It has been a time of visiting a wide collection of different projects and meeting with many different people – I think I’ll be making my introduction speech in my sleep for a while yet!
My travels have brought me far from the big city now: on Wednesday we travelled around 6 hours to a town called Eldoret towards the Ugandan border in Western Kenya, and now we have come a little further to a place called Mumias. En-route I finally was able to see some non-city scapes – skirting the Rift Valley was a glorious sight to behold, with sweeping slopes and majestic peaks on all sides. As my soul feels most enlivened in open spaces, it was a happy ride! Oh, and the usual zebras (!) and camels (!!) hanging out by the side of the road made for some variety. Y’know how it is.
Seeing the world in 3D
A conversation with the principal of a primary school earlier today was very enlightening. At one point it was relevant for me to mention poverty in the UK, specifically the rise in the use of food banks, and that some of the problems faced in Kenya are very much felt at home as well. My audience almost fell off their chairs in surprise. This seemed like an entirely new concept to them. Indeed, Fred expanded later that many people in Kenya simply wouldn’t believe me. The media portrays us as an entirely rich nation, “who throw their TVs away after 2 years to buy a new one”; the poorest man in England could save up to get the airfare over here and then “get whichever woman he wants”, with the wholesale assumption being that she would live in wealth for the rest of her days.
Of course I’m not going to bang on about poverty in the UK, because in many ways the impacts here are deeper and wider, and we are undeniably a richer nation on the whole. However, it emphasised once again the importance of education both ways – just as we should understand that the media’s portrayals of Africa as a poverty-, war- and disease-ridden continent are not the big picture, so it needs to be seen this side of the waters that we don’t have it all. Seeing is believing, as they say, and I know that’s one of the biggest impacts of our teams travelling out: the reality of the situation in technicolour.