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For Community-Driven Global Development

Voices from the Field: A Day in the Life of an Intern

Mabel Smith, a student at the University of Alberta, has been interning with FSD in Kakamega, Kenya since September 2017. After more than a month with her host organization, SAWASHI, we asked Mabel to share what a day in the life of an intern is like. She shared with us her day on October 11, 2017.

Today I had the opportunity to show visitors from North America some of the sites that the Safe Water and Sustainable Hygiene Initiative (SAWASHI) is working on. We were visited by Stan from the Water Project and some of the donors from this agency. The Water Project is an American based charity that funds Sawashi as well as their sister organization, the Western Water and Sanitation Forum (Wewasafo). It was really comforting to interact with some other mzungus (white people) who share similar culture and mannerisms with me.

First, we went to a site where a well was built around 2012 and Sawashi has been involved in repairing it. We talked about how the children have been spared from walking long distances to fetch water and how there has been a reduction in waterborne diseases. Next, we went to a well site that is nonfunctional and in need of rehabilitation. The well is in an area where community members currently fetch water from a stream. The well is also near a school that has a water tank, but it only provides them with water when there is a lot of rain. During the dry season, some of the children carry buckets of water from home and others fetch water from the stream. A lack of access to clean water is still such a serious issue in Kakamega, Kenya. I have been to schools where children walk for over an hour a day to fetch water. There are other areas where children often suffer from typhoid fever or dysentery. This lack of access to clean water impacts not only children’s health but can also take away from their time at school and the quality of their education.

I spoke with one of my coworkers from Sawashi about Canada and some of the ways that it differs from Kenya. He asked if there were any mosquitos in Canada because he had heard that there weren’t any in the United States. I assured him that there were mosquitos in both Canada and the US. He was very impressed to hear that children in Canada start using computers when they start school. He was also surprised that there are speed limits in Canada and that you have to pay fines for breaking the rules of the road. In the afternoon we drove the visitors to Kisumu where there were protests related to the national elections.

When I returned home I started making pasta with vegetables, tomato sauce, and cheese for my host family. They don’t usually eat cheese here so it was something very different for them. Their tomato sauce is more like ketchup than what I am used to, so it tasted a little weird but still okay. My host sister, Flora, didn’t finish hers but my host brother, Jerry, did and he said the food was very nice. It was so fun to have them try my food. After dinner Jerry, Flora and I played the board game that we made. The game is similar to Snakes and Ladders except there are colored squares where you have to pick up a card. The cards say things such as do five jumping jacks, sing a song, or make a silly face.

Interns work with FSD community partners to design sustainable and impactful programs within the community. Development sectors range from public health, education, gender equity, environmental sustainability, human rights, micfrofinance, and more. FSD site teams provide in-depth training on development topics and provide 24-hour support for our interns.  To learn more about how you can intern with FSD, send us a message or fill out our online application