Kenya Update #4: Ngomano to Namanga

Aerial View

Staying at the Clay School provided wonderful opportunities for both our students and the Kenyan kids.  Lots of wonderful interchange took place, learning about local practices, and of course, some adventures.  At one point our staff made a trip from Ngomano into the nearby town of Wote to get supplies.  Foragaing through the very few and very limited shops, they eventually managed to get drinking water, mural supplies, and yarn — but just buying paint, masking tape, turpentine and some brushes took over an hour.  While returning, their jeep got stuck in the sand…  fortunately, some gentlemen bearing a strong resemblance to Bob Marley and the Wailers came along in a tractor and were able to pull the vehicle loose!

Although Clay School funding largely comes from America and other outside countries, the design premise of its founders was to serve the people based on their ideas and needs.  This is a powerful, and unfortunately uncommon, strategy, since too often what is called “development” in poor countries is in fact arbitrary, and reflects the culture of the funders more than that of the people.  Consequently, the Clay school incorporates round buildings, in keeping with local tradition.  There is more integration between the school and the village than is typical, and education and economy — such as through the basket-weaving co-op — are consciously linked.  Along with the people of Ngomano, our students are beneficiaries of the vision that underlies the Clay School.

BasketsAnother feature of the linkage between this school and its village is its production of food.   Their garden is a huge , and includes corn, various legumes, green vegetables, tomatoes, and groves of mango and papaya trees — the fruit of which was shared generously with our group.

It was of course a big upheaval to leave Ngomano and the Clay School behind.  Our Explorations kids prepared a miniature “Term-End Event” that was patterned after our recent school play, and was entitled “Muzungu in Kenyaland.”  (“Muzungu” is a rough Kenyan equivalent to “gringo.”)  The mural was dedicated, emotional goodbyes were expressed, and the Explorations group headed off to its next destination.  Reflecting on the first, fruitful segment of the journey, Kaya wrote:

Already being here, I have gained a level of appreciation I never imagined possible.  Each day has met me with an interaction or experience I couldn’t have prepared for.  At times the level of poverty I have seen has made me question even the possessions I had on hand.  As much as I have found our lives a gift, and placed new values on the resources I am so very thankful for, I have also found myself in a place of envy.  The rich culture and guidance here provides these people with a sense of self assurance I have rarely seen in adults.  The spirit and determination is so beautiful.  I am filled with excitement for this trip’s continuation and for adventures to come. 

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAThere is not much to say about the hot, dusty, seven hour bus ride to Namanga.  But arriving in the Masai village, our group was greeted by a handsome dark-skinned man in full Masai dress, including a spear!  Everyone was crammed into a Range Rover along with our host, driver, host’s friend, driver’s friend, and one woman with an infant who just needed a ride.  A raft of plastic chairs were strapped on top using a piece of tire. This was the start of our time with Logela, our Masai host, en route to his “boma” (encampment/compound).

Before parting with our other driver, we had a toast of Coke and Tangawizi Soda toast in the middle of the bumpy dirt road in Namanga.  This impromptu ceremony was surrounded by Maasai men and women, goats, cattle, passing motorcycles (one with an electric keyboard strapped on, another with six live chickens tied on the back rack with twine) and some piles of burning garbage.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAWe drove to Logela’s boma as the sun set behind the mountains, with Mt. Kilimanjaro in the distance. Thunderheads with lightning rumbled past as the stars emerged.  Upon arrival we were greeted by about ten small kids who each presented their forehead to the adults as a sign of respect, wanting to be touched.  Logela showed us our tents under a huge acacia tree.  We sat around a campfire (on the plastic chairs we brought, it turned out) and had Maasai tea, which is mostly hot milk and some sugar, with a little tea in their somewhere.  After tea and  conversation with Logela and his friend Jonathan, we had dinner prepared by his wife Joyce. It was rice and a legume called green gram, like small lentils. After dinner we did some planning and then lay in our tents listening to the stirring winds outside, the noises of donkeys, a dog barking in the distance, and a subtle chorus of cowbells from Logela’s cattle, which constitute much of his wealth.

[Editor’s disclaimer:  Once again, the miracle of sending photographs is still eluding us on this expedition.  Therefore, the images in this post are either from the Clay School or from our last Kenya expedition.  They are, however, from the actual places the students have visited.]

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One Comment on “Kenya Update #4: Ngomano to Namanga”

  1. Taryk Ferris Says:

    I love reading this blog. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences. Stay safe.

    Nate’s Dad

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