanted to get to Africa some how but I definitely never thought that I would be here one year later! Yay!

I haven’t been blogging as much as I did when I was in Liberia because I’ve been busy doing real work! I have been teaching English classes to adults and working on the website for Sprout Care Foundation.

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Me writing some stuff. I never thought I’d teach outside under a tree! What a joy!

Sprout Care Foundation, the organization that I’m currently volunteering for, is a community development organization that works to help their district of Uganda by doing many things. Some of the things are sponsoring children’s fees in local schools, helping poor families with various types of assistance, doing community education and awareness of stuff like HIV, waste management, nutrition and also adult education classes like English and Career Development. read more

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Nze Rory and My First Days in Uganda

Christmas Eve! Actually it only hit me just now that most of my family, about 20 people probably, including kids, are at my mom’s house celebrating the holiday. Although I miss them and the celebration, I’m pretty darn happy here! Tomorrow we will celebrate Christmas, starting with going to church at 8:30 am. I don’t know what all the festivities will hold, but Lucy, the other Dutch volunteer have combined our gifts to present to the family and others living at the house.

The house I'm staying in in Kalisizo, Uganda.

The house I’m staying in in Kalisizo, Uganda.

At the house there are Godfrey (also called Geofrey), the director of Sprout Care Foundation, his wife Gorreth (pronounced Gorety), their three sons (the twins are 6 and the other is about to turn 3), Gorreth’s nieces Winnie and Doreen, a teacher from the school Prossy, myself and Lucy the volunteer from the Netherlands. Apparently there is also another girl, Tracy is a student at the school but is currently staying with her aunt for the holiday. Another volunteer Luke will be returning January 10th. I had no idea so many people would live here and I misjudged the boys’ ages so Lucy helped by offering to pool her gifts with mine. read more