In 1967, Dr. Bill and June Ghrist felt God’s call to leave his successful ophthalmology practice in California for Nairobi, Kenya. He actually began his missionary career serving the people of Kenya as a General Physician!
After visiting the East Coast of Kenya, Mombasa in particular, he said, “THIS IS WHERE LIGHTHOUSE NEEDS TO BE!”
Kenya is situated in East Africa and provides the globe’s most magnificent game parks, unsullied beaches, thriving coral reefs, memorable mountains capes, and ancient Swahili cities. The flora and fauna is awesome. Animals include lions, leopards, cheetahs, elephants, rhinos, cape buffalo, warthogs, zebras, giraffes, hyenas, gazelles, monkeys, wildebeests, and many others. Learn more about Kenya from the official Kenya Tourism Board.
- Full country name: Republic of Kenya
- Provinces: Kenya now has 47 county governments which formerly made up the 8 Coast Provinces.
- Area: 583,000 sq km or 225,000 sq miles (about the size of Texas)
- Population: 43.2 million
- Population of age less than 15: 50 per cent
- Fertility Rate: 2.9 urban & 5.2 rural children per woman
- Infant mortality rate: 57 per 1,000 live births
- Capital city: Nairobi
- National Flag: Three major and equal width stripes of black, red and green colors running from top to bottom and separated by narrow white stripes, with a symmetrical shield and white spears superimposed centrally. Black represents the people of Kenya. Red represents the blood shed in the fight for independence. Green represents the fertility of the land. White represents peace. The shield of the warrior represents Kenya’s pride and tradition
Chief seaport of Kenya, capital of Mombasa County, on a bay of the Indian Ocean, just south of the equator. The fast-growing city serves as a port for northeastern Tanzania and landlocked Uganda. It includes Old Mombasa, located on a small offshore island (16 sq km/6 sq mi—where Lighthouse is located), and a larger, more modern mainland metropolitan area, which is connected to the island by causeway, bridge, and ferries. Kilindini, a modern deepwater harbor on the western side of the island, has extensive docks, shipyards, and sugar and petroleum refineries. Old Mombasa Harbour, on the eastern side of the island, handles mainly dhows and other small coastal trading vessels.
Mombasa was founded about the 8th century by Arab traders. It was visited in the 1330s by the noted Arab traveler Ibn Batuta and in 1498 by the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama. Mombasa later changed hands several times before coming under the control of the sultan of Zanzibar in 1840. It passed to the British in 1895 and was the capital of the British East Africa Protectorate until 1907. It was made the capital of the coastal Protectorate of Kenya in 1920, and in 1963 under the leadership of Jomo Kenyatta, (originally named Johnstone Kamau) who was the leader of the Kenya African National Union, Kenya was granted independence on December 12th and Mombasa became part of newly independent Kenya (which includes the former protectorate and colony of Kenya). Mombasa has often been a port of call for American naval vessels. Population is estimated at about 1.5 million. Under the presidency of Kenyatta, Kenya developed into one of Africa’s most stable and prosperous nations. After Kenyatta’s death in 1978 came Daniel Arap Moi, a member of the Tugen tribe. The current President of Kenya is Uhuru Kenyatta, grandson of Kenya’s first President Jomo Kenyatta.
Mombasa is the largest port on the coast of East Africa. It is hot, steamy and full of history. A fascinating place to visit is Fort Jesus. It is now a museum and contains a mixture of Italian, Portuguese and Arabic design.
Security In and Around Mombasa
One of the biggest questions we get from potential volunteers is about the security situation in Mombasa. We recognize that it’s a valid concern and we will keep this section updated.
The two kinds of security trouble we could deal with are terrorism-related and petty crime around town. A few years ago, there were multiple incidences of trouble relating to problems between the Al-shabaab from Somalia and the Kenya military forces in northern Kenya. The last local incidence was in May 2014. As a result, there is now a much larger presence of security forces in and around Mombasa, and we, as residents, feel much safer. There have been no reports of trouble in the last couple of years in the areas where we live and serve. We take care of our own personal safety by not going into town after dark, not walking after dark, keeping our doors on our cars locked, not flashing around our phone or cameras, and being mindful of our surroundings. We also always have our phones with us so we can be gotten ahold of, and carry our passport with us in case we get stopped at routine police checkpoints, to prove we are in the country with valid ID.