August 18, 2013

Kenyan wildlife on video..

If you want to have a look a the videos we did in the National Parks of Kenya - try this link:
Kenya Video

July 31, 2013

Top heartstopping moments from Kenya!

 I know the blog is almost done with, however, still decided to put down my most heartstopping moments in Kenya, in no particular order

Walking into the lion's den

The magnificent Masai Mara

Walking the earth's crust 4.5 million yrs old

A lion and a wilderbeest in the same shot , the hunter and the hunted

and more to come.....

A few km away from a dormant volcano, 400 m below Kibo (Summit of Mt Kilimanjaro)

Watching the wilderbeest decide to cross

Listening to the silence as the wind whistles in the Magnificent Masai Mara

Standing on the edge of the 50000 yr old Rift Valley

Hearing an African elephant breathe at close quarters

Watching a cheetah decide to hunt an impala

Zebra crossing at close quarters

Birds of all their elegant best....

The marvellous African flora and fauna....

July 25, 2013

Just a lil something...

Corporate service Corps , a name that springs an awe,
Having heard many a tale, some that simply inspire a wow,
Thrill did it spend am sure down every spine, on a note of a selection,
Bringing a set of colleagues together, a blend of many a culture and fusion

Magical Kenya beckoned at it’s very best the passionate amongst the team,
With a zest for doing meaningful something, beyond one’s many a dream,
With only an idea and an imagination to create a wonderful something,
Trying to make a small difference, in ways that could be more than everything

So off did it start with a tele conference across many a zone,
From the Ides of March, bringing everyone forth from their country and comfort zone,
Building as it did, an understanding of an emerging continent and country,
As along the way, did we plan also we, our weekends with the wonders of the safari

D-day came once again, in June on the 14th day,
A date with Nairobi, that bringeth some early and some a wee bit late,
Excited was one to meet the voices on the call in a now country inn,
Seeing everyone together did cause and make a quite a lot of din

Starting to burn the midnight oil did we, without generating a lot of steam, J
Be it the ministry which was always very fresh, or the education ones who were full en meshe,
Reproduce did this other team, healthy in their work , knowing not what was in store,
Ah! One thing one must say, the team never let a moment to dull always seeking more

Starting with the passionate one , who’d sleep when the world awoke,
Enthusiastic, knowledgeable and chiming in was this photographic Australian bloke,
Wise does he seem in his ways, be it with the birds, the bees or the kissing giraffe,
Patrick is his name, as he speaks knowledgeably and makes everyone laugh

You know , quotes a voice, bringing everyone incl the lion and the Masai to a standstill,
Be it in her discussions with a certain John, or the manager of a Mara hotel without a bill,
Jumps to the foray in everything, be it cutting onions or mixing the pilau in every wake,
Well researched is she , and you know the trip is worth a Sathvika take

Vuma is in her very name, driving everything with calm and alacrity,
See it is in South Africa you see, very much present Jo’burg and in every city,
Certainly knows a trick or two , about a smart bargain that’d make a cow go double moo,
Ellen, as she sportingly goes and maketh one and all down a Stoney more than two

The sunshine state certainly beckons, and most welcome is it in the wintery morn,
Market does she know, be it the Big Data or be it the one with the local lawn,
Ever ready for a wonderful meal, with a knowledge on the best available around,
Sarah, is she from Florida, as with aplomb does she take the team in bound

Nee Haoo goes she, especially in front of an audience in a full room ,
Bringeth always a smile does she with her creative swan or a balloon without a broom,
Certainly knows her limits , be it the Gorge or the Mount Longonot,
Learning does she make seem simple, as Win brings in a new thought

The centre of learning does she come from, a university city tis famously said,
Working with many a software, be it in a lab in the US or one that is India led,
Always ready with a smile and to be seen with her wine ever favorite,
Jennifer is she known as, one who comes from Boston, Massachusetts

Nooooooo, one hears a sound that goes, from the corridor that drives away the crows,
Bueno journo to bueno soiree as one hears, as longingly waits she for Mt Kili to appear,
Makes sundry smile with an ever ready hearty laugh, be it the Amboseli lion or the Masai Giraffe,
Cheese as she goes in every frame, Olivia you know could make an elephant tame

The man with the wonder camera is he, aperture does he adjust to make the baboon free,
Teach does he yoga to many and sundry in the grass, a story does he once after every class,
Share many a moment passionate does he, with many a room mate even at Amboseli, ;)
Dino from Toronto, Canada goes he, pulling one and sundry’s leg for free

Lets get this bad boy out of the way, is an oft heard refrain,
Making a hapless Indian go all confused, wondering which boy would abstain,
High five her way does she, be it in a meeting with or with out a client,
Wifi and a stoney make her rock, as Mary manages to pull one too many out of a sock

Interesting I must say, is a phrase, that makes a Matatu want to go even faster,
Maaarteen, is a name that echoes through the Ngong road at every junction,
Ever ready to offer a German made chocolate, be it to one or the man with the long pause,
Ulla is her name from the wonderful city Bonn, ever ready to take up your cause

Skot does he call himself, as scoot does he to do many a hundred pushup,
At home with a bourbon and a cigar to match, wondering as he which client will we catch,
Always ready to discuss history fine, enthusiastically sing and dance does he every line,
Jambo Bwana with a yodlee “yeeaaaa” goes he, Scott from Cincinatti, Ohio as architect does he a chilli

So as the hapless Indian continues all confused, keeping pace with every second Toyota without a dent,
Admire does he the marvel that brings the team together, worth certainly every cent,
Passionately as one worked in every waking moment, even when the Net was oft down,
Liven up did they every meal without the least of a frown

As the day dawns for the last, in the wonderful winter of this country,
Much awaited sunshine, streams through the leaves, casting it’s warmth,
Wonderfully touched in many ways, is one by Kenya and its people,
Deeper friendships does one take back, as one journeys further along

With lots of best wishes and stay in touch…

To Patrick, Sathvika, Ellen, Susan, Win, Jennifer, Olivia, Dino, Mary, Ulla and Scott


Viniyak….. Vin…. Vinni…. Vin Diesel… Vinayak … whatever !

Afya Bora from our resp countries

Just like Mary had posted earlier, as we worked with our clients , Ministry of Health , and understood the structure of the entire Kenyan health system, we were both amazed, delighted and also gained a new respect at the way it functions with the number of constraints around.

Our team, as Mary has also called the best team, comprising Scott, Mary, Ulla and myself, was given the following focus areas to look at
1. Improving data management and reporting for cervical cancer screening & treatment, 
2. Scaling up cervical cancer prevention (HPV vaccination) program and 
3. Establishing a national cancer registry approach

Cancer is fast becoming a major focus area for the African continent, based on estimates from WHO and other organizations.

There are a number of prevalent cancers which are on the rise as non-communicable diseases.
The leading ones are cervical and breast cancers.

Cervical cancer is the most common cause of cancer related deaths in women of reproductive age in Kenya. 

In 2010, over 10 million women (15 years and older) are at risk based on WHO estimates.
Over 2,400 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer and over 1,600 died from the disease (over 80% mortality).
By 2025, WHO forecasts over 4,000 women will be diagnosed with almost 2,955 deaths from cervical cancer (over 83% mortality)

Hence, it becomes imperative for cervical cancer screening to be done at the earliest.
South Africa and Zambia are among the leading countries for cervical cancer screening. Kenya is now focussed on screening for cervical cancer, hence, the emphasis of our project.

Another important aspect that comes to the fore is the area of having a national cancer registry. This is already earmarked in the National cancer strategy and expected to be a reality by 2015-16.

Our overall recommendations were in the line of implementation of measures for enhancement, distribution and printing of tools, enhancing facility data management capabilities, modifying existing systems incl DHIS, developing a data management framework, among others.

For the national cancer registry , the team recommended developing an advocacy program, focus on skilled registry personnel, leveraging existing models and adoption of technology.

Finally, as Kenya embarks on this journey, all we say from our resp countries is Afya Bora and wishing all the very best!

#ibmcsc kenya

July 18, 2013

Get to Know the IBM CSC Kenya 7 Team Through African Wildlife

Buckle up ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to play “Get to Know the IBM CSC Kenya 7 Team Through African Wildlife.” Like the natural beauty and wildlife found in Kenya, our team is a diverse population. Numerous polls and surveys were conducted and the results are finally in.....

First up, we have TEAM VUMA. Team Vuma worked on a project for the former Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. The main focus of their project was to draft a policy document on Youth Polytechnics in Kenya with the goal of it being adopted as government policy and law. They were also asked to research best practices for vocational education and to develop a benchmarking framework. Team Vuma = Ellen, Sarah, Sathvika and Patrick.

From Left to Right: Sarah, Dr. Mwimzi, Patrick, Sathvika and Ellen

Ellen, a teammate from South Africa, added style and increased the “cool” factor to our team substantially. Like a rhino, Ellen is strong, independent and fearless. Ellen introduced me to Stoney Tangawizi, the BEST ginger beer/soda in the world. I’m normally not a soda fan, but I love Stoney. I love it so much that I hope to make it South Africa one day to try the original home brew! 

Sarah, a fellow American, contributed travel knowledge to our team. She knew all the best places to eat, things to do (e.g., where to get a massage, catch a yoga class, etc.), and shop in the Nairobi area. It’s just too bad that we were so busy with work and did not really have enough free time to do too much. Like a golden crested crane, Sarah is athletic, adventurous and a great parent. Say hi to your son for us Sarah!

Sathvika, a teammate from India, always made sure that our team was well taken care of….from battling it out with dodgy safari operators to negotiating deals at the Maasai markets, she’s always up for the challenge. Like a lilac breasted roller (the national bird of Kenya), Sathvika is full of energy, inquisitive and prepared.

And then there’s Patrick aka PG or that cheeky bloke from Australia. What can I say about my mate from Down Under? He’s truly ace (Aussie slang for excellent). PG added great humor and fun to our team. With the exception of his odd affection for hyenas (PG thinks they’re cute, I think they’re a menace), we share similar interests and viewpoints and got on well. Like a vervet monkey, PG is extremely mischievous, funny, loquacious, always ready with quick quip and/or “bad Dad joke”) and a nature nerd (he would often annoyingly spot wildlife first and knew more about them than the guides)!

Next up, there’s TEAM TIKITI. Team Tikiti worked on a project for the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD). The focus on their project was to integrate Information and Communications Technology (ICT) into the curriculum development process, create a framework for global partnerships and benchmark global best practices for curriculum development. Team Tikiti = Dino, Jen, Win and Olivia.

From Left to Right: Dino, Olivia, Win and Jen

Dino hails from the Great White North aka Canada. Dino is our very own Mr. Versatile. Whether it’s delivering babies (he delivered his own daughter Chelsea), leading yoga classes for the team or chatting in Finnish / Norwegian / Swedish with the other guests around a safari campfire, this yogi (yoga master) is a BEAST! Like a wildebeest, Dino is focused, determined and well-traveled. He was on a mission to witness the great migration and I’m happy to report that he was able to experience one of nature’s most spectacular sights.

Jen, another fellow American, added calm and balance to our team. Unfortunately, since we worked on different teams, I did not get to spend as much time with Jen as I would like. Luckily for me though, Jen lives in the Northeast where I regularly travel, so I hope our paths will cross again soon. Like a flamingo, Jen’s elegant, poised and kind.

Win, a teammate from Hong Kong, has a heart of gold. Win spent many hours making balloon animals and flowers for the HIV+ kids at the Nyumbani home after teaching herself how to do so by watching Youtube videos! Like a Thomson’s gazelle, Win is delicate, observant, careful and concise. She’s a great mom and I’m sure she’s super excited to be reunited with her daughter and family.

Last, but definitely not least, for Team Tikiti is my teammate Olivia. She is mia bella amica Italiana (my beautiful Italian friend). Olivia is great fun and you can’t help but smile and have a good time when you’re around her. Olivia not only cooked a delizioso Italian meal with ingredients that she brought from home for our entire team one night, but got our team free bottles of wine and invited to dance parties because Kenyans love her! The only animal to describe Olivia is Kenya’s pride and joy – the mighty lion. Like a true lioness, Olivia is fierce, proud, playful, fun and loved by all especially Kenyans! And like a lion’s roar which can be heard up to a distance of 5-10 kilometers, Olivia’s “Nooooooooooo” is one-of-a-kind and legendary!


Finally, it’s Team AFYA BORA aka the BEST team. Our “official” client was the Ministry of Health Division of Reproductive Health. But since a significant amount of health sector funding comes from external donor country contributions, there are many different key stakeholders with different agendas. One of the toughest challenges is identifying clear owners and budgets. The focus our of project included three key areas: 1. Improving data management and reporting for cervical cancer screening & treatment, 2. Scaling up cervical cancer prevention (HPV vaccination) program and 3. Establishing a national cancer registry approach. Team Afya Bora = Scott, Vinayak, Ulla and Mary

From Left to Right: Scott, Mary, Ulla and Vinayak

My teammate Scott or “Scot” (who knew all Kenyans would pronounce Scott’s name with Sean Connery’s Scottish accent?!) is another fellow American. I don’t know if it was his power suits or presidential ties, but this fantastic father of four exudes confidence and leadership. When our team sings Jambo Bwana, Scott’s our go-to-guy for the African freestyle Maasai warrior yell. Like a topi, Scott is stately, a snappy dresser, respected and an overall stud!

Vinayak, my teammate from India, is also affectionately known as Vin-nee-yak, Vinnie, Vin or Vin Diesel (my personal favorite). Vinayak’s our main man from New Delhi. Named after Vinayaka, one of the best known Hindu deities with an elephant head, this yoga practicing, breathing meditation expert and Indian cuisine chef extraordinaire is our very own elephant whisperer. Like the beloved African elephant, Vinayak’s a strong, easygoing, playful vegetarian who keeps cool in all situations. Namaste Vinayak! A few of us were lucky to spend some post-assignment safari time with Vin & his lovely wife Monika in Maasai Mara.

Ulla or Uuuu-laaahh is my wonderful teammate from Germany. Like her beloved giraffe, Ulla’s pragmatic, honest to a fault, likes the green stuff (e.g., Tusker Malt), equally comfortable in a groups or alone and can be violent when provoked or when you suffer from a momentary lapse of stupidity (trust me, I know from experience)! She also shares a giraffe’s good vision. We affectionately called it the “Ulla Eye”…it was always a heated contest between Patrick and Ulla to see who can spot the animals first during our game drives. My personal favorite “Ulla Eye” moment was when Ulla spotted a tiny bumper sticker (about 5 cm x 7-8 cm) on a moving vehicle that stated “Men are not oxygen, women can do without them.” Ha!

Last and definitely least, I’m Mary and I’m also from the USA. If I had to pick an African animal, it’ll be the dik-dik. They’re cute little things. But since they’re so small, everyone is a predator. This means the poor dik-diks have to rely on their excellent vision and speed to survive. Unfortunately, unlike the dik-dik, I have poor vision (thank you Lasik for helping a bit though). But according to teammates polled, I’m supposedly quick and sharp. While I think my teammates are far too generous, the one thing I think I really do share in common with dik-diks is their loyalty to one another and that they’re mates for life. I consider each and every one of my fellow CSC Kenya 7 colleagues as my mates / friends for life.

I will never forget our team or the amazing time and experiences we shared together in Kenya.
Asante sana to all and a special shout out to Patrick for providing the fantastic wildlife photos.

Afya Bora -- Excellent Health for All

As part of our assignment, we were able to interview the staff and tour the Specialized Reproductive Health Clinic at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH). KNH was established in 1901 and is the largest hospital in East Africa. KNH is the main national referral and teaching hospital for the University of Nairobi in Kenya. It is a big hospital with a total bed capacity of about 1800. The SPH clinic provides family planning and cervical cancer screening and treatment among many other services for women.

Healthcare workers in Kenya are overworked and overburdened. The WHO reports that there are only 4,500 doctors in Kenya (with about 1,000 in the public sector). In the U.S.A., there are about 26 doctors per 10,000 residents, while Kenya only has 1 doctor per 10,000 residents.

While visiting KNH, our team witnessed the overcrowded and challenging conditions first hand. We saw very sick cancer patients lining up in the hallways waiting for treatment and the countless number of patients queuing up or waiting outside just to be seen. We learned that cancer patients often have to wait up to 4-6 months to begin radiotherapy treatment.

We also met with healthcare workers who are all working very hard with very little. The exam and treatment rooms in Kenya have very minimal equipment and supplies compared to the advanced technology and disposable medical supplies you would typically find in a hospital in America. Very little in a Kenyan hospital is disposable and nothing is thrown away. Although the striking contrast was unsettling for me, it was also very impressive and humbling.

On a final note, the unwavering passion held by everyone we met to do all that they can to improve the health of all Kenyans was truly inspirational. We wish them the very best as they continue on their mission to strengthen Kenya's healthcare system. It has been our privilege to work on this assignment. Asante sana from Team Afya Bora.

Kenyatta National Hospital

Part of KNH Complex
Division of Reproductive Health Vision, Mission and Goals
Kenya’s relies heavily on donor country contributions to supplement the national health budget. The United States is the largest donor, providing funds through USAID, PEPFAR, etc. Other countries with significant donor country contributions to the health sector include the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, Denmark and the Netherlands. Kenya also receives support from the World Bank and agencies within the United Nations system, including WHO, UNAIDS, UNICEF and UNFPA.

#ibmcsc kenya

July 17, 2013

Wonderful Maasai Mara - Lions Country...

Some of us spend a few days to unwind in the wonderful Maasai Mara ... it is unbelievable beautiful, and we are lucky to see *lots* of lions and the wilderbeest migration and cheetahs and lots of gazelles and elephants and vulputers and eagles and and and...

Wunderschönes Maasai Mara  - Löwenland
Mit einigen Kollegen verbringen wir noch ein paar Tage zur Entspannung in Maasai Mara - und hier gibt es mehr Löwen als irgendwo sonst, und sie warten alle auf uns.. Es ist wirklich wunderschön hier, und die Bilder können nur einen ganz kleinen Ausschnitt davon wiedergeben...

Jambo, Jambo Bwana!!

Just in case you need a little reminder....

Jambo, Jambo bwana,
Habari gani, Mzuri sana.

Wageni, Wakaribishwa,
Kenya yetu
Hakuna Matata!

July 14, 2013


Friday is a relax day. We did some shopping in the morning and then go to IBM office in the afternoon for closing.

The farewell dinner was hosted in the evening at the most famous and must go restaurant called 'Carnivore'. The restaurant serves different kinds of meat include some exotic meat. This night, they served Crocodile and Ostrich meat ball. Of course I tasted them. The crocodile meat taste like chicken and Ostrich meat taste like beef. Good try! We all have great time and took a lot of pictures.

After all the fun and joy, it was the time to say good-bye to Mildred, Muriuki, Eunice & Steve at DOT and some CSC members.

Time fly really fast! The four weeks assignment in Kenya ends with joy, happiness and satisfaction. Recall four weeks ago, we were curious, struggling, uncertainty and feel lots of challenges. And now, all works have done. CSC is really a great experience.