Sunday, 29 November 2009

Oh. Hi. There.

I feel like a bit of a nerd doing this, but that's nothing new. This is just a wee blog to keep folk up-to-date(ish) with what I'm up to. At the beginning of November I arrived in Nairobi to begin my research on maternal health among refugees. I'm really interested in how displacement and dependency on non-governmental organisations affect childbearing practices and beliefs. I'm also curious about if or how international policies on reproductive health, that are such a massive part of development programmes, impact on the delivery of services in the humanitarian context of a refugee camp.

At the moment though I'm in Nairobi, learning Kiswahili and Somali and hooking up with just a small fraction of the phenomenal number of NGOs based here. The number of local, national and international NGOs in Nairobi is pretty overwhelming. One of the first things my taxi driver said to me, before I told him anything about why I was in Kenya was, 'so which NGO do you work for?' Cannae really imagine your average cabbie in Edinburgh asking that! Then again, maybe I have some sort of NGO look about me...

Nairobi is a pretty insane city. It's massive, and I get the same tiny dot on a very large map feeling that I get when I'm in London, but there's an extra level of hustle here. Maybe, that's just because I'm new and everything is fresh and shiny (actually mostly grubby and a bit dusty, but you get my point), but if you've ever tried to drive through the roundabout at Kenyatta Ave and Uhuru Hwy, or tried to take a shortcut through a market (rookie mistake. But the phrase 'touching is free' is still funny, no matter how many times I hear it.) you know exactly what I'm talking about. There's also a really bizarre visual mash-up of obscene wealth and poverty. Massive shiny flashy cars with tinted windows snake down dusty potholed roads and enormous billboards advertising broadband, LG, and imported branded alcohol overshadow tin roofed markets selling secondhand clothes. It all looks like it's been photoshopped together.

So not much to report so far, just the joys of language learning and finding my feet! But I'll try to post any interesting thoughts and photos I have...

lots of love