The Kenyan Contrast

I’m pretty sure we’re all well aware of the fact that we live in a world with excessive luxury and utter poverty, it’s just that in Kenya and more specifically Mombasa there is a visual line between the haves and the have nots. Literally, a wall divides the rich from the poor; expensive landscaped lawns dangle over tall walls taunting the litter filled slums below with lush excess. My week too has been one of extreme contrast, days spent “teaching” English to orphans and street children with others spent lounging poolside at posh resorts by the sea. Our house full of all your standard luxuries (flush toilets, running water, wifi) is less than two minutes walking to one of the biggest slums in Mombasa where packs and packs of shoeless children play in the swampy garbage filled streets. our local cafe….

The village, called Shauri Yako, which in swahili means “it’s up to you” as in nobody’s going to help you, it’s all up to you is a maze of mud walled, tin roof huts that touches the walls of Mombasa’s biggest estates. The village children actually seem to run this joint, if not in actuality then in appearance, there are hordes of children of all ages in an array of dirty garments running through the streets calling out to all the white passerbys “howareyouuuuuu” not knowing what it means or how to respond when you reply back. Despite appearances the slums seem like an  organized and happy place, although all I’ve done is pass through them on our way to school to teach the children who are lucky enough to be enrolled in Precious Elementary. Every morning the kids start the day with a song that gives me chills…

Precious is the school that I’m “teaching” at, although I’m not sure what they’re learning because when I say teaching I mean sharpening pencils, handing out books, asking the 16 children ranging from 6 to 13 to get off their desks, sit down and stop climbing up the closet while wondering how it is that we learned to read in the first place. Utter madness but the theory is that a) they might learn something b)they’re off the streets and c) we feed them breakfast and lunch which might be the only meals these kids get. It’s a challenging, inspiring job which gives me a new found respect for teachers and an appreciation for the resilience of the human spirit. This kids are tough, badasses that have more life skills then most people I know, myself included, and have witnessed more in their short lives than the average bear. They have huge radiant infectious smiles despite the fact that most of them have lost one parent to AIDS and have adult responsibilities from the age of 4 ie cooking, cleaning, washing, gathering water and caretaking.Madam Jaimee and I with our girls and brian…

As much as it is inspiring it’s also a bit of a slap in the face, and a challenge to what we in our privileged lives can handle….not to fall back on the starving children in China statement of the 1950’s but just to be aware of the blessings we have and to appreciate where we’re at or some sort of feel good new age crap. So here’s where I’m at…..a fully appreciated morning by the pool and an appreciative afternoon spent playing with children at the orphanage.

PS….it really is Africa hot in these parts….


5 thoughts on “The Kenyan Contrast

  1. Great blog post and photos here, thanks for sharing! And, disregard my tweet; now I know where you are in Kenya! (looks like Meru is a bit of a hike, about 700km away. big country!) Make the most of your great adventure! I’ll look for your updates here now.

  2. Wow, Tricia! Sounds amazing and challenging and inspiring! Talk about giving perspective just in time for Thanksgiving! Love ya! Xo

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