Dispatch from Kenya: Crutches 4 Africa July 5

The following daily diary is from Cassidy Johnson, a Scottsdale student who is one of six Valley high students visiting Kenya this month to distribute mobility devices as part of Crutches 4 Africa, a service project sponsored by Arizona District 5495 Rotary’s Interact Club. Miss Johnson is a senior at Desert Mountain High School and an assistant governor for the District 5495 Interact Club.

Miss Johnson has agreed to share her journey with the Independent readers via her personally written dispatches.

Visit here to read more about the journey.

Crutches 4 Africa Dispatch: July 5

I woke up this morning to loud chanting and prayer music at 5:30 a.m. after falling asleep at midnight. It was our first night and morning at Emily’s house. Emily is so kind and accommodating – she told Lauren (chaperone Lauren Lucas) and I about her move to Kenya, her experiences with Naivasha, and the amazing work that she does here.

Emily’s business, which employs more than 100 full-time workers in Naivasha, works to counteract the major poop contamination problem worldwide.

After an amazing breakfast of avocado toast and eggs, Lauren, Emily and I walked to Muthohi and Chris’s house to drive to meet the rest of the team and head off to GilGil.

When we arrived in GilGil, we picked up a local Maasai man named Joseph. Joseph guided the bus down a dirt road lined with small vendors that eventually led to a grassy valley area. We parked the bus on a grassy patch of land and loaded our backpacks with dresses and shirts for the Maasai village we were to visit.

After a short walk, we arrived at a compound of four small, concrete houses, two fenced enclosures for animals and a sitting area for the village elder.

A woman dressed in colorful cloaks approached our group and shook everyone’s hands. We later learned she was one of the elder’s three wives. Based on the cultural experiences of previous years, we knew that the men were to meet the country elder before any of the women.

After the men approached the elder, we women were allowed to approach and shake his hand. Our team was given permission to hand out the clothing we brought, and the women happily accepted our gifts for their daughters.

A sample of some of the mobility devices to be distributed by Crutches4Africa in Kenya. (Bret McKeand/Independent Newsmedia)

Next, we took off on our Maasai water walk. The Maasai water walk is a several-mile long walk that Maasai women embark upon daily to get water for the village. The women follow about a dozen burrows that carry large, empty jugs.

We walked about a mile with the Maasai tribe before getting back on the bus and driving toward Elementaita Lake to watch the flamingo migration. On our way, the Maasai elder jumped into our bus for a ride into GilGil!

At Lake Elementaita, we saw thousands of light-pink flamingos that had arrived there two weeks ago after their migration. I purchased a feather hair bow for $5. We left Lake Elementaita and went off to eat a very late lunch in GilGil.

We pulled up to a restaurant with huge cuts of meat hanging in the window and several women carrying chickens by the feet – both inside and outside the restaurant. I was asked if I wanted to buy a chicken and I simply told the woman “abana,” which means no. How in the world could I get a live chicken through U.S. Customs?

Inside the restaurant, they cooked goat, chicken and beef in an open fire-pit-like stove. We took bags of bone-in chicken and goat accompanied by cooked greens and vgali. I was once again quite proud of myself for trying this meal. My first real “Anthony Bourdain” experience!

After lunch, we drove to the sports center and played darts and pool with Ian, Susan and Duncan. Lauren and I then went back to Emily’s house before dinner. We took a walk by Naivasha Lake and saw our first giraffes! There were tons of zebra and one “mama” giraffe with three babies!

We also saw lots of partial hippo bodies in the lake and had to be sure to leave the area before sunset, when the hippos come out of the lake.

After our walk, we arrived to dinner an hour “fashionably” late and I tried goat for the first time. I like it, but will probably stick with chicken. We headed to the club at around 9 p.m. and danced with Rotaractors until around 11 p.m.

I was super tired upon my arrival at Emily’s house, but can’t wait for our distribution tomorrow!

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