today was the last day of my work in kenya. the drive to kwale was long and bumpy, as always, when going out to the field. the sun was out early, blasting rays. i suppose it is better than being caught in the rains , like the week before. the last 2.5 weeks in kenya have been fruitful. it is always nice coming back to mombasa, where i spent 2.5 years. nairobi meetings were intense. seeing friends that i made in the 3.5 years of living there was great.
there is a lot of good stuff happening on the ground in kenya. we still have a lot to do to get the reading and continuous assessment programme to where it should be. the 2 day training/workshop that i did with the teachers and programme officers was hopefully informative – and something that they can apply in their classrooms and schools.
last week, as we drove from mombasa to the rural areas in kinango, about 3 hours away, i noticed that more than half the people i saw walking, were shoeless. how can one walk miles without shoes? jiggers, a disease which can be found in the foot, is a result for many. a few days ago i thought i would buy some shoes for the people of kinango and kwale. however, more than ‘some’ was required in order to help the many shoeless people. i sent out a facebook message to friends and the response was great. several people have donated funds and more are intending to do so. i picked up a ton of shoes from bata and some local vendors, both. i picked up a range of shoes, from closed toed, flip flops, to ‘fancier’ and more supportive ones. today on the way to my ‘work’ programme areas, we distributed shoes to random men, women and children that we saw on the roads. we looked out for people who were walking around barefoot, stopped them, asked them why they were not wearing shoes, and if they did not have any, went through the process of helping them find a pair that fit. some individuals told us that they had shoes but left them at home today. for example, the man who had to climb the coconut tree, felt no need to bring his shoes along with him today. so we really were looking for those most in need.
we had some interesting responses from people. a lot were too scared at first to stop and talk to the 3 men and myself in a pick up truck. what did we want? why were we asking them where their shoes were?! as they warmed up to us, we engaged in more conversation, soon finding out if a pair of shoes were needed. people were happy, thankful and confused. a couple of individuals asked what they had to give us in return. i guess getting new shoes from strangers is not common practice. i am happy to say that most of them are going to pray for everyone who assisted in this project. there were some wonderful smiles and happy faces – giggles and laughter from 2 women that were walking miles to get to the main road. there was one woman who wanted a specific pair of shoes but we did not have her size. we offered her another pair but she did not want it. she wanted the small pair that didn’t fit her. we tried to explain that we could not give her a pair that was too small, as it would result in other physical problems. she ended up leaving without a pair. we met another older man who did not want to speak to us at first. then he became nice when he found out we had shoes. upon asking if i could take a picture of him, he said that it would cost me another pair of shoes! incredible. it was so nice to see so many people happy because of of individuals who were kind and big-hearted – so thank you to all that donated and to those that are still planning on it. we still have a lot more people to equip!
the final pair of flip flops went to….?? i left them on a long, dirt, windy road. someone lucky will find them!
this has been a great trip overall. it was an ‘eat’, ‘pray’ ‘love’ session. i ate well for the most part. i did pray as i made it to khane (mosque) often. it was kind of nice to be part of the ‘community’ for a short while. i do not have the opportunity to do that on my other work travels. and being in geneva, well the sense of community is non-existent for me there. love; well, i guess if you count loving the work that i do with the foundation, well then that must count!
i am taking the weekend off to recuperate. i head to uganda on monday for more field visits and trainings. the visits in uganda are always a bit more tough. i will take the idea of the ‘shoe project’ to that part of east africa with me.