I am excited.
Tomorrow, after a hiatus extended by COVID, I am heading back to visit friends in Kenya.
My first trip to East Africa was in 2003. It was all new and kind of scary to be in a world that seemed quite different from what I was accustomed to. Little did I know as I set out on that trip that was focused on touristic activity that I would return multiple times over the next few years and develop friendships and associations that have enriched my life incredibly. My travel through much of East Africa with students of the McGill Canadian Field Studies in Africa programme (CFSIA) from 2004 to 2013 took me to small villages and rural campsites as well as larger cities like Nairobi and Kampala and Dar es Salam. I have snorkelled in the Indian Ocean, wakened in the night to the sound of lions grunting just outside my tent in the Maasai Mara, met folks in the Nairobi Kibera slum, and flown in the cockpit of a small plane over large herds of elephants. But the most memorable and lasting memories are of living like one of the family in various homes in Kenya and Uganda. I learned so much about life and culture and society in East Africa from the many, many Africans I have met. I have lived in small communities without seeing another muzungu (white person) for a week. Tomorrow I will finally be heading back to see friends who are like family to me and whom I have not seen in over four years.
In addition, in April 2008, along with Canadian friends, Judith and Alex Adam, Marie Richardson and Mark Waldron, I started a Canadian charity – the CanAssist African Relief Trust – to help provide sustainable infrastructure to schools and hospitals and villages in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania. We had no idea that from our small beginnings, this charity would still be thriving in 2022. From its inception to the present, CanAssist has sent over $1,700,000 to help many East African communities! Although I have retired from the board of trustees for CanAssist, while I am there this month I will revisit several CanAssist partner sites, including our first school project, the very rural Adam Nkuyan School.
This week as I prepared for this upcoming safari, I have reread my pencil-scrawled journals from my earliest trips. So much will have changed from those earlier safaris, and likely much will have remained the same. As I travel over the next three weeks, I will reflect on those changes, and also on things that don’t change. My trip this time is mainly to visit people I have come to love and respect in small Kenyan communities. I will share some of those experiences here as they unfold.
And, of course there will be pictures.
Please join me, if you like, as I rediscover Kenya. I will try to post something every two or three days. If you want to follow along you can enter your email address and click Follow in the column on the right and you will be notified when I publish a post.