CTM Kenya – Kisumu (Western Kenya)
Last weekend was the biggest adventure but also the most challenging experience thus far. On Friday we were invited to enjoy a potluck with the CTM interns where we got to learn how to make Kenyan food and brought French toast as our American dish! This was a casual experience where we got to strengthen relationships with the interns. After dinner, we took a taxi to the bus station and began an 8-hour overnight journey to Kisumu (the 3rd largest city in Kenya at 355,000 people).
We were invited as guests to stay at the house of a friend’s grandmother. During our stay, we felt like a resource to be used instead of guests. Without warning, we were expected to pay for gas (for two cars when only one was needed) and buy enough food to feed the entire household, which consisted of some family but mostly hired help. Additionally, we had purchased a gift and were informed that a tip was expected. We felt like we were forced into a situation where we were manipulated out of a significant amount of money. The late grandfather had worked in the government and the family had more wealth than any we had met, even employing three Maasai guards for their compound.
Our time in Kisumu was difficult because it made obvious a strong association between white skin and money. We had trouble getting to know people because we felt that they were trying to make financial gain with the pretense of friendliness. It felt like friendship prostitution. The tension caused by perceived money made it impossible to form any real friendships, which was disappointing.
Despite all the obstacles we faced, the situation exposed us to a side of human nature that made us appreciate the genuine relationships that we have found in Nairobi. After returning, it was heartwarming to be reminded that the kids we teach simply want love rather than money. We also got to take a motorboat ride and see wild hippos in Lake Victoria (the source of the Nile and the largest tropical lake in the world). Dan Yockey also had the opportunity to ride an African spinny thing with a cute German girl. Score!
Sunday night we departed Kisumu at 10 pm. Imagine trying to sleep while riding a bucking bull and you will have an accurate picture of our bus ride back. We tried gripping the armrests to prevent flying a foot in the air with little success. Jonathan broke his seat as it was slammed against his back. Ouch. The roads were that bad…
Look forward to our report from Mombasa (Eastern Kenya) next weekend!