As they should be and usually are, Arrive blog posts are about Arrive and our life-changing, tangible influence in the lives of the most vulnerable children throughout Kenya. However occasionally I like to give you an inside view into my life in rural Africa. Life here has become so normal for me that sometimes I forget that my path, from a well-off, preppy, all white Connecticut suburb to a small village in rural Kenya, is one full of hilarity, new cultural experiences, and adventure; a unlikely path worth detailing from time to time.
There is so much exciting news at Arrive that it deserves its own post. I could tell you about the new girls’ dormitory progress and how much we have completed…but I’ll save that until closer to the “Move-In Day” (July 20th 2017). I could tell you about the $4,933.03 solar solutions project which will provide the entire Light Home of Hope with renewable energy, lessen our dependency on the unreliable government electricity, decrease our monthly operating costs, and reduce our carbon footprint…but I’ll save that until closer to the “Installation Day” (June 10th 2017). I could tell you about how all the kids are thriving in school, or how we are expecting over 20 volunteers from around the world over the next few months…but I will wait until they Arrive (pun intended).
Instead, this blog post will be snapshot into a few light-hearted experiences in the past few weeks of life in a rural Kenyan village. Living in a 3rd world developing country, I routinely see atrocities, human rights violations, extreme cycles of poverty and hopelessness, and death on a near daily basis. These are the battles, our battles, to fight and win. However, to stay sane in our crazy world, I remember this quote by Paulo Coelho: The simple things are also the most extraordinary things, and only the wise can see them.
A fantastic find at the outdoor market - I grabbed this second-hand hoodie for $1.50. It had been donated, shipped to Kenya, then sewn with traditional East African fabrics. The best part? It is authentic Bass Pro Shop!
One of my most proud moments came when Arrive was featured in National Geographic (yes…that National Geographic). Read the awesome article here: When Kids Learn to Raise Bees, the Future Gets Sweeter.
I have courageously (if I do say so myself) explored the more “interesting” of the local cuisine – from drinking cows’ blood fresh after the slaughter, to eating an entire boiled goat’s hoof (fur, skin, tendons, and all). This week, I tried a local delicacy, freshly fried termites - surprisingly savory and crunchy!
Shaggy (one of my dogs) gave birth to seven healthy puppies! We thought she would give birth earlier this week, so one of the kids and I prepared her kennel with with blankets and an old mattress. We kept her inside there for the past few days because we knew she would give birth anytime, and that's where we wanted it to happen (instead of her favorite place at home, underneath my bed). Then a few evenings ago, we decided to add another mattress so we let Shaggy out to fix her kennel inside. After five minutes we called her and couldn't find her! In those few minutes, she had sprinted to underneath my bed and gave birth to seven healthy and beautiful puppies! If you are aware of how much animal therapy goes on at Arrive, you'd know that these puppies will not only live happy lives, but exponentially increase the happiness of the Arrive kids as well.
I invited my friend from the bush to hang out a few nights ago at my boma (“hut” in Swahili). At night, he asked if he should turn the light out to which I replied yes. He proceeded to take a stick and SMASH my light bulb, shattering it into a million shards of glass. Literally, he had never been introduced to the concept of a light switch!
I am continuing to run everyday; running has been a source of consistent physical activity but also of spiritual growth and adventure. I tell people I live on the Serengetti Plateu in the land of milima na mabonde (“hills and valleys” in Swahili). There are enough paths in Uriri and the surrounding villages to meander everyday of the year and never repeat the same route – one of my lofty 2017 goals. The hills are tough and the sun is brutal, but nothing easy is truly worth doing, is it?
While I spend 95% of my time in our village Uriri in western Kenya, I am lucky enough to be able to travel to unbelievable destinations throughout East Africa. I love nowhere more than my small village Uriri in western Kenya but I readily admit traveling to tropical paradises like Zanzibar, Tanzania, and Mombasa, Kenya, are welcome retreats. This month, I was invited by my friend Ciara of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to attend her friend’s wedding in Mombasa. Besides swimming in the Indian Ocean and eating coconuts off the tree, I got to dress up for the big day! Note: Ciara deserves 100% credit for my exceptional appearance, as she had a shirt sewn for from her home country of the Congo.
I hope you’ve enjoyed these few stories from life in rural Kenya; between the life-chaning work of Arrive and my daily adventures, I wouldn't trade my corner of the world for anywhere else! Be sure to stay tuned for more Arrive-related posts, including progress update of our many on-going projects. Until then, the sun is beginning to set, and I need to buy a new light bulb!