Let the training begin!! (From Kim’s Perspective)
Day 5, Monday– Super Kim on the Grind!!
Monday was our first day of training. In the DHAF office, Margo of PPB outlined all that we would be doing during the week with the Somali and Kenyan staff who would be involved in the RUTF production in Somalia.
While the classroom training was being conducted, I went to work on grinding the peanuts. We planned to grind all day in the production room on Monday, while the staff was in the classroom, and then grind again before and after the practical training on the remaining days. But I got into a groove and was just grinding away. I spent much of the morning praying that the grinder wouldn’t quit/break on us because we were really out of other options.
Note from Rachael: When Margo and I arrived at the production room around lunchtime, to our amazement, Kim was already half way through 30 kgs of nuts(250g at a time)! She had a hit a rhythm and no peanut was safe! After 8 hours, she ground all the peanuts! She won the award for champion of the day and we went for a celebratory dinner at Gypsy’s restaurant in Westlands. It was our first dinner out and a lovely end to a long, but amazingly productive day.
Day 6, Tuesday– Smooth sailing
Our second day of training was the production demonstration day. Margo demonstrated how to weigh each ingredient and mix the RUTF. The participants helped package the batch and we had another 78 jars (250g each) of RUTF that will be used in Somalia. The trainees were fully engaged and everything went perfectly smooth.
We lunched with DHAF staff and the trainees on chapattis (the local version of a tortilla or pita), kuku (chicken), spinach and a tomato based stew. Yum!! We then spent the afternoon working on our laptops using the Wi-Fi at Java Café.
Day 7, Wednesday – Powerless
The ”jams” (traffic) were terrible today!! But once we arrived all was well for a while…
We prepped for production – washed hands, donned our Fumas (fake Puma shoes), Karate uniforms and hairnets, and headed into the production room for training/ production. It was Ardo’s turn to practice what she had learned.
All was running smoothly with weighing the ingredients until we discovered… there was NO POWER!! No power meant no mixer!! No mixer meant no RUTF!! (Thankfully this won’t be a problem in Somalia, as we are arranging for a generator.)
There were two people in the group that were not as familiar with malnutrition, so we took this time to gather around Margo’s laptop for a lesson on severe acute malnutrition (SAM) and why RUTF is the best solution. It was an inspiring reminder of how truly important this work is.
Day 8, Thursday – Power?
The big question of the morning… will there be power? Yes!! We finished the mixing and packaging of the previous day and produced another batch, totaling 158 jars of RUTF. We shot video of Ardo explaining in Somali each step of the process, which she will be able to use in Somalia to train additional staff members that were unable to obtain visas to join our training in Kenya.
That evening we dined at Winnie’s home (our friend’s Auntie who helped us with many of our travel arrangements including the lovely home we stayed in) and had a traditional Kenyan meal of chapatti, maize-spinach-potato dish, salad, a vegetable beef stew, cabbage and then fresh pineapple for dessert… Delish!!!
Day 9, Friday – Production. Production. Production.
We promised everyone if we got an early start and wrapped up the training, we wouldn’t have to work on Saturday. Everyone loved the idea since we had worked so hard throughout the week. Margo observed while the staff produced 2 ½ batches of RUTF and demonstrated the weekly cleaning process while Rachael and I spent time in the office preparing for Phase 2 of the trip – Zambia.
That afternoon we visited the parents of a dear friend, who Rachael has known since junior high! They recently moved back to Kenya to retire. It was so fun to see them and meet other friends and relatives that dropped by and enjoy some yummy Kikuyu food.
Day 10, Saturday – Zebra, monkeys and rhinos….. OH MY!!!
Saturday we woke up early at our driver, Warren’s suggestion to head out to Nakuru National Park. We had no idea what the three-hour drive would bring, but the experience was unforgettable!!
Note from Rachael: Margo and I waited in the back seat of the car as Warren and Kim went into the office to get the price of entry for the park. I can’t remember what we were chatting about, but it ended abruptly as Margo screamed at the site of a baboon climbing in the front window. We both immediately jumped out of the car as fast as we could. The 10 tourists in the Land Cruiser next to us exploded into laughter. It took a while for my heartbeat to return to normal and each time Margo or I saw a baboon in the park we quickly rolled up our windows. Later, when we wanted a snack, we realized that baboon stole our cookies!
Once in the park we were amazed at what we saw… zebra, water buffalo, flamingos, gazelles, impala, rhinos… and LIONS!!!! We saw two male lions shortly after entering the park!! It was incredible (and incredibly lucky from what we hear).
Day 11, Sunday – Parting is sweet sorrow
Sunday we packed up, said goodbye to Winnie and then spent a lovely afternoon at Dr. Amina’s. She prepared the most incredible lunch that included more than 9 or 10 different dishes. It was a mix of Somali specialties, dishes she learned to make while in school in Russia and others that she picked up by watching the Fine Living cooking show. They were all delicious!!!
Amina’s sister, Deqo was in town for a book talk sponsored by the Finnish Embassy. It was such a treat to meet this incredible woman!! Sadly, Mama Hawa was unable to enter Kenya. Despite being a world-renowned figure and a Nobel Peace Prize nominee, she was denied a visa due to heightened security as result of the Westgate mall terrorist attacks.
It was so lovely being able to relax and catch up with all of the amazing women we have been working with for the past 10 days, telling stories, sharing laughs and planning for the next stages of building the production facility in the camp in Somalia.
All in all, a wonderful day spent with incredible women that have touched my heart in the deepest of ways. Saying goodbye was sad but hopeful, as we are now all a part of creating something amazing.
Overall our experience working with Margo and the DHAF staff in Kenya was amazingly harmonious, productive and inspiring, as we met each challenge with grace and creativity. An experience I will never forget! And now Rachael and I are on to our next adventure conducting a feasibility study in Lusaka, Zambia which is a whole new world for both of us, but more on that in our next update…