zaterdag 31 mei 2014

Pole pole

Relaxing weekend in Nairobi... 

Husband has arrived and he joined us for dinner at Carnivore last night. And this morning, most of the team left for the Masai Mara, other destinations in Africa, or home. So time for goodbyes, hugs, and kisses.   :o(

We'll stay in the city until Monday morning. Today we visited the Giraffe Center, the Karen Blixen museum, and lunch at Tamambo including Tusker beer (plus a quick retour to see the IBM Lab which is in the neighbourhood). Of course accompanied by our own taxi driver Ephantus. Costs were a bit higher than expected, but it was a 5,5 hour tour. The Masai market is on the agenda for tomorrow. Maybe also the Nairobi National Museum.

But for now... just sit on the balcony, read a book. Pole pole (= take it easy...)

#ibmcsc kenya 

donderdag 29 mei 2014

Final presentation

Planning for today:
  • Taxi at 8 am to bring us to KICC VIP lounge
  • Final presentation for WEF and IBM teams at 9:30
  • Lunch at 12:00 arranged by WEF
  • Taxi to IBM at 13:30
  • Meeting at IBM at 14:30
  • Return home, relax, start packing
  • Celebration dinner at 19:00 at Carnivore
Besides of course the completion of the CSC assignment and doing the final presentation for our client, the other BIG highlight will be that my husband Mark arrives this morning in Nairobi. A taxi will take him to our apartment building and then later today, we'll see each other again after 4 weeks. 

#ibmcsc kenya 

Count Down

Yesterday we had our last working day at WEF in their offices. We have spent here many days doing interviews, reading the material, rehearsing our mid term review, etc. And now it's done, over. On Facebook there was an entry for the new Nigeria team who are about to leave for their assignments. I wish I was in their shoes again. 

WEF gave us some very great gifts. I will share pictures later. Ulla-Britt already mentioned that she would like to take WEF, our team, and this work to Stockholm so that we can remain together. I agree...

To share our experiences, a few office pictures.First lunch at restaurant Originelle:

Whenever possible, we like to sit outside.  

 And our office. A map of the country with all the financial partners per region on the wall. On the screen you can see one of the slides about Capacity Building: the WEF Officers spend a lot of time on debt collection, which is good as the money will have to be repaid. But at the same time, these officers have a target to train 2.500 women each year. One of our recommendations is about balancing their time on such activities.

Last selfie at the NSSF building:

And a picture of one of the security guys. Such friendly people. At the gate, one of them always makes the same joke when he sees us. That it's not "Women Enterprise Fund" but "We men Enterprise Fund" and that the women are trying to take everything away from the men. We all laugh of course. And he calls me "Holland". Ah well, at least this guy lets us enter the gate so we do not have get out of the taxi on the street and then walk a long way through another building including additional checks. Once we had to check-in our laptops in that first building, writing down the machine type, serial number, etc. We never checked-out...

#ibmcsc kenya 

zondag 25 mei 2014

Back to work

And now back to work. Last week ahead of us. 

#ibmcsc kenya 


FYI... The Kenyans are on our side. 

And yes, of course I refer to the World Cup 2014. They like our players like Van Persie, Van Nistelrooij, and Robben. They also know about the old guys like Gullit and Bergkamp. Always a good topic for conversation.  

#ibmcsc kenya 

Masai Market

Impression of the Masai Market

The market can be found on different locations in the city. Today the market was at the Yaya shopping center. The mall itself has stores on the inside but the Masai market is on the top on the roof at the 3rd floor. HS, Raghu, Ulla-Britt, and I went there this morning to buy some souvenirs for the people at home.

No, these are not the pictures of what I have bought. Just an impression of the goods...

The black ebony wood work is very expensive. So either you pay a lot or you buy fake. I have not asked for the prices on these items, because as soon as you ask for the price it's an indication you really want to buy and it's hard getting out of a deal. And I'm Dutch, so I like to check the merchandise first (kijke, kijke, niet kope) and then buy maybe a few items. 

Lots of small souvenirs. And the salesmen/women try to sell them by 10 or 20. If you want only one, they say: "Sister, really? Why only one when you can get good price for 10? I'm your friend. You will get a good price." 

Such pretty colours and fabrics. But a) I already got two of these scarfs and b) I have sooo much fabric at home. I'm "not allowed" to buy anymore unless I use my existing stash or get rid of it.

Ulla-Britt buying some earrings. Sharon (far left in the picture) was helping us by indicating the price that would be fair. Raghu negotiated best. He got his stuff at very low prices!

And now for something completely different. Yesterday, I told you about our visit at YARD and having lunch at the women's group. One of the foods we had for lunch is this root you see on the picture below. It was prepared in two ways: boiled and the other way I do not know. The boiled version is dry, but if you dip it in the gravy, it was pretty OK. Tasted a bit like potato. The other version was spiced and had a red-brown colour. I liked that one better. 

This picture was taken at the mall where we got some groceries today. And since we had this vegetable yesterday, I made a picture so you get a better impression. Unfortunately I do not know the name anymore. (Luke - input please!)  

#ibmcsc kenya

zaterdag 24 mei 2014

Work and Play

First work...

After the mid term review meeting on Monday, we dived into further details and research for WEF. Still a lot of work to do and time is running out. Ulla-Britt and I went for an interview with the Nairobi Region Manager Ann Muturi to ask for her view on the women empowerment, the loan processing, and about WEF in general. Good feedback and it was great talking to her and the rest of her team. 

Wednesday we visited the IBM Lab. Great people, great projects, very interesting.

(And no, I will not go into details why some of the parts of the IBM sign are missing on this picture. I'm only to blame for 1 of them...) 
On Friday we had lunch at restaurant Originally - where quality meets originality - on the ground floor of our building. This time, quail on the menu! We have seen lots of quails (alive) and this is how they look when prepared. I also had some rabbit (left bottom corner), which was very good. 

Then play...
Today, Saturday May 24th, it's the birthday of my son Thomas. He turns 13 today and we skyped early in the morning when he got a cup of tea in bed plus his presents. Later today, the family will come to celebrate his birthday. I'm a bit sad for missing his birthday and I guess he will not stop reminding me that I missed it, but also because of the sad circumstances within our family. His birthday will not be celebrated as much as we would normally do. Just close family and later on, we'll have a bigger party with friends and neighbours.

Instead of eating cake I spent the day with the CSC team plus Andrew, one of the IBM-ers here for the BlueMix project at Strathmore. Luke had arranged a visit to his old employer when he was in the US Peace Corps. We started at the YARD office in Gatanga to meet Sebastian and the team. For those interested, please check their website: After the introductions and a briefing on the activities of YARD, we visited the offices and back into the bus to meet with some of their beneficiaries.

No pictures of the first group we visited. They had a room showing their products, where some of our team members were given gifts or where they bought some of the products. I looked at their cows and the rest of the plot.

We took the touristic route in order to see the Ndakaini water dam, supporting the main water supply for Nairobi. Along the route we could also see the tea farms. Even on Saturdays, many men and women were picking tea leaves with heavy baskets on their backs. 

The second beneficiary group was a large one. They welcomed us with singing and dancing and of course we participated. Turned out that this group also received a WEF loan, so this trip can be counted as "work".      ;o)

Their name is Mumbu-ini Farmes field and life school:

Like many other groups, they are into agriculture, chickens, and non-grazing live stock. A demo garden is used to try out various ways of growing crops. The best ways for raising crops are copied at the homes of the individual members. 

A curious cow:

At the end of the day we returned at Riverside Drive. 

Only 1 more week.

#ibmcsc kenya

maandag 19 mei 2014

Mid term review

Monday morning at 9 am we had our mid term review meeting with the CEO of WEF plus each of the department managers. This means that already 2 weeks have passed. We shared our findings so far with tentative recommendations. The next few days will be focused on getting further details regarding the findings and recommendations, so that we can work on the final presentation next week. One last interview planned on Thursday morning.

There is little time left. Next week Monday we'll be visiting the Strathmore University all day and Thursday & Friday are reserved for the final presentations for each of the 4 groups. That means we have 2 days next week for the preparations. This week all research, all actions, and all remaining questions will have to get done.

WEF's feedback from this morning was positive. Some very good discussions. Muriuki had joined the meeting and gave further feedback on some of the next steps. Let me say again that I'm very pleased with our client. We are getting all the required information and support plus they take very good care of us. It's a privileged to work with them and to get a view of the positive contribution they achieve in Kenya for women's empowerment.

#ibmcsc kenya

Weekend at Lake Naivasha / Lake Nakuru

Again a great weekend...

We started on Saturday absurdly early as usual. Three cars took us to either Mt Longonot for a few hours hiking to the top or to Hell's Gate for hiking/cycling. I decided to go to Hell's Gate, also because of the name. First you select a bike and check that the brakes work. Then you cycle for 1 km to the entrance on a terrible road. From there it's about 8 km to the gorge on a pretty decent road. So some of us started enthusiastic and took off very fast while others were stopping for each animal to take a picture. 

Some cars passed us. I asked our guide and he confirmed that the locals think that we - tourists - are very strange people to go on bikes in the heat while you can also take the car to visit the park. Anyway, it took us about 1.5 hour to get to the gorge. Very nice and we could walk thru the gorge. 

My pictures did not turn out very nicely, so no pictures of us in the gorge. A local boy joined us in the gorge walking on flip-flops. He knew the place so well, no need for real hiking shoes.

The way back at first was uphill for a short distance and then the rest downhill. So great to be cycling in the middle of Africa with the giraffes and zebras next to you. Lots of warthogs to be seen as well.

We had lunch at Lake Naivasha with a view of the lake. Excellent, also because of Dominic's self baked bread. Again, no pictures of that, but you will have to trust me.

After lunch, we drove to Lake Nakuru national park. First game drive until about 6 pm. No lions, but we spotted one white rhino. (Actually called "wijd" by a Dutchie because of the broad, wide mouth.) 

Sunset at Lake Nakuru...

Next morning more rhinos - both black and white ones. No lions, no leopards. Some jackals and lots of birds, antelopes, waterbucks, and impalas. Oh, and of course flamingos. The lake was famous for the flamingos but the water level has risen and so most of them left the area. They need brackish and low water. We did not get really close to the flamingos, at least not close enough for my camera. But some of the others will definitely have taken some nice shots of them. 


At one point we spotted 6 rhinos together.

View of Lake Nakuru from the picknick view point. Isn't it beautiful?

And me in our jeep... This was actually taken in the morning, when it was still cold. Within a few hours it got hot, so layering of clothes was necessary.

 #ibmcsc kenya

vrijdag 16 mei 2014

Jacaranda School

And Friday we worked in the morning at the apartment building, preparing for the mid term review early next week.

Luckily there was also time for fun: a visit to the Jacaranda School for Mentally Handicapped. This school holds about 100 children and adults to be given basic education. 

First part of the visit consisted of outdoor activities. We did stuff like walking with a potato on a spoon and "zaklopen" in Dutch and I'm clueless what the English equivalent is, but you can see the picture below of what I was doing. Anyway, I was part of team Green - wearing the green bandana - and I lost... Just glad I did not trip...

Jackie and Maria participated in the game about dressing grandfather. So run to the other end, put on the jacket, do all the buttons, and run back again. We also had a match of volleyball, but we lost greatly. Jacaranda - IBM: 1-0.  

Later we assembled in the hall for songs, a fashion show, and a speech by the school's principle. AS IBM team, we also had to perform. Our choice was to sing the Jambo song as it's almost the only one that the whole group knows. 

This is John. He really likes chocolate. "It's my favorite candy", he said. "Mine too", I replied. He is also a great singer.  

After all the singing, we got a tour of the school. Most of the children were leaving by bus to go  home and we could visited their classrooms. See below the workshop where they work with beads to make jewelry. And yes, I did buy myself a new necklace! I think it was made by Edith (as it's one hanging on the far right of the picture).

And last... a picture of the school itself from the outside. They have a great plot with room for a soccer match, to grow vegetables, and right now they are building some new rooms in order to accommodate boarders. I need to find their website. When found, I'll post it on the blog. If you are interested, they are always looking for volunteers to help them for a month or longer. 

#ibmcsc kenya

Field Trip

Thursday May 15th

We tried to leave early. Our taxi was an hour late (various reasons). The plan was to meet with Tom, one of the WEF Officers, who could show us around in Embakasi and meet a few of the women groups who have gotten WEF loans. 

When we were finally on our way, we ran into this funeral and could not go the direction we wanted. Our driver Francis knew some alternative routes and actually we got at our destination almost on time!

After we picked up Tom, our first stop was at Sarah. She showed us her urban farm with a greenhouse, fish pond, plots for vegetables, quails, and lots more. Impressive young lady with a keen eye for business. The greenhouse not only keeps the bugs away. It also keeps the soil moist as this is one of her biggest problems. She collects the rain water, but with raised beds with the proper soil and preparation reduces the need for watering.

Her plot is in the middle of the suburbs. Her neighbors buy her products and she also delivers to restaurants.

In-between stop at Tom's office. On the wall next to the door, he posts the list of all the loans, the amounts to be paid, groups in arrears, etc.

Next stop was a small peanutbutter factory. The group does not grow the peanuts themselves, but they produce the peanutbutter in a place where many other small businesses are located. We bought some jars. Kids, I hope you will like it!

And this was the last group. They were waiting for our arrival and were dressed in WEF outfits. We had so much fun, singing and dancing. This group again has many activities: quails, fish, chickens, a workshop for wood work, and lots of other animals for milk and meat. Their main issue was the marketing of their products.

It was an great day with BIG thanks to Tom and to WEF for giving us the possibility of visiting these women groups. 

#ibmcsc kenya

dinsdag 13 mei 2014

Just working all week

This week is about work. 

Doing data analysis, completing interviews, going on a field trip to meet groups of women who got loans from WEF, etc. So spending our time waiting for taxis or waiting in traffic. Well, yesterday the taxi was earlier than agreed and I got a phone call asking us to come downstairs. But we needed to finish breakfast first.

Usually we left at 7:15 but today we wanted to leave a bit later because our meeting would be around 9 am. But the taxi came half an hour late and by then, the traffic was horrible. Outcome is of course that we did not arrive on time. Luckily it was not a problem and we had a very nice meeting with Pauline and Thomas of Hand-in-Hand ( Again a great organization that does a lot of real good work in East Africa with empowerment of women by giving them extensive training on business development. 

No pictures today... Maybe later this week. 

#ibmcsc kenya

zondag 11 mei 2014


Hi all, just a few pictures of our weekend in Amboseli. 

Kenya is a very beautiful country, but they make you wake up very early in the morning. This means our alarm went off at 5:30 on a Sunday morning, which is tough. I'm not complaining though because we had a great view of Kilimanjaro.

Elephant crossing...

And a selfie with an elephant in the picture is now called an "elphie":

#ibmcsc kenya

vrijdag 9 mei 2014


Turns out it was casual Friday at WEF. We did not know and arrived in our suits, because we would be meeting the WEF Officers: volunteers located in the constituencies across the country helping women to form groups, they get them trained, and then help to apply for the loans. Really great to hear them talk about their work, their views, and to get their input. 

Picture of the building where WEF is located. This is our view when we wait for our taxi to take us back home.

Today we had lunch at this local place. They serve mostly meat that is cooked on a barbeque. The smell was great.

And I guess this does not count as a "cheetah"? This little one and its sibling were watching us from a distance. When I tried to take a picture, they ran off. But as soon as we got our food, they came to our table for a small piece of food. They could share a piece of my chicken skin (which I do not like so much anyway).

Maybe tomorrow we'll see the real big cheetahs. We're going on an overnight trip to Amboseli. And at least we're promised to see more elephants during that weekend than we'll see during the rest of our lives. My overnight bag is almost packed. First malaria-tablet taken tonight. I'm glad I got the daily tables, much less side-effects than the weekly ones. 

We'll leave at 6, so the alarm is set to 5 am. I have the key to D4 - which is our common room - in order to open this room for everybody to have a bit of breakfast. The ladies who serves us normally breakfast will not be there, because it of course will be too early. By the way, they serve an excellent Spanish omelet. Asante sana!

#ibmcsc kenya

donderdag 8 mei 2014

Cultural Exchange Night

One of the nice things of traveling are the signs - on streets, in hotel rooms, in taxis, etc. Here in Nairobi, there are prison showrooms apparently. I wonder... will you be able to see various types of prison rooms so that you can select the one you would like in your state? 

People here do not like it when you take pictures of them. So I try to prevent that. When taking this picture, some of the women in the bus shelter turned their faces away. Not knowning that I was not taking their pictures but only the sign above their heads.
And this evening, we had pizza night / cultural exchange night. We are from 12 different countries thus bringing souvenirs to share with the rest of the team. So of course I brought clogs and dropjes (sweet liquorice). 

And I would like to thank the whole team for all the nice, lovely gifts they had for us all. These souvenirs will be a constant reminder of this trip and the newly made friendships. Maybe I'm just happy because of the excellent caipirinha made by Micai... Thanks!

#ibmcsc kenya

woensdag 7 mei 2014

maandag 5 mei 2014

First client meeting

Hi all, 
For today's entry, please see the information I posted on the group blog and then select the tab for our Sub Team 4 - WEF.

Now time for breakfast. We're leaving today at 8 am trying to beat the traffic. I doubt it will be successful. The traffic jams are unbelievable here in the city. But no honking, hardly any shouting and we'll just have to wait until we reach our destination. Maybe we should adopt a bit of that attitude in NL as well when we're stuck on the road?

#ibmcsc kenya

zaterdag 3 mei 2014

First day - meeting the team and DOT

Busy schedule today. We started with meeting each other over breakfast. There is an extra room we can use for breakfast and business meetings during our stay here. It's at the first floor of "my" D-block. I'm on the top floor (5th) so lots of stairs each day to climb.

After breakfast, we got into our bus and drove to the Elephant Orphanage. The baby elephants get milk and they play around a bit while the helpers spray them with sand or water. One of the main guys is telling us all about each of the elephants, where they were found, what their  names are, and what will happen with them once they are big enough to start living in the wild. It takes about 5 to 10 years to get the babies adopted / accepted by the wild groups living in Tsavo. During this time, they are being introduced to the groups and one day, they will simply not return.

Next was a nature walk in the Nairobi National Park. Seeing our first rhino, cheetah, and other animals while our guide told us a lot about the animals and about Kenya. At the end of the walk, we could feed the little giraph. She was very sweet and soft.

Time was running out... and we wanted to do some practical shopping to get fruit, cookies, and drinks. So we left and went to the shopping mall.

And tonight we had dinner together at a very nice hotel. 

So far, so good! What a great country!

#ibmcsc kenya