BBC Home
Explore the BBC



Last Updated: Monday July 10 2006 11:56 GMT

Suzanne's Kenya diary

By Suzanne Lord, Newsround producer

Click on a day to go straight to its diary entry.

Day one

I arrived in Kenya after an overnight flight. Ushma, who was meant to come with me, has had to drop out because she's ill, so I'm on my own. I feel quite nervous and it's a big challenge but I'm looking forward to it

I am exhausted- I didn't get as much sleep as I hoped I would but there's plenty of time to get forty winks today. Kenya's only 2 hours ahead of us during the summer so there's no jet lag.

Later I meet Michael and Wairimu. They're called Fixers. They're going to look after me. They live in Nairobi and know the city really well. They seem really nice so I am looking forward to working with them.

Day two

Today is my first proper day of filming. I'm off to Kiberia slum- some say it's the largest in the whole of Africa. Up to one million people live here. We had to take local security people with us.

This was so that we didn't upset people when we got our camera out to film. There were around 12 in our group- either members of Unicef or from the local security team. The kids we met have lost their parents- they look after themselves.

The slum was not how I expected. People here had set up little villages and there were shops selling fruit and vegetables, household stuff and loads of hairdressing salons. The atmosphere was amazing - people were cooking corn on open barbecues, there was loads of music and the place was really buzzing.

I went to one of the schools. It had more than a thousand pupils.

Primary education in Kenya is free and loads of kids go - they also get food here. One of the teachers keeps an eye on some of the children who don't have parents. There are about 500 orphans who go to this school.

Day three

Today I went to another school on the outskirts of Nairobi. I was filming the first of my drought Press Packs on how drought affects a city.

Here the drought wasn't as a bad as in some parts of the country but children here still had to think about how much water they used.

This school was very posh - it had a swimming pool and climbing equipment too. It was good to meet the children - some of them knew all about CBBC as they watch some of the programmes we make on the BBC out in Africa.

It was fun and they taught me some greetings in Swahili. Jambo means Hi and mambo means What's up?

That night we had a meeting with Unicef at the United Nations. It was good to meet the people we had been speaking to for the last few weeks and also who we would be spending the next few days with. We went out to dinner and I tried ostrich - it was a very tasty sandwich if a little bit tough.

Day four

It's the day of our big journey to the northern part of the country. We're travelling with Unicef in one of their cars. On the way we'll meet security - they've got to accompany us part of the way so that we stay safe.

The landscape is really dramatic. The earth changes quickly from bright red to white and rocky. There's not really a road, it's just a sand track. It's really bumpy but Joshua is a very good driver and gets out of some tight holes.

Part of the way along we meet with our security people. We're travelling in a convoy with three other cars. One car has a government official in.

They're not pleased we keep stopping so I can film. One of them officials wonders if I have ever seen a goat before.

Tonight we're staying in Garissa. It's a good stopping place. We meet lots of people from other aid agencies who've been to the area and they spend the night telling us what it's like.

Day five

Another long day of driving. We're up early and set off.

It's interesting to see how people along the way react to me. Some are very unsure when they see me.

Some children run off and some even cry. I've never made children cry before.

At first they are scared of the camera, but then when they see that they can see what I'm filming on the flip-out screen they get excited and I am surrounded by huge groups of people.

It's really hot and the land is really dry. We stop to see cows which have died by the side of the road. It's just like they sat down and couldn't get up anymore. I can see their skeletons and their skin has dried on the bones. It's a horrible sight.

After almost 500 miles and hours of driving we arrive in Wajir in North Eastern Kenya. We're staying with one of the medical charities in their guest house. It's nice although there aren't proper toilets- just holes in the ground.

That night the temperature is 38 degrees. We got to the hospital to have a look around. Lots of mothers are sitting under mosquito nets feeding their children.

These are the children who are most in need of food and every few hours they get given a really nutritious milky drink. I've seen it lots of times before on the TV but nothing prepares you for seeing it in real life.

Day six

Another early start. This time we're off to introduce ourselves to Wajir's District Commissioner. Joseph is very nice and tells us about how the drought has affected the area.

He says that even though there's been some rain it's worse now for the people because there's so much disease. He tells us that the month before our visit 13 children died.

We then go off to the hospital. Lots of the children we see are two years old. They are so small they look like tiny babies.

I felt really upset seeing this. One little girl looked as if she was close to death. She was too weak to hold up her head when the doctors were examining her. Her father looked as if he knew she might not make it.

After that we go to the hospital. Many of the children here are being treated for malaria.

The hospital is so different to ours and the smell is overpowering. I am glad to leave - it's not nice seeing so much suffering.

Later in the afternoon we travel about an hour to another village where they are distributing food. There are huge queues of people just waiting their turn. It's 40 degrees.

I met Jimale. His baby nephew has just returned from hospital. He told me how hard it was for his family now they had lost all their livestock. He said it was very difficult not knowing when you were going to get water again.

Day seven

Today we head off to a community of internally displaced people. These families have had to move from their homes because they've lost their cattle and had no water.

We're about to start filming with some girls who now have to work as maids to support their families when one of the elders comes up and starts shouting at us.

He doesn't understand why we want to speak to the children. He doesn't know that we're filming and thinks I want to convert them to another religion.

He eventually calms down and we can do the interview.

Five minute dresses
Before heading off to the nomadic community Wairimu and I have to get dresses made so we fit in.

We named them the 5 minute dresses- because they were made in 5 minutes!

When I arrived I had to introduce myself to all the tribe's elders. They gave me a tour of their camp and I got to meet some of the children.

They wanted to know where I lived and what I did. It's really hard trying to describe this when people don't know what a house or TV is.

There were lots of things we did have in common like dancing and chatting with mates. And of course they asked if I was married. When I said no they offered to set me up with a nice Somali man.

Day eight

I didn't sleep too badly in our tent. All night the camels were grunting and when we got up they were heading out for a day munching the trees.

Today I was following the children's day. They get up early to make tea, then herd the animals, then go to school and then do more jobs round the homestead. Some times even though they've got up at 4am they don't finish until 11 at night!

At 10 I stopped to have some tea. It's called chi here and is very sweet.

In the afternoon we head back to Wajir. I meet with Habiba. She's working as a maid because she wants to earn money to get to school. She's really determined and I hope she earns enough to go.

Just time to get some shots of Wajir town- we have to do it from the car as some of the locals aren't happy at us filming.

Day nine

I'm not very well today. Even though I've been wearing mosquito spray I've got really bad bites.

Mozzie bites!
I think some are mozzie bites, some are fleas and then black ants. Some of them have become infected and the bites have gone purple and my legs have swollen up. It's sore to walk.

I have to go to the chemist to get some cream. When the pharmacist presses down on it I want to scream but all the faces peering through looking at me make me hold it in.

He thinks I may have to go to the doctor. Today we're going back to Garissa. One the way we see bright new green grass which is like snow, water pans with no water and more dead animals.

In Garissa we see a doctor- he recommends antibiotics so it's off to the chemist again.

Day 10

Feeling much better today- my legs wouldn't win a beauty contest, but at least they are a little bit less colourful. After a few interviews we set off- this time heading for Nairobi and the end of our stay in the bush.

I've had the best time in the rural areas but am glad I'll be heading back to the city. I'm so tired. Even though I've had a shower every day I've got engrained dirt everywhere.

Day 11

It's a bit of a struggle to get out of bed today. Wairimu and I are doing some filming on the streets of Nairobi.

We also visit the elephant orphanage. Loads of the elephants here have lost their parents because of the drought. They were so cute. They came up to the fence and we could touch them.

One elephant used the rope on the barrier to scratch his bum!

This afternoon Wairimu took me to the market. There were loads of stalls crammed on to the hillside. It was difficult to choose what to buy!

Day 12

I had no time for breakfast this morning, and by the time I had arrived at our filming destination I was glad I hadn't.

Today we were filming on the biggest rubbish dump in sub-Saharan Africa. Immediately I was hit by the smell.

Imagine how bad your bin smells if it's not been emptied. Now think that this is where all Nairobi's bins are emptied and it's also really hot.

I saw children here breaking open the bags and then eating the contents. They told me how there were fights here because everyone wanted to collect the same rubbish to sell on.

The rubbish was really squelchy, and there were lots of big birds called marabou storks sifting through the rubbish.

Some of the children were fighting over the rubbish and many of them were chasing after the tractors which mix it all up.

There was a school right next to the rubbish dump. We walked past and even here, right in the school grounds, the smell was terrible.

Day 13

My last day. All I had to do was get some voiceovers from a local school. I'm really sad to be leaving. I've had the experience of a lifetime.

I've seen things I never thought I would see. I think what had struck me most is that some of these people have lost all their cattle, have little or no food and have to walk miles for water and yet they are not sad or down.

They aren't moaning but they're getting on with it. I feel really different now to when I came out to Kenya- I'll certainly think before I complain about things that are happening in my life.


Press Packs


Interactive maps




BBC Homepage >> | CBBC Homepage >>

Meet the Team | Help | Contact Us | News sources | Privacy & Cookies Policy