Rebbeca's update from UN-Habitat Nairobi!
It has now been three months since I arrived in Nairobi. It feels simultaneously like I’ve been here forever and like I arrived yesterday. And yet, this marks the halfway point of my internship with UN-Habitat! Work has now ramped back up after the winter break and everyone in the office is juggling various projects, meetings and deadlines. I am currently planning for an international conference set to be held at the UN complex here next month on “Urban Innovation in Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR).” My unit, along with the gender unit at UN-Habitat, UNFPA Somalia, and academics from two Swedish universities are putting together this conference to showcase innovative education strategies and current projects on SRHR in East Africa, and to solicit feedback and encourage thinking on other innovative solutions to challenges in healthcare. We’ll be working with NGOs, civil society, politicians, academia, and policymakers to think about how to address Kenyans’ SRHR needs. On top of all that event planning, I’ve continued to work on a document about Uganda’s gender policies and women’s inclusion in the world of work. I’ve helped to hire a consultant to edit our paper, and have submitted the working document to be presented at an international conference later this year.
Both of these projects feel particularly significant given the foreign policy changes going on closer to home over the last few weeks. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a bit hard to be so far away when my newsfeed and inbox are full of messages about activism and solidarity back in North America. I’m ever grateful for Skype and FaceTime in order to keep in touch with friends and family back home, and for a group of fellow IDDIP interns with whom I keep in regular contact. Despite my feelings of dislocation, there are certainly ways to get involved and I’m doing my best to keep up with politics both here and at home. The changes happening around the globe are felt acutely here, as a colleague mentioned that delegates from the US were pulling out of a previous commitment to attend a UNEP sponsored climate change conference she is currently working on.
Outside of work, I have started taking Swahili classes! While I’m still too novice (and nervous) to engage my colleagues in conversation, I’ve been practicing with my apartment complex’s security guard, the cleaning staff, and the woman who sells me vegetables. They pretend to be impressed…
Time is really flying by, and so I’m trying to take advantage of all the opportunities here that I can. This weekend, that involved visiting a local cheese factory where I toured the facility (did you know storage rooms for cheese are called cheese caves?), and tasted as many different cheeses as possible. It was a Gouda day!