Andover’s Rebecca Rayner, 22, is now in Africa for three months as part of an International Citizen’s Service placement.

The Poppy Close resident will be working with local entrepreneurs to start and run their own businesses to create sustainable development, and here is her first report about her experiences for Advertiser readers...

“ROAD traffic accidents are the biggest killer of British tourists in Kenya,” I thought to myself as our little mini bus zipped in and out of traffic across long uneven roads, narrowly missing oncoming cars.

It seems that everything runs on Kenyan time (which can be summed up as leaving the house five minutes after the time you’re due to be somewhere) except apparently the driving. We jolted suddenly; the Matatu hit a pedestrian who in haste angrily demanded to be paid 50 KSH as some form of compensation. This was my first taste of Kenya, my home for the next ten weeks.

It was a long drive from Nairobi airport to the small agricultural town of Njoro. As we piled put of our Matatu into the grounds of The Farmers Inn Hotel, where we would all be staying for the first few nights. A group of friendly faces were waiting to greet us. Our Kenyan counterparts seemed ecstatic we arrived in one piece.

In between the long days of training and exploring the town, the team got to know each other a bit better.

“You need to slow down,” informed Clemencia, a friendly volunteer from a town named Kiss.

“You speak too fast. People will struggle to understand you”.

This was something I needed to keep in mind, as what good was being here if no one could understand a word I was saying. There were so many cultural differences I was picking up on slowly. Some minuscule things like the fact Kenyan’s love their tea obscenely milky, and some differences that were massive and unmissable.

“Why do people keep shouting mzungu at me,” I asked Robert, the most energetic of the Kenyan volunteers.

“It means white person,” he laughed. Being a mzungu in a small African town means two things.

Firstly, I suddenly became very popular, very quickly. Adults shout at me as I walk past. They want to know who I am and why I’m here. Melodic choruses of “how are you,” are cried out by children, a phrase you here day in and day out. They run up to you with their hands stretched out eager to shake yours, which is where point number two comes in.

Being a mzungu is synonymous with being rich. The ‘how are you’ can quickly turn into pleas of ‘give me money’.

Mzungu pricing is also a phenomenon I’ve experienced. You will you be overcharged on any product you buy, unless you’re with your Kenyan counterpart, who thankfully will not let you pay double the price for your lunchtime mango.

My first week here in Kenya has been an experience. Nothing sobers you up to reality faster than having to squat over a hole in the ground for the first time. After an intense week of training, next week brings the challenge of meeting our groups of entrepreneurs and beginning business training. As we will be moving out of our hotel and in to our host homes with our adoptive ‘Kenyan Parents’, the true integration into our community will now begin. There will be so much to learn but I for one am ready for everything this project holds.

To read more about my adventure in Kenya, visit my blog