One of the greatest blessings in my life are these memories I hold in my heart.
Missing this place and these faces dearly.
This week I’ve been back to the drawing board with a little project I’m working on to support the Yadumu project my brother started. Ill be happy to announce soon with more detail.
The project obviously has me reflecting on this adventure that easily made it in my top three life experiences. Couldn’t recommend highly enough.
Along with the incredible memories came the day my camera card corrupted just a few short hours into the trip. I was devastated to say the least upon discovering I’d lost a ton of incredible shots, a close up lion pride as well as video and other great memories. The tragedy forced me to sit back and enjoy it the best I could knowing I couldn’t capture it the way I wanted to share.
That I did.
Imagine getting dropped off of a bus in a small town only to find there’s 5 more kilometers to walk through marshy conditions in the dark. The door is opened to a small room lit with a candle and the blue static glow of an old TV in the corner.
Henry hasn’t been home for awhile, so he immediately tends to the things that need to be fixed. Pulling out a roll of red electric tape he begins to adjust the wires until a static black and white image appears. Next he props a stool on the coffee table in order to reach the one solitary lightbulb hanging from twine in the exposed rafters.
The light never came on so we ate our dinner of chicken and ugali by candle light. It’s custom to feed guests chicken even when it exceeds their budget.
The mother and children don’t eat with us. I’m not sure where, when or what they last ate. We’re served steaming chai after dinner made from their own cow’s milk. Water is passed to wash our hands and then we sit and talk for the next few hours.
I already had a small boy asleep in my lap and the other children gathered tightly around as I scrolled through the pictures from my trip. They were mesmerized and Henry said that was the first they’d seen touchscreen technology.
Finally they brought me some blankets and a pillow to spread out on the small couch. My legs were too long so I stretched them through the ends and let them hang as I fell asleep to blaring Lou music. Kenyans love their music.
My sleep was restless as I pondered what I’ve experienced so far. The children smelled of urine and dressed in rags worse then I use to clean my floors.
I woke just before 7 to a bright light in my face. The door had been opened to let the chickens go outside and I could see the cracking mud walls and dirt floor.
I doze off till I’m awakened with word that the cow is being milked. I had asked the night before if I could watch. I quickly pull on my shoes and step out in the mud to watch as mom milks an utter I wouldn’t have even noticed it was so small. The animals are severely malnourished and underfed.
After she gets what she needs for that day (no more then a quart) she releases the calf to strip what milk is left. My heart broke to see how the hunger is distributed between animals and humans alike. There’s simply not enough.
We’re served more delicious chai and a few slices of plain white bread for breakfast before we set out on the same 5 kilometer hike we had done the night before. This time in the light and dryness of the noon sun it was a much easier trek.
We made many stops on our way to and in town visiting various people who have experience with drilling wells in the area. We also visited a few greenhouses to get an idea of the earning potential this project could provide the local community.
On out way back just before dark we heard the statistic of an average family’s income per year in the village of Rakwaro. The answer was shocking and brought a lump to my throat. It is equivalent to $720 per year. That’s less then one months rent back home. How can this even be possible?
This family has 4 children and one more that is adopted. If I ever lose ambition for this project to help empower this community with earning potential there would be no hope for me. I’m truly moved to the core.
I’ve lost count how many times I’ve heard this since arriving in Nairobi two days ago. It feels as if I’ve received a lifetime of education on development and aid as we’ve sat hours upon hours discussing these issues with our local contacts Moses and Henry. For Henry it’s close to his heart as we discuss the challenges his family faces in the village of Rakwaro. In the words of the geological survey (which my brother commissioned to get an estimate for drilling a well in this place which only recently received electricity.)
“The area lack reliable domestic water source, the client does intend to develop a domestic water source, for domestic use. Piped scheme does not cover the area and seasonal streams are far from site. The number of water supply is among the worst in Nyanza province. The number of water points available during the wet seasons is very limited. Even during the wet season people have to walk 5km to reach a point where they can fetch water. The water is often polluted. most people use surface water resources as ground catchments and river Nyando. These water resources are shared with cattle causing water pollution. Due to large walking distance people only collet water for drinking and cooking purposes. Washing and bathing is not done regularly and only near the water point.”
Clearly from that statement it’s easy to see how much these people are suffering not to mention their livestock.
Our main topic of conversation is how we can help this community get off to a start on being self empowered and sustained. The easy way would be to raise the money, put in a well and move on but the need is greater. We’ve begun to talk about the options having water would give them and truly the opportunity is endless. With water we could put in a greenhouse that would allow the people to grow veggies year round not only for themselves but also providing income by selling surplus at the market in other surrounding villages. Water would allow them to keep more poultry and sustain more animals. These prospects make my heart leap. I’m genuinely humbled in every way to be here and have the opportunity to invest in empowering these amazing, kind and generous people.
I’m so blessed.
For as long as I can remember my heart has been geared toward helping the less fortunate. Perhaps out of my own pain I’ve grown more and more burdened to lift that of others. My life is so short, why not spend it investing in something that will carry on for generation after generation? No reason.
4 flights and 25 hours of travel time. I’m here doing my best to adjust though it seems my body isn’t as forgiving as it once was, I hope to be running full self soon. Here’s a few pictures from my first day. Riding the bodaboda and coffee that will change your life. I’m in love with this place as I knew I would be. Tomorrow we’re heading to Kenya on what’s sure to be an interesting 10 hour bus ride. Good things to come.