Kenya Update 7 - closing observations


Kisumu – two lane roads with no markings, poor shoulders, random speed bumps and potholes that would eat most suspensions and/or car tires and cars, mixed with piki-piki’s, tuk-tuk’s, matatu’s, bicycles and pedestrians. Piki-piki’s are a small 125cc engine motorcycle that carry from 1-4 people (I have heard up to 5). Matatu’s are everywhere and seat 14, but may carry more. They are usually a converted Toyota mini-van, of the bread loaf styling. Tuk-tuk’s are 3 wheeled and carry around 3-4 people. In general people walk everywhere, and carry a lot with them. Mix all this with cows, bulls, goats and the occasional 2 wheeled cart which generally use car tires. Any people moving vehicle may start and stop anywhere, the matatu’s the most erratic of the bunch. Vehicles are right hand drive. People walk everywhere in and amongst the traffic day and night. No traffic lights anywhere. Very little signage. No one anywhere wears bicycle helmets. Only the piki-piki drivers wear helmets, none of the passengers. People ride on the back of bicycles on a small seat, with small bars under the main seat. Some women well dressed ride side saddle and talk on cell phones as they ride.

Nairobi – very rare main roads are 4 or 6 lane. No speed limits posted, rare signage. People walking everywhere along the road side and crossing the roads day and night with very poor visibility and minimal overhead lights. Even these major roads have roundabouts, and u-turn options. Amongst all that are the matatu’s and larger buses. Again on major roads there are speed bumps not marked and the occasional big pothole. Coming back from the aiport to Hampton house at night, the road suddenly went from 6 lanes to 1.5 on each side, became rough and uneven and had big drop-offs on the shoulders, only marked by stones and rebar on the edge. No signage again about the narrowing or construction. Side roads generally very bumpy and some with major potholes and destroyed road surfaces. Very few major roads overall, mostly a network of rambling 2 lane roads all thru the city.


Everywhere the people are kind and smiling. They do have a sweet spirit, as my friend Gary Ames pointed out. They do not seem depressed or downtrodden. Almost all are spiritual in some manner, and most Christian. They are open to discussing prayer and Christ. Hard working, many work long hours to support themselves and family. I am told the average wage is around 200 shillings per day. Mike, our taxi driver says, that once a boy turns 15 generally they are built their own small house on the parent’s property – and move out of the parents home, “they don’t share the same entrance into the home any longer.”  The kids are always smiling, seem to love Mizunguu’s and want their picture taken. They are optimistic, regardless of the setting it seems – from Kibera to the tribal village unit. They do not know any other life, nor have dreams or understanding of what it could be like….. 

School is taken very seriously throughout Kenya. Education valued highly and children strive hard to be the best in class. Uniforms worn. Teachers respected. Visitors very welcome.


Everywhere, even in very poor regions.   People obtain a phone, then buy coded cards that buy airtime. Calls apparently cheap. Texts are 1 shilling to send, free to receive. Cellphones are used to transfer money between people, generally at M-Pesa booths. No banking as such, but you have funds in your cell account, and in that way can send funds to others via cell phone. I called Frankfurt from Nairobi for 87 shillings, or about $1, for about a 3 minute call.


Mostly a vegetarian diet. Ugali is a corn glob, that is stirred a long time with water over heat. When finished it is about the size of a round loaf of sourdough bread, but completely white and with the consistency of fresh Playdough. Very bland, it becomes your eating utensil to pick up food with your fingers. We had beans, green grams (lentils), and greens (like collared greens).

Fresh chicken at David Isuvi’s which they had killed was pretty tough and muscular due to its running around!! Chipati is a wheat flour flat bread cooked in a skillet with vegetable oils – saturated with fat but quite tasty! Very few utensils used, mostly hands. The tilapia meal in Kisumu was interesting for sure – see my photos (when I can get them up).

Security is big business. It is everywhere and employs a ton of people. Security for NI, hotels, hospitals, grocery stores, malls, homes, businesses. We needed security to walk thru Kibera. Three guards with AK-47’s or Kalashnikov’s escorted us throughout for 5,000 shillings. I am told that if you are caught stealing in some areas it may be punishable by death. One of the locals apparently stole a digital camera from a friend of Bob Wendel’s and he has been in prison for 3 months, still awaiting trial. Police can randomly pull you over, sometimes to extract an illegal fee for “road maintenance”. At major Nairobi roundabouts police are stationed by 5am for any incidents, and work shifts covering the particular roundabout. When things get busy, they may stop traffic to allow flow in one or two directions only. But if you are stopped, you will likely be ascended upon by large groups of individuals selling stuff from world maps to shoes to figurines to trinkets to jewelry and even Masai spears.


Still I am baffled.  We have missed something of the significance of the placenta.  In US hospitals it simply disappears, or so it seems.  Not so in Kenya!  Some tribes have traditions with it, such as burying it on your home soil, to more or less stake claim to your family's connectedness to the earth and soil on which you live.  Most have now gotten away from that tradition, but how one disposes of a placenta is still a matter of controversy.  Hurlingham Women's Hospital in Nairobi incinerates them.  Most hospitals we visited though seemed to use an in ground placenta pit, where it is tossed whole.  Others macerate the placenta then put it into a pit.  Some of the outlying clinics do incinerate them, yet the Kenyan inspectors do want to be certain your incineration temperatures are high enough; but some inspectors apparently may still require you to dig a pit.  You may never know, until you are going for inspection.

Regardless, it is a big deal to Kenyans, and does hold a more honored/respected place in their culture than we may ever fully comprehend.

Thank you for reading and traveling along with me!!  It will take me some time to process all this; and I know I am a changed person because of it.  I hope to be able to return to Kenya/Nehemiah International someday soon to find an expanded healthcare center in operation.


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