Wednesday, September 14, 2011

To Wrocław and Mollina

Today marks the last full working day of my 7 month internship with the Torun Ecological Association "Tilia".However, the next few days before my flight back to Nairobi will still be quite busy!
I will take the train tomorrow to Wroclaw, and on Friday i will participate in the 19th Annual Plenary Session & Conference of European Environment and Sustainable Development Advisory Councils network. The meeting has actually already started with internal meetings of the EEAC network, which is an independent body that advises the European governments on matters of environment and sustainability, as the title suggests. The conference is also serving as a preparatory forum for the next Earth Summit in Brazil in 2012, popularly known as Rio+20.I am really looking forward to learning a great deal and possibly making some important contacts for the future.
Later on Saturday morning, September 17th, i will take the train to Warsaw where i will stay overnight, before flying to Malaga, Spain on Sunday morning.
Every year, the North-South Centre of the Council of Europe in collaboration with other partners, organizes the University on Youth and Development (UYD).It serves as a forum where young people meet to train and be trained, to share and discuss, and to come up with plans of action, on important development issues of the day.

This year's theme focusses on the role of youth volunteering for global development.Started in the year 2000, the UYD is hosted at the Centre for European and Latin American Youth (CEULAJ) located in the village of Mollina, 50 kilometres from Malaga.
It seems to me that the common thread running through all these meetings, is a fundamental human desire to make the world a better place to live in. I definitely want in on any initiative that seeks to do that, and hope that i can learn skills, gain knowledge and build friendships, that i can then pass on to other people wherever next i find myself in.Lastly, i found this video and thought it fits in today's blog post.

Maybe you too are already involved or would like to get involved in making the world more just? Perhaps you have ideas or experiences to share? If so, please feel free to get in touch.I'd love to hear from you!

Monday, September 12, 2011

September 12th...

First came the prediction and warning: June 22nd 2008

Then came the tragedy:

...And a shocking display of ignorance from some 'politicians':

...and it all makes me extremely ANGRY!!

Kenyans, Freebies and Impunity

Its a sad day for East Africa.Even before the news of a ferry tragedy in Zanzibar, that killed hundreds of people, over one hundred more lives have been lost in a fire tragedy in Nairobi.Deep condolences go out to all affected, and wishes for a quick recovery to all those hospitalized.
Rescue efforts were particularly challenging in both cases. Both tragedies could have been averted.
In February of 2009, John Ngirachu, a journalist at the Nation newspaper in Nairobi, and a former university colleague, wrote about a looming fire disaster in the Mukuru Sinai slums. He and a fellow journalist reported how residents had resisted attempts to move them from the oil pipeline area in which they were living.

They quoted a local pastor as saying “The Bible says that God is fire,” the 45-year-old pastor says. “Well, my church is right on top of the pipeline, and I am always aware of the possibility of a fire outbreak.”
It is now September 2011, and a fierce fire did break out...adding to a long list of tragedies that could have been averted. It is a culture of impunity. A culture that has fatal results.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Another day...and a week coming up!

My office-issued laptop no longer detects the wireless network available in the building that has been my home for the past close-to-seven-months now. Wi-fi doesn't seem to be available anyway, because even my phone no longer picks up the signals.
It is Saturday evening, which means i cannot access the internet from the office, which is closed (it was open  since my colleagues and i worked today too).The implication is that i have to sit at the reception, where a computer connected to the internet is available. Again, being a Saturday, like many other Saturdays, also means that a wedding party is going on. In fact, when i got started on this post, the newly wedded couple made its grand entrance into the building, which has an excellent conference hall, for their wedding party, and were greeted with rousing applause by family and friends.I no longer own a camera, so no photos to share....sorry!
My room is a few meters from the conference hall. Therefore, when the music starts playing, i will be unable to do much else...other than try to watch a movie...or spend sometime online.But again, the latter activity is only possible at the reception and i am not sure that i want to be here longer.We'll see. Its not the first time anyway!One thing is sure though. I will be waking up really late tomorrow.I am not complaining here;just telling my story!
Tomorrow also marks the start of another week. I sense already that it will be a week full of emotions, ideas and opportunities.On Tuesday evening, my colleagues will say 'goodbye' officially at some ceremony. It (the ceremony) should be simple, i hope, but i know saying goodbye will not. These are men and women that i have shared an office with every single working day, for the past 7 months!We have shared joys, challenges, hopes...and lots of coffee, tea and cake too. It is not easy to say 'kwaheri' to people like these.
Thursday morning will see me catch a train to Wroclaw. I have heard a lot about this city, but was never able to go there. Next week, the European Environmental Advisory Council (EEAC) will host its 19th annual conference at the Wroclaw University of Technology. The Polish minister of Environment will be one of the key note speakers. It will really be an honour for me to be present at the conference. It will be a whole day conference, Friday, and there won't be time left for anything else after. Maybe i'll try to explore Wroclaw by night.
Early Saturday, and i'll be on another train-this time to Warsaw, so i can catch a flight to Malaga, Spain, early Sunday morning.I'll be attending the University on Youth and Development (UYD), in the Spanish town of Mollina, close to Malaga.That will be another week altogether!
For now, its probably time to log-off and retire to my room...a few meters from the conference hall...where a wedding party is in progress...

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Surprising Europe?!

With less than three weeks left before i board a flight back to Nairobi, marking the end of my 7-month long experience in Poland, many of my friends have been asking me how the time here has been for me.It is impossible to capture in words, the very rich and diverse moments and relationships that have characterized my stay here.But the conclusion always is'yes, i definitely want to come back...for an even longer period!'
But life has its low moments too, no matter which part of the world you live in.Mine was no exception. And while reviewing and reflecting on the past weeks and months, i stumbled upon a documentary series called 'Surprising Europe'.
The series is running on the Al Jazeera network, and documents the lives of African immigrants in Europe-a window into the experiences that they live with all its joys and pains.It makes for interesting viewing, and i think everyone, immigrant or not, should watch it. Below is a trailer for the series and you can read comments on the series on the 'Surprising Europe' website.

The only thing i am really surpsised about is how fast my time here has gone!!