This really got our goat…

Birgit, Mike and Werner were originally going to spend 3 days at Rift Valley. However, as the installation of the client computers in Ruaraka wasn’t done yet, they made a decision at short notice to stay a day less than planned. The missionary sisters in Chesongoch and Endo were a little sad, but then priorities are priorities, especially given that Michael and Werner would be leaving the country soon.

Sr. Paula had already booked an Uber to get the three of them from Nairobi to Eldoret – they did roughly 323 km in 6 hours for what amounted to a mere €38. No way that would happen in Germany! The Uber driver was very careful on the way as well so they reached the mission without much ado, where the missionary sisters from Eldoret as well as Sr. Monica and Novitiate Sifa from Chesongoch and new driver Tony were already waiting. The total time it takes to drive from Eldoret to Chesongoch has been reduced by 30 minutes as well because Chinese have finished building the road to Kapsowar. The road from there (Chesongoch Road) is tarmac for only a little while longer before turning into a dirt track full of potholes, ditches and heaps of stone. If you were to drive down this road with any milk in your luggage, all the rocking to and fro in the jeep would turn it into butter (which is why the road is unofficially known as the “Butter Road”). And down here in the valley, the last thing you’d want is for your heart to give out, the next cardiology center is in the Iten district hospital (about 2 and half hours away). And all the goats just hanging out and walking around in the middle of the road – it took them ages to move aside even after we sounded the horn at full blast. Not sure if they’re really mules in disguise.

We arrived in Chesongoch, where Srs. Anuarite, Lilian, Judy and Benita gave us a warm welcome. The mission now has a relatively decent internet connection thanks to the installation left by the Italians. And the guest house now has an additional conference room, which must have been used quite a bit over the past months.

Sr. Anuarite is the successor to Sr. Angela, who until then had been doing a commendable job in keeping the small IT classroom in good condition. Unfortunately there was no handover when Sr. Anuarite came in, meaning that things needed to be started fresh. We made a suggestion that she get a few days to work together with IT teacher Richard in Ruaraka so she can improve her computer knowledge and get to know the system better. Hopefully she’ll get the chance.

The desktop computers in Chesongoch had been neatly covered up as per usual, since there haven’t been any lessons since October. One of the machines gave out when we tried starting it up, but we managed to get past this by adding more RAM (from Ruaraka). Though now, we have to ask ourselves if it makes sense to invest this much time, travel and labor into this small classroom if there are only 3 computer hours per week on the lesson plan. Also, the plan to use the room as a type of internet café for the local villagers hasn’t been implemented either, despite the decent internet connection. Let’s see what the next few months bring – one person, if anything, should be enough to handle the service in Chesongoch in any case.

Sr. Lilian was pleased with the laptop that Dr. Walk had donated for the associated hospital – it was put to use that same evening to entertain the sisters with screenings of “Sister Act“ and “Dinner for One“ in the conference room. Birgit also brought a ball and lollipops for the children in the kindergarten and at the hospital.

Another hour’s drive down another Butter Road, roughly 20km in length, and the team reached Endo, where Srs. Juliane and Rosina bid them welcome. Endo is what you’d call a no reception zone – not even the phone networks function without issue here. And with wi-fi being vital these days, this is a source of much irritation at the adjoined guest house, which is empty most of the time.

After lunch, the team headed back to Chesongoch. The mango trees in Kerio Valley are full of fruit, which are being packed up into bags and loaded into trucks on the side of the road. It’s been raining a lot more than usual in Kenya these past few months, which is of course detrimental to the sweetness of the fruit. We were woken up a few times at night by the clouds bursting as well. But then the roads leading out of the valley were dry again so we could negotiate them the next morning. And then we headed back to Nairobi by plane.