I truly have done nothing but reflect on the experience of Africa for the past 2 weeks. To witness people who have so little compared to American standards who are so happy and full of hope is a life changing experience that call into question all of our values and priorities. In America, many children walk away from their opportunity for an education, while African children strive to be able to afford an education. Young women have additional struggles to avoid leaving school for forced marriages and other family responsibilities that date back in time so far that we cannot conceive of the cultural history driving them. To see stagnate water being used as the water source for families and communities and to see primitive dwellings house complete families in the 21st century is not something I will soon forget.
We have much to learn from other cultures, just as we have much to share. While we can share more modern understandings of women’s rights and women’s role in an educated society, as well as promote social justice and equality for all people, we can also learn from the generosity and spirit of hope evident in the smiles of these children. The one act of generosity that will stay with me forever is from a young Maasai girl named Liemon. My oldest daughter had met this child on the trip last January (2016) and had sent a letter with me to give to the child. I finally found her, or rather she found me. She came up to me from a crowd of children and took my hand. I asked her name and she told me she was Liemon. I was so excited to meet her and deliver the letter from my daughter. In return for the letter and pictures, this sweet child took off the necklace that you see her wearing in this picture and put it around my neck and fastened it. She gave it to me as a gift. I have so much and she has so little, but this gesture of generosity will forever remind me of the gentleness of humanity that exists in all of us that connects us to each other no matter how different our cultures or our lives. A simple gift with a pure spirit that will forever be imprinted on my heart.
What was my favorite part about Kenya? How can you choose. All I can think about is looking into those kids’ eyes and seeing hope, love, joy, and kindness. These kids have been through so much. they have lost just about everything, yet they still fight, they are sill happy, they still want to excel at life. These kids walk miles, even hours sometimes just to go to
What’s your biggest problem right now? Look at it again. The majority of the kids in the homes we visited were completely abandoned, many of them abused, and all of them rescued. So my favorite part of Africa was the chance to learn about them and to maybe even make their lives a little better. Because of With My Own Two Hands and others, these kids have a second chance. I’m happy to be a part of that.
Jambo! Kenya was an AMAZING experience. We just got back and I cannot wait to go back again! The people, and children there are so happy, full of love and life. It was incredibly inspiring.
First we went to St. Ann’s Orphanage. Here they house 42 kids that came to the orphanage after being abandoned, parents having died from HIV/AIDS, or being abused. WMO2H built St. Ann’s a greenhouse where they grow onions, bananas, bell peppers, spinach, bananas, kale, potatoes and tomatoes. Their school is on site, where have 300 kids attend regularly. On Saturday we got to paint the girls nails, doing both manicures and pedicures! We helped work the greenhouse, and had a couple days of playing with the kids. We were even able to get them out for a night to watch “The Lion King” at our hotel in a conference room. It was a big deal as they hadn’t been off the property in a long time! We also got to hand out plenty of toys and gifts.
We also went to the Maasai Mara and we met Nelson, the founder of I See Maasai. As a young boy, Nelson was punished by his father for losing a goat on his way back to the house after herding them for the day. His “punishment” was to go to school. Nelson walked as a little boy, 10 miles each way to school, in conditions where wild animals freely roam. Up until only eight years ago, in the Maasai culture, you weren’t considered a “MAN” unless you killed an adult male lion with your bare hands. Now they are considered a man when they get an education and get married.
Nelson introduced us to Maggie his wife, who is working with each tribe in the Maasai area to end FGM – Female genital mutilation. It’s illegal in Kenya, yet still widely practiced in many tribes in Africa, including Maasai. He really liked school, and learned that education is power.
WMO2H is installing a water system for the Maasai to provide clean water and sanitation systems to over 1000 people. The river they currently get water from is shared by all farm animals, wild animals, and is also used as a restroom for people and animals.
At the I See Maasai project we taught in the classrooms! I got to teach the first grade class. We worked on English, Math, Social Studies, Geography and P.E. Those kids were so sweet! They will just clutch onto you and never let go! They all participated in every lesson, and we had tons of time to run around with them and play lots of soccer!
The trip was unforgettable. It was extremely well organized, well led, and soooooooooo much FUN! I made 6 new friends with the other volunteers on the trip, and those kids have left a permanent impression on my heart.