Our first leg of our journey will take us into Rwanda in just 18 days. Then, one week later, we will board a Rwandair jet for Nairobi and our work with the Made in the Streets Ministry. Although our original plans only included Rwanda, we were excited to have the opportunity to visit another East Africa country and to meet some additional African friends.
For many of us, our most memorable view of Africa — and Kenya — comes from the book and movie, Out of Africa, written by Karen Blixen. The film won 28 awards, including seven Academy Awards.
Nairobi is the largest city and the capital of Kenya. The country is located on the equator in the African Great Lakes region. Kenya is known for its expansive countryside and the opportunities to observe animals in their native habitat. Bounded by Uganda on the west, Tanzania on the south, Somalia on the east (as well as the Indian Ocean [more southeast], and South Sudan and Ethiopia on the north, Kenya sits in a unique location and has been relatively stable politically for some time.
Kenya became an independent nation in 1963 when it elected its first president, Jomo Kenyatta. Previous to that it was a colony of Great Britain. It continues as a presidentially-led entity today. Despite the fact that Kenya is one of the most prosperous nations of East and Central Africa, it remains a very poor country. Almost 38% of Kenyans live in absolute poverty. Over 70% of the population is under the age of 30.
Nairobi boasts the largest population of any city in East Africa with approximately 3 million residents. Tourism is an important industry and thousands of visitors come each year to visit its national park and to view the 400 species of animals that live there.
In the last year, increased terrorism by Somalian rebels has made life more difficult and makes it obvious that despite the size of the continent of Africa, these countries are tied together in an intimate way. Most of these attacks have centered in Nairobi and along the coast of Kenya. We count ourselves fortunate that the targets of these attacks are far from where we will be.
Nairobi is a city of great contrast. We will learn much from our hosts and from the children we will serve. We’re already looking forward to our time with the children of the Made in the Streets Ministry. Each one will be a precious gift to us. It is our prayer that our time be a blessing for them, as well.