Reports in my Kenyan home town, Kitengela on Friday, March 13, 2020 were that the virus had arrived in Kenya.
The day was like any other typical day in Kitentgela, located an hour south of Niairobi (pop. 100,000). It was full of people milling around the outdoor markets with the town cows wandering through the market as usual. Vendors were lined up on the side streets selling bananas, tomatoes, and live chickens.
Family, co-workers and friends had been filling me in on what was happening globally, in addition to what I was picking up on here in Kenya. It had me wondering if I should keep my April 16th travel date, or change it. The airport, which is the long rope I must pull to get back home to the US, was open for now. Other news said all in and out flights might stop indefinitely. For those that don't know, I had malaria a few times since I started living in Kenya over 12 years ago and so I know the health care system here is spotty at best. People die from simple things (e.g. - lack of tetanus meds.). A deadly virus could be ruinous for me. For everyone!
My close American friends who have lived here for the last 15 years got stuck more than 3000 miles away in Mali – the other side of Africa! Mali government had just blocked their exit and flight back to Kenya. That got me thinking, how would I like to be stuck in Kenya?
Thoughts raced through my mind. Could any deadly virus really be locked down? How many months would it be like this? Might Kenya, with primitive toilet options, spotty water availability, no hand sanitizer and weak medical care, collapse politically, economically, even socially? The average, prudent Kenyan feels their government is corrupt. They say so without prompting. Deep distrust of official announcements is almost certain. Would Kenyans ask themselves “Is this a political scheme? Can we believe this?” and ignore important directives if the government published a statement of “A deadly virus is here”.
Well, that day, I decided to change my original April ticket with British Airlines. For 2 days I could not get through by phone, but finally on the third day I got a reply. Nothing to Philly, but what about DC or Newark, NJ? I agreed to a flight leaving that same evening. Racing around my apartment, I shoved things into a bag, cleaned up and made it out on the flight leaving at midnight.
Thursday I arrived home in the US. Our dear friend, Mark Manniso, picked me up, to deliver me safely to Newark, DE. He doused me with rubbing alcohol, then handed me a box of St. Joseph’s cakes in honor of St. Joseph’s Day. Even the 6 lane traffic on the NJ turnpike was a relief!
So great to be home!
The poor families we work with in Namelok, Olepolos and other villages remain. For more than 12 years we have struggled with them for clean water and a better life.
Loving our neighbors has never been more critical as we face this turbulent time with this disease outbreak preoccupying everyone. We still have our Kenyan team on the ground to continue our critical work for the communities we serve.
More than ever, as they wait for the impact of the virus in Kenya, we continue to support them with prayers and donations for new life-giving, life-protecting water supply thanks to you and Water is Life Kenya.
Joyce lives most of the year in Kenya. She finds being on the ground and working with the communities intimately helps her to relate to their culture and needs. It also provides her with a comprehensive in-depth understanding so that Water is Life Kenya can properly come along side them and empower them without impacting their culture adversely.
Water is Life – Kenya
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