WHEN MY CLASSROOM WAS A WELL SITE

A FEW YEARS AGO, a friend of mine and I went to visit her parents who live in a Kenyan village. When I say "village," many people outside Africa may picture little round huts half-hidden by banana groves with wildlife passing close by. Although this image is still a reality in many places, the picturesque Africa popularized in books by Karen Blixen (also known as Isak Dinesen) and Ernest Hemingway is fast disappearing.

In Kenya, where approximately 70 percent of the population is still rural, most folk live in one-family rural homes built with more permanent materials, on a shamba, or small farm of about two to five acres. They keep a cow or two for milk, one or two goats, and grow some cash crop like bananas, coffee, tea, or cashew nuts. One or several members of a rural family might work in a major city such as Nairobi or Kampala, and visit their "village home" on weekends and holidays.

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