Category Archives: Kenya 2014

Utooni sand dam

Clean water and spiritual refreshment

This past week was full of ups and downs. Our group as a whole was quite nervous about our stay at Utooni for our sand dam project. We had no toilet, no shower, slept on metal cots, and ate the same food every meal for 5 days. For a typical American, it sounds a little terrifying. Surprisingly enough, looking back on our experience it was our favorite part of the trip for many of us.
The sand dam project that first began in 1978 has been becoming more and more popular as time passes. Sand dams are reinforced concrete walls built on a rock bed across seasonal rivers to capture and hold water under the sand over a rainy season. The sand dam that we helped build and fund will decrease the distance for families to get water from 11 km to 2.6 km which will decrease the amount of time spent getting water from 6.2 hours to 54 minutes. Most families need to pull their children out of school to gather water for survival. With water close and more available children can spend a lot more time investing in their education. This clean water supply not only goes towards clean drinking water but it assists in water supply for cooking, watering crops, and washing injuries to prevent infection. We learned that this project will DIRECTLY improve the living conditions of 2,000 people.
Through difficult manual labor we learned the value of community and God’s presence. Three different communities came together to complete a project that would have taken many weeks for only one community. The amount of love and compassion was completely humbling and indescribable. The Kenyan communities with little to no water supply view this sand dam as nothing but a blessing sent straight from God. During work days, the daily routine was filled with laughter, singing, and dancing. Our views of incredible hospitality continued even through the sand dam project. Never did we feel out of place or unwanted even as minorities.
Throughout our entire stay in Utooni, God seemed to always be in the center of everything. For myself and the majority of my group we felt a sense of spiritual refreshment. Many of us have not only just been on a cultural journey but also a spiritual journey. Kenyan people have reminded us over and over again that they trust in God to provide. In the midst of being surrounded by nothingness we were able to strip ourselves away from what we always see, and view life in a different manner. We were able to distinguish poor from rich and many times we viewed our society as poor. Poor not in an economic way but a spiritual way. The society we have been submerged in has forced us over and over to see past materialistic patterns and look for the spiritual ones. As a whole the Kenyan society embraces the love for each other, but most importantly Jesus Christ. Never once have I heard anyone complain about their situation, but they are always praising Jesus for the many ways they are blessed each day.
-Katie Miller

Kenya students 14

Kenya: Summer 2014

Hah Jambo (hello) from Kenya!

We have had quite the busy week and a half. We have been experiencing so many things not only about the Kenyan culture but also about ourselves. Last week when we arrived we toured Nairobi and all the ladies bought a Kanga to wear when we are doing one of our projects. We have planted trees to help offset the carbon emissions that we will produce with the total air miles we are accumulating. Our tree planting experience was an interesting one in the fact that none of us really expected to only plant a couple trees each. At the place that we were staying for this we had a tour guide named Mark, who is working on biodiversity and is in my opinion the Albert Einstein of trees and plants. I found the experience a very humorous one and our first real look at how Kenyan people normally don’t go from point A to point B in finding a solution but going around in a circle until an answer or conclusion is reached. Continue reading