Kenya is located in Eastern Africa. Utange, the village we are working with, is located about ¾ mile from the coast. Up until about 10 years ago, this area was completely in the bush and the people could not go out after 6pm due to the intensity. Kenya is still very much controlled by its 52 different tribes and the head of the tribe still has much to say about the jurisdiction of the village. Utange is a suburb of Mombasa, a city of 500,000 people covering 13 kilometers, mostly surrounded by water.
The Kenyan government has a standard of education that is strictly adhered to and includes exams that all students participate in. Children are allowed to start school at 3½ years old, if they are big enough (they must be able to put their hands over their heads and touch their ears). There are 3 kindergarten grades and then standards 1-8. The children work hard to achieve marks that will enable them to move to the next grade.
Utange is a one street village. Most of the houses are made from adobe (mud). When the hard rains come, the homes must be rebuilt. The children of the village have no place to play, except the school, where they gather as often as they can. The people must buy water, making it very difficult to grow their own crops. Very few structures have electricity… the school is not one of them.
The children in Mombasa do not see as much wildlife as one would assume. The animals normally associated with Africa are inland from the city, however, monkeys, baboons, and snakes are very common. The children suffer from a variety of diseases, malaria and typhoid fever being the most common. They also suffer from “giggars”… little worms that embed themselves in the feet and lay eggs. These worms have to be removed and leave the feet in a terrible mess.
Mombasa is 90% Muslim with the remaining 10% being Hindu, Christian and others. A new heart has renewed the Utange community, due, in part, to the help they are receiving and the churches are packed. They are now working side-by-side for the welfare of the village and the school.