36 Hours in Nairobi, Kenya

Journalist Jeffrey Gettleman wrote an article in the New York Times about his 36 hour trip to Nairobi, Kenya.

The piece appeared last December, but I liked it so much that I wanted to share it again.

Nairobi can be a bit rough for sure. One day, as I was walking one of our volunteers through the city center, someone tried lifting her cell phone from her back pocket!

Still, our volunteers have always loved living and volunteering in Nairobi. The city is vibrant, fast-paced, and filled with delicious local food and modern cafes.

In the world of volunteering in Kenya, the most “sexy” spot is the Kibera Slums.

Many films have been based in Kibera, including The Constant Gardener, The Kibera Kid, and most recently the documentary Mully just released in the US.

On one of my last walks through Kibera, I accompanied a local church minister and one of our volunteers on house visits to home-bound members of his congregation.

Here are some of the photos I took in Kibera that day:

Kibera Nairobi Volunteer Walking

Kibera Nairobi Volunteering Locals

Kibera Nairobi Volunteering Pastor

Getting back to Gettleman’s Nairobi article, here is the video that accompanied his piece:

And Gettleman’s summary of Nairobi:

Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, calls itself the City in the Sun, and a visit can be as pleasant as that sounds. Most outsiders drop in for two reasons: business and animals.

A short flight from spectacular wildlife parks such as the Maasai Mara, Nairobi has also become a magnet for some of the world’s biggest corporations trying to gain a foothold in Africa.

The city is surprisingly beautiful with flowering trees and the perfect climate: 70s and 80s, sunny, low humidity — almost every day.

It’s a palpably multicultural place, encapsulating what is happening in Africa better than any other city on the continent. Picture new construction, a lot of people, intense traffic, and more and more Western businesses.

Yet you can still feed giraffes and baby elephants from within the city limits and see Maasai warriors ordering lattes in red-checkered blankets.

Kenya Travel Alert

The State Department alerts U.S. citizens residing in or traveling to Kenya that Kenya’s Elections Commission has announced that new Presidential elections will be held on October 17, 2017.

This Travel Alert replaces the Travel Alert dated April 6, 2017 and expires on October 31, 2017.

Rallies, demonstrations, and protests may occur with little notice. As with all large events, there is the opportunity for criminal elements or terrorists to target participants and visitors. Even events intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. You should avoid areas of demonstrations and exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations.

  • Although there is no indication that U.S. citizens may be targets of violence, you are urged to exercise caution and remain abreast of the security situation throughout the electoral period.
  • Monitor media and local information sources regarding election-related developments, and factor updated information into personal travel plans and activities.
  • Avoid crowds and remain alert when using public transportation.
  • Report specific safety concerns to local law enforcement authorities.
  • Stay in touch with your family members and ensure they know how to reach you in the event of an emergency.
  • During elections, restrictions on traffic circulation, either imposed by the authorities or caused by political rallies, can be expected.
  • Please refer to our message dated March 13, 2017, for tips on personal preparedness.

For further information:

  • See the State Department’s travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Kenya Specific Information.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Contact the U.S. Embassy in Kenya located on United Nations Avenue, Nairobi, at +254 (0) 20 363 6451 7:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.Monday through Thursday and 7:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. on Friday. After-hours emergency number for U.S. citizens is +254 (0) 20 363 6170.
  • Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Vaccinations for Kenya

Kenya does not require any vaccinations for entry.

However we recommend that at least two months before departure for Kenya, you visit a travel clinic or an individual doctor specializing in travel medicine to discuss any possible vaccinations.

We follow the vaccination guidelines of the Centers For Disease Control for Kenya (CDC).

The CDC recommends:

Routine vaccines: Measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot.

Hepatitis A Hepatitis: You can get hepatitis A through contaminated food or water in Kenya, regardless of where you are eating or staying.

Typhoid: You can get typhoid through contaminated food or water in Kenya. CDC recommends this vaccine for most travelers, especially if you are staying with friends or relatives, visiting smaller cities or rural areas, or if you are an adventurous eater.

Malaria is present in some of our volunteering locations including Kenya. Read about how to prevent and treat malaria.

Zika is a risk in Kenya. Because Zika infection in a pregnant woman can cause serious birth defects, women who are pregnant should not travel to Kenya. All travelers should strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites and sexual exposure to Zika virus during and after the trip. For more information, see Zika Virus.

An Aussie in Philly

One of our volunteers visited Philadelphia last week to say hi after his recent trip to Kenya.

Ben McCaskill, a nurse from Australia, volunteered at two medical clinics in Kenya for four months earlier this year. He’s been in the US for a tour before heading back home to Australia, and he took me up on my offer to visit Philadelphia!

Here are some photos from his trip to Philadelphia (and Kenya too):

Kenya Medical Volunteer Ben Mcaskill Homestay

Kenya Medical Volunteer Ben Mcaskill on Motorbike

Kenya Medical Volunteer Ben Mcaskill Homestay

Kenya Medical Volunteer Ben Mcaskill Meal

Kenya Medical Volunteer Ben Mcaskill at Philadelphia Rocky Statue

Kenya Medical Volunteer Ben Mcaskill in Village

Kenya Medical Volunteer Ben Mcaskill Walking

Kenya Medical Volunteer Ben Mcaskill at Philadelphia Art Museum

Kenya Medical Volunteer Ben Mcaskill at Philadelphia Art Museum with Scott Burke

Kenya Medical Volunteer Ben Mcaskill at Philadelphia Love Statue

Kenya Medical Volunteer Ben Mcaskill Feeding Monkeys

Kenya Medical Volunteer Ben Mcaskill at Lake Naivasha

Kenya Medical Volunteer Ben Mcaskill Farming

Kenya Medical Volunteer Ben Mcaskill with Cows

Slum Tourism in Kenya

An article in today’s Sydney Morning Herald talks about the growing phenomenon of “slum tourism,” with the Kibera section of Nairobi, Kenya being one of the most popular “destinations”. What do the residents of Kibera think? Not much, apparently.

“These see us like puppets, they want to come and take pictures, have a little walk, tell their friends they’ve been to the worst slum in Africa,” says car-wash worker David Kabala. “But nothing changes for us. If someone comes, let him do something for us. Or if they really want to know how we think and feel, come and spend a night, or walk round when it’s pouring with rain here and the paths are like rivers.”

Our volunteers know what it’s like. They’ve helped out at numerous medical clinics and social work organizations in Kibera since we started programs there almost two years ago. And they live right in Kibera, with locals like David as their neighbor, often forging friendships that last well after the volunteers return to their home countries.

Anna Ford Health Care Internship in Kenya

Anna Ford recently spent three weeks working in our program health care internship Kenya.

She volunteered at a medical clinic in the Kibera section of Nairobi.

The photos of Kibera really give you an idea of the environmental challenges faced by volunteers doing our health care internship Kenya program. The neighborhoods are usually very poor with trash and lack of infrastructure.

Anna’s volunteer program in Kenya was a break from her normal job as an emergency room nurse in New York City.

Kenya Medical Volunteer Anna Ford

Kenya Medical Volunteer Anna Ford

Kenya Medical Volunteer Anna Ford

Kenya Medical Volunteer Anna Ford