November 8, 2008.
That is the day I first stepped into Mombasa four years ago. It was also the beginning of possibly the hardest 6 months of my life.
We were placed in a mansion that was meant for a large Indian family. There were 8 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms, a humongous living room, and hallways that you could do endless cartwheels in. And we were only two girls. The house had some pretty major quirks: no water, no airflow, lots of dirt and gecko poop, a tiny kitchen, a noisy neighbourhood, and a few guards with their own personal issues. It was not an easy place to manage.
I started off pretty excited about what was planned for us but my zeal quickly faded. It just wasn't what I felt called to do but I did it because we were told it was necessary, a spot needed to be filled and we got lots of praise for our courage to be there. Meanwhile, I was fading. We lived in a difficult neighbourhood and got constantly heckled by the men even though we tried as hard as we could to cover our bodies and act respectfully. It didn't matter; our skin colour was enough to make them go crazy. We had little preparation and support for what our work really entailed. No one guided us. We pretty much had to figure it out on our own. It was a huge learning experience and a massive point of growth in my life. But it wasn't easy.
I eventually fell into depression and needed to get out. I went for counselling, my dad came over to visit, and they moved me to Word of Life.
That's when things changed. I met Kelvin. I felt alive again in a position I felt I was good at. I was cool, literally, from the sea breezes that flowed through the Word of Life compound. It was a life changing few weeks to say the least.
I swore I would never come back to Mombasa. Never ever ever!
But alas, four years later, this city has captured my heart and offered me a wonderful life, an awesome community, and a pretty rad husband.
I dug up some old pics of my first stint in Mombasa in 2008.
We hosted a huge Christmas party at our house. To this day it is one of my favourite Christmas'. We had such a blend of cultures and religions there. We ate, played games, and hung out. We talked about the meaning of Christmas and love was shared. Such a memorable moment!
Our house came equipped with this inflatable boat that we had too much fun in. I remember rocking it back and forth singing "Rock the boat, don't tip the boat over..."
I worked in a youth library and we did a lot of youth events. We had a retreat for valentines day and we did some skits. I think this guy was proposing to me during our skit.
This was new years. Yes, we laid in the driveway in the middle of the night. It was hot.
I spent most of my time trying to make friends. Some of these girls I still see today.
My organization partnered me with another girl named Sheena. I am really not sure how I would have survived without her. She was originally from Hong kong but lived in Canada. Naturally, she attracted every person in Mombasa who was also from Hong Kong so I listened to a lot of Cantonese and ate a lot of chinese food during my 9 months in Kenya.
We used tuk-tuks a lot. It was easier and cooler. I hated walking around town.
We purposed to enjoy ourselves since we lived in such a beautiful place. Here we had gone to Malindi, just north of Mombasa, for a day of snorkelling. Sheena was such a water baby. I didn't like the salt water and I didn't find the ocean refreshing as usually it was so warm from the heat.
The view from the outside of our mansion. I didn't say it was a pretty mansion.
In the community we lived in, most the streets were like this. It was cramped and crowded but some of the structures were really beautiful. Some were pretty ugly. It is the old city of Mombasa and it is rich with history.
So Happy Four Year Anniversary to me!
Mombasa, I am glad you showed me that you can be an enjoyable city to live in. Thanks for loving me and caring for me over the past four years!