SORA - A NOMAD IN BASEL
Water fountains – Basel has more than 200, located all over the city. Clean water runs through them – tourists, locals and animals enjoy them alike. Sometimes I marvel at these fountains and their beauty. But I never really appreciated them for their original purpose – to supply the population with fresh potable water.
This changed when Sora came to visit. Sure, we all know about the problems of African countries, their famines and draughts. But what it is like to be a Nomad, travelling since centuries through desert like landscapes, always in the search for areas that supply enough food and water for the livestock. Livestock is the currency in these communities, their lives depend on it. Not enough water means no survival – this is already a major concern during the rainy season not even to mention summer time.
Sora grew up in the northern part of Kenya, migrating with his family throughout the year to different locations They have small “houses“ that can easily be set up and dismantled, that way they can stay flexible and movable. Families are large and sharing one house, until the children get married and therefore have the possibility to set up their own house and found a family. Typically only one child per family is allowed to go to school. To send more is for most of the people not affordable. And too bad in case you are the first born – no chance that your family would let go of you.
Attending school means travelling far and staying at a boarding school. At the age of six, these girls and boys are crossing the desert together with their older friends or siblings to join one of these mainly catholic schools that provide them with a proper education, food and water. At this point my image of the catholic African missions altered a bit…not many other organizations provide such a widespread system for these children to gain education in a safe environment.
Sora shared his mattress with another boy and the room with many others. He was determined to get educated and to gain as much knowledge as possible. He loved being in school, studied hard and did really well. During school break, he went to visit his family. Back then, the only way to find them was to connect with other tribes to enquire where his community was currently located. Going back home certainly has a different meaning for him than it has for most of us.
His uncle left the community early in his life and became a teacher. He is involved in helping a lot of kids to obtain education, and he also assisted Sora with applying for a grant with Aiducation. I am so glad he did…Sora is now attending university, studying medicine in his 3rd year. He wants to become a pediatrician and I know that he will be an excellent one. He has such a good heart and whatever you do in your life to help others, will reflect the same way on you.
He got the opportunity to come to Switzerland to obtain an internship at a local hospital. A lot of people were involved to make this happen and he did his share as well – just to be able to receive a passport and a visa are for some Kenyans an obstacle they can’t manage to overcome.
Standing in front of this fountain, Sora and I reflected on the fact how lucky Swiss people are, that there are fountains everywhere that supply clean water for free to everyone at any given time. I will never forget again to appreciate the access to water that we have in our society.