Monthly Archives: August 2015

A Connection Made in Church

So, here’s the tiny (microscopic) story of our money-changing “adventure”.

(I’ll just put the pro tip here: when you exchange money for Kenyan shillings at the airport in Nairobi, don’t assume you can always exchange more later. You can, but it’s a pretty big inconvenience. Go ahead and get all you’ll think you’ll need plus a little more at the airport.)

On the day we visited the first-year group, three of us realized we hadn’t taken into account the gratuities we’d be paying our drivers and hotel staff, and our plans for some end-of-the-trip shopping. So, we had to cut our visit with the working group short (which I think is sad, actually) and hightail it back to Maua in time to get into a bank (Barclays) by 4:00 pm. We just barely made it.

Once in, we got in line to wait for a teller. (While we were in line, I saw a poster advertising Barclays’s new low interest rate for home loans: 10%.) When we got to a teller, we asked to exchange $20 for Kenyan schillings.

Well. First they asked us for our passports. Then, it seemed like they didn’t exactly know what to do next (although they didn’t say that). So, they asked us to have a seat and wait. We did. And waited. And waited. And waited.

Meanwhile, the bank was closing.

At one point, a man walked over to us and said “I think I can say hello.” He was very friendly. It turns out that he was in church when we stood in front and introduced ourselves. So, he was literally just saying hello. It was very pleasant.

Eventually, we got our Kenyan shillings and our passports back, although the rest of our group, waiting back in the van, had begun to worry about us.

Used T-Shirts in Kenya (Planet Money Podcast)

Planet Money, an economics podcast by NPR, had a really interesting episode on what happens to used T-shirts. It turns out some of them wind up in Kenya and (I’m assuming) worn by the kids in our working group. And, every step of the way (of course), they generate economic activity.

The first stop in Kenya is at the business of a woman who, 15 years ago, was selling used T-shirts one at a time. I don’t know for sure, but I’m imagining a kiosk like the ones our kids run.

Here’s the episode: The Afterlife of a T-shirt.

Reegan’s Long Backgrounder Lecture the First Day

So, the morning after we arrived, before our first visit (to our working groups), Reegan sat us all down in the patio area of the hotel and gave us a long background talk on ZOE, very dense with figures and procedures. It took at least 90 minutes. Here is as much of that as we could capture.

(This turned out to be a monstrous post that took a while to reconstruct from the excellent notes Erika took, with a few of my own sprinkled in. This applies to ZOE in Kenya, as told to us by Reegan and fleshed out with my own impressions and recollections, as hazy as they are.)

Continue reading Reegan’s Long Backgrounder Lecture the First Day