land shopping

Many people we talked to before moving here seemed to assume that we had a location, building, and kids here waiting for us. Maybe they thought we were part of a children's home organization, that the startup had already been done for us, and that we were just coming to Kenya to be the directors of this location. It took a lot of explaining to convince people that we are really starting a children's home from scratch. There is nothing here. There is no Maisha Kamili in Kenya yet.

First things first. We need to buy land. We're looking for 2-5 acres.

We like the area our rental house is in (Bamburi, Mtopanga, Kiembeni, and some other towns - we'll just say Bamburi). We have found 1 acre for 3M Kenya shillings ($37,500) and 5 acres for 7.5M shillings ($93,750) per acre. Other land is similarly priced. 1 acre and less are between 1.5M and 3M per acre. More than an acre is 5M-7.5M per acre. It seems that the more land that is available, the higher the per acre price. We are looking farther away now.

There is a populated rural area a few miles to the northwest of us. The road is not paved, nor is it smooth, so though it is less than 10 miles, it takes more than 30 minutes to drive there. Most of the land is steep hill country. These are not rolling hills, they're shaped more like the letter M. Land out there is much cheaper, but would not be easy to build or live on. A bit farther out (Ribe, rhymes with ebay), we have looked at about 4 acres of flat land, for sale at a good price! It is one place we are considering.

The main drawback is the amount of time it takes to get to the city. This isn't like a rural area in the US, where there is nothing because people have cars and can drive into the city every day. There are many things available in Ribe, including a primary and secondary school, churches, small shops, a medical clinic, electricity, and city water. The nearest hospital is in the city, and some food and supplies would have to be bought in the city as well. It would be an inconvenient location, especially in the rainy season. However, we feel that for what it would cost to buy several acres of land in Bamburi, it would be worth the inconvenience to live in Ribe.

About the same driving distance from Bamburi, more miles because it's a paved road, is the city of Kilifi (all of the i's make a long E sound). There is land available in and around Kilifi, closer to the city of Kilifi than Ribe is to Mombasa metro area. Kilifi has many schools, a great hospital, a supermarket, and of course open market. It is still on the coast, and therefore a tourist area, meaning the land isn't as cheap as Ribe, but is better than Bamburi.

Rodgers met with one man who owns over 50 acres south of Kilifi. It's mostly hills (those same steep, M-shaped hills), but some is flat and usable. The problem is this: he inherited the land (with title deed, which is not always the case in Kenya) from his father. His father "gave" some land to other people, without transferring the title into their names. There is an entire village built on this man's land. At least 2 generations have been born there since they were given the land. They are essentially squatters. Legally, it's his, but by tradition, it belongs to those who live there. He wants us to buy 12 acres from him, then help him fight to get these people off of his land. That's not going to happen. Honestly, when we heard the asking price, we kind of suspecting there was a catch.

There is land in Kilifi without squatters. From what we've seen, our favorite is slightly out of town. It's on a dirt road, about 0.7 km from the main (paved) highway. It would take about 10-15 minutes to get to Kilifi city center. It's 4.5 acres. Quite a bit more expensive than the Ribe land we've been considering, but a far more convenient location.

It's looking like a better choice all the time. We're not making a decision today, but these are the things we are currently discussing, thinking, and praying about.