Another October, another trip to Kenya
Hello everyone. Here we are back in Kenya again. If you’re envying us sitting in tropical sunshine, you can forget it! Nairobi has been almost entirely like autumnal English weather: cloudy, cool (OK – 18-20 degrees) and plenty of rain. We’ve had a trip to the sunshine in Endau, though: that was the opposite extreme of 37 degrees!
Coming back, it seems that quite a bit hasn’t changed. Kenyan driving is as crazy as ever, vehicles have the same random assortment of lights (or none), Ongata Rongai, where the Nairobi Care Centre is situated, is still as depressingly dirty, smelly and squalid: when we left it in torrential rain on Sunday afternoon the unmade road was awash with dirty water. But there is still also the warm welcome from friendly people, and for us, a safe place to stay; God’s provision of a comfortable room with a lovely Christian family. There are changes too – another shopping mall has opened nearby with prices far beyond the means of most of the locals. But as one of the checkout assistants cheerfully told us yesterday, he is very happy that it’s here because he now has a job. Generally, too, Kenya feels a bit safer, more at peace with itself politically than it was a year or two ago. But there remains a huge gap between the rich and the poor, and corruption is as bad as ever.
We’ve had a busy week, with three main highlights: visiting the Kware Care Centre twice, going to the Endau clinic, and meeting several Pamoja ‘alumni’.
We spent Saturday and Sunday at Kware. It remains a haven in the midst of an enormously challenging
area. Several new children have joined the family there since last year, including some from the Samburu tribe who came from a horrendous family situation. (See the picture in the latest Pamoja newsletter.) It was inspiring to see how all these children are being transformed – that is not too strong a word. Now they are happy and secure, with hope of a future in this life, and with the opportunity to choose to follow Jesus – the greatest hope of all. We had a wonderful time singing, eating, playing games, talking, having fun and praying with these young people and those who have chosen to give their lives to care for them.
Speaking of hope for a future, we have met several young people who are either in, or have completed further education.
At Kware, we met Jackie, who is starting a rug-making business, and Douglas K, who is studying Engineering. They both delighted us with their big smiles and happy conversation. We shared a meal in the ‘Moonlight Restaurant’ in Kitui (on our way to Endau) with the very bright and outgoing Julius, who is now an enthusiastic English teacher in a High School; and the quieter but very determined Stephen, who is studying economics.
On our way back from Endau, in Machakos, we stopped for lunch at another delightful Kenyan establishment called the T-Top restaurant (featuring notably soggy chips!) to meet Carlos, who is studying to be an electrician; Grace, who is about to complete a nursing course; and Gideon, who has completed a catering course and is now looking for work ( a common problem). Back in the Nairobi area, we also met Douglas O, who trained as an electrician and has just, with support from Pamoja, opened an electrical shop in a small town nearby. Every
one of these young people demonstrates what sponsorship can do. And every one of them impressed us not only by the way they’ve grasped the opportunity they’ve been given in education, but also how they are committed to following Jesus, not just in name, but in the way that they are choosing to live their lives. We often say, and it is true, that we can’t change the world: but we can change the world for one person at a time.
Visiting Endau again reminded us just how remote and difficult this place is. We split the journey this time – 3 hours on tarmac from Nairobi to Kitui on Monday, then 3 hours on dirt to Endau on Tuesday morning. We left the car there because of the state of the ‘road’ to the clinic, which is about 4 miles beyond, and rode on the back of motorbikes along the rough track, over the rocks and up and down the steep paths. The riders we had were very safe and sure (although mine did answer his mobile phone as he was riding at one point!) Stephen has been serving as clinical officer at the clinic for nearly 10 years, and Solomon, the faithful night watchman, for even longer. Stephen has a new assistant, Jonah, who is a very friendly young man and willing to learn from Stephen. We have finally obtained a sensible quote for a solar fridge to keep vaccines, anti-venom medicine etc. Snake bites are common in the area: Solomon had killed a snake the night before we arrived!
There are plans for an extension, and big plans to bid for funds from the British Government for a borehole in the clinic compound (the nearest borehole is about 20 miles away and finding water is a constant problem
for the local people). But above all, pray for the staff at the clinic. This is one of the most challenging areas we know in which to live and work: a couple of days is difficult, so surviving 10 years is amazing.
We are now preparing for our drive to Magina tomorrow, so time to stop writing and start doing something useful! Thank you for the messages from home via WhatsApp and e-mail: we do appreciate knowing that people back home are thinking of us, as we often also think of you all.
Thank you for all your love, thoughts and prayers.