(Rather than sending out many short blogs, I am going to have to send out occasional, lengthy ones until I find a more efficient method of Email.)

So far each day in Kenya has been a bit unstable. Due to the fact that I am trying to play the role of host, showing volunteers and directors of the Carr Educational Project around this remarkable land and our campus loved ones back home is tough. To put it mildly it is very hard living on the other side of the world from my wife. This is exacerbated by the fact that she is also my partner and cofounder of Daraja Academy. She has worked just as hard as I have making this dream of equal access to education for girls possible. Now she hears updates concerning the state of Daraja, learns about our roadblocks and successes during short, 3-minute cell phone calls in the dark of the night.

Carr Educational Foundation director Bob Bessin arrived at 8pm Thursday night. Our crew – Mark Lukach, Grey Brooks, Peter Wathitu and I picked him up at the airport and quickly bounced him over dark Nairobi roads, man-hole sized pot holes, and all to the place where Stanford HumBi Professor Bob Siegel and his graduate student Dashka were recouping from their descent of Mt. Kenya. Dinner was incredible. Dashka and a group of former Stanford classmates are starting a girl’s secondary school that sounds very similar to Daraja Academy in Iringa, Tanzania. Ironically, Iringa is very close, by Africa’s standards, to Makambako, where I lived in 1999. Finding like-minded Americans always fills my tanks, and a full tank shouldn’t be a suggestion, it’s got to be a requisite when visiting Kibera – tomorrow’s destination.

Friday morning 8 a.m.

As a junior at the University of San Diego I took a class that was taught by an incredibly wise philosophy professor. Early on he warned us to be cautious passing on things we’d learned in class to our peers. He explained to all of us wide eyed, impressionable 20-somethings that attempting to explain to our peers concepts, which had shaken us to our foundations, was similar to explaining what “sweet taste like” to a person who’d never tasted anything sweet in their lives. Words just simply could not convey the tangible sensations, feelings, and emotional connections we’d felt during the moments of realization. Describing a visit to the Nairobi slum of Kibera where one of Daraja Academies’ feeder schools operates is much, much harder.

I have now traversed the slippery slope that draws us into Kibera’s poorest village of Mashimoni three times… it never gets less shocking. The poverty never gets easier to experience and the dignity of its inhabitants never ceases to amaze me. Shortly after World War II, people looking to find better jobs in the city began settle in Kibera. This migration continues to this day and its effects are certainly life changing. Some find jobs, most do not. Unfortunately, the feelings that generally go with unemployment – hopelessness, lack of purpose and depression are exacerbated because they are disconnected from their families and friends back home who would normally be looking out for their well being.

Very simply, after parking our car in the muddy, fenced compound that surrounds Kibera’s international medical clinic we head down hill into the squalor. Since the There are grades of poor in Kibera and the percentage of the 500,000 to 1.5 million (nobody is really sure of the slums population) with the most money live at the top of the slope near the parking lot. This is partly because they have easier access to busses, matatus (vans packed full of commuters and their cargo) and electricity, but there is also a much simpler reason: gravity. When it rains everything washes down hill. Everything including mud, garbage and sewage.

Mud and cement block buildings house pharmacies, butcher shops with dusty, hanging pieces of meat, restaurants selling boiled kale, maize and ugali (a popular lump of maize