Last week I attended a town hall at the U.S. Ambassador’s Residence in Nairobi. I’ve been to one of these town halls before so I had an idea of what to expect. There were announcements from Ambassador Godec and others and then there was a Q&A session.
This town hall wasn’t as good as the last town hall I attended, but it was informative. Here are what I saw as the key points from the town hall:
- They are cautious about the upcoming elections. I discussed this with others and not everyone agrees with my take on this. That said, the advice is to:
- make sure to have enough food, water, and medications to last your family for a week. How much water is enough for a week “…depends on how clean or thirsty you want to be.”
- make sure your place of work and wherever your children are (school, daycare, etc.) has sufficient supplies for a week.
- keep hard currency (cash) in different denominations on hand.
- Plans for direct flights between Kenya and the US are on track. The TSA will be doing some review the second half of this year. If all goes well, direct flights should start in 2018.
- There was the usual question about the embassy helping Americans find jobs in Kenya. What people don’t seem to understand is that:
- No embassy can help with that anywhere.
- U.S. employment laws are just as tough for foreigners seeking employment. That’s life.
- They brought up the Wardens and how it’s important to know who your local warden is in case you get in trouble. However, they did not give any information about the wardens or how to find out who your warden is. I could not find the information on the embassy’s citizen services section of their web site.
I asked two specific questions. The first was about healthcare. If TrumpCare passes in the Senate, will Americans with non-U.S. health insurance who return to the States have a hard time getting insurance? Can we be denied healthcare either because we lived abroad or because non-U.S. coverage will not be recognized? The Ambassador did not know the answer. I kind of wished he would have said he’d look into it, but his response was fair enough.
The other question I asked was whether Americans living in Kenya or elsewhere in Africa would have a hard time in immigration when visiting home. The Ambassador said, “I have no reason to think that you’d be greeted any way but with a warm welcome.” I call bullshit. That’s the answer he has to give. The fact of the matter is that Americans are being harassed and detained for no valid reason.
That was the town hall. One last bit…about the main photo. Under direction from D.C. the embassy was required to offer various embassy swag for sale (hats, t-shirts, etc.). It was awkward and tacky. I guess Mar A Lago needs a new pool or something.
If you are living in or traveling to Kenya, please take a look at the embassy web site or contact them should you have any questions.
Contact information pulled from the site (valid as of mid-May 2018):
“If you are an American citizen with an after-hours emergency, please call our hotline at: +254-(0) 20 363 6000.
If you are an American citizen with an emergency during business hours, please call +254-(0) 20 363 6451.
For Non-Emergency Issues Please contact us at:
- Telephone + 254 (0) 20-363-6451
- Email Address firstname.lastname@example.org
Callers in the United States can also call the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Overseas Citizen Services toll free at 1-888-407-4747 (from overseas call 1-202-501-4444).”