Each year, it is our desire to give back 10% of the time that we work in the office to the mission field. We have spent time in Honduras, and now Kenya is on our list. These projects give us great joy at being able to serve our fellow humans. In March, 2017, Adell and I had the privilege of serving on a mission trip to Kenya, East Africa. Leaving on February 28, we flew to Nairobi, Kenya arriving 24 hours later. Meeting the team that we would be traveling with for the next two weeks, we spent the first day sightseeing around the capital city, visiting an elephant refuge where orphaned elephants were raised to be released back into the wild, and a giraffe preserve.
Traveling by truck toward Mumbasa on the Indian Ocean, we spent 3 nights in the Tsavo National Park. For two days, we held dental and medical clinics in two small villages, serving anyone who came seeking care. I was able to bring up to date techniques of modern dentistry to those that needed care. Adell cleaned teeth as many people had never had their teeth cleaned and I worked with Linda Morgan, DDS, a pediatric dentist from the Boston area, and Enoch Rotich, a Kenya dentist. Enoch and I became fast friends and he was hungry to learn the techniques that we take for granted every day.
We found the people of Kenya to be extremely grateful for the care that we gave. They are a happy people, singing and dancing and eager to share their lives with us.
It was also a wonderful blessing to see animals that we only see in zoos in America, and be up close to them in the wild. Our first night was spent around a watering hole for the cape buffalo and our third night around an elephant watillagesering hole. When we arrived at the Voi Wildlife Lodge, I counted 50 elephants around the watering hole – 25 years away!
Our time spent in Mumbasa was at the Sarova Whitesands Hotel. It is right on the Indian Ocean. The heat was on with 95 degree temperatures and that much humidity. However, it was quite pleasant in that there was constantly a breeze off of the ocean. We were able to snorkel and scuba dive in the ocean – the water was so clear. Our clinics in Mumbasa included one for the staff of the hotel, who come in and work for 2 weeks then return to their families in the villages, and in a local school. We rebuilt broken teeth, extracted teeth, and saw oral cancers. There was such a great need.
Following our time in Mumbasa, we traveled back across the country to the west to the Masai Mara National Park in the Great Rift Valley. This is the area where all of the animals are. Staying at the Sarova Game Lodge inside the park, we stayed in safari tents within a fenced compound. This area of Kenya is inhabited by the Masai tribal people. They are sheep and cattle herders and live mostly in mud hut villages. They speak both Swahili and English.
We were able to do 3 game drives in the Masai Mara National Park. It is the Kenyan extension of the Serengeti Plain of Tanzania. This area of the continent has a large concentration of animals including lion, elephant, zebra, wildebeest, hyena, hippo, crocodile, leopards, etc.
We saw them all. The exotic birds of East Africa were as beautiful as you can imagine. It was an amazing site to be up close and personal with this exotic wildlife. In fact, the last night that we were at the game lodge, a lion walked around our camp on the outside of the fence and a hyena got inside and had to be chased out of the camp by the security people!
Kim DeWitt, our trip organizer, was raised in Kenya and has a home, The Omilaika Home, for Masai girls that are facing childhood marriage and female genital mutilation at the entrance to the Masai Mara National Park. We went in support of this ministry and were able to visit the home and spend time with the girls. They are a delightful group from age 4 – 18. They sang and danced for us, taught how to make bead bracelets, carry water from the river for laundry, and taught us to bake bread on a wood fired stove.
The O Home, as it is known, rescues these girls, provides them with a safe place to live, get an education, even go to college, and be raised in a Christian environment. Right now, the great need for the O Home is their own water well. They currently share water with the elementary and high school in their village and find themselves having to repair pipes on a regular basis.