It has been two months since I returned from northern Kenya with what I refer to as my tropical malady. 7 rounds of drugs later, as well as many rounds of tests, I am finally rid of the spells of exhaustion, chills and nausea that plagued me throughout the holiday season.
So today I dragged out the expedition bag that I keep in my office and made an inventory of supplies that need to be replenished. Now I have four lists: things to do before leaving, packing list, things to buy and presents to bring. I leave again for northern Kenya in just a few days.
While I write this, Kura, BOMA’s Operations Director, and the BOMA Village Mentors, are finishing the business skills training programs for 136 businesses, including businesses in 4 new villages. Kura called me this morning and the excitement and pleasure in his voice was clear across the miles. “People were so happy to see our program finally arrive in remote places like Kargi, Mama Rungu. With these new villages we are reaching so many people in need.”
Incredibly, we are staring into the specter of another shattering drought. The reports on dying livestock and rising malnutrition rates now come to me daily – from UNDP, the Kenyan government, the Red Cross and numerous relief organizations. This will be the greatest test to our businesses. Is there enough cash in the economy to keep them going? 18 months ago we learned that it was the income from the small businesses that kept many people alive. I hope that will be true this time.
During the last drought, Malawan from Ndikir, one of our business owners, told me, “my husband was away for many months, trying to take the last of our livestock to a place where there was pasture. When he returned there were no more livestock to tend. He expected to find me thin and our children in bad shape. But instead our children were fine, and my husband found me plump.”
I will see for myself in a few days.