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13 July 2017

Day three – Finally got the Lock

It is my third day in Bondo Kenya, and I have already somewhat assimilated, although still in logistical organizations. Today is the day that I finally got my lock to the room. There are two bed rooms in the guest house, and mine could not lock,  so, for two night I slept with an unlocked door, mind you I felt safe but the feeling was strange, finally today the carpenter came and fixed my lock, tonight will be better.

Day 1 – arrived safe and sound, after exactly 13 and a half hours, all the connections worked fine even easier than I imagined, of course I had a problem with overweight (I was very concerned with this) but I was only charged once 20 dollars so that was great. I received my humble accommodations, it is not what I am used to, and at first shock, I considered going to a hotel, but I told myself to stay the night and see what happens. Went shopping for some basic necessities, such as cleaning materials, my next mission is to find a squeegee (water swiper) we went to four supermarkets and could not find.

Day 2 – Slept well decided to stay and mange. Today I received a table and chairs. My very generous host here, introduced me to many people, local staff, security, cooks, faculty members and students, so quite a good network now and I can even ask for things on my own – like the lock. Other than that, I devoted this day to intensive cleaning. I don’t think I have worked so hard cleaning since 1993, I scrubbed, the floors, the walls, the closet and then in the evening my roommate and I cleaned the bathroom together. She is very nice a young PhD student from Cameroon working on biological and chemical pollutants in the water so we actually have complimentary work. I went to bed last night at 12:30 exhausted after a full day of cleaning and unpacking and now I am fine. Did I tell you that we have excellent Wi-Fi. One of the plus reasons to stay.

Plus side
Minus side
Humble accommodations
Scrubbed clean
On campus – great network
This is a good time of year weather is cool
Available meals – don’t have to cook
No Hot water
Can’t really mitigate this – maybe just with the fact that there is water
Good Wi – Fi – need I say more

Day 3 – Started great with the lock and ended even better, with the familiarization tour I made around the county, visited all 5 subcounties of Siaya, many insights and pictures, I will leave it for another day. But this day made me very excited!                                      

11 July 2017

Ethiopian Airlines -not bad not great

Last time I traveled Ethiopian I was really impressed. This time not so much. First of all it is an old plane with no personal screen. This is realy bad for me since I usually I can't sleep on flights as the case today and can't  watch a movie either So I'm blogging. The food was ok. Ordered Asian vegetarian - not bad stir fry. But the worst,  the guy sitting next to me can not keep his elbows to himself  - most annoying.  I even gently asked if he can be careful,  but to no avail. The guy has no sense of persoal space. It's going to be a long night.
It was a long night and even longer day. Arrived in Bondo around 14:00.  And had a full day of logistics and administration.  Will tell you all about it tomorrow. Have to sleep now. Good night.

10 July 2017

On My way to Kenya

Its 1:00 in the morning, on my way to Nairobi, via Addis Abebe. It is estimated to take me about 13 hours just flight and stop overs until reaching Bondo, I plan to get there at 14:30. Lets see what really happens!!!!

Preparation checklist:
  • Where am I going to sleep? – it was kindly arranged for me to be accommodated at the university guesthouse, with another roommate a lady from Cameroon doing her Ph.D. feel really Lucky – check!
  • Where am I going to eat? – the accommodations, include breakfast lunch and dinner. So that’s taken care of – check!
  • Health? Vaccinations - done; insurance – done; medication – got all that covered, half of my suitcase is full of antibiotics – just in case, I don’t really use the stuff, but better be careful than sorry, a first aid kit for travels in the rural areas, hygiene stuff and more – check!
  • How am I going to do my research? – methodology planned, questions for interview written, in touch with local research assistant – check!
So you see not a care in the world 😃– everything meticulously planned – wonder how much god is laughing at me right now – one of my research questions is to check the discrepancy between intentions and planning and on the ground reality – let’s see how this pans out for me????????????????

08 July 2017

The University of Luxemburg

Currently being a university student, I can appreciate other facilities. But this one was special it’s a ecological environmental friendly building., I really got excited with some of the features. The university of Luxemburg in Belval was established in 2003 and currently has ~6000 students. I know about environment friendly buildings, but I haven’t had the experience of using one. So here are some of my experiences in this one. The rooms don’t need lighting because each room has great windows which give enough light, we never opened the light once in our workshop. There are no ACS, only openings in the windows through levels which allow air to come in forming a natural AC, unfortunately, it did not take into consideration out door noise which also comes in, there are motion detection lighting where needed so every time I visited the ladies room, the lights went on and off as I entered or left, so electricity saving yes, but water saving no – they did not have dual flush toilets, every floor has an emergency station with a first aid kit, fire extinguisher and more, there are metal panel for signs on the walls and they are put on with magnets, State of the art video conference rooms, gigantic screen in each room for presentations, and my favorite all the walls of the classroom are actually a whiteboard on which you can write and brainstorm. It comes with a suitcase and  markers and some more  stuff,  I really enjoyed writing on the wall it was great.

Luxemburg deserves a post

I am in Luxemburg right now, just before my trip to Kenya, participating in a micro financing -MF, workshop the mission was twofold, Making the young entrepreneurs initiative sustainable -  apparently MF for Young people 18-35 is a fairly new product because its deemed even more risker that regular MF. And the second mission to incorporate water and sanitation segment into the list of products that they offer. Currently MF is offered for businesses such as hairdressing, catering and the like.

We were a group of 14 people, from Togo, Burkina Faso, Rwanda, representing the local MFIs; Israel, Netherlands, Germany we were the consultants in water and sanitation,  participants from Luxemburg,  from a local NGO supporting the African initiatives and from the university of Luxemburg and lastly beautiful Katerina the 9 week old baby of our moderator who worked and mothered simontanously. The dynamics were very interesting capitalizing on the backgrounds and experiences of each of the participants. Conclusions: water and sanitation is a vital sector although it is very complex one;  MFIs can be part of the solution to the vast financial gap that exists in order to reach the SDG goal for water, (the goal is water for all by 2030 and the financial gap is at least $3.3billion annually); the young entrepreneur segment is an important one for income security and creating additional cliental; in the water sector MF can be given to income generating activities such as pump technician but also to the community so that they can pay for the service. And there were additional findings, which will be developed and presented later.
Two more interesting issues: this was my first time in Luxemburg, quite a beautiful country, the city of Luxemburg is a sort of fairytale land with its beautiful castles and churches (pic) and lush gardens. the sun is out until 21:30 at least, which made nighttime tourism a new experience, the pubs were full of people,  A band was playing Copacabana (pic) and there was a great vibe. Luxemburg is considered a slow pace country, and I did feel the calm.

The workshop I attended was at the university which is in Belval – apparently the largest completely new urban development program in Europe. They took an old industrial area and turned it into an urban area with amazing buildings, the university and all the necessities of a new city. They left much of the old remnants such as a metal factory (pic) and train tracks and incorporated them into the new buildings very interesting.

Good night to all


04 July 2017

Its Finally Happening

After months of preparation, research and studying, I am finally travelling to Kenya for my field work. This is the highlight of the doctorate, because here, finally, I will be able to ask the questions that trouble me the most and hopefully (one can only hope) find out what I am seeking.  

What am I seeking? Well my mindboggling question is how come, so many people around the world (650m) and on the African continent specifically (325m) lack access to clean water.
The asking will be done by travelling to the Western part of Kenya, to a county named Siaya, which lays on the shores of Lake Victoria (the third largest lake in the world) with up to 1400mm annual rain (in Israel we get ~600mm) and yet 47% of the population (of 842k) don’t have access to clean water. This physical abundance of water makes the question even more interesting. By the way, in Kenya, the average is 37% of the pop. without access (of 46.7m).

So, I will be residing in Siaya for the next two months. I will be graciously hosted by the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology or JOOUST for short. I will be travelling around the county (2,530.4 sq. km) interviewing people, from county officials to local villagers, observing what happens on the ground and picking my brain to make sense of it all.

I am very excited to see what happens, understanding that any plans I make can change at any moment, so I am hoping, so hoping for cooperation, for easy travels, reasonable physical conditions and to find some answers.

But first on the way a short stopover in Luxemburg where I will join the workshop on microfinance and clean water & sanitation as part of the SDG lab for Young Entrepreneurs to advance local economies and community health in Africa, and will talk about “sustainable water projects” at the university of Luxenberg.

See you next time more to come……

26 November 2015

The first day of the conference.

Karibu – hello in Swahili.

My ordeal is over, everything was worth-while, had a great first day.
Hotel room is good, comfortable bed, hot water, good food. Kisumu is a fish area it is right on the shore of Victoria lake, so I am having fish everyday
The day started off with an explanation and apology about the misunderstand that occurred yesterday, I appreciated it and accepted it and we moved on.

I had a fantastic day today. The conference was very fruitful. A real interaction between cultures. The people are from, obviously from Bondo , but also from other universities in Kenya, from Congo DRC, Uganda, Netherlands and me (from Israel). It is very small so we have a lot of opportunity for real discussion, and real brainstorming.
The conference is about technological transfer and cultural interface. This is a very interesting subject which raises many questions. The main question which we are trying to answer is how can Africa take from the west technology which is appropriate for her and combine it with its own set of values. Or must technological adoption come with an adoption of the values of where it was designed or innovated. Big question. We will see where this takes us.
We are talking about the contributions Africa can make to the world. We discussed the openness of Africa to things that we do not accept in the west, there is no one or right answer for issues, there is more than two beings, of male and female, I am told that there are 12 in the bantu culture. And many other issues are being discussed. Religion is viewed very differently than it is viewed in many western cultures, there is more room for openness and less dogma. We are going very deep here……(loving it), I even learnt something about Jewishness, from our host. That in the Jewish faith it is a way of life, not dogma or just a faith, as well as it looks to the future. Obviously we in Israel feel very differently about this statement, we feel that there is much coercion in religion, but then I thought about ashkenazi and sphardic, thinking that we always say that if we can adopt the sphardic way, in which Jewish meant culture and a way of life it would be all different and less over bearing. And that the dichotomy of being religious or secular actually came from Europe, and put us in a spot where we must choose, it was a total non-issue in the northern African countries or the sphardic culture, where it was just a way of life, the secular/non secular issue has only been adopted recently by them as well, from the ashkenazi. Very interesting stuff.
So much more to talk about, but it might get too boring so I will stop.  
Two very nice Kenyan traditions: what we call a coffee break is called here a Health break, I thought this is a marvelous terminology, first time I heard it. And for their tea they have Milk water, which is actually milk diluted with water, great innovation. there are also diffrent kinds of ways of showing apprecition and clapping, really nice, difficult to discribe. loving this.

On our health break we got tea with milk water, a kind of sweet doughnut, and yams…..

Will continue to report tomorrow