Monday, 28 March 2011

Back home - thank you Kenya team 2

I am back home in Denmark and thrilled to be with my family again.
But my heart is aching.....
It is aching because I miss my new 11 friends from all over the world. I miss Kenya and "no rush", I miss the fun team days and our team jokes. I miss the carefree days where I only had to worry about the project and nothing else.
This experience has been a once in a lifetime event. Thanks to all of you for entering my life I will keep you and all our memories in my heart for ever.
Sunrise close to Masai Mara

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Walking Safari

Me and my masai friends
Today a new adventure begins.
Luan, Reka, Joshua and I are going on a walking safari with the masai's. Right now it is raining and I am afraid that it is going to turn into a muddy experience. See you all muddy on Wednesday!

Back from safari which turned out to be a wonderful experience.
Toothless masai woman

We lived with the masai's, enjoyed their continuous dancing and singing, played with the children, milked a goat, made chapati's with the women, killed a goat and ate it! At night our masai worriers stood next to our tent and protected us from the wild animals.

Tears and goodbuys

Today was the final team day. We spent the day finishing our last shopping at the YaYa market and the Masai market. The crying started at debriefing with Muriuki and Alex and kept on during our last dinner together at Fair Views. Tomorrow everybody will take of in different directions. It is sad to realize that this might be the last time this team is gathered. It has been a wonderful experience. Professionally, to learn that my skills can be used in other contexts and personally as I have learned so much about Kenya but also about the 8 other countries of my team mates.
I learned 
- that there is No rush in Kenya
- that pole pole means easy easy
- that Jews cannot travel or use anything electronic from Friday sunset until Saturday sunset
- that t is possible to have been born in Indian, lived in Congo and now be settled in Canada
- that it is possible to be Chinese, born in the Netherlands and live in Switzerland
- to dance the Bollywood way
- or tried to learn the African shoulder and hip dance
- That meeting new friends is wonderful and saying goodbuy is horrible

Friday, 18 March 2011

Final presentation

The presentations are now officially delivered to our customers together with the final report.
All teams did well - team three on 3 hours of sleep! - and all meet with the Primary Secretary. I think he was impressed by our work and "the power and passion of IBM". I do hope that he will work on our recommendation, starting Monday morning
After lunch at the ICT board we went back to the hotel were everyone passed out of a few hours before getting up to meet with Jane: Vice President, DOT. I am glad that we are finally done as atmosphere of  the last couple of days has been very tense.
Evening was party time at "carnivore" the meet eater restaurant. Followed by a great time in the next door night club. Those Africans really know how to dance.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Final days in Nyeri

The Posta Kenya team  
These are our final days in Nyeri. Today, Tuesday, we got a call from Jane from PCK who told us that the Regional Postmaster Mr Gathura wanted so see us in his office in Nyeri before we leave. So we went to his office today with our friend Mr Mulundi - the headpostmaster of Nyeri. We explained our recommendations from the project and they surprised us by giving us a farewell gift: red "postapay" caps, table mats and a pearl twiga. And we responded with IBM goodies: a Think booklet.
It has been wonderful the way Mulundi and Gathura has welcomed us to PCK and Nyeri. We surely have two friends in Kenya.

Here at Green Hills the three teams have been working almost around the clock. One team is behind schedule and we need to find out how to help them to complete their work. This afternoon the three teams presented our projects to each other and gave advise and comments before we start the last marathon run to complete the work.

Thursday morning we head off to Nairobi - for the last time  - to be supporters for Team Chui's final presentation Thursday afternoon.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Lake Nakuru - big five completed

Ugly storck in a beautiful setting
This weekend we went to Lake Nakuru to see the rhino in order to complete the BIG FIVE. We succeeded and also managed to see a hippo, a lot of pelicans, flamingos and the ugly Kenyan stork.
The number of animals in Lake Nakuru park is not as big as in Samburu so everyone was a little disappointed by the amount of hours we drove around in the park without seeing any animals. Just before leaving the park we managed to find a group of lions taking their afternoon nap in one big pile in the shade of a tree.

On our way back to Nyeri on Sunday we drove by the Rift Valley, the Thomson falls and at least 5 equator signs. We haven't quite figured out how the more or less straight road from Nakuru to Nyeri crosses equator 5 times. Maybe someone just put up the sign to do some business?

Hippo and Pelicans

Lions taking an afternoon nap

Friday, 11 March 2011

Tea and Coffee in Nyeri

Pappa Papetti is tasting tea
Luan and Eva enjoying a great cup of coffee

Our friend Mr Mulundi - the head postmaster of Nyeri had arranged a tour for us to both a tea and a coffee plantation in Nyeri. We had a great day at both places, learned about the processes and tastede some really good coffee.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Midterm review and Java House

Yesterday we had our midterm review with the customer - Postal Corporation of Kenya and it went really well. We made an hour long presentation on our analysis of the current state and our conclusions for future needs and opportunities.  Our client could not contain the excitement! They want us to make the final presentation for the Permanent Secretary and the PCK board to make sure that the message reaches the right people. The management team of PCK, whom we work with, are all willing to make changes in order to turn PCK into a success but they need support from the top management and hopefully we can help them with this.

A visit to Nairobi includes 3 hours of driving torture  - each way - but also a wonderful visit to Java House which is the dream of any tourist. They serve milkshake, real coffee, garlic bread, burgers - anything you will die for after having had Kenyan food for weeks.
Happy mzungos at Java House

Monday, 7 March 2011

Another Angel - Madam Esther

Madam Esther and "her youngest child"
Beautiful school children
This afternoon I meet with Madam Esther. She is another Angel of Kenya. She looks after 23! orphans in her home close to Nyeri. I met her while we were doing our interviews for our project on the streets of Nyeri. She told me about her home for the orphans and asked me to come and visit. This was Thursday in our first week. Ever since she has been calling me wanting to know when I would visit. So I finally decided to go together with Reka, my team mate from Hungary. We thought we were only visiting her, but she also took us to the nearby school were "her children" goes. This is an ordinary school and once more we experienced children absolutely excited about our visit. They performed songs and poems for us and we told them about our countries.

At Esther's home we met some of "her children". The newest arrival was a young girl and her 3 months old daughter. Esther had found the mother on the street, pregnant and all alone!

My heart cannot bear anymore orphanages and neither can my wallet. But I will pray for all the children of Kenya and the angels who look after them

Film star

 Now I am also a film star - more or less.
CNBC visited us at our hotel today. They are doing a film for IBM on our engagements in Africa - CSC amongst these. They did some filming of the team in our work location - the Green Hills Hotel but also from our actual project. John and I went to Mweiga Post office with the CNBC film crew who were able to see how we do our research and perform our interviews. It was great fun and I hope to see 3 sec of me and John in the final documentary!
Eva, John, Beatrice and Mary at Mweiga Post office

Sunday, 6 March 2011


Kazkazi Beach Hotel, Diani beach
Pappa Papetti, Mama Eva and our 4 adopted asian children: Luan, Anna, Nimesh & Haruta all went to Mombasa for the weekend.

We have been very busy working during the week and really needed a relaxing weekend at the sea. Stayed in a 4 star hotel - both good and bad. The god part was the fee bar, the surroundings and the very friendly staff. Bad thing was all the German and Russian guests incl the German food, the worn out rooms and the rocky beach.

The snorkeling team

We hired a boat on the beach and went snorkeling for 2 hours, did a lot a shopping on the beach, relaxed, slept, went for water aerobics and stretching.

Saturday night we went with the hotel staff to the hottest place in Diani bech - the 40 thieves nightclub - a great place on the beach packed with people - most of them younger than us  - but we didn't mind. We did our best to try and do the hip moves of the African girls and never really succeeded but we had a great night.

Children in Mombassa

 Sunday we went on a walking tour in Mombasa town. Mombasa is very different from Nairobi and Nyeri due to the fact that the population is muslim.

 Look at this cute couple.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Kimathi University College of Technology

Dave is showing the 100x100 video
Friday we had one more community day. This was a visit to Kimathi University College of Technology. A perfect place for IBM'ers to visit. My teammates had prepared a presentation on IBM; including the  100x100 Centennial video and of course Smarter Planet. After wards there were breakout sessions. One where Francesco showed  how to build a smart interactive whiteboard with a Wii remote. Another one was a Career Workshop and the last one was on more technical stuff - especially about IBM's new supercomputer Watson who wan over human champs in jeopardy
This Community Day was very rewarding and also touching. The students want to do so much, but they don't fully believe in themselves nor their country. Hope we made them realize that they are the ones who can make a change.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

A very touching day

Have experienced some very touching days. We went Thursday morning to "Friends of Allamanos"  - a school for mentally challenged. The school is run by Sister Jane and houses around 80 children with various disabilities. The children were thrilled to see us, to play with us and to view the photos we took. Haruta had brought a polaroid camera so we could give them the photos right away. That was a great idea.

We were amazed to see how caring the children were with each other. They helped feed the ones that couldn't themselves - pushed the wheelchairs of those who couldn't walk and held the hands of those who needed a hug. It was very touching. The school was so full of love and care and all of us made special friends during our stay. Francesco donated a PC and Luan a camera to the school and everyone had brought pens, paper, sweets and lots of other things. So we definitely put our foot prints at the school and they left a mark in our hearts.

Francesco donates a PC to Sister Jane

African hairdo for a Mzungo
In the afternoon we visited an orphanage in Mweiga. Kiene West Children's Home
It is privately run, houses 40 children and is only supported by donations. I though that I had been touched in the morning but this place broke my heart. We met the sweetest children, so thrilled to met us and eager to talk with us. We had brought a lot of stuff for them - especially Bianica had a whole suitcase full of clothes, bedsheets, toys, pens, paper and shoes to donate. We played for hours with the children and all found our own favorites. They enjoyed having their pictures taken and were laughing away when they saw themselves on the camera. I was lucky to get my hair done by a group of young girls.
 We decided to collect money amongst us and donated it. It will most probably be used for school fees for the children.
Mary next to her bed

So now we are back at our comfortable hotel and the children are still in the orphanage which has no real kitchen, no dining room, no electricity nor a place to keep any private things - but they do have someone to look after them and someone who fights to get money for their school fees. So even though my heart is hurting for them - they are more lucky than the large amount of children living on the streets of cities around the world.

I hope that our visit gave them a nice memory and made them feel that there are many of us caring for them. Wish I could take all of them back home to Denmark and give them the same childhood as I am able to give my sons.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

The land of diversity

I have been in Kenya for almost 2 weeks now and have done some observations.
Even though Kenya produces a lot of coffee it is difficult to get a decent cup here. They export it all and get it back in Nescafé cans. Tea is always taken with milk and sugar the Indian way.
Spinach is a big thing down here - we get it two times a day.
All taxi drivers believe in reincarnation, which makes a 3 hour drive from Nyeri to Nairobi a scaring experience.

I am surprised by the large number of women in managing positions in the companies we have visited.
And more surprised by the many different hairdo's I have seen. The women here must spend hours and a lot of money on their hair.
Another thing: some companies don't have toilet tissue paper in the restroom and at the same time they are working on introducing biometric scanners in the office - something is out of sync!
Country wise you will find savanna, mountains, farming country, rain forest and big cities.
People wise you will find native people living in huts with no electricity nor running water but with a mobilephone carried underneath the kanga, with which they can make mobile payments.
It all sums up to a lot of diversity and contradictions. But Kenya is great and the Kenyans are some of the most friendly people I have ever met.

Monday, 28 February 2011

Meeting with the Regional Postal Manager - samosas, sausages and tea

After our early morning run in the hills of Nyeri, we got a phone call from our friend Mr Mulundi - Head Postmaster A in Nyeri. "When are you guys coming for tea?" He was apparently sitting together with his manager; the Regional Postal Manager who is the Postal Manager for all of the Central Province and he wanted to meet the new celebrities in town - team Twiga!
So we called another friend of ours  - the taxi driver Josef - and went immediately after breakfast to see the Regional Manager in downtown Nyeri. The meeting which lasted for 3 hours and included Kenyan tea - with milk and sugar - accompanied by samosas and sausages, turned out to be very successful.

Mr Mulundi, Bill, John, Mr Gathura, Francisco, Eva
 We got a lot of questions answered and received a lot of new ideas.
Spent the rest of the day in the office in the hotel.

Offical team Twiga office including Tusker's

Sunday, 27 February 2011

The wildest weekend

Roger, roger, simba, simba..... our safari driver and guide is talking over the radio - we are looking for lions. We are at the Samburu national park for the weekend and what a weekend. We have seen four out of the big five: Lion, Leopard, Elephant and Water Buffalo - here is the proof:

Simba drinking water

Chui having his freshly killed breakfast

Elephant family

Water buffalos
We also saw a lot of twigas - giraf's:


We stayed in a tent camp in the savanna - together with a naughty group of baboons. At night we heard the lion roaring and hyenas drinking water just outside our tent. In the morning we could see elephant pooh in the camp.....!
Me and Luan in front of our tent

We also visited a village with both samburus and turkanas.
New friends

And finally we made a "Canon stop" at the Equator.

The middle of the world

I enjoyed the weekend so much. A great combination of wildlife and culture in the village.
Kenya is GREAT!

Sun is rising in Samburu national reserve

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Interviewing the locals

Again another busy day with lots of new impressions. We kicked off the day in the gardens of Green Hills Hotel while the "house storck" wandered by. We wanted to interview the locals about their use of the post office and their needs for additional offerings. Our marketing expert - John - prepared a questionnaire. We walked into town, went to a photocopy shop and made 50 copies and wandered off into the street to catch some locals that were willing to talk to us. Most of the locals were very willing and had a lot of information to give to us. The trend was clear quite early - most of them don't use the post office for anything else than picking up the mail. Some do pay their bills there but many goes else were. Everyone thought that the post office was old fashioned. So there is definitely a need for our help in advising the Postal Cooperation of Kenya on how to improve.
Lunch at a local restaurant. John (US), Luan(Switzerland), Bill (US), Reka(Hungary), Joshua(China), Anna (South Korea), Eva (Denmark), Bianica (US), Haruta (japan)

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Settled in Nyeri

We have finally settled in Green Hills Hotel in Nyeri, which will be our home for the next 3½ weeks. The hotel is  ½ km out of town. Even though the town has 200.000 citizens there is only a few roads with tarmac the rest is dirt roads. We went for a run this morning a 7 o'clock, up and down the hills in an altitude of 1800 meters. We met at lot of children on their way to school and they were all shouting "hello Mzungo" - hello white - raising their hands for a high five. We also went for aerobics in the hotel today - with mr Speedy Gonzales. I have never done aerobics at a pace like that - still in 1800 meters..... I was breathing my lungs out.

Our project is progressing well. Today we met with the head postmaster of Nyeri - Mr Mulundi. He was so happy to have us visiting him. He offered tea, showed us around the postoffice and gave us a lot of important information for our project. The headmaster was very surprised to learn that we have mail boxes in front our houses. He said that this would never work in Kenya as people would be stealing the mail - "very thing will get broken in Kenya" he said.

Posta Kenya - bike

1 month of paperwork at the postoffice
We have also met the Provincial Commissioneer and the District Commissioneer. There are only 8 provinces in Kenya - so the PC is a man of importance. Therefore we were very pleased that he wanted to meet with us.

Monday, 21 February 2011

The Power and Passion of IBM

Today we showed the power and passion of IBM to our partners - at least this is what we did according to Muriuki - he has very high thoughts of us. We finally met with our partners: Postal Coperations of Kenya, the ICT board and e-government. We presented our workplans and they actually seemed quite happy with the job we have done so far. I think all of us suddenly felt the passion for the job and we are all eager to get settled down in Nyeri tomorrow where we can start our work. I hope there is a whiteboard - there are so many things that needs to come up there.
Today we also met with our colleagues in IBM and had a changes to talk to the account managers of our 
The Global IBM team

Francesco pushing a dying Posta Kenya car
  Even though we were all very tired after a long day we decided to go to "Nairobi by night". We had a night club to ourselves since it was Monday night. Drove back home with a taxi driver that was either drunk or stoned. The very well organized roads of Nairobi was a perfect racecourt for him.
Bill's doing the limbo

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Orientation day

Alex and Muriuki
A very busy day is coming to an end. We spent the morning with Alex and Muriuki from DOT who are our NGO partner during our stay.

We prepared for our meetings tomorrow with our "customers".  My team - "Team Twiga" -  is going to work on "strategic directions for competitive postal financial services" for the Postal Cooperation of Kenya (PCK).

After a very quick lunch our great driver Raphael and his team of drivers took us to "Bomas of Kenya" where we saw traditional households and 2 hours of dancing and singing. We sat together with a bunch of school girls.
They were absolutely thrilled by the dancers and they were almost dancing and singing in their seats. I think the music is in their blood.
School girls enjoying the music

Saturday, 19 February 2011

The Adventure has begun

The adventure has begun - I arrived yesterday in Nairobi from my skiing holiday in Austria. Quite a change! Both cultural wise and weather wise. I was picked up in the airport by Raphael and taken to the Country Lodge were I met with a few people from the team.
The team consists of 12 IBM'er from all over the world - we are here to work for one month on three different projects for IBM's Corporate Service Corps

Today is Saturday and 6 of us managed to meet in the hotel even though we have never seen each other before. We only know the team from weekly phone calls since Christmas.
We decided to go for at short walk to the national museum. The short walk turned out to be a 2 hour walk in the heat of the sun and the dust of the road before we finally reached our goal. We probably didn't take the shortest way. We were happy when we managed to cross the roads - traffic is hell. But we followed some of the locals and managed to get over the road in one piece. We toured the museum and had a lovely lunch at a cafe and went back to the hotel - this time by taxi.

Joshua, Anna, Nimesh, John and Eva in front of the National Museum

Later tonight we are meeting with our NGO representatives and the rest of the team - can't wait.