We drove over 1600 km this week and visited 6 out of 8 provinces in Kenya. It was a crazy busy week, but pretty amazing.
Once again, there were two food distributions. This time, they were in two completely different areas of the country. In the first village we visited, the beneficiaries were quite adament that they would not accept food as a hand out. It was very important for them to be doing some sort of work to receive the food. In this area, all they needed was rain. It has been over four years since some parts of Kenya received the rain that they need to grow crops. As a result, crops have failed repeatedly and livestock are all dying. These villagers have all they need to survive, but if there is no rain, they have no food.
The next day was Canada Day. Dad had brought a few Canadian souviners with him which he gave out to some of the villagers. The main tribe we met here was the Turkana people, known forever because of National Geographic pictures of the woman with stacks upon stacks of beaded necklaces. One of the ladies, Elizabeth, sort of adopted me even though neither of us could really speak to the other. I did find out that she is a 41 year-old widow who has 8 or 9 children. She was quite excited when she found out that I work for an optometrist and wanted me to come back to fix her eyes (she looked to have some cataracts developing). It was hard to explain through an interpreter (a villager who spoke some English) that I am not the doctor, I just help the doctor…!
The villagers were very excited when we explained that it was Canada Day and proceeded to dance around and sing with the small flags we had. They even pulled Jen and I into the dancing for awhile! I felt like I was back in Polynesia or something with all the dancing going on. Except there was much less hip-swaying!
Somewhere along the way, we drove across the equator. Actually, we crossed it at least 6 times driving as the road winds a lot. I lost count. Either way, it was an exciting moment for me as I have now driven/walked, flown, and sailed across the equator. Crouching beside me in the picture is Chris. He is the National Relief Manager for the CRWRC here, so is technically Dad and Colleen’s boss I think. He knows everything about everything and has lots of great stories to tell.
The Great Rift Valley…
Chris took us to visit his village in Western Province. We met his mother and two of his brothers and many, many extended family members. I had fun with some of the kids and we were able to get an incredible picture of what life is like for a lot of Kenyans outside of the big cities. There is no electricity or running water in the village and life proceeds in a simple and traditional way, interrupted only by the ringing of a cell phone (not sure yet how those get charged when there is no electricity).
On our way back to Nairobi from Chris’ village, we drove through (and stayed the night in) Kisumu and took a peek at Lake Victoria. It looked… like a lake…! But there were some hippos off in the distance just barely sticking their snouts out of the water.
Now we are back to Nairobi for the weekend. Distributions are done for the month (that is, June) and don’t start up again until mid-July. Next week will be a brief holiday to the coast before Jen and I are left to our own devices in Nairobi!