The next four days were spent with our guides walking around the village doing research. Farida and I interviewed a lot of people: households, the village doctor, the chief, and the school headmaster. We also took samples from the river to test for faecal coliforms, in order to assess its safety.
There were some frustrations, all of which were very educational. Here are a few examples:
- We had trouble getting people to agree letting us record interviews. A lot of them were very uncomfortable with the idea of being recorded, even though we explained it was only for the sake of getting the information right and that we wouldn’t do anything funny with the recordings. This often made it a bit of a challenge to interview people and get everything down. This is something I now know that I need to prepare myself for in the future. I hadn’t even thought about this being a potential problem.
- There was a bit of a debate because in the past people who had been interviewed had been given gifts in return for their participation, such as sugar or soap. From this year on we’d been urged to stop doing this for ethical reasons I can’t be bothered to get into here. Farida and I had some people refuse to talk to us because of this. Fortunately it was only to begin with and once word got out people more or less stopped bringing it up. I felt really guilty about it, but at the same time the logic behind the decision is sound.
- The water sample testing took a lot more time than we had anticipated, so I had less time to do interviews with households. I had been hoping I’d be able to get enough people to do at least some statistical analysis, but I ended up not having enough people to do that. Again this taught me to be better prepared.
According to my results, although I haven’t begun the analysis of my data, all the people in the village get their water from the river, except for a few who cross the river to get to a borehole pump some distance from the other side of it. The only people who do this live close to the river so there isn’t that much of a distance. There are three locations on the river where people get their water, depending on how far away they live. Some of them have to go to the river 2-3 times over the day to get water and it takes them up to 2 hours every time.
There are two boreholes in the village, but both of them are broken. One since last summer, and one since December. This means that instead of getting safe water from the boreholes, people have gone back to the river. According to our water samples the river water is not safe for drinking, so this is a serious problem. The problem is that they do everything else in the river as well as drink from it. They bathe in it, they wash their clothes, they fish, they pan for gold, and they play in it.
I had no more problems with the heat after that first day, but the heat did get pretty intense at times. I started burning soon after we got there, much to Thomas’s confusion. At one point he pointed at my arm and asked if the red was because of the sun. I told him yes and that it was quite painful. It was strange talking with someone who isn’t familiar with sunburn.
On the 22nd we wrapped up our research in the morning. Farida and prepared samples of water from the field centre’s borehole, because according to another group that had been there the water wasn’t safe, and we spent the morning getting as many interviews as we could. After lunch everyone got together to talk about our research and prepare for presentations of our findings which we had to do later in the day. People from the village came around and put together a sort of market for us. We spent some time just walking around buying a few things in an effort to help the community. I bought some beaded jewellery and two gorgeous bowls.
In the evening we presented our findings to the chief. It was wonderful to be able to tell him what we’d been doing there and he graciously accepted all of it. The water situation was made clear to him and we were told that efforts would be made to bring an engineer into the village to fix the boreholes and to collect money to put together pipes that would pass water from the boreholes to the villagers so they would be less reliant on the river. It was great because it made me feel that despite everything what I was doing there had led to something positive.
That night a goat was slaughtered for us. Fortunately we didn’t have to actually witness it. I didn’t actually eat any of it because I’d just spent the whole time there walking around absolutely adoring all the goats, so I wasn’t exactly excited at the prospect of eating one. There was vegetarian food on offer as well, so that was ok. A group of dancers from the village arrived after dark and danced and sang for us. It was very funny because occasionally they would run into the group and drag some people off to dance with them. I was able to elude capture. I know that makes me a massive bore, but at least I got some pictures! :P
We got up early on the 23rd. Farida and I checked the water tests for the centre and figured out that as far as we could tell there were not faecal coliforms in the boreholes. At 8am we left Marich Pass and drove for 9 hours back to Lake Elementaita. We stopped for a picnic at the equator, which was awesome!
This time when we got to the Lodge it wasn’t just very nice, it was HEAVEN! We were met at the doors with hot wet towels which were very welcome. We had a really nice dinner that evening and entertained ourselves by playing pool or watching TV. It was incredibly sweet. I also absolutely adored getting a hot shower for once and being able to wash of some of my underwear for the trip home. At this point everything I had was dirty and dusty and I felt absolutely filthy. I was able to pack most of my stuff before I went to bed in the evening because I knew we’d be getting up early the next morning for the game drive.
The 24th was the longest day I have ever experienced. We had to get up at 5am so we could have breakfast and head out at 6am. The sun rose while we were on the way to Lake Nakuru National Park. The drive through the park was awesome. The mini buses had roofs that we could lift up so we could stand on the buses and take pictures. It was really cold to begin with, but once the sun was properly up it warmed up quickly. The first animals we saw were buffalos. There were a lot of buffalos. Shortly after that we saw some lions from afar. I wasn’t able to get any pictures of them, but I had binoculars so I could see them pretty well. One was carrying just killed pray, which was super cool. Soon after that we saw a rhino asleep in the trees. We were so excited and eventually it stood up and walked all the way over to us and crossed the road. It was funny how excited we got at that point, because we actually saw quite a few rhinos later on.
Over all we saw zebras, several kinds of antelope-like animals, rhinos, baby rhinos, giraffes, lions, buffalos, lots of baboons, all sorts of birds, flamingos, and pelicans. I might have forgotten something. It was a huge success and I’m so happy I went. Oh yeah, we also saw some giraffes mating and a rhino-mom accidentally shit on it’s rhino-baby’s head!
We arrived back at the lodge around noon and had lunch. Before lunch I went and showered and finished packing. So after lunch I was completely ready to leave. We left at 2pm. Two of the buses went straight to the airport while the other two dropped the people who were staying on in Kenya off at various places. Unfortunately we were at the airport at 5pm, but the plane didn’t leave until midnight. Let me tell you, waiting for 7 hours at an airport is seriously uncool.
After sitting around talking and wandering about a few of the girls and I sat down on the floor and played Good Morning Queen. It was hysterically funny because we were so tired and we kept messing up and it was just a mess.
The plane ride back to England was looooooong. I had a sleeping pill so I slept for most of it, but I kept waking up every now and then and just wanting to cry because I was so uncomfortable. I sort of remember waking up enough to eat at one point. If anyone had been watching me then it probably would have just been funny. Eventually we made it all the way to London. I took the underground to St. Pancras with a girl called Kat. She had a train to catch at 9am and I had another one to catch at 10am. I was half brain dead with sleepiness the whole way home, but I made it there shortly after noon.
So that’s that. Kenya. :)