I’ve been back in Winnipeg now for almost two weeks now and life has slowed down a lot. It is sure good to be home but I find idle hands don’t serve me well. After many sleepless nights and days starting at 230 am, I am finally back on a schedule of doing nothing. I flourish with busy schedules and some times don’t know how to relax. Culture shock has seemed to pass me by unaffected but I am weary of it being to good to be true and anxiously suspect the ground to crumble beneath me at any moment. Trying to keep up high spirits is hard when the sun sets at 430pm and family and friends are so far away. I daydream often of so many fond memories. Remembering the birds chirping outside my bedroom window, the smell of the dew on the grass from my morning run and the smiles of the kids at the schools/orphanages.
I am currently working part time customer service at an awesome green juice company and looking furiously during my spare time for a full time, career orientated job. Staying optimistic for the most part but one day I let the frustration get to me and proceeded to throw myself a pity party. After forcing myself to the gym, on the treadmill I was hit with one of my daydreams of Kenya, this time remembering how most lives were completely and utterly dictated by the weather.
In Kakamega, and many small towns in Kenya, there is no room for luxury. Everything has to do with basic human survival and the thought of excess is not even born. It is something I have never seen before in my travels. Even Tanzania had art galleries, jewellery shops and well organized, walled markets. For the most part, people earn their living from working or supplying small ‘shops’ on the side of the road. The most basic ‘shop’ can be as simple as a tarp on the ground with clothes/ produce/ fish/ shoes/ etc, randomly piled on top. The high end ‘shops’ are mismatched pieces of wood to make a stand with a roof. In between you can have anything from a plain table, clothes hanger system or selling hard boiled eggs from a cooler.
The kicker about these ‘shops’ is that everything comes to a halt when it rains. Which it does, every single day, for anywhere from an hour to 8 or 9 hours, well into the next day. These shop owners and suppliers have to pay to rent the patch of land they sell on every day. No matter rain or shine, they pay. I imagine they pay to get their products there, they pay for upkeep and they probably have to pay a bribe for something or another most days. Some of them sell things for cents and would need an entire day of sunshine to break even. Some sell clothing that get ruined in the rain and mud day after day. Something that can be a god send to crop farmers, can be so detrimental to shop owners.
Every time it rained over there, I couldn’t stop thinking about those people and their shops. How these El Nino rains Kenya seems to be experiencing, must be absolutely devastating to the economy. How do these people make it through? Why must a situation that is already so hard for them, become harder? I know there is perseverance like none other there but my heart ached for them every time I witnessed those torrential downpours.
So as I zoned out at my gym on treadmill, I became thankful for what I have and the opportunities that are open to me. I am determined to make the best of what I have in front of me, stop being lazy and try my hardest to get what I want out of life. I want to help people and change things. I think all of these determined people and their shops, show the potential of the area. The amount of resourceful entrepreneurs is massive in Kenya and a future lies within them.