Father Tom and Father Pasquel are both living here right now, along with two brothers (Ben and Agga). The four have been wonderful hosts so far and Agga has what is possibly the world's best laugh.
This is definitely a place that my maternal grandparents would appreciate. It is a very simple house, which makes it even more beautiful. There are several peaceful courtyards that are filled with trees and plants. Crosses and religious pictures fill some spaces throughout the rooms.
Here in Nairobi, there is a Holy Cross Parish in the Dandora neighborhood, which is considered to be one of Nairobi's slums. Yesterday, Kathya (another UP intern) and I had the chance to tag along with Father Tom to go to the parish and go to the first mass, which was spoken entirely in Swahili.
Dandora was originally started as a project by the Nairobi City Council with funding from World Bank in 1977 to provide permanent housing. Plots were divided up and each plot has central sanitation. At first, families were given counseling to help with loans for the plots to initially build a room. Many often took out a second loan to build a second room on the plot to rent out, which provided a bit of income. However, as time went on, more and more absentee landlords appeared and conditions in Dandora began to slowly decline. Now, the population of Dandora is at about 250,000 and violence and crime are a daily occurrence.
It was amazing and a completely mind blowing experience to be there. Most of the roads are lined with stalls for street vendors, which are made of wood and metal sheets. A lot of vendors sell things like clothes (very American/European clothes to be honest), shoes, radios, food, etc.
Despite the poverty, there were so many people dressed really nicely and were extremely clean within Dandora.
The mass was amazing. We had the chance to go to the first mass, which was entirely in Swahili. But you could just feel the amazing energy and the choir was amazing. They had the harmonies of every song down and for the most part, were unaccompanied. There are four different choirs if I remember correctly and practices are such a big social event for those involved.
Goats - Goats are every where in Dandora (and other parts in Nairobi) and are often kept for the meat, which was a new concept for me. People do own the goats but for the most part, they just wander around and eat everything. I love goats so discovering that goats just roamed the streets on Sunday was probably the best thing ever for me. There was this pair of goats that laid down in the middle of the road and just chilled there for a while. Father Tom, Kathya, and Karen laughed at me for being so excited about the goats.
Chickens - Chickens are another animal that I saw quite a lot of while in Dandora. Like goats, there were plenty of chickens just chilling in the streets and wandering around.
Dogs and cats - Animals are rarely kept as pets in Kenya and cats and dogs are most often strays. It was a weird thing for me to get used to, as in the States, dogs and cats are treated very very well (especially in my family...).
Ugali is one of the main dishes eaten in East Africa and is made from cornmeal. It has a very dough like consistency. So far, chipati has been my favourite part of Kenyan food. It is much like naan (as Kenya has had a very large Indian influence because both were a British colony) and is really delicious. Rice and stew are both essentials so far too.
There isn't much of a set schedule for the next couple days but if it is anything like my time so far, it will be amazing.