Time is ever a challenge in Africa. Lucas and I are consistently overambitious about what we can do in a day. Despite the long drive from Nairobi to Samburu, we thought we were going to make it there this afternoon in time to visit a few wells. On the contrary, we are staying the night at the Transit Hotel in Isiolo town which is the last stop before Samburu. The great part about this is that we got to visit an old friend of The Samburu Project, Alice Lenanyokie Lengalen and her new baby girl! Alice recently moved back to Kenya after many years in the US and is living in Isiolo (soon to return to Samburu!). Beginning in 2007, Alice worked with The Samburu Project as a representative of her tribe. She came to our events and shared first-hand the story of the Samburu people. The early years would not have been so successful if it weren’t for Alice.
Before leaving Nairobi, we spent a couple more hours with Ajah Shah, our well driller. It’s always exciting to strategize about the future and discuss how we can work smarter together to maximize our impact in the Samburu community. I have been working with Ajay since June 2006. We met under less than ideal circumstances. I arrived in Nairobi, still bright eyed and bushy tailed, for our first well drill only to find out that our original drilling contractor was backing out. I was in a panic. I spent a year putting The Samburu Project together and this was the opportunity for the fruits of my labor to come to bear. My friends Ted and Belisa were flying in the next week to film the occasion. At that point, not drilling was not an option. Yes, I wanted to bring people clean water, but beyond that I HAD SOMETHING TO PROVE! I literally got down on my hands and knees in the lounge of the Nairobi Safari Club and cried. It wasn’t pretty, but Ajay consoled me and reluctantly agreed to drill the wells. It was the beginning of a long lasting relationship. We’ve hit some bumps in the road as you might image would happen between a drilling contractor and a nonprofit organization but in the end we have drilled a lot of wells (44 of 52) together that are providing thousands & thousands of people with clean, safe drinking water.
Once on the road, Nairobi traffic was relatively manageable and we sailed out of the city into the beautiful Kenyan countryside. I was so excited I even posted this picture on Facebook.
The post included the note: Heading north towards Samburu…it’s a smooth ride in the new truck…
Hope I didn’t speak too soon! After a stop in Nanyuki for some shopping and dinner we continued to head north and then there was a THUMP and dragging noises ensued! No, we did not hit anything living but something happened. We just weren’t sure what. Lucas got out of the car to inspect, but by this time it was pitch dark. As you might imagine, there are no street lights or much light at all in rural Kenya. Lucas drove slowly to Isiolo. Everything was seemingly fine with the exception of the horrible dragging noise. After our arrival and our brief visit with Alice, we checked into the Transit and Lucas took the car to “a mechanic”. It was already 10 pm. Wish I had more to report, but now at nearly 1 am I have yet to hear from him. And, of course, his phone has been shut off!
Hope we still manage to meet our 7 am departure time. I’ve been traveling for three days and have yet to see a well over flowing with water.