Mary Nyokabi is a tiny woman, stooped in a way that she is almost doubled over. She is stooped because of the pain, she tells us; she vomited all night because of her ulcers, and she has a dislocated hip. We have to bend very far in order to talk with her face-to-face as she shows us around her property. Once inside her living room and seated, we learn that Mary has no grandchildren living with her, but she is caring for a woman named Ruth, who has had a stroke and is completely incapacitated. We enter Ruth’s bedroom to say hello, me very apprehensively. We see a bundle of blankets with a woman’s face staring out of it, smell the pungent staleness of the room that has no air flow and is constantly inhabited by this unmoving figure. I fight to stay present and open to this experience. Then the woman in the bed beams at us and holds out a hand. We take that hand and chat for a while as Ruth keeps smiling. Then we move again to the living room and John and Joel begin to install the solar lights.
Mary has many needs: the obvious, medical ones, and needs related to her and Ruth’s subsistence. A pressing need is for water; she has no access to delivered water because she couldn’t pay her bill, so now she is hoping for a tank that will enable her to collect it for herself. Despite these circumstances, she says that the solar lights will be a big help to her. Sometimes she lacks kerosene and has to use a flashlight, but she doesn’t have a charger or the money to pay for new batteries. When she does have kerosene, the smoke affects her lungs. She has found it hard to walk from room to room in the dark. Now, in a way that won’t cost her, her way will be lit.
Since the initial visit money was raised for a small operation for her ulcer and she is in much better health.