concerned about safety

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May 1st, 2003, 05:19 AM
  #1
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concerned about safety

I am considering an opportunity of a lifetime - a trip to Kenya with 6 faculty members at a University where I work. I will assist them in improving upon local k-12 schools. Other than general safety issues, my biggest hesitation/concern is the fact that the team is staying 3 weeks and I am only able to stay 2 weeks which means I must traverse from eastern Kenya on a local bus 6 hours to Nairobi. As a blond petite 36 year old female this is a huge concern. I would love some help with this as the 3500 dollars alone needed to go will be a stretch. Please help ASAP since a quick decision is needed. Also, does anyone have any other suggestions for places to look for safety concerns - the State Dept Site is seldom updated. Thank you.
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May 1st, 2003, 06:05 AM
  #2
caribtraveler
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Hi,
You REALLY should try to stay another week...or find a safer way for the local trip.
Having lived in Africa, I'm the first one to roll my eyes when I hear only negative stuff about Africa...but reading the description of yourself, you will stick out like a sore thumb.
It's a poor country and the way you look is what people in that part of the world see as a person who has money. Especially if you're American (are you?). It doesn't matter that you may not have money. It's the perception of it.
On top of it you're a woman (I am too so it's not a sexist remark) so a much easier target in a society where men are "rulers".
It does sound like a great opportunity. You should do it but find a better mode of transportation for your way back.
Try the Amnesty International website for crime reports.
Good luck.

 
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May 1st, 2003, 08:24 AM
  #3
 
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You must try and go on this trip! It sounds fabulous and life-changing.

I have traveled solo a few times in Kenya and Tanzania on busses. I am also blonde in my late 30's so I can relate.

The typical local bus has about 50 people on it with seats for 30.

I have run into other western women on these busses - most are doing missionary work. I have never felt threatened - east africans are for the most part quite shy, modest and gentle. I typically do not look men in the eye or try and be too friendly, however.

I wear a scarf to cover my hair, and a skirt. Bathroom stops usually consist of the men visiting the bushes in front of the stopped bus, women squatting in the road behind the bus - a skirt will allow you to squat and do your business without showing skin.

Most importantly, I would put your post with SPECIFIC town location and mode of transportation (bus route / name) on the lonely planet site:

www.lonelyplanet.com

under the 'thorntree' message board. Doubtless someone on that board has taken that route or travelled there in the past 6 months.
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May 1st, 2003, 09:49 AM
  #4
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Caribtraveler - thank you for your prompt reply. First off, yes I am American. I asked the lead professor (he has traveled to Africa about 8 times or so) about my transportation and this is what he said "As for traveling alone...you can take public bus into Naorobi (about 6 hrs) and someone will meet you at bus station and take you to the airport or hotel, depending upon when your plane departs. Or, you can pay a
couple of hundred dollars and arrange for private transport." We will be working with Kasigau primary schools - I believe in the eastern part of Kenya but I don't know much else yet. Regardless of the way I travel alone, it just doesn't seem like a "smart" thing to do.
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May 1st, 2003, 09:24 PM
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"It just doesn't seem like a smart thing to do." herbgardeners, I agree. If you cannot find a way to stay with the team, then arrange for a traveling companion or pay the extra $200. But I am wondering why you are paying so much money - $3500 - when you are assisting the faculty. That is more than the cost of your ticket, do you have to pay for your boarding too? You can get a ticket from the states for $1200 (or less) so where is all the other money going on this kind of volunteering trip? And why such pressure on you for a quick response? I don't think it is the only opportunity you'll ever have to go to Africa on $3500 for 2 weeks. You can volunteer there anytime and you can make arrangements to go with friends or a group and go to the country you choose when you choose. Go to thorntree for some advice but remember the majority are seasoned backpackers, many who are never afraid of anything. If you have the fear inside it will show and will make you more vulnerable. You have to do what feels right for you.
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May 1st, 2003, 10:11 PM
  #6
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