I just took one of the best showers of my adult life. (The other being that which took place at the Jinja Nile Resort in Uganda.) Hot water? Water that I can drink and brush my teeth with? A toilet? That works!? All of this in a little place called Britanny House, Kitale.
I swear to God, the shower was big enough to waltz in. Which I did. Alone. (Wow, maybe I shouldn’t have shared that.) Anyway, it couldn’t come at a better time.
Yesterday was fun. I got in a car accident. Why do these things follow me around? Like it’s just a friendly reminder from the almighty that I’m suppose to stay out of and away from motor vehicles. It was possibly the most stressful day in the slum so far. I know, you’re probably thinking, “Well, yeah, it’s a slum.” But everyone we met in Kibera was nothing but generous, warm, welcoming, engaging, patient, and of course, curious. Once they knew our intentions, and the work it took to get here they were more than supportive.
At church I even drew applause from a youth group. That was unexpected. But yeah, it was our last day. Crammed for time, surrounded by at least 7 kids at a time, all talking at once, and racing the sun. It was rather trying, lets say. I feel like I’m rambling. Let me break it down. This is a matatu:
You have to be a friggin’ acrobat to get into one (especially with a tripod, boom pole, and camera gear pack), and you have to be a fucking maniac to drive one.
Kibera: Matatu to City Center Nairobi: not bad, traffic jam, yes, but at least we didn’t run out of gas. Again. City Center: Taxi. Haggled from 1200KSH to 800KSH to 850KSH. (Don’t ask. I was desperate.) Taxi gets blind-sided by a matatu and struck from behind by another matatu. My neck hits the head rest and the taxi driver tells us to wait for another car to come and pick us up. Yeah. Sure. So another matatu pulls up next to us. Its headed for Donholm, where we are staying. Its 8pm and we are still in the middle of the street, dirty, sweaty, and smelling like human fecal matter. (Oh yeah, I slipped in Kibera. My left foot submerged in their sewage.) PS: im not complaining or disparaging. “It’s just the way it is,” as I’ve learned. The new matatu has no lock on the sliding door. Its held together by a black rubber band. So, naturally, I feel confident and secure. New matatu not only rides the sidewalk and almost runs over tens of people, but also, defying all reason, goes against traffic in a roundabout. By the time we arrive, I feel like Nairobi is kicking my ass out. … and into a palace called Brittany’s House in Kitale, where we are now. Showering like kings.
The mosquito nets are literally galloping over the full size bed! I have a fuckin MINT on my pillow. And its huge! (OK, fine, its a bar of soap.) A balcony, garden, and rooms themed to different Kenyan tribes. (We’re Kisii’s!) Not to mention 7 adorable kids from age 3 to 14 to play soccer with, pick and eat fruits from the trees, and watch bootleg DVDs with.
What’s alarming, is that just down the road is a camp for internally displaced Kenyans (an IDP camp.) We are going there tomorrow with Sister Freda, an amazing woman who runs the local hospital, cares for 7 abandoned, orphaned, and disabled children, and feeds over 100 kids a day with maize and beans from her own fields. She also grows and sells coffee on the side, is starting a nursing program, and accepts international volunteers. And tomorrow, we are going with her to pick up drugs to take to the IDP camp for distribution and informal counseling. She struggles to get by herself for the benefit of others. Amazing woman. I want to hug her everytime I see her or hear her voice. Too soon for that though.
She’s just another person I know I will be blessed to know; another experience I can already feel rushing through me. The human quality of selflessness, strength, and generosity I’ve witnessed here brings me to tears. And yet so many people are afraid to come here. War, poverty, AIDS, famine. How did a continent with so much to give become so narrowly defined? Next time you read something in the news about Africa, remember that there will always be people out there inspiring a chance for peace for all of us.