Letters From Laurie

Different Neighborhoods People Call Home


Dear Friends,

Nairobi like any city is made up of different neighborhoods. The neighborhood we have called home while living here is Ngumo, which consists of many estates. Each estate has a gate and pictured here is the gate to our estate, “Golf Course Phase II”.

When we approach the gate with our car the guard will look out to see who is trying to get in the estate. Since he knows us he will open the gate. If the guard does not know the person coming in they question them in regards to who they are visiting or why they have come to the estate. If they satisfy the guards that they do indeed have proper business they are given admission.

Here is what the gate looks like from inside the estate.

This is our street in the estate and we have many children that live and play here. In this estate each home has running water, sewer, and electricity. This isn’t the case with some housing locations in Nairobi.

There are guard houses stationed around the estate. To read more about our housing and the estate you can check out the past blogs titled “The Fortress” Parts 1-3.

Mama Kingsley, our house help, lives in Kawangware Stage II. Her home is located about a 30 minute drive from us. It takes her longer to get to our place in a matatus. Mama and her family live in an apartment and this is the view from the walkway in front of her apartment. (You can learn more about Mama in the blog post House Help).

We were invited there on a Saturday and shared a meal with her family along with some children from neighboring apartments. Neighbors take care of each other here and you might say the children are her extended family.

Her apartment complex is made up of 36 apartments. I’m guessing each apartment is about 25 feet by 30 feet. They have electricity but no running water inside the apartments. When they want water they go downstairs, fill up a jug and carry it to their apartment. The man in this picture is carrying a 5 gallon container full of water up to his third floor apartment. If we would have had to go the restroom while visiting we would have had to go outside the apartment and down to the end of the hallway to the community toilets.

Mama Kingsly tells me that wash hanging out to dry is an every day site. Can you see the children peeking through looking at the white lady taking the picture?

Mama Kingsley apartment cost $100 a month to rent. I asked her where she considers herself financially, “I consider myself an average Kenyan.”

Our grounds keeper, Wycliffe, lives in another part of Nairobi called Woodley (you can also read more about Wycliffe in the blog titled House Help). We also visited him and his family one Saturday afternoon.

The complex Wycliffe and his family live in is two rows of 5 apartments arranged back to back. Their apartment is on the end of the row, is one room, is approximately 12 feet x 18 feet, and is without electricity or running water. Their restroom is located in a separate cement building with two holes in the floor. The apartments are located on about ½ acre that is enclosed by a wall so the children have a safe place to play.

Above is a picture of his son cleaning up outside their front door. The door is an opening with a screen covering to help keep the mosquitoes out.

It is African tradition that when you are invited to someone’s home you take a basket of food as a gift. In the basket we took, in addition to food, I included a dish towel I had brought from the United States. Saline, Wycliffe’s wife, was thrilled to receive it. In fact she was so thrilled she would not put it down for the picture.

In each of these homes located in each of these separate neighborhoods we have prayed, enjoyed meaningful fellowship, and felt cared for by each family as they have given us the best of what they have, warm hospitality and friendship. Each of these homes in each of these neighborhoods will always hold a warm place in our hearts.

Until next letter,