Monday, May 23, 2011

Kenya's rainy season

It rains April and May in the Kenyan coastal areas.  It rains off and on, sometimes a real downpour.  By the time it begins, it's desperately needed.  Villagers plant corn they'll need for corn meal; it's what many of them live on throughout the year.
Brief downpour viewed from the hotel entrance.

I arrived at the coastal hotel to discover I was the only 'tourist' in the area.  And every local vendor and beggar knew I was there.  It's a particularly difficult time for the area which depends on tourism for most work and income.  Tourists don't come to the beach in the rainy season.  My street friends tell me that getting enough food is pretty much everyone's concern this time of year.

An elementary school student collapsed in the schoolyard, a friend tells me.  Turns out, he hadn't eaten in awhile.  My friend's on the board that is working to develop education in the community and happened to be there when it happened.  They brought some tea and a small meal cake for the child and checked with the parents to discover that they just didn't have any food.  That's the reality that the poor endure.  Ever been there?  Yeah, me either.

Simple things like food.  And water ...?

Kids in the photo here carry home plastic jugs of muddy water for their families.  It's what's available.  While I sat on the household's only stool, visiting with friends, a family member scrubbed the cooking pot using a small amount of dirt in lieu of a scouring pad.  There, bent over in the front yard, scrubbing the family's cooking things.  With dirt, rinsing with muddy water.  It's what they have.

Children are a wonderful addition to any occasion.
With friends for an afternoon, children are such pleasant additions to a conversation.  Children should be seen and heard and told how wonderful they are and what a treasure they are to us.  They should know God loves them and has a great heart toward them.  Even if they live in simple huts with dirt floors.

I spent a few hours with a magnificent African grandmother, a powerful woman perhaps a little older than I.  Her life had been hard like so many, but she had a history with her heavenly father.  Miracle after miracle attended her and her family.  Her sister, a nun whose total possessions are two dresses, had accumulated rights to land and resources for building a church and school only to have it all taken away by jealous parishioners.  She entrusted the matter to her Father and began again.  Within a couple of years, she had rights to much more land and resources.  She's built and staffed a school and has plans for so much more.

So then, what of the rest?  What might be the lot of my friends who live as squatters on land that will be developed next year.  They've received notice that they must leave in six months, but they have nothing and nowhere to go.  Ideas?

Update, May 2014.  With a little help, they've bought and now fenced a small plot of land for their new home location.  They called yesterday, laughing.  It was raining so hard the kids couldn't see to go to school!  The rain makes the elephants happy, they tell me.  Building a home is next.