The Humanitarian Experience: Enduring Love

Cultural Somali Bridal Attire

Cultural Somali Bridal Attire

Since I have left the place that I called home for 25 years to this place called Nairobi, I have had to deal with the things that any person attached to a family will inevitably encounter, only this time it was from afar. Intermixed in the events of my homeland and family, I have also experienced good and bad events with those I am cultivating relationships with here in Nairobi. Reflecting on these events has made me understand the importance of each event encountered. It was as if there was purpose ;).

Over the summer months my family has gone through times of mourning and celebration. And as I use the great technologies of this century to keep in touch and follow the events that have occurred this summer, I see our resilience as a family in a different light.

I don’t want to delve into the times of mourning too much but I will say that, reflecting on them now makes me sigh a breath of relief that we as a family are getting past it and are on a path that looks hopeful. And should we have to be in that state again, I now know without a doubt that we are resilient enough to persevere through. And for that I thank God. So onto the good stuff!

My brother got married! He tied the knot with an amazingly beautiful woman inside and out. She has proven to be a woman of strength during the time of turbulence that we all experienced. And because of it all, their love has become a beacon of light that inspired many near and far to them. And now, as they make my brother’s bachelor pad a home of marriage and love, I smile and laugh remembering those times that my husband and I shared 5 years ago.

I did not get to attend the wedding because of the great distance and cost, but I was there in my mind the entire time that the event of their lives was taking place. And though I missed the day, I smile on the moments that were captured and sent to me in the form of JPEG. Thank you God for technology.


They were not the only ones to celebrate love and endure life’s events this year in my life…

I mentioned in an earlier post that a friend of mine contracted Typhoid fever. Her name is Maryanne, She recently moved to Nairobi, from a refugee camp to marry her husband Abdi. I attended their wedding earlier this spring. And boy oh boy was it fun! I will post about it soon enough.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but there are some parallels to these two marriages. As my brother and his young bride overcame a great time of sadness, the newlyweds Abdi and Maryanne, were also about to defeat a great obstacle. I watched as Abdi with great responsibility cared for his new bride as she defeated a disease that has stolen many lives here in Africa. Maryanne is now healthy for which those near and far to her are thankful for. I say far because when she married Abdi I shared to those I love that another whom I loved was celebrating, and when she became ill I did the same. The relationship that I share with her also includes people she does not know, just as I share a relationship with those whom she shares her life with.

Relationships are based off of sharing life events. Without the events of life a relationship is superficial. As I watch these two couples nurture their relationships, I see the strength grow exponentially from the physical events that they have encountered. Both my brother and my Somali friends have been blessed that they were able to endure their trials, for in some instances what they have experienced may have been fatal to their happiness together, and for that I rejoice.



The Humanitarian Experience: Bonding over Riots


Photo Credit: Standard Digital News (Edited for Content Suitability)

I was talking with a co-worker the other day about an incident that occurred a few weeks ago as the sun was setting over Nairobi. Our van got stuck in the mud on the way to pick up a friend. My husband who is our only licensed driver was the pilot and I was the only other person one who knew where our friend lived. It was up to me to go out into the night and find our friend. I took one a dude co-worker with me and started to walk with confidence in order to blend into our setting.


Nairobi in the PM

As I was talking to my co-worker about the night we got stuck in the mud, I said “Hopefully that will be the worst thing we have to encounter”, due to the fact that the area we were in can be slightly dangerous at night – sorry mom. Anyways, my co-worker replied to me “Umm, did you forget about the RIOT?!”

Yes, I had. Maybe I was choosing to forget, or maybe I was more scared of the dark either way, she is right, the riot was probably the most intense situation we have experienced.

It was a normal weekday morning. Our ESL classes were in full swing and I was working in my office, administrating and such. As I was working I began to hear the street sounds, which are pretty loud on a normal basis, become extremely loud. I begin to hear cars backfiring and a few loud yells. I continued to work, maybe it was a protest, maybe it was just a traffic jam, maybe it was just me being paranoid. I waited a few more minutes.

And then with some courage, not much, but some, I decided to step out of the office. The noise was not normal. It had gone up several decibels and I realized the car backfiring sounds were gun shots. I looked at our guard and he could see the concern on my face. I asked him what is going on. And through his reassuring smile and explanation, I found that some thieves had been chased into the small shanty neighborhood across the street and the police were on a chase through lines of shacks firing their weapons. The shanty-shack neighborhood had become angry at the police for some reason and they were rebelling by throwing large stones in an attempt to get the police out.

With this information I went to find my husband and the other teacher. I explained that a riot was forming and we decided it was time to leave. We exited the building with our courageous students and quickly walked in the other direction towards home. We departed from our students in a safe place and with as much joy I could muster at that time, I smiled at them and said, I will text you all if it is safe to come back tomorrow.

Once we returned home we found a news report online that explained the reason for the riot. A woman was unfortunately caught in the cross-fire. And as we sat on our bed in slight disbelief that we had just run from a riot my husband’s phone went off due to an incoming text.

The text was from one of our students. It said “Sir, did you get home safe.” I smiled. I was worried for our students the whole time, and they were just as worried for us.

The next day peace reigned again and all of our students, plus one new student showed up for classes. Talk about a bonding experience.

In conclusion, If that is the last and worst riot I encounter I will be glad of it.

99.9% of the time it is the mud that will be the roughest part of the day for me.

99.9% of the time it is the mud that will be the roughest part of the day for me.

The Humanitarian Experience: What I did this Month


The month of July 2013 was filled with lots and lots of activity. I will most likely go into more details in future posts about each of the following events but for now, as I decompress into the month of August I will simply put it into a list.

  1. Riot!! We experienced a full-blown riot that occurred within view of our school. We could hear the gunshots and all.
  2. 2 month Anniversary for our English school!
  3. A team member who has been with us since the beginning went home to America to continue her education.
  4. We got to enjoy the touristy opportunities of Nairobi City. This was long overdue since we have lived here for nearly 7 months – Elephant Orphanage and Giraffe Manor.
  5. My brother got married, one of the many family events I have missed since moving here.
  6. A close friend here in Nairobi, was diagnosed with TYPHOID FEVER!!
  7. We got a new team member, always a good thing.
  8. Fender benders x4! Having a vehicle is nice, but driving here is stressful.
  9. We made new friends and enjoyed delicious Ethiopian food.
  10. Celebrated the 4th of July for the first time outside of the U.S.A.

Phew, I have a lot to write about!

But for now please enjoy some pictures below from this month’s city and animal adventures.