Reflections on Our Stay with the Shake Family in Bura

We (Glen and Sue Crawford) are some of the original founding members, and first had pen pals in Bura, the Shake family. When Mwakai and Wakesho Shake came here (both are teachers) and spent 3 months here at our schools, they stayed with us for a month. How fun it was to show them our lives here, like electricity, running water, microwaves and garage door openers. They marveled at huge stores like Kmart, and all our gardening tools (mowers and rototillers) and especially that we had 3 cars and went everywhere by car, and instead of walking paid money to go to exercise at a gym. We introduced them to pizza, chinese food and also made local specialties. I remember one special steamed clam and lobster dinner we cooked for them at our house. They were appalled by the clams, stating that they looked like slugs found in their garden and refused to eat them. The lobsters, they said, looked like giant bugs. We reminded them that when we were in Africa, we ate termites, among other things, and they responded, " yes but termites are good", we pointed out that we all thought lobsters were good, and they did try them.

Later, we traveled to Bura, and stayed with the Shake’s in their 3 room house. We had one room, and our 2 kids and their 4 kids all shared 2 beds. The house was near the school that Mwakai was the headmaster of, and Wakesho taught at. There was a dirt floor, and a small kitchen, where she cooked and Emily (our daughter, who was 6) helped cook over the Bunsen burner. They got up every morning to get water from the well, and boiled it for us. The cho (toilet ) was a hole in the ground, surrounded by a curtain, with a small water bowl for washing. Also the ‘shower" was a similar curtained area with water to pour on yourself. The adults ate around the table, with utensils, but the kids all sat in a circle on the floor and ate with their hands out of one shared bowl that contained rice, meat and vegetables for all 6 kids.

Because we were the only ones in town with a vehicle, we were thrust into some wild experiences. We were en route up the Taita Hills to a clinic where they planned a thank you ceremony and dance for our previous donations of medical equipment. We came across a group of people carrying a pregnant woman in labor on a stretcher. They had already traveled 3 miles and had 3 more to go, so we piled her, and all her relatives in, and Glen drove everyone to the hospital. We also had to transport a mentally ill criminal and his family, and several armed guards, and our kids to the hospital.

What wonderful people there are in Bura, they don’t have much, but they share everything with us. There is one photo, where Emily and Neil are getting clothes made by the local tailor, a gift from the Shakes.

One of the greatest things was taking the Shake family (with 4 kids) on a safari. Although they live only 30 miles from Tsavo National Park, the kids had never seen the wild animals, since vehicles are scarce. My husband drove the Land Rover with our 2 families (10 of us), and off-roaded to find elephant (tembo in Swahili), giraffe (twiga), zebra (punda milia) and more. Their kids were just as excited as ours to find the animals. We also treated their kids to their first swim in a pool, and their first stay in a hotel lodge and eating at a restaurant with utensils.

It was a great education for both sides!