As months go by, and the date approaches to go on a volunteering trip to Kenya, Africa, I am trying to prepare myself for what it will bring – to me and my family. I have been reading testimonials of people who have already gone, and it is absolutely amazing what most Kenyans go through on a daily basis. They have so little and have been through so much that, at any point, they are very thankful for anything they get. Hunger is present every day, diseases are a common threat, but yet they don’t feel helpless, they still feel like fighting for a better life. They don’t choose to cross their arms and sit on a sidewalk asking for money, for example. Besides the facts that there is nobody capable of giving money away anyway, and that there are no sidewalks or pavement on the roads, those people could choose to accept defeat as a final verdict, but real life stories show us they work around their problems to aim for better lives for themselves and others living in the same area.
One testimonial I read was about how people, who live in the slums in Nairobi, walk carrying some heavy stuff and working on construction wearing flip flops, if they are lucky enough to have any! Some of them wear rags tied around their feet. Walking on roads filled up with trash (there are no city trash collectors), animal and human waste, and dirt is the only way to get to where you are going. Kids have no toys, so they play with sticks and old tires; soccer balls are made out of rags and twine. There is no running water or electricity on the slums; the restrooms are little shacks spread around the slum. And in 2010, I remember reading a report from BBC about women not being able to go to the latrine during the night, because of the threat of sexual violence. Now, can you imagine having a real urge to use the bathroom at night but not being able to?
Another testimonial was about a young woman who decided to open her home to 50 children orphaned by genocide and disease. She told someone the children are hungry but they have no food themselves, so they can’t help with that. There were three kids sleeping on each bed, and every three beds were stacked on top of each other. Kids walk one hour to and from school every day. No school bus, train, public bus, subway or parent’s (whose parents anyway?) cars to take them there. And yet they walk, thankful for having a school to go to. Being eager to learn and realizing the slightest possibility to change their own future or even their whole area’s future for better.
One thing in common in all the testimonials I’ve read was how people noticed their selfless way to help each other. A whole community gets together to build a school, hoping it will open up new doors for the children, who they can only hope one day will take a bigger step and change their future. And how much better the area would be if they had more doctors among the population, more teachers, maybe even some lawyers who could fight for their rights, but from a point of view of someone who lived through all those hardships. What a difference it would make! Yes, there is hope. Always.
By now, you may be asking, “why would someone even want to go there?” And my answer would be, there is a point in life when you realize there is no place to get to, there is no end of journey that needs to be reached here on Earth; what matters is how you lived your life, what you have learned and been able to share with others… Have you been able to help others in need? Have you been able to give without worrying about receiving? Giving with no expectations? Have you been able to love someone you have never seen before – not a marital love, not a maternal or paternal love either, but simply loving another being for what he or she is: another human being, which should be enough to spark love back from each one of us. And yet so many people in this world live their whole lives in abandonment – by government and by others who could be doing something for them. Are you ready to make a difference? I feel I am.
I have been working hard and trying in many different ways to raise money for this charity project I will embark on, along with my husband and kids, in the end of June. And as I finally go to bed at night, exhausted, I have no regret of giving my sweat for this cause. In fact, it is the least I can do. There are so many people in need there, I am eager to be able to help in some way. If you would like to help with this cause, please contact me through email (firstname.lastname@example.org), any contribution, as you can imagine, is much appreciated. Thank you, and may you always be blessed.