Monday, July 5, 2010

It is time to say good bye…

I have spent some more time in Tseikuru District to further advance our large scale irrigation area along the Tana River. The County council increased the proposed are to 2000 hectares. I also had great times in Nanyuki and a meeting with the local government of the Segera communities was fruitful and I am hopeful we can start a 50 acres irrigation plot with them. Beside these field trips, I was tied to my computer to write up proposals for all our irrigation areas. Now we have to wait and see if we can raise the funds needed to initiate the projects.

The last big adventure for me in Africa was climbing Mount Kenya, Africa’s second highest mountain. This backpacking trip was one of the best I have ever done and the sunrise at 4995 m on Point Lenana was superb. We were the highest people in Kenya in the morning of the 26th of June 2010.

I only have 48 hours left in Africa before I return to Europe and it feels very strange to leave a place which I learned to appreciate. I think the western world has such a miss perception of Africa. Who would think that:

1) You can see three new Mercedes parked in a car park outside of a friends place in Nairobi.

2) You can watch the World Cup on large screens in a lot of fancy pubs.

3) You can go to a coffee shop and have to pay 3 USD for a cappuccino…

My point is that East Africa in some aspects is not that much different to a lot of other developed countries and yet going out into the countryside changes that view dramatically. Kenya has a lot of faces, the rich, the extreme poor and the pure beauty of the land. I did hear all these stories about people who came out to Africa to help and returned home frustrated. I now can see why, because it surely ain’t easy to pull yourself down to a zero expectation level, but if you succeed you have a chance to have one of the best times. I do not go home frustrated, because I came to learn, I came to find out what is going wrong with foreign aid. My work was very rewarding because I did go right into the poorest communities, which a lot of “aid workers” would never do because they get paid their high salaries and don’t see the point of doing that what I think is the most important part. A lot of NGO’s seems to be established just to circle the money around amongst their employees rather to get the money there where it is need. Some people call these NGO’s “Briefcase NGO’s”. The call for aid has to be established within the poorest communities and aid opposed on people needs to be extinct. More than 1 trillion USD was poured into Africa, which at the end of the day made the situation a lot worse, because it was mostly fueling the development of greed and corruption. Sometimes, I think we should leave them alone and everybody would be better off, but then I think there is chance and this chance is creating businesses based on foreign investments. I guess that is exactly what we are trying to do with large scale irrigation and agriculture, because framing is very viable in Kenya. Now it is time to go back to Europe and to see and observe where all the projects are going. I think rich people in this country will get richer and poor people are probably remaining poor, because that seems like the government approach. I just give you an example, a few days ago members of parliament announced that they are going to raise their salaries by 25% and it only took minutes to pass it in parliament. Kenyan MPs earning the highest salaries worldwide (including all western countries!!!) and they do not pay tax either. This country needs a makeover, but it won’t happen fast. I have high hopes but very little expectations about the transition toward a less greedy stage. Let’s keep the fingers crossed that Kenya stays peaceful during the referendum on August 4th to get a new constitution. I wish more people take the opportunity to visit Africa and the people. I appreciate all the great and sad stories about Kenyan history from mythology to the causes of the post election violence in 2007/08. A big part of mine fell in love with the people and I truly will miss the big hugs people give each other and you know they are coming from the bottom of their heart. People holding your hand for ages and telling you their live stories. Children screaming at you “How are you”. Orphans looking up to you and tell you that they love you. I guess saying good bye is never easy, but it seems particularly difficult in Africa…Some people told me you never should say good bye if you spend some time in Africa, because for sure you will be back. See you and all the best, my Africa.

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