I hate when I pee on myself.
Sadly, it has happened once or twice. Usually when I’m traveling to some exotic, far-away, Third-World-like destination to which the term “toilet” takes on a meaning which has very little to do with a standard American style toilet. Nope. In these cases, toilet, restroom, washroom, etc - usually means a small hole in the ground to which one carefully squats above, re-arranges one's pants or skirt, methodically positions one's feet for balance and then takes aim.
Sometimes I’m dead on. Other times... well, not so much. Hence. I pee on myself. Actually, more like an accidental trickle down the ankle and onto the top of my shoes. Ugh... the joys of international and exotic travel!
My excursion to Kenya brought back memories of similar “pee down the ankle” experiences in China, Thailand, Greece and Ecuador, just to name a few. But I digress...
What’s the point of sharing this tidbit? First, I bet you’re laughing right about now, correct? Second... because the latrine situation is the tip of the iceberg for one aspect of life I encountered while in Kenya.
Under my new title of Executive Producer, launching Julia Yarbough Media Group, I am honored to work to produce a video documentation of the installation of the new GE Solar Powered Water Kiosk by The HabiHut, myself and videographer (Brain, of The Outlaw Partners) spent several days capturing life in the community where The HabiHut is now up and running. The place is called Gatina. It is a “sub-division” of sorts to one of the cities slums. Kawangware is a thriving community, nestled smack dab in the middle of one of the more affluent neighborhoods in Nairobi.
Imagine my shock as we passed million dollar mansions protected by hig brick walls with coiled barbed-wire on top, to then turn down a dirt road which opened up into a massive community of individuals living in squalid conditions like I have NEVER witnessed in my life! (And I’ve seen some stuff in my day...)
Seriously...SMACK DAB IN THE MIDDLE of wealth is Kawangware. Men, women and children live in make-shift homes; most designed from corrugated metal propped up with pieces of wood. There are no solid floors...just dirt, mud and gooey clay. There is no electricity. There is no indoor plumbing or running water. There is no garbage disposal or pick-up. Debris and rubbish clog the mud streets as well as the small creek that runs through the area. The same creek to which many of the women utilize for washing clothes, children use to bathe and animals to drink. Water is available...for purchase... from old, often-times rusty pipes. There is no guarantee the water is clean and/or safe. Rule of thumb: it is not. So when water is collected in plastic containers which are then hauled back “home” it must be boiled before using. Still, water borne illnesses are common.
Really? it’s 2012? Our world has immense wealth, yet...thousands live in such squalid and poverty-stricken conditions. My head was spinning as I walked through the slum; canvassing the area gathering footage; experiencing the moment. How could this be possible??
I share this grim image, because it is here in Kawangware where I believe The HabiHut project will actually make a difference. See, inside the hut is a GE water filtration system. Women are being trained to use a manual pump system (designed by a Kenyan team) to pump water through the filtration system. On the other side...clean, safe, purified water. The women are also being trained how to run a business. So in a community where HAVING NOTHING is the norm, these women will now have the opportunity to sell water, earn a small income and have money to buy basic necessities for their families. Not to mention...the community will have access to CLEAN, SAFE WATER!!!
I know, I know...none of this has ANYTHING to do with the Highway to a Husband/Dating journey, but... here me out. In a way...it does. Because let me tell you...with each day spent in the Gatina, Kawangware slum, I became so much more aware of how BLESSED we all are, of the lives we have and the basic life necessities we take for granted. I couldn’t help but think about how many times women and men (at home in the United States or other developed nations) argue and fuss over such trivial matters (who did the dishes? Who is taking out the garbage? Did you pull all the stems off the grapes? Did you have one too many Long Island Ice Teas? I don’t like your music, clothing, friends, driving style, etc, etc) Do you see my point? It’s all so INSIGNIFICANT in the overall scheme of things!!
So there I was... in the heart of a Nairobi slum, watching the residents survive. As I watched the women hoisting water cans on their shoulders and barefoot children playing in the street, I knew - JUST KNEW - that I was EXACTLY where I was supposed to be, learning EXACTLY what I was supposed to be learning. My lesson ... be more thankful for what we have and the people we have in our lives. Oh... and perhaps the most important lesson... spread your feet a little wider and squat a bit deeper over the hole in the ground when peeing. It reduces the chance of warm liquid trickling down your ankle...