“Habari za Asubuhi!” Good Morning! Every morning begins with an exchange of greetings in Swahili with the Kenyans we interact with. In Kenya, greetings are paramount. Unlike in the US, instead of a “hello, how are you? I’m fine, how about you?” We exchange greetings to ask about the morning, the day, last night, family, and home. I quite like these exchanges and in the morning, the wave of positivity and excitement is permeating.
“Karibu!” Welcome! Everyone in Kenya I have met has been extremely friendly and hospitable. What I have loved most about my two months in Kenya has been being openly welcomed into the arms and homes of Kenyans. I have loved going to a university hockey game, going to church in a rural village, meeting each enumerator, chatting with the local fruit man, Louis, and being welcomed into the homes of friends’ grandparents for a meal. I will cherish these memories forever.
“Mimi ni mwanafunzi” I am a student. The most important lesson I have learned in my life experience is to always keep in mind the faces of those you will impact. In terms of my academic classes in economics and development, I have found that studying case studies and looking at data in the abstract is futile without considering the lives of those our field wishes to improve. My experience this summer has fundamentally changed my perspective of what development economics means and hopes to achieve. Through fieldwork, I was confronted with many field realities: villages were too far from each other, phones required new sim cards for registration, the supply chain for small kiosks was much more intricate than previously perceived, public vehicle cleaning that removes our road safety campaign materials was a rampant problem. Development work is not a clear-cut picture, and now that I have a more comprehensive understanding, I have become increasingly aware of important considerations and have been encouraged to problem-solve creatively to adapt to different situations.
“Ninafanyakazi gui2de” I work at gui2de. I have learned more than I could have ever imagined from this summer. Seeing development in practice cannot be taught in a classroom. I was privileged to be exposed to a number of digital financial inclusion (DFI) projects including Bima Pima (a project that aims to analyze the effects of a rain-based insurance product for farmers), Sasa (a project that aims to analyze the impact of loans that are specifically for stock to small-scale retailers), and DigiFarm (a project that introduces multiple platforms that aim to provide loans and information about farming). We also worked with Zusha!, the road safety campaign that encourages drivers of public service vehicles to drive safely and their passengers to speak out against dangerous driving. Exposure to these different projects has allowed me to be involved with them at different stages. I valued being able to attend brainstorming stakeholder meetings about product design, designing survey questions for a scoping visit, coding surveys on SurveyCTO, learning to clean data on STATA, analyzing data on STATA for reports, and using geodata to help select our sample. Working in STATA and SurveyCTO, which are the core programs used in gui2de’s development work, has given me a greater appreciation for how to most efficiently gather and analyze data to draw meaningful conclusions.
“Asante Sana!” Thank you very much! From my two months this summer, I have been able to witness development in action and accrue many valuable skills. I have soaked it all in and fallen in love with Kenya. I kept myself busy on weekends, hiking, biking, exploring, and going on safaris. I met incredible people who are my rafiki (friends), from everyone at the gui2de office, to the fruit man, to the security guards, to our enumerators. Learning Swahili has definitely helped me make more friends and encouraged me to better immerse myself in Kenyan culture. Most importantly, I have fallen in love with development economics and want to pursue it further. Asante sana gui2de!