Adjusting to Adjustments


Adjusting to Adjustments

There’s so much transition going on at the moment – work, my apartment (which intersects with work somewhat), my street, Nairobi in general…

Movement of Staff

The director of our office has moved on after 9 years of service to IJM.  He has been a well-loved fixture of IJM feature so the whole office misses him dearly!  At the same time, he’s a talented individual with a lot to offer the world.  We’re excited for what will become of Joe in the future!

Goodbye also to:

  • A couple of experienced staff leaving for post-graduate study overseas.
  • Our executive assistant intern, Daniel and John – legal fellow who finishing up their service next month and heading home.

Hello to new:

  • Executive assistant, Brittany.
  • Summer legal intern, Madalyn.
  • Aftercare assistant, Jennifer.

One of the things I appreciate about our office is that we’re like a family.  So when people leave, it’s like we’re going through withdrawals as they “leave the nest”.

Some of the IJM family

Obviously developing relationships like this does not happen overnight or without deliberate effort.  I’m really fortunate to have arrived at the office at time such as this.  I’m sure that this will continue as we welcome the new interns in the IJM Kenya team.

Living Arrangement Changes

Last weekend my roommate, Daniel moved out in preparation of his going home.  I’ve since acquired two new roommates!   It’s different dynamic having 3 people in the apartment and 3 females for that matter.  We’re expecting our new aftercare assistant tomorrow and she’ll also be in my apartment for a few days.  It will be interesting to say the least!

 My Street and Nairobi in General

When I first arrived, the road where I lived was a little crazy.  Now it’s intensely chaotic.  The Chinese have partnered with the Kenyan government and major roading projects are underway throughout Nairobi.  Lovely highways, exciting bridges and flyways are springing up throughout Nairobi and its outskirts.  Speaking about the bridge near my apartment, one taxi driver told me “I’m not going to sleep the night before they open that bridge.  I want to be the first one they test it.”  I think my sides hurt, I was laughing so much.

Back to my street: walking to work has now become an extreme sport akin to Ninja Warrior.

Me walking to work

Ok, slight exaggeration.  But in all seriousness – on my side of the road, if you want to walk without being knocked over by a car, you have to walk over the sewer.  They haven’t covered them yet, so it resembles a couple of 6-inch wide balance beams. If you slip, you get the privilege of falling 4 feet into the sewer below.  The first few weeks I would freak out about walking over them. I eventually got the courage after seeing countless old men, pregnant women and people carrying awkwardly large items scurrying across it without batting an eyelid.

The real walk to & from work.

Coping Mechanisms

With the all the transition and finally reaching the tail end of the “honeymoon-phase” on the culture-shock diagram, I’ve adopted a couple of interesting coping mechanisms.

Excessive Baking/Cooking Syndrome

Similar to Izzie of Grey’s Anatomy.

A situation I would like to avoid

Her situation is a little dramatic, but over past month or so I’ve been bringing copious amounts of experimental baking into the office.  My colleagues aren’t complaining, but a dysfunction, is still a dysfunction, even if it tastes nice.  I’ve decided to go on a baking fast for a little while before things get out of hand.

Pedestrian Rage

As in most developing countries, driving skills in Nairobi are also in the “development stage”.  This is fine, except when cars decide to use the footpath as an additional driving lane or treat you like a skittle at a bowling alley.  The first few months of this are scary, but a somewhat amusing adventure.  After four months of this constantly, it becomes a tad infuriating.  Consequently, I have used sign language and other threats to alert the drivers of my displeasure.  I’m still working this issue through, but I’m glad I’m not alone.  A few weeks ago one intern threw an apple at a matatu and another hit a car with her umbrella. 🙂

Strange Dreams

As part of my job, I read case after case of child sexual abuse (CSA) and police abuse.  Since I am in communications, I only tend to come into contact with the clients when the case has concluded in court – particularly if they are CSA clients.  So the likelihood of me suffering vicarious trauma is much lower than my colleagues who are closely involved in cases from start to finish.  Lately though I’ve been noticing a strange melange of cases invading my dreams.  I’m not too worried about this, but I’m glad that we had our quarterly retreat today!


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