After spending the last few days in Nairobi meeting the end users of our water waterpack (PackH2O) at Machakos, meeting the Marketing Head of Coke (E. Africa) and getting a solid headstart on our projects, it was time to undertake our Mission Trip to Marsabit. Marsabit is the capital of Marsabit county located in northern Kenya. It borders the eastern shore of Lake Turkana. The largest town in Marsabit county is Moyale and the county has a population of 291,166 (Kenya census 2009). In Marsabit, we would be treating jiggers – a parasitic arthropod found in most tropical and sub-tropical climates that has infested the feet of most of the younger children in Marsabit county. Our trip was scheduled between Wed 5/13 and Sat 5/16. Our host, Connie, suggested that we spend the evening prior to our departure mentally and emotionally prepping ourselves for the mission and call it an early night, especially since it would be immensely challenging for most of us.
On Wednesday, we woke up early and left at 5:00 AM to go to Mount Kenya University (MKU). At MKU, we were joined by a few students from the Nursing and MBA programs at MKU along with three professors. By 6:30 AM, we were en-route to our destination – Marsabit. We were told by the PFC staff who had been to Marsabit earlier to brace ourselves for a long and bumpy journey. In retrospect, I firmly believe I should have taken heed of their advice. Most of us assumed various sleeping positions as soon as we hit the tarmac. Five hours into the journey, most of us were awake, the bus was chirpier than ever, and we learned a great deal about Kenyan culture from the MKU students. We made a quick stop at Isiolo and fed ourselves some chapatis coupled with soda. Just then, Connie informed us that one of the retailers at Isiolo had enquired about the waterpacks and ended up buying ten of them! This was a promising start, especially for our Go-To-Market team – a retailer interested in buying and selling the waterpacks! We got back on the bus and started our journey onward. We had seven more hours to go, and the weariness had started to show up on the faces of first-time-Marsabit-travelers.
We made another quick stop for refreshments at Merrill where the tarmac ended and the unpaved road began. With four more hours to go, everyone tried sleeping with little success (as always, there were outliers). The ride on the unpaved road was scenic and uncomfortable at the same time. After a twelve-hour super-long-and-tiring bus ride, we finally reached our destination – Marsabit. Phew! We were hosted by Pastor John Hirbo, the Director of Marsabit Ministry and the lead activist in the fight against jiggers in Marsabit. We quickly freshened up and had dinner. The team realized that, despite his efforts and status within the community, Pastor Hirbo, like most other Kenyans that we’d met, was an extremely cheerful and friendly person. Over dinner, we were given a brief overview of the schedule for the next two days in Marsabit. We called it a night as work was to begin at 8:30 AM the next morning. We are so excited for the next two days!
– Greif PD Team in Kenya