None of us were sure what to expect from our time in Machakos, but for me it was just nice to be with everyone again and find out what adventure was in store for us one last time. It was interesting to compare the University of Machakos to our experience of Rongo, as it seemed much more developed and modern despite being a relatively new Uni. The students seemed really passionate to work with the community, more so, I thought, than those in Rongo.
We headed up to meet with the community, again with no expectations or clue what was going on as usual, and wow, what a welcome we had! The ceremonial-like welcome we arrived to was like nothing I’ve ever experienced, and I was overwhelmed. The colours, the music, the shouting and dancing, it was such an incredibly vibrant and chaotic atmosphere. I think it felt nice, in a way, but any joy I felt was tainted with confusion, I didn’t understand the reason for such a welcome. It turned out to be how they welcome any visitors, but the whole day evoked a real mixture of emotions. It was fascinating to hear about the community, the environmental issues they’re facing and their passion to do something about it. I felt bad we couldn’t do more, but the enthusiasm of the Machakos students we spoke to gave me hope that a community media project was on the horizon for them.
Lastly, our meeting with government officials was a nice way to round off the trip. We finally felt able to voice our opinions in a relaxed way, that just felt like an open discussion. I left feeling like in some small way we’d (hopefully) managed to encourage them to go ahead with at least some form of community-university partnership, and that was a nice feeling to end on.
After all the ups and downs (some very down), we all felt ready to return home. Although it didn’t all go to plan, and my experience certainly wasn’t what I’d expected or hoped for, there were some shining moments of fun, joy, and some of peace. It was an epic adventure, with an epic bunch of people who I feel lucky to now call friends.
Thanks for the ride, Kenya, but you can keep your sugar cane!