We just hit the 7 week mark of living in Bungoma! My, how time flies! It has been a bumpy but adventurous road. They have begun rationing power here so it difficult for me to access the internet or power on my computer.
Even after nearly two months of being here, we still have yet to figure out how to avoid mosquitoes entirely. I can only liken them to the Twins characters from the Matrix movies. They somehow manage to disintegrate and then re-materialize on the inside of our net. That’s usually when I whip out the DOOM! bug spray or a trusty, old pair of shoes and make them disappear once and for all. Can you say, “There Will Be Blood?!”
Anna and I have been working tediously on OAF projects. While she’s been keeping up on her grant writing, I’ve been visiting with the local farmers and conducting one-on-one interviews with them. As you can imagine, this has been intensely rewarding while at the same time quite sobering. I’ll never forget all the worn faces I’ve met and callused hands that I’ve shaken over the last two weeks. For most Kenyan farmers, OAF is their last hope. By gaining access to seed and fertilizer for their farms, or “shamba” as they call it, many have turned their lives around and rescued their families from disease and famine.
I’ve met some amazing people, many of whom have never stepped foot outside of Bungoma. They work hard and dream about the luxury of travel, much like you and I work toward owning a home and retiring. I’ve seen the faces of malnourished children who battle malaria attacks, typhoid, and brucellosis as often as you and I deal with the common cold. I’ve met women who break their backs plowing their shamba and somehow manage to feed their family of 9 children and the husband who is too old to work - they do not know the meaning of the word “vacation.”
All that they care about is getting from one day to the next. If they are parents then their children become their life. Moms and dads will work beyond the point of exhaustion to pay for their kids’ education. These are the hearts and minds that make up the world’s best kept secret.
I met this man last week while out on a field visit. His name is Bernard and he bikes 250 kilometers (about 150 miles), 3 times a week in order to buy and sell tomatoes! He somehow finds the time to care for his shamba and for his family…
Here is a young girl named Leah. Her life is the antithesis of the typical African woman. She is 26 years old and is married with four children. She is in form 2 at Mukwa Secondary School, which is equivalent to sophomore year of high school in the states. Her husband works as a farmer to pay for her education and provide for their children. Leah’s life has been full of hardship and much difficulty yet, her only wish is to complete high school and go on to college in order to study Theology. You can watch series of video clips below to find out about her inspiring story…
On a lighter note, we finally caught Ratatouille! He was unharmed in his capture and the mouse-hunt was entirely humane. We lured into a bucket loosely propped up a pair of scissors attached to a piece of cheese. Here he is in captivity…
He escaped soon thereafter and is now pestering us once again. Reports have come in that he is hanging out near our trash can at night. Email me or call the US/Kenyan embassy if you see him.
We miss everyone back in the states and are anxious to get home. Our time has been great here but Kenya can be a harrowing place to live. Thanks for all of your support and for keeping up with the blog. It has been a huge encouragement to us.
Blessings on everyone. Be good to yourselves.