Where You See Lions?: A Closing


The memory of Kenya is all I have left. I remember the overwhelmingly green hills and mud rivers. I remember the crowds of children in high-pitched nasally voices yelling “How are you? How are you?” over and over at me. I remember getting stuck in African rain, mud clinging to the back of my legs, waiting for the rain to let up shivering under a banana thatched matatu stop. I remember the old mamas dancing and singing me down the road, grasping my hands, and asking me to return again one day.

The situation of Africa currently is dire. It’s not only the fault of corrupt governments or environmental disasters or inadequate international aid or deteriorating infrastructure or endemic disease or any number of other causes. Africa is in a dire situation because all of these causes feed and intertwine with one another to delay or eliminate positive effects. I am not suggesting that Africa will forever be subject to persistent poverty, disease, and death. I am suggesting, however, that the international community in conjunction with African political, community, and tribal leaders must act now and quickly to avert or prevent future disasters.

Currently, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) there are unspeakable acts of violence going on destroyed psychologically from the 1994 genocide have been carrying out crimes against humanity in eastern DRC. Rape and brutality are becoming everyday occurrences for the people of villages and communities. Although there are 17,000 UN peacekeeping forces currently in the region, the DRC is close to the size of Western Europe and the third largest country in Africa. Peacekeeping is an uphill battle, and those living in these communities are running out of time.

In the horn of Africa as of today, there is a drought effecting millions of lives. Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, and Tanzania among others are directly impacted by this environmental disaster in the making. Somalia is already fragile enough that a highly disruptive event such as a drought could send the country into a downward spiral fostering terrorism, war, and death. Somalia will not be able to weather this drought without sustaining international emergency aid and continuing grants and loans afterward to reestablish the economy.

I love Kenya. I love Africa. But there are problems on the continent that are beyond their resources. I am looking forward to returning as soon as possible to Kakamega. If not there at least to a new place in Africa. The beauty, the sadness, and the resilience of the people of Africa is astounding.

To end Where You See Lions? I’d like to share a few excerpts of my journal during the summer.

July 10th, 2007

“Yesterday, I went to Khayega with Bridget, Janet, and Ana to take a look at a program that CARD (Janet’s organization) holds every Saturday. It’s free VCT services (Voluntary Counseling and Testing) for HIV/AIDS. Each councellor meets with people for between forty-five minutes and an hour to speak of life style habits, high risk activities, etc. in a confidential setting.

I think it’s amazing the way it’s set up. There is a comprehensive evaluation and counseling before a person learns their HIV status. Additionally, they have a DJ playing music and theater groups performing in order to make it more inviting. Honestly, it’s a fantastic program.”

July 13th, 2007

“Last night, I fell asleep pretty peacefully until about 11:30pm. I wake up feeling something in my hair. Naturally, I freak out a little, fuss at my hair, feel around in the dark. I don’t feel anything so I lie back don. Then something (a roach) climbs on the top of me and bites my hip. I scream horribly and wake up Judith. I hate those roaches.”

July 20th, 2007

“After my first month in Africa, I can confidently say two things. I don’t understand Africa. I understand why people love Africa. I have only been to Kenya, but it is the kind of place that I could be happy. There is terrible corruption, roads are atrocious, disease is ubiquitous, and money is scarce. At the same time, family is essential, money is secondary, and community comes first. ”

August 3rd, 2007

“Mayowa and I saw it was going to rain so we grabbed bodas and headed back to Azare. Well, wouldn’t you know that half way there, it started to pour and my boda wouldn’t continue. The roads are awful in Matioli so I can understand why. But after fifteen minutes, I decided to walk the final mile to Azare. It was hateful. I was soaking wet and muddy when I arrived. I saw Mayowa shivering in the rain and sat next to him.

We waited two hours for a matatu but none came. The roads were too bad and the rain did not let up. So we called a taxi to get us. The taxi took another hour at which time two matatus came by. However, they preceeded to get stuck in the mud one by one. So when the taxi came, I was happy to my way down the hazardous road to Shibuli. When I arrived home, I was wet, muddy and cranky. But I was home.

The following day, I wake up at 5:45 am to get to Milimani. I spoke to Janet, and she was telling me that I had to get there by myself. Okay, no big deal.

I get a matatu out past Lubao and deal with an hour trip of being hit on by some older guy who wanted a green card in the U.S. I switch matatus at Junction and go to Turbo silently screaming the whole time because honestly, I have no idea where I’m going.”

August 10th, 2007

Paulina, mtoto mzuri, Paulina kiba
Paulina, mtoto mzuri, Paulina kiba

Habu cheza qua maringo tukuonae kiba
Habu cheza qua maringo tukuonae kiba

Eba chikicha chikicha eba (Repeat)

August 19th, 2007

“I am in Uganda overlooking the source of the Nile. I am tired, beat up, and my skin hurts. But I am absolutely happy right now.”

August 21st, 2007

“I am currently at the end of my final theater workshop in Butere. I thought this was going to be difficult. Now, I could do this lecture with my eyes closed. In addition, I am beginning to memorize the Shakespeare by heart, which is nice…

I really like the Butere CBO. Maybe the reason they are so good is because of Zablon. Maybe not. But they work hard, they’re fun to be with, and I enjoy teaching this group. I hope that I’ve actually made an impact.”

August 26th, 2007

“It was both how I imagined it and how I couldn’t have imagined it. Kibera was further than anything I have ever personally experienced. It was very difficult to imagine daily life there even with it in front of me.”

August 28th, 2007

“I am definitely excited to be in Amsterdam. Another country to add to my map. I’d like to go to Vietnam, Iceland, Ghana, and Senegal. Those are my top destinations now.

The guy next to me just pulled out a laptop in at the train station. I am millions of miles away from Kenya.”


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