Hi everybody, my name is Lorna Hickerson and I’m volunteering for the month here at Gail’s House for Children, here in Kibwazi, Kenya with Nomad Charities. After 2 solid days of travel from Bend, Oregon I was overjoyed to arrive in Nairobi and meet up with Jenn at the Stanley Hotel for a shower, some food, and much needed sleep.
The next day it was my pleasure to meet Benjamin, a Nomad graduate and a student at the University of Nairobi.. Benjamin is what my father would call a “fixer”. He knows everyone and can quickly arrange and coordinate almost anything. He is a remarkable young man with ambition and energy, who will go far in life. However, like most students, he struggles for money for books, foods and living expenses.
We left Nairobi, in the car Benjamin had arranged for us, on the “highway” that leads to the coastal port city of Mombasa. This is the primary route of all goods coming and going from Kenya. The highway is single lane, one in and one out, jammed with trucks moving shipping containers and bus loads of people. It is said to be the most dangerous road in Kenya and after an hour on it I could easily see why. Trucks, buses, cars, and tons of motorcycles pass at every opportunity in a constant game of high speed, .leap frog.. Looking at the passing scenery is much more serene. To my left I spy Mt. Kilimanjaro peaking out from a cover of clouds. Suddenly, Jenn leans over and points out giraffes in the distance, tall, regal and a bit surreal.
As we pass through towns traffic slows to a crawl as vendors run to the windows of the passing busses to sell produce to the passengers through the windows. Stalls made of sticks held together with ropes line the road 20 deep all selling onions, garlic, watermelons, and tomatoes.. After a sweltering 5 hours, Jenn points out the huge cell phone towers on the large hills in the distance. These mark the turn towards Kebwazi and Gail’s house.
Kebwazi is a sprawling ramshackle town of shops and shacks. The poverty that dominates its residents lives is palatable and turns my stomach at first sight There are very few cars. Motorcycles, bota botas, and bicycles are the primary means of transportation for those lucky enough to have them. The road turns to dirt as we cross over a dried stream bed that clearly washes out the road during the heavy rains. Suddenly we turn down an unmarked dirt road and the red roof of Gail’s House comes into view. The large metal gate flies open and we are greeted by a gaggle of smiling boys, an ecstatic puppy and the warm smile and embrace of Rita.Gwapedza. The warmth, excitement and appreciation emanating from everyone fills my heart. I am overwhelmed with happiness to finally be here.