Missing my Friends in Kenya

I miss my friends in Kenya. We shared a passion for conservation and the assurance of clean water for every community. Those were wonderful and productive times and the memories haunt me. Oh, to be back again. There were some very interesting times such as the weekend we decided to go panning for gold as a group. We were all excited and got our panning kits together. It is a simple process and we had fun watching small flakes of gold float to the bottom. We retrieved it in small vials of water. No one made a fortune, but we had a fabulous time outdoors. There were many locals milling about watching our antics. I wonder if they thought we were experts. They never asked for an explanation or to help.

After our adventure, I read something that put a damper on the fun. It is estimated that perhaps as much as 15,000 children are slaving away in gold mines in Nyatike and Migori, two districts in western Kenya (known as the Nyanza province). This is tragic. They should be in school, even if they are paid. I assume it is quite minimal so the children are more or less slave labor. The Children’s Welfare Office is the source of the information so I assume it is reliable. During weekends and holidays, this figure soars. If I were in the country, I would organize protests. The problem is that this work feeds families. It is a true moral dilemma.

Setting this aside for a moment, now that I am back home I want to take my nephew panning for gold. It is a recreational outing and has nothing to do with child labor. I wish I could get it out of my mind. I feel guilty, but I think he would enjoy it. At the time, it was the best gold panning kit and I’m sure that even today, it is good enough for a kid. We are going to drive to an area known for a small quantity of gold. I doubt if there will be many solid nuggets. He is excited to find out. I didn’t want to tell him about the children in the mines of Kenya, but I felt that it would be a good educational lesson. We could debate the issue pro and con as an example of a real adult discussion.

He was sorry about the problem and agreed that we shouldn’t restrict our activities. We live in a completely different cultural environment. He was old enough to understand. He appreciated my concern and joined me in wanting to send some kind of protest message. Children are exploited in ways that dangerous are damaging to their health. A type of adult work for the unemployed has no adaptability to children. It is up to parents to keep their kids in school but this is a tough row to hoe.