The Least of These

The family in front of their new home. 

The family in front of their new home. 

The latrine before the door and walls were put on. 

The latrine before the door and walls were put on. 

Monday

Today, the rest of the team that did not go to the Mara went back to the IDP camp where we were building the latrine earlier in the week and finished working on it. I’ll try to explain to you briefly how the latrine works; there are two sides…one for using the bathroom and one for “showering” (bringing in a bucket of water and dumping it over yourself). The side where you use the bathroom has a place where “liquid waste” goes, and a place where “solid waste” goes. The solid waste is contained in a large bucket underneath the latrine, and once it is filled up, it is left to sit for 6 months, and then used as fertilizer in the “shamba” (garden). Sounds pretty gross, right? I thought so too, but it is actually great for these people. Without these latrines, the people are using the bathroom in a hole in the ground…and it smells absolutely terrible. So this is a much more sanitary and less smelly way to use the bathroom. While most of the men worked on building the latrine, I helped one of the women at the house where we were installing the latrine shell peas. One of her children came and helped us too. I got to talk to them for a while. They have lived in this IDP camp since 2008. Luckily, the government has given them money to build proper houses, so they are no longer living in the tents that they used to be living in.   They are very thankful for this. The goal of Start With One Kenya is to eventually have one of these eco-sanitation latrines installed at every home in this IDP camp. However, they cost around 1,000 U.S. dollars to install, so it will take some time. The one we put in today is the second one in the community. There were a lot of kids walking around the home that we were at today, and I got to play with some of them today. There was one little girl who was 11, and she walked around all day long with a 1 year old baby on her back. It amazes me how much responsibility young children here have. After we finished shelling peas, the wife of the household took me into her “shamba” (garden). She had a lot of crops such as corn, peas, squash, tomatoes, etc. She gave me some things to bring home with me. They sell a lot of their crops in town; however, it is a good 15 mile walk to town from her home. Her husband makes pots and pans for a living. He melts down old aluminum cans and other scrap metal over a fire, and pours it into a mold. It was very interesting to watch him work. After we got home, I went over to Noxie’s house and told him goodbye since he will have to go to school early tomorrow morning. It was really sad to tell him bye. I’m really going to miss him. I can’t believe that we’re leaving tomorrow; it has been an amazing week and a half and I really hate to see it end. I have been blessed in so many ways, and I think that I have been a blessing to these people. I can’t wait to come back next year; it can’t come soon enough. Our flight it tomorrow in the middle of the night (3:45 am). We have a short layover in Istanbul, and then we go to D.C. where we’ll drive back to S.C. I know it will be extremely hard to leave this place tomorrow; I’m honestly dreading it. However, I know that I will be back. 

Me in front of some of the homes in the IDP camp

Me in front of some of the homes in the IDP camp

Sho Sho in her home with her new water filter

Sho Sho in her home with her new water filter

Sho Sho looking into the filter

Sho Sho looking into the filter

Sunday

Today the rest of our team left for the Masai Mara for the safari. Only me and Courtney and Bob and Bill and Chat stayed behind. Today, we went back to Gil Gil…for those of you that have been reading everyday, this is the IDP camp that we had to leave the other day before distributing water filters because of the weather. When we got there, they were having church; and when I say church, I mean they were standing in the middle of a field singing and worshipping. It was an amazing service…it lasted about an hour and a half. They were all so happy and joyful even though they didn’t even have a building to worship in. After church was over, we did they clean water presentation. There was one woman there who was 80 years old…everyone called her Sho Sho (grandmother). This is extremely old in Kenyan culture; the average life expectancy is 50-55 years old. She was extremely skeptical at first about how well the water filters work. We put a pile of cow poop in the dirty water bucket and filtered the water through to the clean water bucket. She made her way up to the front of the group and started looking into the buckets and trying to figure out how the filter worked. It was hilarious. After the water filtered through, she was the first to take a sip of it. She was extremely surprised to find that it was clean. We then walked to the people’s homes and put the filter’s into their homes. Their “homes” consist of tree branches with plastic bags draped over them. These people have been living in these tents for the past 3 years. There are families of 5 and 6 people living in most of them. They were extremely grateful for their water filters. There was one precious little girl living in the camp who was probably not even 2 years old; while we were in their camp, she kept following me around, but every time I would turn around and acknowledge her, she would start crying. Her mom told me that she was afraid of me because of the color of my skin. It was really funny. As we got ready to leave, the people started singing a song in Swahili and making motions over our heads like rain; the pastor told us that they were raining blessings over us. It was a great day, and I’m so glad that we got to go back to Gil Gil and spend time with these amazing people. I just pray that some day soon these people are able to get permanent homes; as we drove away in our van, I couldn’t help but cry for them. They are such amazing and happy people, and yet they have nothing.  Tomorrow, we are going back to an IDP camp that the rest of the group went to while I was at the clinic. We are going to finish digging a latrine for the people to use. It should be a great day. I can’t believe that it is my last day of work here. I really do not want to leave. I’m sure it will be another great day. 

Nyama Choma

Nyama Choma