Kenya Trip: Nairobi Locals

Arriving in Nairobi around midnight, I took a taxi to Jen’s friend’s house in Loresho – an area of Nairobi. My driver was friendly and we discussed the current state of affairs and his family. The roads in Nairobi were much more modern than I remember and there were even traffic lights, though as far as I could tell, no one was abiding by them, which I later confirmed to be true. We passed a few large building, so billboards and clubs, and made our way towards Loresho – a quiet, mostly gated neighborhood where we’d stay while in Nairobi. The house was nice and very “Kenyan,” not much detail, just functional – bars over every entrance, buttons for hot water, outlets, and the stove, and hard, but practical beds.

The next day, the plan was to head to Eastlands for an event in the home of a member of Zawadisha and a seminar on empowerment. After a taste of a classic Nairobi traffic jam, we met up with Cindy, Zawadisha’s local employee, and Joyce, a woman supported by Zawadisha who runs a salon and made our way through a chaotic market to a matatu (colorfully decorated buses) stand to head to the outskirts of Nairobi.

When we arrived at Cecila’s house she had food on the table and we lingered over greetings. She was very proud of her house and her accomplishments and grateful for the help of Zawadisha. Other women were supposed to arrive shortly, but Africa time is even worse than Tahoe time so we ate without them and some showed up 2 hours late! The women were from 2 different lending circles and represented many different ages and businesses. They shared how they each used their loan and what it meant to be empowered. They shared their dreams and encouraged one another. They took us in as friends immediately. It rained hard during the end of our meeting and we were told it was a blessing. It gave me a whole new outlook on rain.

Zawadisha women drawing their version of empowerment

Proud and empowered small business owner!

We traveled home from Eastlands via a muddy dirt road and a very loud matatu and were caught in another rain storm as we dashed through Nairobi, trying to beat the dark. A rule of thumb in Nairobi is to never travel at night, so we grabbed a taxi back to Loresho with our new $1 umbrellas.

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