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Anna Van Til's Blog

It’s my last day in Kenya, and I’m feeling bittersweet. Partly, it seems like I was just picking up momentum, and I should stay and build on what I’ve learned so far. Partly, I’m ready to get back home, see everyone, and finish my classes. Here are a few highlights from the last three weeks:

I went to a gender and development training in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, with the World Renew team and partner organizations there. I left Kenya just...

As I’ve been mentally preparing to end my time here, I found making different lists a helpful way of reflecting on my experiences. So, instead of a typical blog post, for now I thought it would be nice to share my lists with you, some serious and some just fun.


Things I have missed from the US:

•Swing dancing

•Desserts and baked foods




•Lake Michigan


Things I will miss from Kenya:

•Host family

•My supervisor

•Riding everywhere on a motorbike

•Traditional African songs

•The Indian Ocean

•Storytime after dinner


Kenya was colonized...

My week in Nairobi was a strange mix of relaxing and visiting tourist sites, and learning about community development.

One day, I went to an elephant orphanage and giraffe center. Most of the elephant orphans’ parents had been killed through poaching. Even though poaching is illegal, the demand for ivory continues to drive the market. And in case you were wondering, touching an elephant is akin to petting a rock. The little elephants tromping around look cute, but their skin is...

Things have been switched up a bit, sometimes planned and sometimes not. The second week of October, I went to an Anglican Development Services symposium in a town near Mombasa, the second-largest city in Kenya. It was at a beach resort, which was a drastic change of scenery for me. There was even running water, albeit salty. While I’ve been working only in the coastal region, ADS has offices and projects in several areas of Kenya. Each region sent representatives...

The last few weeks have fallen into a routine, although plans are constantly changing. Monday morning, I go to Marafa with my supervisor, Ziro. Generally speaking, we attend two meetings per day until Friday evening, when we drive back to Malindi. The meetings are attended by 70-300 villagers, and each center meets two or three times per week. Some of the meetings are held outside under trees, either because a building is not available, or it is too small....

Last Monday, I visited the ADS office in Mombasa. It was interesting to see a different city and do a little bit of shopping there, although there wasn't time to see the usual touristy places. Many people make the commute there every morning, which can take 2-4 hours depending on traffic.

On Tuesday I stayed at home and rested. Feeling mostly better, I went to Marafa on Wednesday afternoon, although I didn't go to any meetings until Thursday. The first meeting...

This was my first week in the field!

On Monday morning, Ziro, the main facilitator of ADS Pwani, picked me up from my house in Malindi and brought me to Marafa, the town our guest house is in. The daily routine is as follows: After getting ready and eating breakfast in town, we go to one of the sub-location centers. Pwani works in ten sub-locations in this area, each of which meets twice per week. The locations span a wide area...

Although I haven’t been out “in the field” yet, I am at my host’s house in Malindi now, where I will be staying for most of my internship. Malindi is a touristy town on the beach, so being from Holland, I feel right at home. However, most of the tourists are from Italy or Europe, so people have tried greeting me in Italian, which really throws me off. The flight here from Nairobi was less...

I was surprised by how green Nairobi is. Even walking around downtown, sometimes it’s hard to see what buildings are down the road because there are trees in the way. However, there is construction everywhere, so in a few years it could look different. It is also very dusty, and the climate is hot but not roasting.

The past few days have been fairly varied. I visited the National Museum, which had some great exhibits on mammals, birds, snakes,...

I’m in Nairobi!

After two delayed flights, I had to run through the Amsterdam airport, but I boarded on time. I ran with another passenger—a Kenyan from the exact coastal communities I will be staying in. He was very impressed by the chance of meeting each other, and said, “Your Christian God is taking very good care of you.” I couldn’t agree more. Although my luggage did not make the connection, it was delivered to my hotel safe and sound a...