First Saturday with Host Family!

I woke up around 7:30 am which was nice after having to get up at 6 am all week to help prepare breakfast.  We ate breakfast and then my host mom showed me how to cook our lunch.

We started a fire outside using straws, matches, newspaper, charcoal, and a circular cardboard.  The circular cardboard was used to wave air to help the charcoal heat up quicker.  Once the charcoal was ready we bought it inside where there’s a chimney in the kitchen.  We put a bowl of beans on top of it and let it cook for 5 hours.

After that I did laundry and had tea+ fruit.

Other than I’ve been trying to catch up on things and get ready for next week.

My host little brother watched some cartoon, did his homework, and played outside with his friends.  His friend came over to me while I was doing laundry and signed “good morning” to me in KSL.  A couple of the older kids from the school for the deaf also came over to say hi!


I finally got to do laundry today!  I was so excited about doing it for two reasons.

1) I haven’t been able to wash my clothes for almost 2 weeks (most of us haven’t been able to)

2) I got to learn how to do something different

I purchased a laundry soap bar the other day (you cut it up into 4-5  smaller bars, they’re not pre-cut).

My host mom taught me how to do laundry by hand.  You get several buckets/tubs and fill a couple with water.  You also separate whites/light from darks and wash them separately.

For example if I was to wash a blouse:

1) Put blouse into tub #1 with water.  The tub is filled with water from the kitchen faucet…garden hose from the kitchen window to the front.

2) Scrub the armpits and collar with soap

3) Wash the rest of the blouse by rubbing the blouse against itself

4) Put the soapy blouse into tub #2 which has water in it

5) Rinse the blouse

6) Put the blouse into tub #3 and rinse it again

7) Squeeze the blouse to get as much water out of it as you can then put it into tub #4

Then…hang clothes and let them dry!

I have no idea how wrinkled all my clothes will be, am hoping there will be an iron for me to use!

Kenya Shillings

A general rule is that $1 = 100 Kes (Kenyan Shilling).

A 300 mL Mountain Dew is 45 Kes

A plate of fries is usually 80 Kes (they serve fries with cabbage and carrots on top of it–similar to coleslaw and their ketchup is runny but sweeter).

A candy bar is around 100-145 Kes

Water bottles is around 50 Kes

A small notebook is about 65 Kes

A package of 100 index cards is around 165 Kes


There are some good restaurants in town.  Lately, I’ve been on a fries (sometimes called chips or roasted potatoes here) and Orange Fanta kick.

I’ve been enjoying drinking soda out of glass bottles with straws.

Restaurants are a bit more laid-back here.  Waiters/waitresses don’t serve tables in the order you arrive.  They don’t always have what the menu says they have.  They don’t always bring food to everyone at a table at the same time.

Even though restaurants are a bit more laid-back the service is still good and people are friendly.

None of my lunches have cost more than $2.  There are no taxes and no tipping.



Rhythm of the City

When we first arrived  we were terrified to cross the busy streets.

Tuk-tuks, matatus, motorcycles, bicycles, cars, trucks, cows, dogs, goats, wheelbarrows, and people!  Many vehicles operate on diesel fuels as well.  Keep in mind people drive on the opposite side of the road!

As PCTs/PCVs, we are not allowed to ride a motorcycle.  Believe me, I don’t want to.

We’re starting to get used to it now and we’re starting to get a better feel for the rhythm of the city.  It’s still tricky during rush hour but am slowly figuring it out and becoming more comfortable with it.

When we walk to different parts of the city we usually end up on dirt roads with lots of rocks so we’re mastering the art of trying to walk without looking down and trying not to trip over rocks.  I’m waiting for the day when I slip in the mud and fall into a puddle after a rainstorm!  🙂

There are a lot of beautiful trees and bushes with colorful flowers on them.

Btw, google matatus and tuk-tuks!


I have had some people wonder if I have electricity.  The answer is…


We have electricity but not always especially when it rains.  Right now is the rain season so it’s rainy and cool (but perfect when it’s sunny).

Most of the time I don’t mind but when I’m in the bathroom or in my bedroom after the sun sets and we lose electricity it scares me at first.  I can’t see and I can’t hear!  🙂


School for the Deaf

We have had some of our training at the  local school for the Deaf which has about 200 students.  All of the students live on campus, so do the teachers.

The first school for the deaf in Kenya opened about 50 years ago.  Compare that to the Kansas School for the Deaf which just celebrated it’s 150th anniversary.  The Kansas School for the Deaf opened the same year Kansas became a state.

The local school for the Deaf opened in 1986.  It was a BLAST getting to play with the kids twice this week during their recess and our breaks.

Host Family

I met my host family last Sunday.  They have had a PCT before so they’re somewhat familiar with Americans.

My host mother knows KSL so that helps with communication even though I’m learning KSL!  My host little brother is a cutie.  He has dimples and is missing two of his front teeth.  He’s your typical curious and energetic 6 year-old-boy.  He knows a few signs in KSL and will try to write me notes in English to communicate with me.

He discovered my headlamp and LOVED it for a couple of days.  He would hide under my bed with the headlamp on.

We have running water which I can use to clean things and bathe with.  I have to be sure I drink treated water and brush my teeth with treated water as well.  We don’t have a choo, we have an indoor toilet!

I am still trying to figure out the plumbing of the house.  Sometimes I can’t get the toilet to flush….there’s an art to it.  I have almost found the trick to it.

They have a couple of chickens that they share with the neighbors and get eggs from for breakfast.  We usually have fried dough (similar to doughnuts), sausage, fruits, bread with jam + butter, and boiled egg for breakfast.  Mind you we don’t have all of those every morning, we usually have 2-3 of each with chai (tea with milk).

Meals are usually made up of a combination of ugali (popular Kenya food), beans, tons of vegetables, some meat (not sure what–maybe goat?), and rice.  Again, we usually only have a combination of 2 of these items.  We also have fruit for dessert (yum).

We have tea two times a day (before lunch and before dinner) with fruit.

I haven’t been hungry at all.  Kenyans are very giving with their food and want you to eat as much as you can.  It is rude to not polish off your dish although host families seem to know that us PCTs may not be able to eat everything.  I’ve been able to self-serve so I control how much food I put on my plate.  I usually end up with just a small amount of leftovers which goes to feed the chickens.

It has been enjoyable hearing about other PCT’s experiences with their host families.  Some families don’t have toilets, they have outdoor choos…some have 4 choos with each being for certain people (e.g. older adults).  Some families live up in the hills.  Some families don’t have running water.  Some families have flat screen TVs.  Some families have very colorful and new houses.  Some families are composed of nieces and aunts while others are small.  Some families get their milk from cows that they milk on the weekends.

I’m so glad we’re getting to share our host family experiences with each other.  It helps us learn more about how diverse home life can be in Kenya.

Week #1 of Training

We’re now at our training site for our 10 week training.   Once we complete our 10-week training we have our swearing-in and then we head off to our sites for our 2 year service.  As of right now we are Peace Corps Trainees (PCTs)

The Deaf Service and Math/Science Education programs had their pre-staging together (28 of us) and then we split up.  The Deaf Service people headed to their training site while the Math/Science Education people headed to their training site.

The Deaf Service group started off with 12 people but sadly one had to leave last Monday since her dad is having health issues.  There are 11 of us now.  Some of us have had exposure to deaf people (CODA, Deaf education major, etc) and others have not had any exposure to sign language or deaf people.

It’s a fun and diverse group.  We’re all learning from each other!

We generally have classes and training from 8am- 5pm during the week.  We had lectures about Diarrhea and food hygiene, causes of deafness, safety and security, malaria, common health problems, coping with unwanted attention, PST policies and norms, Bilingualism, and the New Kenya Constitution on Deaf Community.  We also had Swahili classes most mornings and got our 2nd Rabies shot.

We meet at different sites for our training sessions, sometimes we walk up to 40 minutes which has been a great way to get to see more of our training site.

Yesterday, we got our schedule for the next 2 weeks:


-Introduction to Kenya Education System

-How to say “No” or “Yes”

-Host Family Program Introduction

-Hierarchy of Teachers and Chain of Command

-STIs/HIV, Alcohol, Drugs, and Contraception

-Kenya Education System

-The role of KNEC, KIE, KCSE, KCPE in the education system

-Rules of the House

-State Nationality and Work Rules

-History of KSL

-Maintaining Strong Emotions

-Residential Schools and Deaf Units

-Site Announcements (CAN’T WAIT FOR THIS!!!!)

-Teaching Methods

-Identifying Foods and Non-Foods

-Material Development/VIsits

-Self Diversity

-Deaf Kids’ Continuing Education

Am ready for the next busy 2 weeks but am super excited about what I will learn.  This is awesome!

How to Bathe Kenya Style

One thing I really appreciate about my host mom is that she wants me to learn how to do everything on my own before I move to my site.

My host family has running water (not all host families have running water) so the way we bathe is:

I heat a pitcher of water using some sort of device for about 10-15 minutes in the kitchen.  I still can’t wrap my brain around the whole idea of plugging something into an outlet and then putting it into a pitcher full of water.  The water gets HOT (believe me, I know because after about 15-20 minutes of it cooling I accidentally poured some of it on my hand earlier tonight).  Not sure what it is but it kind of reminds me of a brand used to stamp animals except the end is a spiral shape.

There’s a sort of tube under the bathroom sink which I assume gets water from outside of the house into a tub.

I then take a plastic cup and take the water from tub #1 and pour it into tub#2…the water is freezing cold at this point.

Once tub #2 is almost full I pour the pitcher of boiling hot water into it to help warm it up.

Then I cup my hands and put them into the tub and throw water over my back while standing…

….and that is Kenya style of bathing.

You can use a plastic cup to help wash your hair if you desire but it’s not necessary.  I also mop the floor afterwards.

I must admit….I never thought one could use such a small amount of water and still get squeaky clean.  I feel guilty about all the super long hot showers I’ve taken in my life.