The oldest of the women we visit in Kenya, Mary Wambui, has reached 88 years. She is still handsome, her head scarf accentuating her face with its fine cheekbones and deep lines. Her blue sweatshirt hangs on her lean frame. We enter a living room filled with a bicycle, plastic containers, and other odds and ends. Mary sits slumped at the end of a wooden couch covered in a flowered cloth or sheet. Again I marvel at the whiteness and brightness of the cloth.
Mary seems sad and burdened through the duration of our visit. She tell us that her two grandchildren, Joseph and Ngugi, are grown now and looking for work outside the home, so she lives alone. Her chief concerns as we talk with her are about her health and her house. Made of mud and sticks, her house is disintegrating in places and is in urgent need of repair.
Mary tells us that she has just run out of money to buy kerosene and is anticipating spending her evenings in darkness. After John strings up the solar lights and shows her how they operate, a half-smile finally steals across her face. She says that she sees the hand of God in the gift of the lights and prays for us, asking God to bless us and “enlarge our territories.”