The first place for me to set foot on African soil (although the flight stopped briefly in Kigali, Rwanda) was in Nairobi, Kenya. After that it was Mombasa and the little village of Kijire. Click on each photo to see a larger, more detailed version.


It so happened that one of my classmates had grown up in Nairobi. Through her graciousness, I spent the first few nights in her old room. The room full of stars. Not only was it comfortable and cozy, someone had went to the trouble of decorating the ceiling with glow-in-the-dark stars. (The butterflies on the walls were a nice touch, too.)


Fort Jesus Rock walls inside Fort Jesus Fort Jesus overlooks Mombasa's port, the largest in the east of Africa.
Mombasa, located on the east coast of Africa, has several remnants of previous Portuguese occupation, such as Fort Jesus. Mombasa port
Road to the ferry On the south of the island is one of the roads that lead to the ferry. Small roadside market in Mombasa Along the road is a typical market, albeit smaller than the market in the center of Old Mombasa. These women are selling bread of some sort.
Mombasa south side ferry The road finally meets the sea; there's no bridge, since large ships frequently have to enter. Instead, there's a ferry which takes long lines of cars (and long lines of people who can't afford cars, or even shoes) across the water — in just a few minutes.
Along the south beach, there's all sorts of little resorts where rich (i.e. those with money left over after that needed to survive) tourists can go. Sitting by a clean beach in the sun, listening to a live band, eating all-you-can-eat Indian buffet, it's hard to imagine that anyone anywhere has troubles. Hey, there's even a camel for the tourists to ride. Beach south of Mombasa
Downtown Mombasa Mombasa, with its port, is apparently one of the most important commercial cities in the area.
The bus station in Mobasa is quite busy, with each little Matatus (taxi-like busses) transferring people around whenever they can get fill up with passengers. It's at the bus station where one can also get full-size coaches to various cities. My destination was Voi, to visit a small village near there named Kijire. Mombasa bus station


One of the first people I met in Kijire was Michael and is family. Michael and his family Michael and his children
Michael and Garret Kijire dispensary Until a few years ago, the only way to get any sort of medicine was to somehow travel to Voi, miles away, then try to get to Mombasa. My friend Jane did a great job of getting a dispensary built to distribute medicine and vaccinations.
This is the lady who was trained in Voi who distributes the medicine that's stored in a solar-powered refrigerator that sits in a room in the dispensary that Jane built. This is the appointment book that's kept by the lady who was trained in Voi who distributes the medicine... etc. Nancy, who works in the dispensary
Hill behind Kijire
Kijire's water, which can be retrieved from several location after a few pipes were installed, is gravity fed from a spring in the hill behind the village. Michael claimed we could reach the source after about 20 minutes. The hill didn't look very high to me, anyway. Grass hut at base of Kijire hill On the way up the hill, we passed a grass hut, the home of someone in the village.
Kijire from above Garret stops to rest Michael was doing fine, but I was slowing him down. The fact that I kept stopping to rest didn't speed things up, either.
After about an hour, the village faded away; I realized the hill was a bit higher than it looked from the village.
Finally, after about an hour and a half, we reached our destination: the source of the Kijire water supply. (There are two, actually, right near each other. Pretty soon the village faded away, and you could see the entire area stretching out before you. The entire area from above
Garret at the Kijire water source
Back in the village, we eat some sort of root (with a texture like a turnip) while standing underneath the orange tree. Eating under an orange tree
I meet a group of people, who take a break from grinding the maize and washing a child in order to get a group photo. Villagers take a break A vehicle in Kijire
Garret and Thomas This is one of the only vehicles in the village; its owner is living out of town at the moment.
It's late afternoon, and Thomas (Michael) Mwanbela has just got out of school.
After it gets dark, I meet the sub-chief, Benson Mwanjala, and his family. Garret and sub-chief Benson Mwanjala The Mwanjala family
The Mwanbela family That evening I have dinner with the entire Mwanbela family.
Morning fog on Kijire hill In the morning the fog slowly lifts from the top of the hill we had climbed the night before. Students ready for school
It's time for school, and the students put on their sharp-looking school uniforms.
Kijire teachers These teachers are responsible for the four levels of the Kijire school. Garret in a Kijire class
Kijire class (1) Kijire class (2)
Kijire class (3) Kijire class (4)