Intern Impressions of Enoosaen: Part 1

 

Rachel Bergen and George Radner are undergraduate students at the University of British Columbia.

They spent this past summer interning with Kakenya’s Dream on the ground in Enoosaen. Here, they blog a conversation about their experiences.
Stay tuned for part two of their blog series, Intern Impressions!

  George and Rachel sharing their coaching skills and taking a selfie with our Isampin Allstars volleyball team!

George and Rachel sharing their coaching skills and taking a selfie with our Isampin Allstars volleyball team!

George:
I stepped out of the car for the very first time at my new home in Enoosaen and landed in cow dung.
 

Rachel:
Wow. Bad omen?
 

George:
Not at all! This incident isn’t representative of the entire experience. That low was followed by many highs. I loved my time in Enoosaen interning with Kakenya’s Dream.
 

Rachel:
So did I, George! It was a life-changing, perspective-shifting, and eye-opening experience.
 

George:
Remember that one time when we saw elephants? And the kingfisher? Or the flamingos?
 

Rachel:
My favorite was the warthogs! And the giraffes.
 

George:
But it wasn’t just the school field trips into nature that made the experience special. What about all of our Mzungu Misfortunes!
 

Rachel:
Like me crashing down a slope of mud in business attire?
 

George:
Or you spraying yourself with a cow utter?
 

Rachel:
Hey, what about your misfortunes!
 

George:
I’ve had my fair share, that’s for sure. Do you feel like your priceless jokes went over well in Enoosaen?
 

Rachel:
Well, my chapati joke never got off the ground.
 

George:
Chapati is a delicious local delight. Thin, fried dough!
 

Rachel:
When making chapati with my host sisters, I tried to launch the joke: “it’s a chaparty!” But, it didn’t go so well…
“No, mzungu we’ve told you ten thousand times it’s chapati.”
 

George:
Mzungu Misfortunes aside, we both had plenty of highlights during our trip, too. What was your work about, and what did you learn?
 

Rachel:
Well George, I’m a psychology student and my project was helping to develop a curriculum for the organization's Health and Leadership Trainings program, which educates local youth about female genital mutilation (FGM), early marriage, sexual and reproductive health and life skills (such as how to successfully communicate). The goal of the program is to provide students with essential education and information that they’re currently lacking, as well as to empower young leaders in the community. It was so great working with and learning from the staff on such an important project for the community. What did you work on?
 

George:
I study economics, and I had a range of small projects related to my area of study. Kakenya’s Dream has identified various potential income-generating activities at KCE II to help them become more sustainable! My job was to assess the feasibility of the activities and make recommendations. The activities include a school farm, and (my favorite project) a health clinic. I also enjoyed collaborating with staff on revamping and formalizing our secondary school sponsorship program as well. I found all of my work fulfilling and fascinating. The staff were a joy to work with and I learned so much.
 

Rachel:
I liked also our coachwork.
 

George:
Volleyball! We coached volleyball!

 

Rachel:
Yep, I was Head Coach and you were of course my Assistant Coach. I liked when Doreen (5 foot 1) spiked the ball into your poor little face.

 

George:
Watching the girls improve was beautiful. The Isampin Allstars really made us proud.

 

Rachel:
Spending time with KCE students was always a blast. Like during that Field Trip to Nakuru? Or to Maasai Mara National Reserve? Or the hike to Kakenya’s Crossing?

 

George:
Memories I’ll forever treasure. Being an intern here is great. How did you find the Health & Leadership workshop?

 

Rachel:
Oh man. Powerful, for sure. Inspiring. But...

 

George:
It made the heart ache...

 

Rachel:
It really validates the work Kakenya’s Dream is doing. The need for these workshops among adolescent boys and girls is huge. They learn about sexual and reproductive health, self-defense, FGM, early marriage, self-esteem, sexual assault, leadership, and more. All things that are so crucial for them, especially girls, who can often face immense challenges in these areas.

 

George:
The need was really demonstrated during the Q&A period, don’t you think?

 

Rachel:
Definitely. We got so many anonymous questions about sexual violence, including from family members. We got many questions about FGM and contraception, too.

 

George:
But the amazing thing was, the tone of the workshops was uplifting. They inspired hope and confidence. You could tell the girls and boys took so much away from it.

 

Rachel:
The self-defense training is a great example of that. “NO!” a girl screamed as she crushed a punching bag with a kick so forceful that it knocked the facilitator over.

 

George:
But you were most struck by the FGM session, right?

 

Rachel:
Yes, I was! The facilitator handled the heavy subject matter in such an impressive way. She created a safe and open environment for students to ask questions and share their feelings.

 

George:
The facilitators did such a great job handling those subjects, across the board. And it wasn’t even awkward! All I remember from sex ed was feeling uncomfortable…

 

Rachel:
Yeah, paralyzing awkwardness.

 

George:
It’s incredible Dr. Kakenya herself got through her entire education given the tremendous obstacles she faced. I know I can speak for both of us when I say it’s been so amazing to get to know her these past months.

 

Rachel:
Well it’s been clear to me that Dr. Kakenya never lets obstacles get in the way of her dream. Not now, not ever.

 

George:
Agreed. Amen.

 

Rachel:
It’s her authenticity and complete dedication to fulfilling her vision that really moved me. Dr. Kakenya is a natural leader, and the way she leads brings the best out of people.

 

George:
Us included, I’d say. She was the one who really gave my work meaning and guided my focus. But I have to give so much credit to the other Kakenya’s Dream staff as well. It was such a joy working with and learning from them.  Daniel, Rhoda, Moses, Daisy, Joyleen, thank you!

 

Rachel:
Definitely! Thank you so much everyone.

 

 
Andrew Isaacs