Stuck in miles of traffic cars in Nairobi swerve recklessly from lane to lane to make even the smallest bits of progress. Well, I say "lane" but that word is relative--the once clear paint marks on the road make no difference as there has been made 5 lanes out of a supposed to be 3 lane road. Somewhat frustrated about it all my friend asks Michael, the Kenyan native and our guide for a majority of the trip, "Michael, is there not something the government can do to regulate this mess?"
He responds after just a short moment of silence. "You see this traffic? This 'mess'? This is a good model of how our government is functioning."
Never before had it been so clear to see the government's lack of performance when it comes to its essential duties, responsibilities. The conversation proceeded on and turned into a discussion about Western concepts and political ideologies being thrust upon Kenya's Eastern mindset and the discrepancies that are formulated from that happening. Kenya's tattered democratic governmental infrastructure who's primary purpose is to serve the people of Kenya has abandoned its responsibilities of offering basic needs to its citizens. In the grungy gears of its political mechanism, the lack of productivity has stabbed apathy into its own heart.
Recognition is step one into solving any problem--unfortunately we have got lots of step one people who never make their way to step two, offering a solution. What then can be done? The good fortune here is that people have gone ahead of us here and relief efforts are being put into place despite the governments own shortcomings.
Whenever we asked our leader of the trip how long it would take to get to our destination, a community of indigenous Maasai Sumburu people of Northern Kenya, from the airport his response was simple. "Forever," he said. 18 hours later split between two days of driving, over half of which had been on the worst dirt road I had ever ridden on, we understood what he meant, but none-the-less we finally arrived. Our journey had begun in the city of Nairobi with a population of over 8 million and along the drive poverty became more and more evident--houses constructed with less Western materials, communities grew smaller and and the space between them grew larger, jeans and t-shirts were becoming less common being replaced with symbolic fabric and beaded jewelry of a wide variety, and gauged ears, bracelets, and necklaces adorned the people's bodies. The drive ended near Maralol, a tiny city miles and miles from any Western development. By that time it was dark--we unloaded our luggage and just before walking into the house that was made of mud and straw I looked up at the star-lit sky, and it was beautiful.
A large portion of my time I have spent in Africa has been dedicated to visiting wells that have been placed in order to document the work that has been taking place. Little did I know that two days after I arrived we would travel to a place that put the aforementioned "forever" road that we had deemed "the road to Hell" to shame. It led to a small town chiseled out the side of a mountain where an epidemic of waterborne diseases had broken out because there was no clean water to be had, only a dried up mud hole where stagnant water had formed. The water wreaked of bacteria and parasites. We arrived at the well that was placed there. Women happened to be fetching water from it with 5 gallon jugs and we told them that we were representatives of the people who raised money to have it installed and they were instantly grateful. Love that transcends boundaries and color erupted from withing everyone there. The children were dancing and playing and gratitude welled up from withing the adults with the exception of one lady was only suppressing her joy because she was scared of the cameras, something she had never seen before. Efforts are being made. And solutions put into action.
To see images go here--I've only uploaded a few. These images were taken at the Bonaire well which is the one that was being described in the journal entry above: