Friday, August 9, 2013

Impressions of Africa - Reflections on our first year in Africa

A local market.
There are several overarching impressions from life in Africa.  One is that life here is raw.  In America, we teach our kids that the meat in cellophane packages comes from animals, like a cow or a pig.  Here, such things are self evident, for you see the animal hanging on the hook.  On a deeper level, hunger, illness, and death are ever before you and a part of the natural fabric of life, which also makes life here feel raw.

Another impression is how almost everything is done via personal connections. Consider getting food for our family.  Sheri’s cellphone is full of connections.  She calls Freda to see if she will bake us some English muffins, Alice to see if she will bring us strawberries, Njoki to see if she can get some salted butter, John for milk from his cow, Peter for a run to Nairobi on his motor bike to get chicken breasts, and Esther to see if she can come to our house to make bagels.  When there is an issue, people pull out their cell phones and scroll through their contacts to see who they know that can help sort things out.  And in times of need in a land where the common person does not have a savings account or medical insurance, this contact list – your community – is your lifeline.
A woman hauling water home in the rain and mud.

People here are up to the challenge of a difficult life.  If I had arrived at RVA and they told me the house that they had for me was an hour walk from the school and it is fine that I did not have a car, I would have refused to accept this as a workable situation and would have expected a change or packed my bags and gone home.  Obviously one can’t expect me and all of my children to walk an hour to school, particularly in mud and rain, and yet many of the national workers at RVA walk even further and count it a blessing to have such a good job.  The Kenyan people are strong and ready to take on the challenges of daily life here.

1 comment:

Tom Snide said...

It takes a whole lot of courage, patience, energy and faith to do what you guys are doing. You are amazing. Love the photos too Mark. You recognize good light when you see it.