Trizia, the woman with the perfect cornrows, held my hand in hers. “I’m glad you’ve come when we’re happy,” she said, holding her other hand out to the skies. “The rains have arrived.”
And so begins my second day in Kenya. On my first day, after a nighttime arrival, the greeting came from a herd (do you say herd?) of wild giraffes. And wildebeasts, zebras, impalas, black ostriches – all the more amazing as I’m not here on a safari but to talk to people like Trizia about what their needs might be and how someone in languages might meaningfully help.
I spoke not only to Trizia today, but to a Bishop names Timothy, a farmer named Julius, a hotel manager named Margaret, a driver named Eddy and a gatekeeper who asked me what the night sky looks like from my country. I’ve just now found a cyber café next to our simple hotel, and have a moment before dinner to reflect on a day so full I don’t know how I will put down even a fraction of it down in words.
I won’t try, after all, but will simply give you some of the words others said to me today.
Come have tea with us. It’s always tea time in Kenya
Around here you can look around and just count the NGOs. But most of them just put up structures then they leave.
There was a broken wind-powered water well in a town I was in, and I asked the people why they didn’t replair it. They told me, it’s not ours. It’s the white man’s. He’ll come back and repair it.
We don’t want money. We want people who can help us build capacity.
If you don’t build capacity, even if you invest millions, the projects will collapse.
We can do many things, but there are certain things we cannot do alone.
Women are as competent as men, sometimes moreso.
And this was from a 51 year old black man! He went on to say:
Women here raised 3.7 million shillings (for a project), the men 3 million. Now men are competing with women, and this competition is good!
There’s so much more I could tell you, such as the 14-year-old Canadian boy named Jeremy Dennison who raised $25,000 to bore a well for a girl’s school, but I’ll leave with just one final word:
If your vision doesn’t scare you, it’s not big enough.