I consider myself lucky to have had the chance to take part in one of the most fulfilling experiences ever. I am writing this article after having spent a month in Kenya on a mission trip aiming to reach out to various social groups: street children, boarding school kids, youth, abused women, mentally & physically disabled, etc. Our work was mainly focused on two cities: Nairobi and Naivasha, and I am pleased to share with you some of my personal observations.
In a social context, the thing that struck me the most was how deeply Kenyans – or generally speaking, all Africans – are attached to their African culture and traditions. Even though Religion has widely spread across the Continent, it seems that these traditions and beliefs are strongly rooted in people’s minds and hearts, to the point that – in times of contradiction – culture surpasses faith.
Another thing I noticed is the joyful spirit of Kenyans. Regardless the extent of poverty, people seem to have made their peace with these harsh living conditions and are satisfied with the least possible. This is why they appear to be very cheerful and enthusiastic about life, which is something I had not expected, especially when compared to the bitterness some Egyptians show towards certain blessings which they take for granted.
When it comes to social problems in Kenya, prostitution and rape take the lead, followed by a despicable level of corruption – widening the gap between social classes, not to mention unemployment, human trafficking and drug & arms dealing. Another aspect I consider relatively negative is the elevated degree of tribal affiliation. There are around 42 tribes in Kenya, each with its own dialect, traditional cooking and clothing, and some even living in their own lands, which to me seemed like a division of society, specially that these tribes violently stand against one another, for example during presidential and parliamentary elections.
Moving on to a different context, one cannot visit Kenya without being amazed by the magnificent beauty of its nature. The fauna and flora are simply spectacular and the scenery is extremely diverse: from lakes and rivers to hills and mountains, from rich forests to dry plains, from heavenly beaches to arid deserts … Also, the climate there is perfect for cultivating flowers, especially roses, making the landscape of acres and acres of flower farms simply mind-blowing. On the topic of crop growing, tea and coffee there are something else! Not to mention how delicious all fruits are, whether it’s mangos, papayas, passion fruits, bananas, watermelons …
Wild life is just out of this world! Animals are living among people in perfect harmony. Just walking down the street, you can find on your right a giraffe nibbling on a tree branch and on your left a family of zebras enjoying the vivid green grass. But to experience true wild life, one must not miss the opportunity of going on safari in any of the National parks or reserves. We went to Maasai Mara National Reserve and – no matter how hard I try – no words can describe the magnificence and glory of God’s creation.
Finally, I have to admit that I fell in love with this tropical country and would recommend to all those reading this article to seriously consider going to Kenya on their next vacation!