By Arlene Batchelder
9 May 2005
Feeling safe is a good feeling. No worries.
I feel safe at home in Silver Spring. Maybe I should worry, but I don't.
Even with all the killings and break-ins in D.C. and surrounding areas,
I still feel safe. I felt safe during our travels in Europe. There were
no bars on the windows and as long as you kept your wallet someplace other
than your back pocket you felt safe. I felt safe in Chili staying in the
home of a local family. I felt safe during travels in Australia. I felt
safe sleeping in the car at rest areas while driving to North Dakota and
Why, then in Africa, don't I feel safe? Maybe it's because
of what I see people doing in an effort to feel safe. In
Arusha the houses that weren't made of scraps of lumber
and cloth were all fenced in with high walls. Some were
made of iron and some were made of cement with broken bottles
and 6 inch pieces of glass cemented on top. They had alarm
systems and guard dogs.
On the ADRA compound, which is completely walled in, are
Masai guards that carry big sticks. Maybe they strap knives
to them at night, I don't know. They wear dark clothes
and walk silently. All the windows on all the buildings
have bars and all outside doors have locks. In the main
house there is a lock on the door which separates the living
areas from the sleeping areas. When a vehicle leaves the
compound the guard opens the gate long enough for the vehicle
to go through. Returning, the guard opens the gate after
you blow you horn and wait. I should feel safe.
On the way back to the compound from our shopping trip
to Arusha, (9 people in a Toyota Land Cruiser) I asked
Max to stop the car so I could get out and go under an
arch monument to take a picture of Mt. Meru. So Max stopped
in the middle of the roundabout and I squeezed out from
the back seat. All was going well, the sun was right so
I decided to walk around to the other side. Then I noticed
them, two men following me, one on each side and getting
closer. One of them started motioning to me and saying
something that I didn't stop to listen to because I was
too busy high tailing it back to the car. I should have
felt safe. I would have, had I known they were two people
from our car sent out to keep an eye on me.
We are now at Maxwell Academy just outside of Nairobi.
There are 12 foot walls around this place with 4 feet of
electric wire on top of that. I thought I was driving into
a prison. Again there was the guard at the gate. The hire
the Masai who stay in small cement buildings with a cookstove
and piped water. You see them in the daytime carrying sticks.
At night you see them in their dark clothes in the shadows
carrying bows and arrows. Again all buildings have bars
on the windows and locks on the doors. The Gazelles that
live here on the campus couldn't get out if they wanted
to. I should feel safe.
Tomorrow we are going to climb a small mountain. We are
told which trail to take to be safe. There is another climbing
area that the people here no longer use because it wasn't
safe from robbers.
Before coming to Africa the only safety issues for me were
to keep away from snakes, avoid getting bit by mosquitoes
and being careful about eating. Now, when I unexpectedly
pass a Masai guard at night, feeling safe has a whole new
I would like to include a picture of a Masai guard with
his bow and arrow but I understand they don't like having
their picture taken. I wouldn't feel safe!
Copyright © Arlene Batchelder