This year’s trip has the first team of travelers landing in Nairobi at 9:00 pm on September 21. Since we will have started in Boston at 8:00 pm the previous day, we are imagining a slightly bedraggled team on arrival. But with so many schools to visit and just a few of us to make the rounds, we won’t rest long.
With help from our local van driver, Richard, Harriet and Amy will head north from Nairobi for Kenya’s Central Region. This first few days sees us visiting no fewer than eight secondary schools all over the region and visiting with Senior Chief Koinange and other local leaders in this vibrant part of the country. Beatrice has planned carefully, and we are no less honored to be meeting with a few of our fantastic graduates. They will have traveled in to share with us their experiences since secondary school and their ideas for supporting other students as they make their way out into the world.
We are fortunate enough to have two more members of our team, Kathleen and Louis, joining us in Nairobi on September 26. So with no time to spare, we finish up our last meetings in Central that day and drive back into Nairobi for the night.
An early start has us heading by van again back out of Nairobi. This time, our journey takes us to the Rift Valley, Marigat District. In this beautiful and fabled part of Kenya, we are deep in Masai country. Our coordinator has already hinted at a welcome feast with a freshly slaughtered goat.
In Rift Valley, we split up to visit schools-with difficult (sometimes impassable) roads and lots of country in between, we need to go in two directions to make sure we see all of our Rift Valley students. If we are lucky, we will stay with Caroline in tents near her home, but the rains these past few months have been threatening our plans, and we may end up in a hotel near Lake Boringo for our two-day stay. Rift Valley also affords us some of the few hours of recreation time we’ve scheduled for this two and half week trip-with some help from Caroline and her husband, we will steal a few hours on our way out of town to see the wonders of Lake Boringo and its famous flamingos.
The drive from the Rift Valley to Nyanza and Western Provinces is a long and slow one, but we will be rewarded by the chance to visit some of our favorite schools. In this area where Kenya sidles up to Uganda (or perhaps the Kenyans would say it is the other way around), we meet up with Lake Victoria, the largest tropical lake in the world. We arrive late in the afternoon for our four-day stay in Western, and thanks to some energetic planning by Godfrey, we have plenty of visiting to keep us busy: students, parents, teachers, church leaders, community leaders and anyone else who can share with us their ideas and thoughts on life and education in this part of Kenya.
We spend our last night in Kenya in the city of Kisumu, where we will be looking out for Brite, Kisumu’s only female taxi driver and an old family friend. But first thing in the morning, we say goodbye to our Kenyan van driver and board a 7:40 am flight to Kilimanjaro Airport, Tanzania.
The final five days of our trip all take place in the shadow of Africa’s highest mountain. In Tanzania, we visit schools from our base at AMEG Lodge in Moshi, at the foot of the mountain. While most of the team finishes a second day of school visits outside of Moshi, Amy will have a chance to meet with Sister Salome and catch up on events at our Uganda locations. And at the end of the stay, Sister Lucy and Sister Costa host us and all of our other coordinators for a one-day conference. This is our chance to see how many girls we can help, how many young women we can send to university or vocational programs, what other organizations we can connect with and how, in general, we can work harder for the sake of East Africa’s girls.
When the conference is over, we fly home through Nairobi, stopping for a few hours to meet with an international human rights attorney during our layover and blinking a tired but reluctant goodbye to Africa for the year.
We will be posting here as we go-use the “follow this blog” feature to the right of your screen to follow us as we undertake our East Africa trip 2012.