I could take or leave the elephant orphanage. They are cute and all but basically they drink a lot of milk and roll around in the mud – this is limited entertainment in my opinion! but a good photo opportunity nonetheless.
Part way through, a family of warthogs decided to run in have a drink and wander off into the bush again. After elephants we had a quick lunch followed by the giraffe centre.
Similar to the elephants, the giraffes don’t do a great deal except eat the proffered feed out of your hand, or in the disgusting case of a loony American woman, lick the maize and molasses pellet from between your teeth! Spot Tessa Teddy – the Paintpots travel bear in the photo!
We drove back into Nairobi. Jacob dropped us off at New Life Homes where we spent a couple of hours feeding and cuddling babies. We walked back to our hotel, picked up our bags and waited for Francis to take us to the airport. Bags loaded into the taxi, we immediately drove straight into a traffic jam, 3 to 4 (sometimes 5) vehicles abreast. We were going nowhere.
Buses bumped across kerbs and the dirt tracks at the side of the road. Francis manoeuvred his way through the mayhem then when the opportunity arose, he suddenly shot off down a side road which was more crater than road. He swerved round these. By the British High Commission he nearly grounded us as we clunked over road humps. Eventually we popped out onto the main airport road and arrived shortly afterwards at domestic arrivals.
Pippa’s flight was delayed by an hour due to the arrival of the President of Tanzania. An old friend of Pippa’s joined us as we waited. He hadn’t seen her for 6 years. When her plane finally arrived, they had a few moments of reunion before we crossed the road to international departures. The staff assured Pippa that she could check her bags in and come back out to talk to her friend. As usual, there was no system and it took over an hour to check in. Pippa was becoming understandably frustrated and upset. Having finally deposited our bags, she headed for the exit, only to be told she was not permitted to leave the building. All she could do was wave through the glass – a huge disappointment.
And that was it. After something to eat with our pooled kitty of remaining shillings we boarded the plane towards midnight. We were soon airborne. Several hours later, I woke up to the announcement that we were landing at Heathrow.
We had witnessed such poverty and sickness and heard tales of corruption, exploitation, greed and selfishness. This, as in so many other cultures, is the paradox, with flat screen tvs on sale for those driving Mercedes, a mile up the road from the utter poverty of those who have nothing and are dying.
And yet, a common strand in all the projects we encountered, was hope. Lives are being saved, children are being fed, nursed and educated, hopefully out of the cycle of poverty. Each one of these children is precious, each life significant and each act of kindness in the torrent of need and deprivation, is redemptive.