Africa is big. Frighteningly big, almost. Did you know that you could fit three United States, Alaska included, into the continent? Yet, unimaginably vast and varied as it is, there is often a typical image that comes to mind when you think of Africa. I'd wager that, whether you know it or not, Samburu is the image that is conjured up. It was for me, anyway, before I even knew Samburu was a place that existed.
Samburu is a desert land. A little over a hundred kilometers north of the Equator, it is fringed with mountains in nearly every direction. It is dry and dusty and colorless, yet illuminated by the desolateness of the land is the richness of the Samburu. They are a strong people, a resilient people, shepherds of the dust. Thirty kilometers some of the women recently walked to water. Weeks at a time, boys as young as five are sent out into the wilderness to tend to the camels or the cows.
I came to Samburu under rather unfortunate circumstances--a famine relief food distribution--and still I am constantly struck by how beautiful Kenya is. And it's funny, how seeing the greatness of this country somehow makes me love my own even more. I am over three-quarters of the way through this adventure and I'm still surprised every day. My little sister told me the other day about a shopping list she wrote: "Milk, cheese, jam, yogurt, and you." I didn't know whether to laugh or to cry. I think a little of both came out. I wish my family could've seen Samburu too.
The last fifty kilometers of paved road before the dirt road turnoff reminded me of the American southwest.
Camels walking along the road.
Sunday morning business at the Toy Fashions and Tailoring Shop.
Evangelist Richard sings in church.
She was unsure about the camera and yet her eyes never left me.
Gathering under the acacia tree.
Filling out ration cards.
Gathered around the truck pre-distribution.
I'm afraid my hair made quite the spectacle. More often than not, there was a small following of children asking to touch my hair--or I would feel a soft brush of a hand on my back, only to turn around and see a pint-sized giggling face.
What a place.