Very few of us make the Journey to East Africa and fewer still leave the well worn tourist trails of Serengeti Safari’s and Mt. Kilimanjaro. The majority of Africans still live well outside the view of the worlds eyes and sadly, unless great tragedy befalls the people of Africa, few of us think much about what life is like there. A couple of years ago I traveled to a remote area of western Kenya to work in a mobile medical clinic trying to give what little help I could to people who are all too used to fending entirely for themselves. I was fascinated by the world I found in this little corner of Modern African countryside. Here is my attempt to show a little from this trip and a small glimpse into these ordinary and extraordinary peoples lives.

Some of what I found was beautifully rural, and African, and everything I had hoped it would be.

Although still mostly a very rural, farming culture; Kenya is dotted with small cities rarely seen by western eyes. Downtown Bungoma is a place to behold. Dirty and hot; crowded with bikes, cars, buses and people. Overwhelming the senses and leaving me wanting to at once sit down and watch the city go by and also to quickly get as far away as possible.
As is the case with many little corners of the world, the markets are center of everyday life here. Very small, very smelly, dried fish…in case you were wondering what that is being sold on the tables.

Homes here are simple but often achingly beautiful. Behind this house you can see the friendly woman who cares so meticulously for this one room house. It is not easy to care for a property like this, I saw people both sweeping dirt lawns and cutting grass by hand. 

 

Childhood in Africa is one of play and school balanced soundly by the hard work required of everyone for a family to survive here.

I found myself amazed at every turn by the ingenuity and hard work of the Kenyan people. I challenge any of you to find a better way to transport seven unstackable wooden chairs on a bicycle.

The children were infectiously happy and resilient.

The food is simple and bland(and entirely without protein). Seen here is the staple food of the region, Ugali(cornmeal) and  Sakuma wiki(boiled greens). Occasionally a chicken or goat is slaughtered, however this constitutes something like the loss of a pet and daily food provider so is only for special occasions.

Is there a place in the world you can’t buy a coke?

I was endlessly fascinated by the combination of old Africa and the modern west that was often combined, usually in awkwardly comical ways.

This boy, who I met while on a walk with one of my translators, was earning a living by paddling people across a river that had no bridge for miles in either direction. He seemed to be doing a brisk business on the day I visited. In case you are curious the fare was about 10 cents, making this one of the more profitable business models I saw(at least until the government builds a bridge).

Scenes like this reminded me that Africa is still a beautiful place, but often left me wondering if the western culture and technology that is being so rapidly adopted is actually improving any aspect of the peoples lives here.

Modern Kenya is wonderful and confusing. It’s amazing people are struggling daily with extreme poverty, corrupt leaders,  malnutrition and illness. They are living on the fringes of the modern world, living equally off of the land and off of the excess of the west. Spending time in Africa is an important step to understanding life in what is frequently called the third world and helps to remind us that in reality we all share the same world.
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