Thoughts on New Ways 25th anniversary
My involvement with New Ways has involved Advent Balls, wine tastings, theatrical events, writing and editing to name just a few touch points. The most significant experience though was visiting Turkana in 2004 and again in 2006. Both these visits were at the end of a week of pedalling across central Kenya and the contrast between the fertility of the countryside we cycled through and the aridity of Turkana was marked.
On visiting Nariokotome I was particularly struck to learn that the name meant ‘the land of the black elephant’, a clue to the history of the land. By the time I was there, the locals and their livestock struggled to live off the land. The elephants were long gone. This inspired a poem, the last two verses of which run as follows:
And yet within this land there is a dream
Drill for water, conserve, use and grow
Use the run off as a place to plant and sew
Build dams and use machinery
Easy to maintain
Until the land of the black elephant
Shall see green grass again
Fifteen years have passed since my last visit. How’s that dream doing? Well, there are a lot of challenges – droughts, inter tribal conflict, disease – but progress is being made. There are more dams, more schools, more agriculture. There are more windpumps, more health services, new generations of children being educated. It’s not green yet but the work of New Ways and its partners on the ground is really making a difference.