Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Pic of the Week

He is SO EXCITED it is contagious even through a photograph!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Pic of the Week

Some students at Eunice's school where WoD made several additions such as plastering the walls and pouring a cement floor to elevate the classrooms out of the mud.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Sporadic Posting Announcement

Hello my World of Difference friends! I wanted to fill all of you in on the reason for the light posting last week and this week. Last week I was out of town and without Internet (crazy right?) and this week I have started back in school, which is a bit of a hectic adjustment. Regularly scheduled posting will resume next week. Thank you for your patience.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Pic of the Week

I call this picture "Oh My Goodness", though I am unsure exactly if I am referring to her expression or mine at seeing her sheer cuteness.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Contest #2: Winner Announcement

We would like to announce that Chrystal is the winner of the second WoD caption contest. Congrats Chrystal! See Chrystal's super funny caption below:

"At the Derek Zoolander Center for Kids Who Can't Read Good And Wanna Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too, we teach you that there's more to life than just being really, really, really good looking."

Chrystal please contact me at dori_jennings [at] yahoo.com to claim your handcrafted African prize.

We will be announcing Contest #3 any minute now, so stick around :)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Recipe: Ugali

One of the most common dishes in Kenya, and especially on a World of Difference expedition, is Ugali, which is best enjoyed when used as an eating utensil - the Kenyans refer to it as "the original fork". Make Ugali for yourself with this easy recipe:
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 cups white cornmeal, finely ground
Bring the water and salt to a boil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir in the cornmeal slowly. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue stirring regularly, smashing any lumps with a spoon, until the mush pulls away from the sides of the pot and becomes very thick, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool somewhat. Place the ugali into a large serving bowl. Wet your hands with water, form into a ball and serve.

This dish is just scrumdidlyuptious when served with Sukuma Wiki :) Check back in the coming weeks for recipes to other tasty East African dishes.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Pic of the Week

This picture was taken by WoD team memer Chelsea. I refer to it as "One".

Friday, August 20, 2010

Contest #2: Voting

We got some pretty hilarious submissions for our second online contest, narrowed it down to our three favorites, and now its time for you guys to select the winner!

Here was the picture:


And here are the top captions. Which is your favorite?

Contest #2: Voting
"Don't worry, no tongue...I promise...."
"What do you think, should I blot one more time?"
"Derek Zoolander Center For Kids Who Can't Read Good And Wanna Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too"
Results

This Week in Kenya

We at World of Difference love to stay apprised of Kenyan current events. Here are some of the headlines that caught our attention this week.
  • Telkom Kenya Welcomes Scrap Metal Ban [Capital FM]
  • How Kenya Will Be Affected by Russian Wheat Export Ban [The East African]
  • Chaos in Kenya's Capital City Hall [Capital FM]
  • Teaching in Kenya Leaves a Little Welcome Baggage [Daily Herald]
  • More Trouble for Kenya's Public Health Cover [Daily Nation]
  • Kenya Referendum: How Groups Came Together to Prevent Violence [MinnPost]

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Recipe: Sukuma Wiki

One of the most common dishes in Kenya, and especially on a World of Difference expedition, is Sukuma Wiki. This leafy green vegetable dish translates to "to push the weak" indicating a Popeye-like effect. I absolutely love it and love that my town has an East African corridor in which I can find this dish and many others. Make Sukuma Wiki for yourself with this easy recipe:
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Onion, diced
  • 1 Tomato, diced
  • Garlic, as much as you like
  • Salt (to taste)
  • A bunch of chopped greens (kale is most common, but you can use collard greens or spinach, or all three!), chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
Heat oil in a pot and add the onion and garlic. Stir well and saute for a bit. Add the tomato and saute for another bit. Add greens and saute for another bit. Add water and salt. Let the mixture simmer until the greens have reached a desired tenderness.

In Kenya, this dish is most commonly served with ugali or chipati; check back in the coming weeks for recipes to these, and other, dishes.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

More Animals in Swahili!

Last week we introduced "The Big Five", the most sought-after animals on an African wildlife safari. This week we will learn the names of some of the other animals you would see on safari.

Zebra = Ganj'a

Warthog = Ngiri

Giraffe* = Twiga

Hippopotamus = Kiboko

Ostrich = Mbuni

Stay tuned to see what next week will bring :)

Need help with your Swahili pronunciation? Refer to our guide.

*Like giraffes? Check out our latest caption contest and enter to win a hand crafted African prize!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Pic of the Week

WoD team leader JD and I drew a happy face on one child's hand...naturally the children swarmed, all of them wanting one. I can still here them calling out "And me! And me!"

Friday, August 13, 2010

Contest #2

Welcome to the second WoD Blog Contest! Now here's the low down. Below is one amazing photo of a giraffe in Africa. In the comments write your best, most clever caption for this picture. Feel free to enter as many times as you want, but don't forget to put your name; we can't give awards to "anonymous" :)

The contest will be open for ONE WEEK, until next Friday, August 20th at noon. At which point, we, your editors, will select our three favorite captions and post those for you, the readers, to vote on. Voting, in turn, will be open for one week, and the winner will be announced the following Friday. There is an awesome African prize up for grabs, too!

Here is your pic, now lets the comments begin!

Contest #1: Winner Announcement

We would like to announce that Carol Myers is the winner of the first contest here on the site. Congrats Carol! See Carol's laughtastic caption below:

I Always Get Picked Last for Dodgeball!

Carol please contact me at dori_jennings [at] yahoo.com to claim this beautiful, handcrafted perennial calendar from Kenya as your prize:

We will be announcing Contest #2 any minute now, so stick around :)

This Week in Kenya

We at World of Difference love to stay apprised of Kenyan current events. Here are some of the headlines that caught our attention this week.

Every year WoD offers to their team member the opportunity to stick around in Kenya post-expedition to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Next year I plan on climbing Africa's highest peak for my very first time. This is something I'm a bit nervous about because, among natural apprehension related to such a trek, I have scoliosis. Aside from my back and neck being pretty uncomfortable most of the time, this puts a good deal of pressure on my knees and ankles resulting in unusually advanced arthritis for someone my age (30). Our first article in the line up is about three veteran amputees who just climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. I found this to be MORE than encouraging and motivational, not to mention really put that "oh dang my knees hurt" into perspective! I couldn't wait to share it all with you today:

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Big Five in Swahili

Last week we wrapped up our multi-part Swahili times and dates lesson, and this week we introduce "The Big Five". This term refers to the most sought-after animals on an African wildlife safari. All of the following photographs were collected on safari on the Maasai Mara with World of Difference.

Lion = Simba

Elephant = Tembo

Cape Buffalo = Nyati

Leopard = Chui

Black Rhinoceros = Nyeusi Kifaru

Next week we will learn the names of some of the other animals you would see on a safari :)

Need help with your Swahili pronunciation? Refer to our guide.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Pic of the Week

This is a sign that hangs in the Kwa Watoto school. It is so simple and yet so undeniably powerful.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Contest #1: Voting

We got some awesome, LOL-inspiring submissions for our first ever contest, narrowed it down to our three favorites, and now its time for you guys to select the winner!

Here was the picture:


And here are the top captions. Which is your favorite?

Contest #1: Voting
Hmm...shall I have the milk or the blood?
They're doing it all wrong.
I always get picked last for dodgeball!
Results

This Week in Kenya

We at World of Difference love to stay apprised of Kenyan current events. Here are some of the headlines that caught our attention this week.
  • Supreme Court Will Be Set Up Within One Year [AllAfrica.com]
  • Polio Eradicated in Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda [Vaccine News Daily]
  • Raila Rejoins Campaign [AllAfrica.com]
  • Kenya Threatens to End Somali Pirate Trails [BBC News]
  • Kenya Finishes with 25 Medals [ESPN]
  • Obama Congratulates Kenya on 'Peaceful Transparent' Vote [AFP]
  • Kenya's New Constitution Expected to Boost Economy [VOA News]
  • Does Kenya's 'Yes' to New Constitution Signal New Era? [Christian Science Monitor]
  • Kenya Constitution to Take Time [AFP]

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Swahili Dates and Times, Part 4

Last week we learned some more Swahili times and dates, and this week we continue this lesson.


Next week we will learn the names of the animals you would see on a safari :)

Need help with your Swahili pronunciation? Refer to our guide.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Contest Reminder

We are having such a great time reading all of your submissions to our first contest! If you haven't done so already, be sure to submit an entry, or two or three! Good luck!

Pic of the Week

"BUBBLE"!!! Remember that fish from "Finding Nemo" who lived for bubbles and would shout "BUBBLE" whenever they burst from the trunk in the aquarium? It's kind of like that :)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Team Member Experience: Jillian


Aerodynamically, the bumblebee shouldn't be able to fly, but the bumblebee doesn't know it so it goes on flying anyway.

-Mary Kay Ash

Apparently no one told a group of stay at home mom's/wives, students, school teachers, wine distributors, health care professionals, event planners, and children that we couldn't go and build a school. So we went and did it anyway.

Well, we got a good start on it at least. I am sure that past groups felt like they had the best mix of people possible. This year was no different. It felt like we had the perfect storm of volunteers.

Each person had their own reasons for taking on the task of helping children in a far off corner of the world. I was hoping for some perspective. I had gotten into the habit of letting circumstances, work and people determine my level of happiness. Those outside forces obviously, weren't very concerned that I stayed on the sunny side of things. So, I left for Africa with a heavy heart. Not because of any one horrible thing...just the sum of many little things. I wasn't particularly happy and wasn't particularly happy with the person that I was becoming. The thing that worried me the most was that I wasn't smiling nearly as much as I used to, and more than a few people had mentioned it. As we left the plane and transferred into the bus that would take us to the Amani Centre, I was worried. Horrified almost. There was exuberant harmonizing of both church songs and boy band songs coming from the back of the bus. I was certain, and fairly upset, that I had unwittingly signed myself up for some coked-up version of EFY-goes international.

That first day brought with it a lot of visits. Visits to schools and orphanages where World of Difference had already been in years past. One school in particular had Gordon B. Hinckley's now famous "Be's" painted throughout the hallways. It was a surreal experience to walk through the halls of an orphanage on the exact opposite side of the world and see the words of the prophets standing as a reminder of how to be just a bit better today than the day before.
The kids came out to sing and dance, as is the Kenyan way, to welcome visitors. It was sweet to see the excitement on the faces of the returning volunteers, and the children in the orphanages, as they were reunited.

But there was no getting past the reality that these sweet kids lived a reality that most of us could not even imagine. Typically each bed slept 3 kids....and they are stacked three high. The conditions of the orphanage certainly left much to be desired if measured by American standards, but the kids at this particular orphanage could not have been happier. They have learned how to play instruments and dance, so that they would have a means to make money...and were as tight as any blood related family I have ever seen.

Laura, one of the women in our group, was talking to a young boy at the orphanage. As they were talking, she wondered about what it must be like for him not to have a mother to run to when he got hurt, or any siblings to conspire and make mischief with.

No sooner had the thought crossed her mind, than the young boy looked at her with the excitement that only a child can muster and said, "Oh- do you want to meet my brother?"

Of course she went to meet his brother, and it all became clear. This boy was obviously not introducing her to his actual brother...but a fellow orphan who he loved so much, he considered a brother. That feeling seemed to permeate every place we went. They may not have the comforts, luxuries and families that we do....but they have a degree of love, peace and happiness that I can only dream of.

At our first team dinner, we debriefed what happened that day and made a plan for the coming days. Brie, who had a cousin that had been on this trip many times before had been given the advise, "Expect it to be everything." It seemed like a pretty bold statement at the time, but over the course of the next two weeks, I realized that statement was one hundred percent accurate. It was everything. It was exciting, sad, intriguing, healing, exhausting and exhilarating. In the end, I came to wonder who actually benefited more from this trip, the Kenyans who simply needed to expand their schoolhouse, or the Americans who have much more stuff than we need, but still can't manage to find the happiness we desire. I may have come to Kenya with a bit of a heavy heart, but I certainly did not leave that way.

***
You can read more of Jillian's Kenyan experiences on her blog Sunny Little Rain Cloud.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Contest #1

Welcome to the first ever WoD Blog Contest! Now here's the low down. Below is a super adorable picture of a Maasai boy in Kenya. In the comments, write your best, most clever caption for this picture. Feel free to enter as many times as you want, but don't forget to put your name and email; we can't give awards to "anonymous" :)

The contest will be open for ONE WEEK, until next Friday, August 6th at noon. At which point we, your editors, will select our three favorite captions and post those for you, the readers, to vote on. Voting, in turn, will be open for one week, and the winner will be announced the following Friday. And don't forget there is an awesome prize up for grabs, too!

Here's your pic, now let the comments begin!


Just what is on this little guy's mind?

This Week in Kenya

We at World of Difference love to stay apprised of Kenyan current events. Here are some of the headlines that caught our attention this week.
  • Africa Can Grow Biofuel Crops Without Harming Food [Bloomberg]
  • Late Professor's Wish to Teach in Kenya Granted [My Plainview]
  • Children Remain Vulnerable in Kenya [Capital News]
  • National Housing Plans to Build 20,000 Homes Over Next 5 Years [My Bloomberg]
  • Debate Heats Up in Final Week Before Kenyan Constitution Vote [rfi]

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Tomorrow's Contest

Hey all! I know each and every one of you is super duper excited for tomorrow's contest, aren't you? So are we! Let's fill you in on some of the details. The contest will be posted at noon (PST) tomorrow and entries will be accepted for one week, until the following Friday at noon (PST). It will be a "caption contest" in which we will post a radical African photograph and its up to you guys to come up with the caption! Sounds fun, right? It will be! And look what you will win:

Its a perennial calendar from our travels to Kenya with WoD! Completely hand crafted, and totally sustainable to boot!

Now set your thinking caps to clever and come back at noon tomorrow!

Adventure Race Experience

On Saturday, July 10th World of Difference co-hosted the first ever Women's Adventure Race in Provo, Utah. This race consisted of three legs: canoe, bike and run/walk. Each team consisting of two to three individuals had to complete the entire race as a team, and during each of the legs, there were team challenges that had to be completed (for example, small relays, games, etc. to learn about or benefit Africa). Read Adventure Race participant Charity's personal experience below:

The Adventure Race for Africa was very fun and a good idea for fundraising, and I can’t wait to be part of it next year. I was lucky and got to be a part of the race.

How it worked was there were teams of two to three people and you had the choice to do a 7-mile bike ride, canoe a mile, or run a 5K. Our Team (#174) chose to do the bike ride first, and that took us on the Provo River Trail. At the half way mark of all the obstacles, each team had to complete a challenge. The bike challenge was to climb up a slide, do the monkey bars, climb through a tube, and go down the slide, as well as put together three school kits, helping a kid get his Eagle Scout. After this there was a ride back to the start. Following that, we did the 5K. I had a hard time running, so we walked most of it. When we got to the halfway mark at the water station I had to blind fold my partner, turn her around 7 times, and tell her where to point to Kenya on a map. Next we had to run as fast as we could back to the start to begin the last leg of the Canoe Race. We hopped in our canoe and paddled as fast as we could to the halfway mark. Our challenge there was to fill a bucket full of water and walk the course that was laid out for us. This challenge was directed towards the Kenyan people who have to fight for clean water and how we, as Americans, use up to 10 gallons of water JUST when we shower. This gave us an idea of how fortunate we really are, and how grateful we should be for the things that we have.

After our final challenge, we hopped back into our canoe and paddled back to home base before running as fast as we could to our bonus challenge. Promoting the Grassroots Foundation for Soccer, we had to kick a soccer ball in one minute into the goal with two goalies blocking the goal. My partner did awesome and got it right in!!! We dashed to the finish line and everyone was cheering for us!! Following the race, there was a Kenyan band playing drums, and there were delicious bagels, bananas and water. The fastest people were given awards, and there was also a table set up to purchase goods from Kenya. Overall it was a very fun experience and I am going to train for next year so we can be the first ones and I can run the 5K.

If you were at the race and have any pictures or memories to share, please email them to blog moderator Dori at dori_jennings [at] yahoo [dot] com.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Meet the Bukusu


The Bukusu are one of the seventeen Kenyan tribes of the Luhya Bantu people of East Africa. Calling themselves BaBukusu, they are the largest tribe of the Luhya nation, making up about 17% of the Luhya population. They speak Bukusu dialect.

Historically, the Bukusu lived in fortified villages, and did not have a structure of central authority. The highest authority was the village headman, called Omukasa, who was usually elected by the men of the village. There were also healers and prophets who acquired great status because of their knowledge of tribal tradition, medicines, and religion. Elijah Masinde, a resistance leader and traditional medicine man, was revered as a healer in the early 1980s.

The Bukusu highly approve of intermarriages between themselves and BaMasaaba. This is because they have quite a number of similarities in their codes of conduct, marriage customs, circumcision traditions and even folklore. Among the most famous of Bukusu marriage customs is the immense respect accorded one's in-laws.

Like many of the tribes we have learned about on this blog, cattle are very important: they are the main means of exchange. Most values, from the beauty of a girl to the price of a field of land, are expressed in terms of head of cattle. Possessing cattle wealth and prosperous agriculture, the Bukusu are sometimes not only admired but also envied by neighboring communities.

Being sedentary pastoralists, they have time to care for their sick and bury their dead. A sick person is looked after until he recuperated or died. When a person dies, he or she is buried in a grave that ranges from 3–4 feet in depth, with people buried facing East, the direction in which the sun rises. It is not uncommon for the dead to be buried in a sitting position.

Bukusu accounts indicate that both agricultural and pastoral economies have been practiced by the tribe for as long can be remembered. This is authenticated by the vast amount of knowledge they have about farming practices, rich pastoral vocabulary and the broad variety of legends connected with pastoral life. Today, they farm mainly maize for subsistence and sugar cane as a cash crop in the Bungoma area, as well as wheat in the Kitale area. Cattle and sheep are universally kept, cattle mainly for milk, and sheep for meat and ceremonial functions. Chicken, a traditional delicacy, are nowadays reared on small to medium scales for commercial egg production.
Photo credit: sTr Photo

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Pic of the Week

Notice his bare feet; it is not by choice.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Swahili Times and Dates, Part 3

Last week we learned some more Swahili times and dates, and this week we continue this lesson.

Next week we will will wrap up this lesson:)

Need help with your Swahili pronunciation? Refer to our guide.

Friday, July 23, 2010

WoD Online Contest!!

World of Difference will be holding its first ever online contest in one week from today! Contests will be held every other Friday starting next Friday (July 30), so check back in one week for a chance to win some super radical Kenyan souvenirs! Prizes will include authentic African jewelry, wood carvings, masks, and more that we have collected on our expeditions to Kenya with World of Difference!

Details will follow in the next few days so stick around :)

This Week in Kenya

We at World of Difference love to stay apprised of Kenyan current events. Here are some of the headlines that caught our attention this week.
  • Hundreds Made Homeless by Mass Forced Evictions in Kenya [Joy Online]
  • Just Back from: Nakuru, Kenya [SF Gate]
  • Majority of Kenyans Support Proposed Constitution [VOA News]
  • Kenyan Firms Make Killing from Piracy [Daily Nation]
  • Denver Nurse Trains Kenyan Students [Colorado Connection]
  • Man Killed by Kenyan Police While Protesting Marketplace Eviction [VOA News]
  • AIDS-Related MTV Soap is Big Hit in Africa [The Guardian]
  • Jessica Posner's 'Do Something' Victory Gives $100K to Kenyan Slum Project [The Huffington Post]
  • Kenya's Teenage Mothers Get Helping Hand [Xinhua Net]
  • Half of Schools Funds Out in January [All Africa]

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Personal Experience: Mary

Mary, photoed above with some students in Soweto, was a part of the 2009 expedition, and this is her personal experience:

The trip was beyond description. I am still taking it all in. I read my journal yesterday and this morning. I don't want to let go of any of it. My journal for this expedition is now one of my most valued possessions.

A glass of water has a different meaning. I have never been so happy to do laundry. It didn't bother me that I had 1,762 emails to go through...I have electricity and a chair to sit on. I have a new attitude towards peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and I will never take a hot shower and a soft towel for granted again. The slums in Soweto are horrific. It is like nothing I have ever seen or could imagine. The stench is overwhelming. You can't take a deep breath. You breathe through your mouth a lot of the time or you may vomit from the smell.

Yesterday I spent most of the day with my daughter, Jamie. She loaded my photos on her computer. We laughed, we cried, and I felt as if I were at the projects all over again and that Jamie was with me. Surely the little mementos I brought home won't have near the impact on the people who will receive them as they have had on me. I unwrapped each item carefully and smiled remembering where they came from and how I felt when I was making my choices for the people I love. They should not be classified as "souvenirs". Each item is a work of art from the Kenyan people who are proud of their skills and what they have to offer.

The children and all of the people in Kenya are embedded in my heart. I am pleased to be able to give information first-hand to all those who were interested or doubtful about supporting this worthy cause. I can confirm with certainty that the funds donated for the project were used for building supplies and materials and were so appreciated by the staff and children at the schools we worked at. The Kenyan people worked hard side-by-side with our team. Women with babies strapped to their backs were helping us haul stone, men struggling to move wheel barrels over boulders wearing flip flops or rags tied around their feet. To those of you who so unselfishly donated dollars and supplies, a thousand times "thank you".

Together our team brought 1/2 ton of supplies for the children at three different schools and an orphanage. The kids were jumping up and down and cheering because they each got a pad of paper and a pencil. The children have no toys. They play with sticks and old tires. They make their own soccer balls out of rags and twine. School children walk an hour to and from school each day, six days a week. They are happy little children filled with hope and promise and an eagerness to learn. I had the honor to teach three separate classes. Together we learned about being humble, being prayerful and being grateful. There were times when I could hardly speak because my emotions were so high I feared I would literally burst into tears. Standing in the front of the room, looking at those smiling little faces and tattered uniforms. Watching the older orphans caring for the younger ones. I was a mess...

We worked through five tons of ballast, eight tons of sand and six tons of stone to get classrooms plastered (no cement mixers, all mixed by hand on the dirt classroom floors) and a foundation poured for a second story classroom. We broke down a partial stone wall and extended it to build a library. The children now have steps to walk down from their classrooms instead of stumbling over boulders to get to ground level. We built shelves for a school library and organized all of the books you donated in alphabetical order. The wonderful part is that the Kenyan people will continue to build and add classrooms because they have the supplies to do so for the rest of the year. Their progress will be evaluated and will determine what they will receive next year.

The people of Kenya are warm, loving and happy. They live a simple life filled with music, prayer and grateful anticipation for whatever they receive. They are friendly and eager to hear about America. They love education and work under such adverse conditions that I don't even think it possible for one to imagine unless you have seen it for yourself.

I feel that perhaps the joke is on us. We in America have everything and yet we are not fulfilled. We are stressed, discontent and do not take advantage of the abundant opportunities that each and every one of us has available at our fingertips. The Kenyan people embrace a book, a pair of work gloves. A bottle of bubbles creates smiles on the children's faces like I have never seen. They thank our Heavenly Father for everything they have.

One of the team members, Ruth, gave a thought at one of our devotionals. She said that she had been to Kenya with World of Difference several times and had asked herself "Why me"? "Why am I so blessed?”... She said she has come to realize "Why NOT me? I am doing God's work and helping His people. I know that God is networking through me and I am truly blessed because the people of Kenya have given me much more than I could ever give them".

I am grateful for the opportunity I have had with World of Difference. Our team was awesome and I hope that one day we can all meet again as each and every one of them is now a part of my extended family.

It is crystal clear to me why a soldier would get off a plane in our homeland and kiss the pavement beneath him.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Meet the Bajuni

The Bajuni people are an ethnic group who live on the coastal regions of East Africa, primarily the shores of Kenya. While they are traditionally sailors or fishermen, some also pursue other trades such as farming. Their trade is strongly linked with the capital of Kenya.

The Bajuni people call themselves Wabajuni and speak Kibajuni, a Bantu language closely-related to Swahili. They are Muslims and their dialect of Swahili contains many Islamic words and phrases as compared to "inland" Swahili. The language has its own distinctive words and pronunciation; for example, the word kichwa (head) in standard Swahili is pronounced kitwa in Kibajuni.

Photo credit: Nicola Prisco

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Pic of the Week

This little one is saying "Poa!", the Kenyan way of saying "Awesome!" or "Cool!"

Monday, July 19, 2010

Swahili Times and Dates, Part 2

Last week we introduced Swahili times and dates, and this week we continue this lesson.

Next week we will will continue this lesson:)

Need help with your Swahili pronunciation? Refer to our guide.

Friday, July 16, 2010

This Week in Kenya

We at World of Difference love to stay apprised of Kenyan current events. Here are some of the headlines that caught our attention this week.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Meet the Aweer


In the weeks past we have been introduced to the thirteen East African tribes which make up the majority in Kenya. There are an additional 21 minority group tribes that we will meet over the coming weeks. As they are the minority, there is limited information readily available on these tribes, so our posts on them will be comparatively shorter.

The Aweer are a distinct hunter-gatherer-culture and indigenous people in East Africa. They are found primarily in Kenya, but their homeland extends into Somalia. These are the famous indigenous hunters in the hinterland of Lamu, who are often called by the derogatory term "Boni".

We found a particularly intriguing Anweer quote from an excerpt from Livingtime which says:
The Euro-American image of time is a machine, a factory assembly line chucking
out identical hours, each unremarked and indistinguishable. Worse than that, it
has insisted that its time is the time, and that indigenous peoples all over the
world lack a ‘proper’ sense of time. It is not a lack. Rather they have
cultivated a far more subtle and sensitive relationship to time and timing.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Video for You

In Kenya it is a huge tradition for the children to perform song and dance for visitors. This is certainly one of my very favorite parts about traveling to Nairobi with WoD, and I am so glad I have videos like this one to brighten my days. Don't you just love their little voices?

video

The man at the end of the video is Isaac and this is his school. I mentioned Isaac and all that he did to create this school in my team member experience post.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Swahili Times and Dates, Part 1

Last week we wrapped up Swahili food and drink words, and this week we introduce Swahili times and dates.
Next week we will will continue this lesson:)

Need help with your Swahili pronunciation? Refer to our guide.

Friday, July 9, 2010

This Week in Kenya

We at World of Difference love to stay apprised of Kenyan current events. Here are some of the headlines that caught our attention this week.

Last weekend, for the 4th of July, WoD Team Leader JD and I went camping near Yosemite. One night I found myself really needing to use the restroom, but completely terrified of leaving the tent in the dark by myself. I found this incredibly odd as I have never had this fear before. A few days later I came across the following article in the BBC, and I realized that I was given this feeling of fear so I might relate - if even in the slightest way - to the much more valid fear the women in the slums of Nairobi experience on a daily basis.

Fears of Rape in Kenya's Slums 'Trap Women' [BBC News]

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Meet the Samburu

The Samburu are a Nilotic people of north-central Kenya that are related to but distinct from the Maasai. The Samburu speak Samburu, which is a Nilo-Saharan language. They live north of the equator in Samburu District, an area roughly 8,000 square miles. Its landscape is one of great diversity and beauty. It includes landscapes ranging from forest at high altitudes, to open plains to desert or near desert.

Traditionally the Samburu economy was purely pastoralist, striving to survive of the products of their herds of cows, goats, and for some camels. However, the combination of a significant growth in population over the past 60 years and a decline in their cattle holdings has forced them to seek other supplemental forms of livelihood. Some have attempted to grow crops, while many young men have migrated for at least short periods to cities to seek wage work. Many work in Kenya's capital, Nairobi, as watchmen, while it is also popular to go to Kenya's coastal resorts where some work; others sell spears and beaded ornaments.

Samburu practice polygamous marriage, and a man may have multiple wives. A Samburu settlement may consist of only one family, composed of a man and his wife/wives. Each woman has her own house, which she builds with the help of other women out of local materials, such as sticks, mud and cow dung. Large ritual settlements, known as lorora may consist of 20 or more families. However, settlements tend towards housing two or three families, with perhaps 5-6 houses built in a rough circle with an open space in the centre. The circle of huts is surrounded by thorn bush fence and the center of the village has the animal pens away from predators.

Men wear a cloth which is often red or blue and is wrapped around their waist. They adorn themselves with necklaces, bracelets and anklets. Warriors typically wear their in long braids, which they shave off when they become elders. It may be colored using red ochre. Their bodies are sometimes decorated with ochre, as well. Women wear two pieces of blue or purple cloth, one piece wrapped around the waist, the second wrapped over the chest. Women keep their hair shaved and wear numerous necklaces and bracelets.

Samburu religion traditionally focuses on their multi-faceted divinity (Nkai). Nkai (a feminine noun), plays an active role in the lives of contemporary Samburu. It is not uncommon for children and young people, especially women, to report visions of Nkai. Some of these children prophesy for some period of time and a few gain a reputation for prophesy throughout their lives. Besides these spontaneous prophets, Samburu have ritual diviners called 'loibonok' who divine the causes of individual illnesses and misfortune, and guide warriors. Although ritual life focuses especially on cattle, other livestock such as goats, sheep, camels, and even donkeys figure into Samburu ceremonies.
Photo credit: Gerald Legere

Monday, July 5, 2010

We Want Your Stories!

A few of our team members have shared their personal World of Difference experiences with us (see them here and here), and we LOVE this! If you have gone to Kenya with World of Difference and would like to share your story, please email it to blog moderator Dori at dori_jennings [at] yahoo [dot] com. Even better if you have a photo or two that goes along with your story!

We can't wait to read about your personal experiences!

Swahili Food and Drink, Part 3

Last week we continued our Swahili food- and drink-related lesson, and this week we wrap that up with a few more foods.

*Ugali and Skuma Wiki are the primary dinner foods you would eat while in Kenya on an expedition with World of Difference; although you will probably more often hear them referred to as "that white stuff" and "that green stuff"! Ugali is a a doughy, corn-based bread and sukuma wiki is a dish made with collard greens or kale. The literal translation of "sukuma wiki" is "push the weak", which reminds me of Popeye and his spinach a bit! This is a picture of ugali and sukuma wiki getting served up for the children at a school we assist in Nairobi:

Next week we will will will start to learn the days of the week :)

Need help with your Swahili pronunciation? Refer to our guide.

Friday, July 2, 2010

WoD Apparel Now Available for Purchase!

You've seen it on everyone around; its all the latest rage. And NOW it can be YOURS! World of Difference Apparel! Show your support right there on your sleeve!

Click here to visit and purchase your very own WoD gear at our new Etsy store. All items are custom made; we will make you practically ANYTHING you could possibly want! Up on the store are sample T-Shirts, Thermals, and Hoodies. Please note that we can get these to you in practically ANY color, size and style (v-neck, zipper, etc.) you could possibly want; you just have to ask :)

Prices are $15 for T-Shirt, $18 for Thermal and $24 for a Hoodie, and 100% of the profits support World of Difference!

INTRODUCTORY PROMOTION: Order any two items during the month of July and mention this blog and you will receive ONE ITEM FREE!!

A Beautiful Post

The team members from the 2010 WoD expedition have returned from Kenya this week full of experiences and stories and pictures. Scott Thomas, who has gone on two expeditions now, has posted a beautiful post with a wonderful slideshow over at his blog, and I think everyone should check it out!

Click here to see it :)

This Week in Kenya

We at World of Difference love to stay apprised of Kenyan current events. Here are some of the headlines that caught our attention this week.
  • Berklee to Hold Auditions in Kenya [JazzTimes]
  • Economic Impact of Kenya's Referendum [Reuters Africa]
  • The Battle Over Kenya's New Constitution [Time]
  • 1M Kenyan Children Out of School [KBC]
  • World Bank Approves $100M for Health Care in Kenya [Reuters Africa]
  • Kenyan PM Recovering After Brain Procedure [Associated Press]

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Making This YOUR Blog

We started this blog with one goal in mind: to bring you, the reader, closer to the peoples, events, cultures and customs of Eastern Africa. Our weekly features include a short Swahili lesson (Mondays), an introduction to an East African tribe (Wednesdays), and a summary of the Kenyan news headlines from that week (Fridays). As they become available to us, we also post updates from our friends in Kenya and testimonials from our team members' experiences on the expeditions.

That said, we want to make sure that this is YOUR blog! Yes, YOU! What would YOU like to see more of here on the World of Difference Blog? Photos? Music? History? Let us know in the comments!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Meet the Swahili

Swahili people are an ethnic group living chiefly on the Swahili Coast of East Africa, mainly the coastal regions and the islands of Kenya and Tanzania, and north Mozambique. The name Swahili is derived from the Arabic word Sawahil, meaning "coastal dwellers". They speak Swahili, a Bantu language and the official language of Kenya.

Islam established its presence in the East African coast around 1012 AD, when the traders from the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Peninsula continued to journey to these parts during monsoon seasons and to interact with the local people through trade, intermarriage, and an exchange of ideas. Because of this interaction, most of the Swahili today are Muslim. The unifying force of Islam consolidated into an amalgam of otherwise different ethnicities and provided an enduring common identity for many of the people in coastal East Africa. The Swahili follow a very strict and orthodox form of Islam.

For centuries the Swahili depended greatly on trade from the Indian Ocean. The Swahili have played a vital role as middle man between east, central and south Africa, and the outside world. Trade contacts have been noted as early as 100 AD by early Roman writers who visited the East African coast in the first century. Trade routes extended across Tanzania into modern day Democratic Republic of the Congo, along which goods were brought to the coasts and were sold to Arab, Indian, and Portuguese traders and even reached as far as China and India. Materials attributed to this network of trade were also found at Great Zimbabwe. During the apogee of the middle ages, ivory and slaves became a substantial source of revenue. Many slaves sold in Zanzibar ended up in Brazil, which was then a Portuguese colony. Swahili fishermen of today still rely on the ocean to supply their primary source of income. Fish is sold to their inland neighbors in exchange for products of the interior.
Photo credit: Solarstones

Monday, June 28, 2010

Swahili Food and Drink, Part 2

Last week we introduced Swahili food- and drink-related activities and nouns, and this week we continue that lesson.

Next week we will will continue this lesson:)

Need help with your Swahili pronunciation? Refer to our guide.

Friday, June 25, 2010

This Week in Kenya

We at World of Difference love to stay apprised of Kenyan current events. Here are some of the headlines that caught our attention this week.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Meet the Taita


The Taita people are a Kenyan ethnic group located in the Taita-Taveta District, which is in the Coast Province northwest of Mombasa and southeast of Nairobi.

The Taita people migrated to Kenya through Tanzania. This migration occurred in five groups, each settling at different places of the present Taita Taveta district. Traditionally the Taita tribe consisted of lineages; each lineage occupied its own territorial area of the hills. These lineages were autonomous political units, and, before the colonialism, there did not develop an idea or a consciousness of a unified Taita tribe. Mwangeka, a legendary figure for the Taitas, resisted the British colonists from approaching the lands of the Wataita.

They speak Taita, a Bantu language full of shared words from the Chagga, Wakamba, Pare, Maasai, Kikuyu, Mijikenda tribes, as well as the Cushitic communities they lived with during their migration.
Photo credit: Getty Images

Monday, June 21, 2010

Swahili Food and Drink, Part 1

Last week we learned some Swahili Pronouns, and this week we introduce Swahili food- and drink-related activities and nouns.

Next week we will will continue this lesson:)

Need help with your Swahili pronunciation? Refer to our guide.

Friday, June 18, 2010

This Week in Kenya

We at World of Difference love to stay apprised of Kenyan current events. Here are some of the headlines that caught our attention this week.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Meet the Embu


The Embu inhabit Embu District in Kenya. Embu mythology claims that God (Ngai) created Mwenendega and gave him a beautiful wife by the famous Mbui Njeru waterfall — hence her name "Ciurunji". The couple was blessed with wealth, and their descendants populated the rest of Embu.

Judging by historical accounts, the Embu are believed to have migrated from the Congo Basin together with their close relatives, the Kikuyu and Meru People. It is believed that they migrated as far as the Kenyan Coast, since the Meru elders refer to Mpwa (Pwani or Coast) as their origin. The conflicts there, perhaps slave trade by Arabs, forced them to retreat northeast to the interior of Kenya, and they settled by the slopes of Mount Kenya. They were to refer to this location as the place of the Lord, the owner of the snow("Nyaga") or ("Njeru" meaning white) — hence the name "Mwenenyaga" or "Mwenenjeru".

The Embu are cash crop and subsistent farmers who also rear cows, goats and sheep. With the advent of colonialism, many cash crops were introduced. For long these have offered a lucrative alternative source of livelihood for the people. The most widespread cash crops to date are coffee, tea and macadamia nuts. These are mainly grown for sale with little being processed for domestic consumption.

The Embu were fierce warriors who, although rarely raiding other tribes, always stood firm in defense of their territory and people. They also rose against the British in the Mau Mau fight for Kenya's independence. The fact that the tribe was and continues to be considerably small explains their relatively small impact on the history of Kenya.

Much abounds in the Embu District to keep the most eager tourist and visitor enthralled, not least the Embu people themselves who carry about their daily life with a deep sense of filial attachment to each other. They are a hospitable people, always welcoming to visitors and eager to help. This has endeared them to their neighbors and to strangers from far. Embu girls are known to make remarkable wives and mothers, while the men treat their wives with such respect and never ending love that hardly ever is family breakdown a subject of deliberation. For long, Kikuyu, Meru and Kamba men have come to get brides from Embu, while the Embu men enjoy high regard from marriageable girls in the same tribes. With the advent of Kenya nationalism, this high regard has permeated to the entire nation, and now the Embu form one respected unit of the Kenyan social fabric.

Photo credit: Guy Radcliffe

Monday, June 14, 2010

Swahili Prounouns, Part 3

Last week we began learning some Swahili Pronouns, and this week we continue that lesson.
Next week we will learn words for food- and drink-related activities :)

Need help with your Swahili pronunciation? Refer to our guide.

Friday, June 11, 2010

This Week in Kenya

We at World of Difference love to stay apprised of Kenyan current events. Here are some of the headlines that caught our attention this week.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Meet the Turkana


The Turkana People are believed to be of a Hamito-Semitic origin. They are believed to have originated from North Africa and across the Red Sea. They are a conservative ethnic group with strict cultural lifestyle. They number approximately 340,000 and inhabit the Turkana District in northwest Kenya, a dry and hot region bordering Lake Turkana in the east. The language of the Turkana, an Eastern Nilotic language, is also called Turkana.

The Turkana People are a monotheistic people. They believe in one God, known as Akuj, who is the creator of the universe and to Akuj do all things belong. Akuj is invoked through prayers & chants and through animal sacrifices. The Turkana believe that Akuj is the source of all power and that no challenge is impossible when Akuj intervenes.

Livestock is an important aspect of Turkana culture. Goats, camels, donkeys and zebu are the primary herd stock utilized by the Turkana people. In this society, livestock functions not only as a milk and meat producer, but as form of currency used for bride-price negotiations and dowries. Often, a young man will be given a single goat with which to start a herd, and he will accumulate more via animal husbandry. In turn, once he has accumulated sufficient livestock, these animals will be used to negotiate for wives. It is not uncommon for Turkana men to lead polygamous lifestyles, since livestock wealth will determine the number of wives each can negotiate for and support.

Houses are constructed over a wooden framework of domed saplings on which grass is thatched and lashed on. Usually during the wet season they are elongated and covered with cow dung. Animals are kept in a brush wood pen. Due to changes in the climatic conditions most Turkana have started changing from the traditional method of herding cattle to agriculture.

The Turkana people have elaborate clothing and adornment styles. Clothing is used to distinguish between age groups, development stages, occasions and status of individuals or groups in the Turkana community. Often men carry wrist knives made of steel and goat hide. It is also not uncommon for men to carry several staves; one is used for walking and balance when carrying loads, the other, usually slimmer and longer, is used to prod livestock during herding activities. Women will customarily wear necklaces, and will shave their hair completely which often has beads attached to the loose ends of hair.

Photo credit: Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, Nairobi