Monday, May 7, 2012

I'm clean! I'm clean! I'm cleeeean!

As many of you may know, this Saturday was Cinco de Mayo (aka my birthday). I celebrated with a beautiful mix of home activities and Kenyan activities. To start the day, I awoke to freshly made chai from my housemate, Andrea. Really most of my birthday went amazingly because of her (shout-out well deserved).  After that, we walked to town to the one of the nicest hotels in Nyeri (though very pretty, don't picture anything too extravagant) where I received my first ever full body massage followed by ordering a hamburger and fries (errr, chips) for lunch. 

After lunch, we shopped around town for ingredients to make a beef stew for dinner for a little get together. We then returned to the Center where I found one of the guys to help me set-up a slip-n-slide for the kids. During this set-up, I was "washed" (a birthday tradition) by about 5 or 6 kids. Washing entails being doused with water for one's birthday. It was probably one of the cutest things in the world as some of the 5 year olds would run up to me with the most mischievous looks on their face you could imagine and throw a margarine tub's worth of water on me.  Already being soaked, I demonstrated the slip-n-slide and a successful activity commenced. 

Later, some of the staff cooked dinner while Andrea and I snuck off to bake the brownies my mom sent. They were A-MAZING! Thanks mom. Back to dinner, a group of us enjoyed dinner together in darkness as the power had gone out due to the rain (nothing new). After enjoying my beef stew, I stepped outside to be "washed" again. This times it was exponentially more cold, but hilarious nonetheless. All in all, it was a Kenyan birthday success.

The following is a video of some of the pictures of the slip-n-slide, dinner, and my late night washing. Enjoy...

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Dear vegetarians, I'm almost sorry.

Here at the Center, I live off of a pretty vegetarian diet. The protein I generally consume comes from beans or eggs. Being an avid meat-eater, I can only handle such a diet for so long. For a couple of weeks now, my housemate, Jeff, and I have been throwing around the idea of purchasing a chicken to eat. On a whim yesterday, we decided the time had arrived. We walked down the road in the hopes of finding a hefty rooster to take home. While the rooster market was a little sparse, we did wind up with a pretty healthy looking hen.

Which soon became this...(I'll spare you the more graphic in-between photos)

This is definitely a solid addition to new life experiences and, for the record, was much less gruesome of a process than I had expected. In fact, the chicken even got to lounge around a little...

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Brown Dirt and Broken Matatus

During this past week, I had the opportunity to visit the Center’s 40 acre “ecovillage” in Lamuria (home to brown dirt, not red; surprisingly exciting to see and reminiscent of home). The visit to the land itself wasn’t too thrilling though there is a lot of opportunity for the youth to make use of the area. During my trip I did get a chance to see a little wildlife. First, in what was supposed to be one of the colonized bee hives, was a field mouse (only slightly frightening…and a little cute). Then, highlight of all highlights, I saw four zebra right on the side of the road.Unfortunately, I couldn’t take a picture since I was riding a piki piki (motorcycle). Hardly would have been a safe decision.

On Monday, I went with some of the guys to a town where they will be spending three weeks cutting grass and making hay bales. It was nothing but a good sign when we broke down just getting to Nyeri Town (the big city, if you will). After pushing the Center’s matatu up the road a little, the van was jumped started and we were ready to continue on our journey. We barely made it to our desired desert destination before the matatu stopped working once again. In the middle of nowhere we were stuck just waiting for the possibility of finding a battery to jump start the vehicle once again.  All of the strife was totally worth it for the best view of Mt. Kenya I’ve seen thus far. Not only did I get a clear view of the mountain, the little rain from earlier that day created a rainbow. I tried to take a pic with the rainbow, but it doesn’t quite do it justice so Mt. Kenya will suffice…

Once we realize we wouldn’t be finding any help around where we were, the guys began pushing away. Luckily, I was there to help by documenting the experience…

Good news is we finally found a car battery (just the battery, mind you) and cabled it up to ours and got the things rolling once again. We made it all the way to our turn before it broke down…again. We did finally make it back to the Center and what would have probably been a 2-3 hour trip turned into a 5-6 hour one. Just another day in Kenyan life and totally worth it.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Chew Lightly in Kenya

There are many precautions one must take while being in a foreign country (eg. Not losing your passport, not being “taken”, not drinking the water). However, in Kenya, more important than any of these is being on the lookout for stones in just about any meal. I am becoming very skilled in the art of “jawing” my food as I recently found this little guy in my daily consumption of githeri (a soup-ish substance with beans and maize)…

Also, I think it’s only fitting that you get a full view of my home for the next five months. I look so awesome in most of the video because I am getting acquainted with the farm life (“the shamba”) this week. The youth working on these small crops are some much stronger than I will probably ever be both in physical and emotional strength.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

I washed my clothes by hand for the first time today...

So after doing some cliche (and some not so cliche) activities in New York,

And after relaxing on a bus touring through London,

I have arrived at my final destination. I've been here for about a week and am slowly learning to accept the "hangout-ness" of the culture. However, I am beginning to work on a few projects that are pretty exciting, including partnering in writing a newspaper feature and making a documentary about a machine that is supposed to turn kitchen waste into gas. (Very green, I approve.) And, right now I'm studying up on my elementary math so I can start teaching the kids at night after school. Wish me luck, teaching has never been my strong suit.
Here's a look at my room. I am step by step working on nesting just a little bit more each day.

Please send me mail. It takes about a month to arrive, so plan accordingly.
Attn: Alina Launchbaugh
P.O. Bo2855-10140
Nyeri, Kenya

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Start of Something New...

My hope is to use this blog to keep everyone updated on my experiences leading up to and during my time at the CYEC in Kenya.

So far, I've applied for a visa (fingers crossed that it gets accepted). I have my plane tickets with which I'll be gone mid-January through the end of June. Crazy! I've gotten a ridiculous amount of shots. Soon, I should be making contact with some of the staff at the Center.

This trip becomes more and more real everyday and, most of the time, I can't wait. Please be praying for those times when I question the decision. And, be praying for the staff and youth at the Center. I truly believe God goes beyond the lines of culture and can't wait to see how that truth plays out. I'm pumped! Please join me in being pumped! 

A quick history and description of Kenyan culture soon to come...