After receiving some communication from Mr. C’s 5th grade class in Noel, Missouri something became very clear to me: in the ‘Daraja blog’ I often allude to how life in the Kenyan bush (Daraja Academy campus) is different from life in the U.S., but I am very seldom specific as to what those differences are. I will now attempt to be very specific.

Here are a few:

• No matter how thirsty I get while on campus, I cannot take a cup off the shelf, hold it under the tap, fill it, and drink it. All of our drinking water is rainwater that has been caught,  strained, and boiled by our kitchen staff.

• I have been trying to start an orchard – figs, pomegranates, guava, mango and papaya trees all grow in our climate. Because we are on a tight budget, I have to rely on the 15-year-old fence, which was built by the Baraka School, to protect these potentially food producing seedlings from harm. Unfortunately, a hungry goat looking through our fence at such succulent vegetation is like watching (pardon the cliché) a hot knife slice through butter. Under, over and through – those shameless herbivores ignore my fence and wreak havoc on my utopian dream orchard.

[I will deny every line of this blog when reported to PETA but I whip every single stone I can reach at those bearded freaks before they gamble out of range.] Two quick things about goats – 1) they absolutely know when they are just outside of my throwing range, because they stop and all but wink and smile at me AND 2) they know the difference between an actual stone being thrown at them and when I am faking it and just going through the motions due to a  lack of goat ammunition.

• The Daraja Academy campus lies about 10 miles farther than the last of the power poles that stretch from Nanyuki town, carrying that wonderful thing we all know as ELECTRICITY. Our electricity comes from a cranky, 20 year old diesel generator, which we run from 7pm to 10pm at night… when nothing has gone wrong. “What could go wrong?” Parts break, the generator burns through the fuel faster than it is supposed to… rodents decide to end their life in a more dramatic way than becoming hawk food. (The sound of a heavy-duty diesel generator grinding to a halt because a rat has “cannon balled” into its gears is not a pretty sound, smell or (during daylight hours) sight, which continues to haunt my nights.

• Electricity from 7pm to 10pm means no charging your laptop, IPod, camera etc. during the day. No showing your class a DVD, no electronic microscopes in the lab. No printers. No scanners. No kitchen appliances that run on electricity… no, nO, NO!

At first I felt that posting these truths might deter some from visiting the school, but as Popeye said, “I am’s, what I am’s” and Daraja ‘is what she is.’

Dream about her, admire her, improve her and critique her…but please be a part of her. There is a lot to like, more to love and a plethora of knowledge to learn from her. Daraja Academy is the story that visionaries simply WILL forward. The model that educators CROSS THEIR FINGERS will succeed. Most importantly, Daraja Academy is THE DEN