Saturday, February 21, 2015 – Dental team is delivered to the airport for their flight home…

Our early departure was prompted by a need to stop at a dental clinic founded by Dr. Damazo from California, now operated by volunteers and managed by Loma Linda University Medical Centre.  Dr. Kelvin Hill, our team leader, is a graduate of Loma Linda.

Our need to save time by taking a short cut delayed us.

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Dr. Hill gave an introduction to the clinic

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A very nice dental clinic in the middle of nowhere it seems but serves the Maasai people

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Time to put your feet up

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Incredible, inspiring and caring are the words to describe this group.  The world can only get better when it is placed in the hands of such humanitarian minded young people

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Everyone has been delivered safely to the airport for their long flight home.

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February 21, 2015

 By Leanne Grinde

The long trip home begins.  We sadly left the beautiful Fig Tree Tented Camp after breakfast.  We had to be outside the gates of the park by 8:30am or we would be charged $80.00 US for being there another day in the Park.  Lawrence pointed out a hyena on our way; another animal to cross off of the list.  We made it safely to the park gates.  There are always Maasai women there trying to sell things at the windows of the van.  They are very persistent, banging on the window and hanging things through the opening in the top of the van if the safari hood is up.  We learned to ignore them.  Although it seemed heartless, its the only way to show that you are not interested.  We kept driving in silence, tired and sad to leave.  

I kept thinking about something that Eric had told us at the beginning of the trip: “Talent is universal, Opportunity is not.”  That statement really resonated with me.  A person’s wealth status is relative to the people around.  Unfortunately, if you want to be really rich, that means that there has to be a lot of poor people surrounding you.  We have definitely seen that on this trip.  There seems to be no middle class; just the very rich, the poor, and the dirt poor.  I always knew that we were quite well off in Canada.  Growing up, I believed that I could do whatever I wanted.  When I grew older, this became a reality as I researched and decided which career path to follow, where I wanted to live, who I want to marry, what I wanted to eat, where I wanted to travel, etc.  The choice is mine and the opportunities are vast.  For many people in Kenya, the choice is made for them by their limited opportunities.  Often I hear people say that money can’t buy happiness.  But the funny thing is that it is mostly people of affluence that say this.  Yes, I consider myself a person of affluence.  I consider most of the people in developed countries like Canada people of affluence.  There was a study that I read once.  I tried to search it on google, and found something that is similar: http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2019628,00.html.  It describes how people become proportionately happier as their yearly salary increases, up to a certain amount.  At that point, happiness levels off and does not continue to increase with a greater salary.  Whether or not this study is accurate, it does make a good point.  Perhaps the salary cut off point is where the opportunities tend to hang out.  With a certain amount of money, we have the freedom to make choices.  The further you fall beneath the cut off, the more limited you are in your choices and the harder it is to make change.  We seem to be oversaturated with opportunities and wealth. It is as if we have taken a pie and divided it unequally in our favor (thanks Eric for the metaphor).  But there is only one pie; if we take more that means that someone else has to take less.  And if we rich Canadians are taking more than we need, more than what will even make us happy, that means that there is not enough left to fulfill the needs of others.  What we need to do is realize that we have been handed a bigger chunk than what we need.  It is our responsibility to ensure everyone has the opportunity that they deserve.  This does not mean handouts.  It means sustainable change; not only teaching a man to fish, but providing him with the tools and showing him how to obtain the tools for himself in the future.  I know everyone has different circumstances and perhaps lumping all Canadians into one, big, rich group is unfair.  But these are my general observations.  All of that being said, I don’t think we need to feel guilty about the wealth and opportunities we have.  But I think that we should use those tools not only for ourselves, but for those in need.  Perhaps we are blessed for a reason.

We continued our journey, but one of the vans got stuck along the way.  We were near a Maasai village and some of the men came and helped to get it out.  They pulled leaves and branches off the trees and put them behind the wheels to give traction.  We soon had the van unstuck and were on our way.  Dr. Hill wanted to show us a pre-existing Dental Clinic in the Maasai Mara.  It was founded by a dentist named Dr. Raymond Damazo in 2008.  It has been used as a place where missionary dentists can come to practice for 2 weeks to 1 month.  Loma Linda students sometimes go there to do rural rotation missions.  It was quite nice, with 4(?) operatories, and apartments for the dentists upstairs.  Mika, Steph, and I talked about maybe going there to practice for a while after we graduate from dentistry.  

We drove through Narok and were approached by a huge group of people marching through the streets.  Suddenly we seemed to be going the wrong way on a one way street.  Vehicles were honking at us and people were running towards and past us.  Some of us in the van were afraid, thinking it was a riot of some sort.  Once we passed through most of it, Lawrence told us that it was a “normal ceremony.”  Apparently a new local government had been elected in Narok and the people were celebrating.  Lawrence said that Narok county had the most corrupt county government in the world, and that this is a good change.

We stopped at a couple more shops along the way.  Most of them require you to barter for a fair price.  But we stopped at one in Nairobi where the price was firm.  It was fairly expensive but the things were beautiful.  During the whole trip, I had been looking for some sort of stringed instrument.  I had in mind, some sort of primitive little ukulele that I could buy and learn to master over the trip.  Alas, the only thing that I found was this weird harp-ish looking thing with 4 loose, impossible-to-tune strings, that had no capability of ever being musical.  Or at least, I have never found anyone who could actually play it correctly.  Mika purchased some very unique things, which I won’t give away in case the someone for whom they were intended is reading this.  

We drove through Nairobi.  Lawrence pointed out the slums which hold over 700,000 people who live in extreme poverty.  We got caught up in traffic, and people walked alongside the vehicles selling small (and somewhat random) items.  Lawrence stopped one of them and bought us each a Kenyan flag.  I plan on displaying it proudly when I get back to Canada.  

Our last stop was at a mall in Nairobi to eat a Chinese food supper.  The chef who provided the catered meal was named Lazarus.  He used to be the chef at Fig Tree Tented Camp where we had stayed for the past two nights.  As we ate, those of us in Lawrence’s van started plotting.  Lawrence is coming to Canada (his first time outside of East Africa) in a couple of weeks for ABW’s 25th Anniversary.  We want to “kidnap” him for a day or two and show him some fun Canadian activities, if he has time.  He wants to try hunting deer, but we told him it will not be the right season.  So far we have come up with West Edmonton Mall Waterpark, Snow-Shoeing, Horseback Riding, Going to see the Farm, Sledding, and then a nice Alberta Steak Supper (with Tutti Frutti to follow of course).  

Lawrence drove us to the airport.  Some of us started singing the Bryan Adams song that Lawrence likes so much.  It ended in laughter and fond memories of the last two weeks.  Some of Lawrence’s closing words to us were about the need that continues on in Kenya.  The 3 biggest problems are Education, Healthcare, and Water.  He told us how he grew up without access to clean water.  He said, “You need to start a project and come back.”  It was a sad goodbye for us all at the airport. 

Inside the airport, there is a line where you have to get all of your bags x-rayed on the way in.  I had never had any problems before, so I wasn’t worried.  They wanted to search my bags, which was fine with me.  The security officer unzipped my big suitcase and started searching.  He felt in one of the pockets inside that I rarely ever use.  “What is this?” he asked as he felt something solid tucked in the bottom.  I reached in, thinking it was just lip chap or something.  When I pulled my hand out, I held a 2 inch bullet, live!  His eyes got big, and my eyes got big.  He took it from me and said, “Oh, this is a problem.”  He went to get his supervisor.  We spent the next 15 minutes being questioned and having the rest of our bags searched.  The supervisor kept giving us stern, un-trusting looks.  I told them more than once that I don’t remember ever putting it there, or even having used such a thing in my life.  Still they asked me questions like “Are you in the military?  Do any hunting?”  Finally after searching, questioning, calling on the phone, flipping through my passport, and I think even searching me up, the supervisor leaned over to us and said, “There is a procedure for these types of things.” My mind started making up all kinds of stories.  Maybe they thought that I was a terrorist or something, and would detain me in Nairobi.  I would miss too many clinical days at school and when the whole thing was sorted out, I would have to repeat a year.  My mum was imagining all kinds of terrible things too.  As it turns out, the supervisor was just telling us the airport security procedure for people who wanted to carry live ammunition in their bags (for hunting, etc.).  It ended with him confiscating the bullet, telling me not to do this again, and allowing me to proceed through to my flight. I don’t think he ever realized that I didn’t know the thing was in my bag.  

I still am not sure how it got there.  One theory is that someone put it in my bag during my stay in Kenya.  This is possible since many of the places we stayed were tented camps where we were not able to lock our belongings away during the day.  But this seems unlikely as I can’t imagine what the motive would be.  Another theory is that I saw it a long time ago, thought it was neat and stuck it in my bag.  But I know that this would have been years ago.  The bag would have to have gone through at least 3 international flights since it was in there.  This is also unlikely.  So it remains a mystery.  I am just happy that I was able to catch my flight to Amsterdam!  

This ends the adventure that we began two weeks ago.  Kwaheri Kenya!  Nakupenda sana!