Thursday, November 03, 2005

More from Ben about the trip in Western

Dear Friends--

A couple of additions to yesterday's entry.

Therese's full name is Therese Mutopa Tshisuaka. She is from Kinshasa MM in the Democratic Republic of Congo. She has an accent egue on the first e, an accent grave on the second e, and no accent at all on the third e.

Also, the "Rondo rainforest" is actually called the Kakamega rainforest. Rondo is the name of the set of cottages we stayed in in the Kakamega rainforest.

I also skipped entirely one of the more interesting stories of our trip. Driving back from the Kakamega rainforest, we began to notice that there was a sense of unrest in the people around us. People were telling us that we should turn our car around--that it was not safe for us to drive into Kisumu. The car right in front of us was carjacked from its owners. We turned our car around and drove through crowds of people to get to a deserted part of the highway outside of Kisumu.

We waited there for quite some time. Children gathered around our truck, shouting pleasantries at us, climbing on the truck, and eventually poking their hands into the windows. Even the children seemed menacing after what we had seen in front of us on the road. In the covered bed of the truck, we waited for what seemed like an eternity, as the Graces consulted with a private security agency and between the two of them sorted a way to get home.

We drove all the way around Kisumu, about an hour out of our way, and finally made it home in time for a quick repack and then a dash to the airport. Raul observed wisely that it is the custom in Africa to dash to transportation--the mad taxi dash to the train, the mad truck dash to the bus (which I don't think has been mentioned), and now another mad truck dash to the airplane.

As with the bus, we made it to the airport in plenty of time. By that point, we had shaken off the fear of being trapped in the car.

In the back seat were Holly, Therese, Rachel, Raul, Jesse Grace (seven year old son of Eden and James) and I. Eventually we realized that this was more matter-of-course to Therese and Raul, as they had lived perhaps half their lives in the midst of civil war.

We found out later that four had died in the riots, all the result of police fire into the crowd. The reason for the riots was an intense political issue here in Kenya. They are debating whether to approve a new constitution. Apparently twenty years of work went into drafting a constitution that would be acceptable to all parties. But that constition is not the one that will be voted on--instead, they are voting on one drafted by one of the senior politicians here.

The groups in favor of approving the new constitution have the symbol of bananas--they sell bananas, they wear yellow, etc. Those opposed to the new constitution have the symbol of oranges--they sell oranges, they wear orange, etc. Central Kisumu is very much orange territory. The riot occurred because the bananas decided to hold a rally in Kisumu, which the oranges didn't like at all.

It has seemed very safe here with the exception of that drive around Kisumu, though. The election is occurring right before Thanksgiving--may God keep Kisumu safe until and after then.

In the light,



FWCC -- Africa Section has posted some great photos from the WGYF - Africa on their Web site. Check them out!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

of homestays and departures

Dear Friends--

I am writing from the African Ministries Office of Friends United Meeting, located in downtown Kisumu. As far as I know, I am the only international Friend who attended the conference in Kanamai who is still in Kenya. Jason and Mark flew away on Thursday;
Grace, Holly, Raul, Ru, and Therese flew away on Saturday; Lomuria took a matatu home on Saturday (a matatu is a nine-person minivan which can be hired to provide transportation--these things are *everywhere* here); Rachel flew home on Sunday.

After the conference ended in Kanamai, we took an overnight bus to Kisumu. It was a grueling trip--road quality varied from very good to quite bad; temperature went from the dry heat of Mombasa to the bitter cold of the mountains near Kisumu; some of us fell ill right before the voyage. But we got to Kisumu in one piece. After a long rest at the house of the Eden and James Grace (and Jesse and Isaiah Grace, too), we met with the leaders of all of the Yearly Meetings in Kenya. We talked about the WGYF in Kanamai, about youth leaving the Quaker Church (which is a difficult problem here in Kenya), about gender roles, and about a great many other things. All were pleased by this chance to meet, even for such a short period of time.

That night we also spent at the Graces'. The next morning we split into two groups to travel to all of the many yearly meetings in Kenya's Western Province, where the lion's share of Kenya's 140,000 Quakers live. (See,_Kenya for more information.) The first group, consisting of Holly Baldwin, Grace, Eden Grace, Mark Sailor, and Jason Tres Reyes, travelled in the south. The second group, consisting of Ruadhan Barry, Ben Guaraldi, John Lomuria, Raul Perez, Rachel Stacy, and Therese (whose last name I don't know), travelled in the north. Then the two groups met up in the Rondo rainforest for some closing time before folks took their planes home.

The northern group had stops at the FUM hospital in Lugulu and the yearly meeting offices in Kitale. We had homestays each night. I think Raul enjoyed going to the hospital the most--he repairs hospital equipment in El Salvador, and so was pleased to be in a place like his home.

Not much is coming to me from that trip north--hopefully others will be able to fill in some of the details. What I remember best is travelling by matatu, and the wonderful hospitality provided by our many Kenyan hosts.

On Saturday, when Grace, Holly, Raul, Ru, and Therese flew away, Eden and I realized that these were five people from five continents boarding the same plane from Kisumu to Nairobi: Grace from Australia, Holly from North America, Raul from Latin America, Ru from Europe, and Therese from Africa. They were all Friends and they were all friends. It was a lovely sight.

In the light,



Dear Friends, this is Robin writing from Nairobi. It was really great to meet you all and it was sad to see you go. I hope everyone got back to their respective countries ok.
I am attempting to upload the updated FWCC-Africa Section website, which includes several pages on the WGYF-Africa, under the Africa YF heading. Should be up today, but net is SLOWWW!
Chris and I selected what we thought were the best and most appropriate photos all those who contributed photos (thanks guys!). I would also like to make a link to this blog page so that African YFs can be invloved in the dialogue. Would that be ok?

Love and light, Rob and Chris (Nairobi, Kenya)