Kenya Team Trip
January – February 2019
“Welcome home sisters and brother!” And with big hugs the weary Canadian travelers are greeted at the Nairobi airport. We are immediately reminded of the genuine warmth and friendship of our Kenyan friends. Cheri Butt, on her 8th trip to Kenya, Greg MacAdam on his first trip, and me, Kathy Mutch visiting for the 5th time, are quickly invigorated, and ready to do whatever we can to improve the quality of life for the poor in Kenya. We have purpose.
Excitement and a sense of peace and grounding is found in our Safari ride in Nakuru National Park, our overnight stop on the way to Bondo, Western Province. Driving along with Paul our combi driver of 15 years, I see many changes, even in just a year. There is a lot of new construction – multiple story buildings, better constructed homes and commerce. The Chinese government continues with road construction of large divided highways, increasing truck and car traffic. We also see more Tuk Tuks and motor bikes all doing that amazing dance of sharing the road. But still there are many speed bumps to slow traffic so the local merchants can come to the vehicles to sell their foods. Bright red tomatoes, purple plums, yellow mango, drinks, sugar cane, potatoes and other vegetables are offered at bartering prices. There is also a new rail line going through the Riff Valley so that goods can go back and forth from land locked Uganda and the sea port of Kenya. I ask if the Massa Mara people are concerned about the rail line passing through their Riff Valley home as they lead a migratory life moving their cattle to new pasture lands in the valley. “They have been compensated”, is the answer. Like in Canada there is the polarization of economics and preserving land and way of life.
The Kenyan way of life is still seen – with that wonderful sense of community still showing time for handshakes, stopping in the shade of a tree to catch up, children in school uniforms arm in arm on the way to school, parents working in the many grouped small roadside stores- hotel and butchery, handmade furniture, home grown fruits and vegetables, barbershops, coffin and clothing shops. We saw the traditional gathering of sticks for firewood by women, but this year we saw men carrying the heavy loads (although some are on their picky pickys (motorbikes).
There is a movement to Kenyan life that reminds me of yoga teaching: “Move with your breath”. In Canada an instructor guides this practice, in Kenya the community moves together, connected in unison with each other- each step, each breathe.