Fly into Jomo Kenyatta Airport, Nairobi at 9pm. Lovely to be greeted by 3 of our students. 30 minute taxi drive to Gua house followed by nice long sleep.
Travelled to Kikuyu district (using 2 matatus and a motorcycle!) to see the 4 students attending Presbyterian University. Wonderful to see Nyamal in school and recovering from her recent ordeal in South Sudan. We walked together to see the accommodation Gua is funding for each student – some inside the campus and some outside. Finished the day by meeting with University Vice Principal, to discuss future opportunities for partnership working. A very positive start to the trip.
Travelled to The Catholic University where Peter is studying law. Discussed his recent trip to South Sudan and emergency evacuation back to Nairobi. Peter was very grateful to have seen his family but relieved to be safely back at school. Then on to Jomo Kenyatta University to see Tarir who is in his first year at Medical School. Discovered that there is a lack of textbooks available which we will seek to address. Before returning home to Gua house, visited our student Grace at home with her family. Greeted very warmly by her Mum and Aunt, and ate a delicious South Sudanese meal. A lovely end to the day.
Adams (Kenya Programme Coordinator) and I hosted a meeting for all Gua students in Nairobi town centre. Very good turnout with only 2 unable to attend. A real pleasure to have everyone together as the students study in a wide variety of different places. A wide range of topics were discussed with lots of healthy debate and stirring speeches by individual students. Although saddened by current events back home, all students found this a positive event and definitely one to be repeated on a regular basis. Later, had individual meetings with several students about their aspirations and future study plans. Also learned of a student’s health issue and authorised funding for appropriate treatment.
Day of rest?! Went to watch a football match featuring two teams from South Sudan. Referendum FC are coached by Gua student Ben and the team includes several of our students. Was pleased to meet an old friend from previous trips to South Sudan, currently back in Nairobi due to the outbreak of violence there. Later, had a call via satellite phone with a close friend in Leer, confirming that the town has been virtually destroyed. He and another Gua colleague, like most other civilians, are currently in hiding in the bush. They believe the classrooms built by Gua are currently undamaged though occupied by soldiers. Not a call I ever imagined having, and not easy to sleep as a result.
Travelled to Thika town, roughly one hour from Nairobi. Visited Christian Industrial Training College where Niyo is studying Motor Mechanics. Very proud to learn that he has been elected College Captain by his fellow pupils, plus is collecting his full driving licence next month. Progressed from there to Mt Kenya University to meet Gabriel, who is studying Medicine. Gabriel showed us the accommodation he shares with another student, and we talked about the work experience he gained last year at the MSF Clinic in Leer. Handed over a gift from his UK sponsor which was enthusiastically received.
Last day! Met with several very familiar faces in town, including Damai our former student and employee, now working for a major Oil Company in Juba. Like many, he doesn’t know if he will still have a job after the conflict eventually ends, and how he will continue to support his family. Final task was to visit student Lucy at her accommodation in a Nairobi suburb. Lovely to see her so settled and enjoying her IT college course. Back to Gua house to pack suitcase and share last meal with students before taxi to airport. Departing with a long “To Do” list but delighted with the work of our Programme Coordinator Adams and inspired as always by our students achievements, especially in the face of such turmoil back home. Determined to expand the programme, and allow more students the same opportunities.
Kwaheri Nairobi, mpaka wakati ujao! (Goodbye Nairobi, until the next time!)