Day 3: The Journey to Sereolipi Begins
After a stopover at Jane's apartment in Nairobi for the night, we are up and beginning the long journey to Sereolipi by mid-morning. The trip will take us two days, nine hours by car on dirt roads that limit us to maybe 20 MPH. We pass over holes and rivers and ridges that have us bouncing in our seats the entire way, through herds of cattle and past Mount Kenya, which to my great disappointment is hidden in a fog.
There is much to be excited about, Jane is telling me about it as we drive.
(1) When we arrive in Sereolipi, I will be meeting my mentee Thomas in-person for the first time. Thomas is the computer teacher at the Primary school in Sereolipi where we will be running iMentor Kenya. As a way to launch and begin testing the program, Thomas and I have been communicating over email for the last four months. We have grown quite close in that time, exchanging two or three emails a week and discussing everything from our family histories to the (enormous) cultural differences between New York City and Sereolipi. Needless to say, I cannot wait to meet him...
(2) While I have seen urban Kenya, in Nairobi, in rural Kenya, in Machakos, I will now be visiting tribal Kenya, a place and people altogether different in its customs and practices. As Jane describes it, Sereolipi will make Nairobi feel like Manhattan and Machakos like Westchester.
(3) There is an amazing thing going on at this school in Sereolipi, the breath of which I do not grasp until arriving. Through Jane and through generous and visionary donors in the US, the school has constructed a computer lab, complete with internet connection, in the middle of the bush. The lab draws power from a large solar panel (which over the course of the day follows the movement of the sun) and connects to the internet through a satellite dish. This is an amazing accomplishment for a village like Sereolipi, a place without electricity or phones lines or cellular reception. A place where few of the residents have ever traveled outside of the village hills that surround it. It is a grand experiment in the power of connectivity and I am already enthralled with the myriad possibilities and implications it brings. The computer lab is less than a year old but, under direction from Thomas, is already being used by students at the school (upon their arrival, students mistook the computers for TVs). Over email, Thomas and I have been working on new computer lessons for the class. I can't wait to check it out...