Monday, November 19, 2007

October 27, 2007

When Jennifer spoke to Joyce, a YWCA director, to ask what we would be doing that day, she said we would be “meeting the people.” Since it was election season and the YWCA had had visits from foreign ambassadors, I dressed nicely. This would prove to be a mistake later.After picking up Joyce at the Y, we drove out to the Likoni Friends Church-Galana Project. Galana should be about a 2 hour drive from Mombasa – 1 hour on the freeway and 1 hour on dry riverbeds. The freeway drive was smooth. As we made the transition onto the riverbed we picked up two church members, and were followed to Galana by a taxi matatu. For about thirty minutes we thrashed about in the matatu driving through the rugged terrain. Then, a little less than halfway to the top, we got stuck in the mud. Enter my sartorial mistake: my skirt and wedges were not the best “push a four ton vehicle out of the mud” attire. Fortunately, the men in the matatu helped push us out. After about 20 minutes of pushing, we were free. About 10 minutes later, we were stuck again. This time we were free in about 15 minutes. Everyone except for Jennifer got back in, just before we had to speed through a shallow river. Jennifer was intrepid enough to cross it on foot, but rode the rest of the way up. The riverbed from there on was much smoother. When we arrived at the church, there were about a dozen chairs in the front. This was the only seating in the church – as the guests we were asked to sit, the 100 or so members of the congregation stood throughout the service – which lasted about an hour. The sermon was conducted in English (a courtesy us), but translated into Swahili. Jennifer, Mama E and I were invited up front to say a few words, and then the church collected offering. In this very impoverished area, everything was accepted as an offering, e.g. eggs. Joyce donated $1000 KSH (Kenyan Shillings, $65KSH = $1USD) to the church to buy a bench. Afterward, the church prepared food for us, which we politely declined (Joyce translated this for us. We didn’t because of food safety concerns, but she put this much more gently.) When the food was brought out for us, all of the church members left, I assumed to go on with their days, and only the senior church members stayed behind with us to eat.
When we went outside, the entire congregation was, in fact, standing patiently right outside the church. It turns out that the feast was for everyone, but the congregation was to eat after the clergy, and the children last.
As we prepared to leave Galana, Jennifer and Mama E talked to some of the church leaders and I took in the scenery. One thing I noticed was that there were no houses. Our first time getting stuck in the mud was directly in front of a house, and we passed a few on the way to the church. However, those were several miles away. When I mentioned that to one of the church staff members, Joyce (who had to translate) explained that Galana has no school or medical clinic, and that the people are scattered all over the country side, and no one close to anything. (I guess the American equivalent of Galana would be remote Alaska – only with better weather.)
We couldn’t stay long because the trip back was so long, and we had to err on the side of caution due to the treacherous roads. However, navigating the roads downhill proved easier than going uphill, and we got to the freeway uneventfully.
On the way back I made yet another stop at Nakumatt and bought a few things for the Enlightened Support Group.
We returned to the hotel so early I thought I’d go to the gym. That was until I realized it was as sanitary as your average latrine. Instead I went back to the room to download my photos off my camera. Unfortunately, when I tried to balance Jennifer’s converter (which weighed about two pounds) on the table so that it wouldn’t fall out of the socket, it – surprise – fell out the socket and broke. Jennifer needed the converter to juice her computer; she had missed a few of our outings studying for a course. Things did not bode well for the next couple days… (*cue horror music*)

* What to support the Likoni Friends Church?
Mailing Address: Community of Matuga Self Reliant Christians, PO Box 96583, Mombasa, Kenya
Bank Account: Likoni Friends Church-Galana Project, A/C No. 1101147600, Bank of India Mombasa Branch
* One of the congregants was holding a shopping bag from the bookstore at Lakewood Church - Mama E’s home church. It turns out he had worked in Houston.
* Speaking of the weather, since we were south of the Equator, it was late spring. It was actually about 65-70°F the entire time with sporadic rainbursts and wind. Both times I’ve been to Africa (Dakar, Senegal, Feb 1998), I’ve been on the coast and spared and brutal heat.


More photos

On the way to Galana

More of Likoni

More photos of town

Turning off the freeway to Galana

On the way to Galana. Self portrait

On the way to Galana. Self portrait.

Joyce on the way to Galana

Joyce on the way to Galana…

Mama E on the way to Galana

…and Mama E

The dry riverbed

The dry riverbed. In this blurry photo, you can’t appreciate how soft the clay looks.

Galana countryside 2

A view of the Galana country side, about three minutes before…

Jennifer stuck in the mud

…the first time we got stuck.

Galana countryside 1

A view from the first jam.

Stuck in the mud

Stuck in Galana

Waiting for backup.

Give us free!

Getting free.

Mama E after the breakdown

Mama E cheers us on.

The Galana Church 1

Inside the Likoni Friends Church – Galana Project

Preaching in Galana

The clergy. The man with his arm extended is holding the Lakewood bag.

children of Galana

the Galana congregation

Jennifer, Mama E and Joyce at Galana

Jennifer, Mama E and Joyce

the Galana children's choir 2

The children’s choir

the Galana children's choir 1

The dinner at Galana

The dinner

the Galana children's choir

Right after service

With the Galana congregation

Joyce, me and Mama E with the congregation

Outside the Likoni Friends Church - Galana Project

A child in the Galana countryside

The view from the top of Galana

Children and cattle in Galana

A cattle farm in Galana. The smoke in the background is land being burned to create farms.

Clergy, Mama E, church members and me

A church pastor, a church staff member, Mama E and me with church members.

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