We've been in Mombasa, Kenya today. Mombasa is Swahili for "surface of the sun hot". It is so, so hot here. I am sunburnt. And, super sweaty. Wait till you see my pictures. This scouting mission is really beyond words.
Our guides today were beyond excellent. Jacob, an orphange director, Amina with The Caucus for Women's Leadership and Mishi with the Women Regional Assembly. Mishi was just defeated in her run for MP (Member of Parliament) but I suspect it won't be long before she's running the country.
Mombasa was so different from Nairobi. For starters, it is HOT. The elevation was sea level. The air was thick and the only breeze came from catching the wind in the back of the van (with our pop up roof!). Mombasa has a much greater feel of poverty (which is really saying a lot because there is such extreme poverty in Kenya). And, with that come certain feelings of keeping up with your safety. Our guides were always alert to when we needed to tuck away our cameras and to close the windows. Driving through Mombasa island Amina remarked "It's not poverty, it's disorganization". A very good and interesting perspective and, clearly one spoken from someone who has a passionate interest in seeing the potential for bringing change to her country.
We've been so busy and then so tired that I keep thinking I've hardly had a chance to talk with Stuart. I did remark to him that I imagined half the population of Kenya was under 18 because there are scads of children everywhere. We learned that in Mombasa the children are out of school right now because the teachers are on strike. College educated teachers earn an average of 140-180 a month. More than teachers in Moldova earn, but definitely worth striking over.
From the Island we went on to the South. To do that we had to take a ferry. I'm not even going to tell you how hot that was.
While we were sweating to death I saw a tuk-tuk (3 wheeled taxi car) full of roots and asked about those. Turns out they were Cassava-- a sweet root plant that's dug up and boiled or prepared with coconut or other things. It's a carb....so that means it's probably really good.
In the South we went to a handful of orphanages. This was the first time for us to see thatched roof houses in villages. The first stop was to Jacob's orphanage. He cares for 269 children and they have no.....NO....beds. In his previous communication to us he had asked for only half as many beds as he had children, saying they could share beds and we could go to provide beds to others in great need. His children (or "watoto") are absolutely precious. I can't wait to post pictures for you.
From the South we went to Old Town.-- which was the first town in Africa! We had lunch and went on to see more orphanages and even to meet with some local bed manufacturers.
Something I really had no idea about until we arrived is that 70 percent of Mombasa is Muslim. That was an entirely new experience to take in. That is an entirely separate blog....can't wait.
Our tireless guides took us to the North coast in the afternoon. I can't even think of how many orphanages we went to today. It was exhausting, but also....what's the word. Gosh, I don't know. We met so many who have enormous hearts and we are looking forward to seeing how God leads us to assist in their work.
Amina was the time keeper...I pleaded with her for a 4 minute break to be able to run and stick my toes into the Indian Ocean. Mishi helped talk her into it.
When we pulled up I saw the white sand, the locals...and a camel, of course!!!! I had actually changed my mind about taking the time to get out and just said I'd take a picture from the car. Amina was okay with that, but Mishi insisted we get out. I love Mishi.
As we went up to the camel the beach guy/camel owner/camel operator told me his name was George. Of course! That's such a camel name! :)
I really just wanted a picture with George. The locals had others things in mind. Before I knew it, Stuart had climbed on the back of the camel. There wasn't any way I was going to get on that skyscraper of a horse. Well, unless you could have heard the peer pressuring cries of the camel bookies "come on momma, get on with poppa" So, I did. I was in a long skirt and wasn't sure how to get on in a lady like fashion. I only put one leg over and the other I kept under me. That was a bad idea because I almost fell off when the camel stood up! Yeah, he stood up. Stuart thought it might just be a photo op, but oh no....we rode a CAMEL down the beach on the Indian Ocean! :) I screamed a couple of times---which was amusing to everyone on the ground. They don't strap you in or anything---I just kept wondering what the best way was to fall off a camel onto the sand from 12 feet in the air.
Thankfully I don't have that information for you. I do, however, know that you must lean far back and hold on tight when the giant beast goes down.
Sooooo...then we were off to meet with three more orphanage directors on our rush back to the airport for our flight back to Nairobi to Uganda tonight. Orphanage directors so badly need beds here that one director literally had us pick her up on the side of the road on our way back to the airport rather than miss her opportunity to get beds for her kids. Amazing.
So many stories. I'll stop for now. We're about to board to get to Uganda tonight. I hope there's not anyone sitting next to either of us. We. Are. Funky.
See you in the next blog,