My Time in Kenya 2013-15

I am about to move on from a position and a place that I’ve called home for the last almost 2 years. It has been a combination of a dream job and one of the most challenging experiences of my professional life.

It was a dream job, in that I was flying in the bush, in the country of my birth and all but 3 years of my upbringing, Kenya. It was in a beautiful area of Kenya, the area that Ernest Hemingway referred to as “The Green Hills of Africa”. It was among a very colorful group of people, the Maasai, doing work that had an economic benefit to these people through a combination of a for-profit tented eco-lodge, which caters to a high-end clientele, and a conservation trust, that provides for education, health care, and reimbursement for livestock lost to predators. The goals of the Camp and Trust combined are in keeping with my motivation toward a people first approach to wildlife conservation, that of being good stewards of God’s creation.

My challenges were several and varied. As the chief pilot (really just the “aviation everything” of the camp), I had to deal directly with one of the more convoluted Civil Aviation Authorities in Africa. Kenya CAA takes much of their requirements from the European Union’s EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) standards, which are largely obsolete, in terms of required academic knowledge. Also, the regulations are somewhat difficult to understand, as they are not particularly well organized. However, with a few missteps and inadvertent insults (which were not intended to be insulting, just poor choices of words), as well as some very good help and advice from some of the KCAA inspectors, I managed to muddle through and accomplish what needed doing, and to, hopefully, improve things just a bit.

As an evangelical Christian, my challenge was to live and work with an avowed atheist boss, and a predominant world view that was quite different from mine. As I stated above, my motivation toward conservation is from my desire to be a good steward of what God has given us. I do not subscribe to the, in my opinion, foolish notion that we, as humans, are contributing to what has been alternatively called Global Warming, Anthropomorphic Climate Change, Global Cooling… whatever the nom du jour is, at the moment. As much of the “science” behind the political ideology that is Climate Change has been thoroughly questioned and, for the most part, debunked as manufactured “evidence” to fit a predetermined theory, rather than allowing the unadulterated facts to lead where they may, I continue to feel that we are being victimized by power hungry politicians, as the whole debate is a political one, not a scientific one. That being said, I believe we do have an effect on our own local ecosystem… i.e. destruction of habitat by cutting down forests and putting farms in areas that are not particularly good for farming, improper disposal of refuse, redirecting precious water away from where it is needed for the wildlife to survive, and the list goes on.

Also, lifestyles of pure hedonistic pursuit and no acknowledgement of consequences to oneself or to others, and which are not culturally acceptable among the local people, and the isolation from any regular attendance to church, as well as a 7 day a week work schedule, all contributed to a growing feeling of isolation and being a “fish out of water”. The last 6 months of my tenure, here, have been among the most difficult days of my adult life.

All this being said, I have no regrets, and have made some wonderful friends, during my time, and believe that I have had a positive influence on many, even those who don’t acknowledge it, at the moment. I was at the right place, at the right time, and will likely never know who, precisely, I was here to be the right word or action that that person needed.

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