It has been two weeks since I landed on American soil, a statement I still have a hard time believing when I hear it coming out of my mouth. Two weeks, half a month since I left Kenya and a whole host of amazing people behind.
It has also been two weeks since I left malaria behind, and I can’t say I am too upset about that.
In all honesty, I am at a bit of a loss. While it is certainly not as bad as when I arrived in Kenya, the culture shock here has been disorienting and uncomfortable. While Southerners are considered the friendliest of the American bunch, people here still get disconcerted when you knock on their door at 7:30 in the morning and plop down on their couch for a 30+ minute conversation (sorry Jessica!). Southern Hospitality has nothing on day-to-day Kenyan behavior, although I will admit it’s nice not to be waylaid by a Kenyan and end up being an hour late for a meeting.
Incidentally, Americans don’t shake everyone’s hand when they enter a room and people will treat you like a crazy person if you strike up a conversation with a random stranger on the street.
I am adjusting.
My last day in Kisumu was quite eventful… well, as eventful as a day in Kenya ever was. After frantically finishing our packing and attending a farewell lunch at OLPS, Katrina and I said our goodbyes before heading to the airport. And true to African style, our car was delayed by a muslim burial. Apparently the men will carry the coffin on foot to the cemetery, heedless of traffic. At least they didn’t tie it onto the back of a motobike.
I was happy to see that despite my malaria, the progress on the water kiosk was moving along, albeit slowly. Between the rains impeding supply procurement and a last minute change in the construction plans due to the sheer amount of rainwater dropped on the foundation, construction has been considerably slower than first projected.
Paul, the Kenyan that took over my project management duties when I left, tells me that water will be sold from the kiosk starting Thursday!!!
Coming back to the States, I was able to take a step back and see what we have accomplished.
- Extension of the water tower up to 27 feet: Check!
- Raising the damn tank to the top of the tower: Check!
- Digging the trenches and laying 1.1 kilometers of pipework: Check!
- Road permit (apparently you need a permit to lay piping across the road): Check!
- Easements signed for the donated land: Check!
- Water permit: In progress! (that thing is a BOOK)
- Kiosk constructed: Half-check!
I think I can safely say that my trip to Kenya was a success.
So what is left? You ask. The villagers of Kadiju will have access to clean water this week, so why are you still raising money?
Firstly, the kiosk.
All of the initial plumbing will be in place and a basic structure from which the caregivers can sell water. It is a very basic set-up, but one that will work for now as I continue fundraising to finish it. It is servicable, with four walls and a ceiling slab, but it still needs to be finished and weatherproofed.
Secondly, the water was only half of this project (albeit the lion’s share). The other half of this project is focused on the drip-irrigated demonstration garden that will be attached to the kiosk. This garden will serve as a learning center for the community of Kadiju which is made up primarily of laborers and small business owners. Farming is an important part of the peri-urban and rural Kenyan life and providing a resource location to teach the village members updated farming techniques is vital in the face of food insecurity.
The last part, and the closest to my heart, is training. While we have completed the sensitization training on health and sanitation issues, we still are waiting on the funds to host a management training seminar for the caregivers. These women have dedication and heart, but lack the experience in running a water kiosk business. While they could do so even without the training, providing them with this seminar will increase the income and sustainability of this water project. I will talk more about the training in my next blog as I could write so much on it alone!
Needless to say, I won’t be bored in the next three months. If you know anybody who would want to donate to this project or if you want to host an event, let me know!