Traffic in Nairobi

By Lisa Nguyen

Traffic has its moments of smoothness and blocked madness, its stops and go’s, just as all things in life. Similar to the chaotic traffic in Nairobi where the flow can never be predicted, my research project had come to an unpredicted halt on my second to last day in Nairobi; not that it was going anymore smoothly before this car collision type catastrophe. Such as life, the plan the Changamka team and myself had come up with to gather the one hundred participants selected from the Changamka database came across an unfortunate miscommunication mishap in which participants were ill-informed by third-party translators to show up Friday for the survey rather then on the Thursday the survey was planned to happen. Due to this unfortunate error, many people did not arrive at the scheduled venue in which money had been used to reserve the room and food. So rather then gathering one hundred people we were fortunate to have seven participants show up to complete the survey. The participants that did volunteer to do the survey seemed very interested in the subject of the study. From conducting the survey and speaking to each participant, I gained a lot of insight above and beyond what the survey had asked for given that I had a lot of one-on-one time with a lot of them.

The unfortunate mix-up of days definitely set us back and had hurt any confidence I had in reaching my one hundred survey mark by the end of this week—or more specifically, tomorrow. Rather then give up, I chose to look at the situation more optimistically. I, with the help of a Changamka employee, negotiated a lower price for the venue and food since we did not reach the number of participants we expected and therefore did not utilize all the space that was reserved for us. Luckily, the manager of the venue sympathized with us and gave us a large proportion of the money back and we were able to set aside enough money to reserve the venue again for Friday—in hopes that all the participants that did not know to show up today (Thursday) will show up tomorrow (Friday) because that was what they were told by the translators.
As I am quickly starting to learn, unplanned events are a part of life. Traffic in Nairobi is without a doubt a part of life. But, traffic eventually flows again and life is the same way. Rather then give up and throw my hands up in the air, frustrated that all my plans had not gone the way I had imagined, I believe that the only thing I can do when the road is blocked ahead is to re-route myself and find a clearer path.  So at the end of the day, I am looking forward to the outcomes of tomorrow whatever they may be.
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