Imagine a world in which children are free from poverty, live in happiness and have open access to adequate education. Imagine a world where children, even those born in a disadvantaged part of the world, can be physically, mentally and emotionally healthy for the road ahead. Well, Children’s Humanitarian International (CHI) is working to make this world a reality.

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    A Touching Experience


    As I sit on the porch here in Ruiru, Kenya, I watch the sun slowly slip behind the clouds, creating a light blue hue dripping into a pink horizon.  I know that typing out this brief message will never begin to encompass my experiences here in Africa, but I will attempt to express the way that this place has touched my life. 

    One of the most potent and memorable things that I have done so far is visit the homes of a few of the students who attend Children’s Humanitarian International Academy.  The first home we visited belonged to a young boy, his mother, and his little brother.  The mother greeted us with hugs and led us into her miniscule apartment, one unit in a complex of dozens.  She was very hospitable as she allowed our group of ten to sit down, but beneath her kindness, one could see she was embarrassed by the visit of a group of white people who wanted to see her standard of living.

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    2017 Summer Abroad Blog

    I Am Forever Grateful


    As this 5 week journey is coming to a close, I find myself reflecting back on my time here in Kenya and how drastically it has changed many aspects of my life. Growing up as a white female in a financially stable household, living in towns where poverty doesn’t exist, in a developed country based on democracy, I have never come face-to-face with the hardships experienced by the vast majority of people living in developing or third world countries. I was ignorant of the issues of extreme poverty, trash and garbage buildup causing extreme air pollution and other negative environmental effects, and the lowered quality of life that exists in many places outside the US. Traveling to Kenya has been the most life-changing, perspective-gaining, and eye-opening experience I have ever had. This journey has washed away all my previous ignorance of these issues and replaced it with empathy for those who face significantly more hardships on a daily basis than me or most other people from my country.

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    Our Journey


    Our journey began back in January when we all decided to submit an application to be a participant in the 2017 CHI summer abroad. After interviews, meetings, and team bonding exercises our departure date fast approached. Then the real journey across the world began. After twenty hours in the air and a night in Dubai, we finally arrived in Nairobi. We were greeted by James and Joan, the family that we would be living with for five weeks. On our drive to the house we were quickly introduced to the style of driving in Kenya, the roadside shops, and the constant stares from locals, but that was just the beginning. After a few days of adjustment we got to see the CHI Academy, the kids – and then we were packing for our first weekend excursion to Mombasa and in an instant our first week was over.

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    The Smell of Burning Trash


    We are now a little more than halfway done with this trip/experience/journey. And I can officially say that this is probably the coolest and most eye opening adventure I could have experienced over the course of a month. There are so many amazing things, like the joy of the people we meet, the waves and smiles we receive. Yet at the same time on the same streets we see heartbreaking issues every day.

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    The Impact This Trip Has Had On Me


    Four weeks ago, I knew almost nothing about Kenya, its culture, or its people. As I sit and reflect on my time here so far, I realize how truly shocked I am every day. No one could have prepared me for everything I’ve seen, done, smelled, and experienced. On our first day in Kenya all of the participants clamored with confusion and excitement as we drove through the cities, pointing out every difference from back home. The roads have no lanes, they drive on the opposite side of the road, piles of burning trash are never out of sight, and a bus full of white people is quite a spectacle. Although the differences may seem minute and insignificant, we were all awed at them the whole way to our new, month-long home. No amount of informational meetings could have prepared me for this.

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    CHI Summer Abroad

    Providing experiential learning for high school students that will foster understanding and friendship between two cultures.



    CHI’s Summer Abroad program takes groups of Sonoma and Napa county high school students to our CHI Academy in Kenya for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to encounter a part of the world that few local residents of any age have an opportunity to experience.

    What sets this program apart from other study abroad programs? 

    One of the most notable differentiators is that we offer significant scholarships to socio-economically disadvantaged participants who might not otherwise experience foreign travel. These scholarships, along with our merit-based scholarships, can defray as much as the entire cost of the program. Also, we provide a mix of classroom lectures, out-of-classroom hands-on projects, and cultural field trips. In addition, this program takes participants to a part of the world that is worlds apart from the usual European and Asian destinations of most such programs. Finally, our program lasts five weeks. By giving participants enough time to settle into a new culture, it can have a profound impact on their lives.

    CHI’s vision is to create a passionate group of high school students who return home and share their knowledge of the world with others for years to come. Our goal is to build a community of returned participants whose broadened mindset helps them develop exciting new ways to tackle poverty here in our local community and around the globe.


    While in Kenya, participants will have a variety of guest lecturers in the morning on topics such as:

    • History of Kenya (including the impact of colonialism)
    • Agriculture (as practiced in Kenya and other developing nations)
    • Pastoralism (i.e., East Africa’s traditional cattle-raising subsistence economy)
    • The significance of Kenya’s national parks
    • Migration from the countryside to the cities and the resulting rise of slums (a problem common to many developing nations)
    • Global humanitarian awareness and service
    • A 50-minute daily lesson in Swahili, Kenya’s most widely spoken language


    In the afternoon, participants will work on projects around the Academy, including helping build new classrooms, painting, working in the school garden, landscaping, and installing playground equipment. In addition, students will have several opportunities to work closely with CHI Academy teachers, and help lead classroom discussions.

    Throughout the program, students will go on field trips to cultural and humanitarian sites, accompanied by staff and volunteers. These include a safari in Masai Mara National Reserve and visits to Lake Naivasha, the Great Rift Valley, an Internally Displaced Persons Camp, Kibera Slums, the white sand beaches of Mombasa, Fort Jesus and a Mount Kenya hike.


    • Increase appreciation for the benefits of life in a developed country like the United States
    • Foster academic success in history, geography, the natural sciences/environment, agriculture, global poverty alleviation, political science, anthropology, and foreign languages and cultures
    • Strengthen understanding of how people live elsewhere on this planet 
    • Strengthen their resumes (for application to colleges and, later, career positions)
    • Strengthen planning and problem-solving skills and the ability to contribute to a team effort
    • Nurture leadership skills and instincts
    • Learn to handle challenges, solve problems, appreciate the satisfaction of overcoming hurdles and significantly helping others
    • Foster a realization that individual efforts can help effect change, and that even modest successes in helping make the world a better place are significant because progress, as they will have experienced it, is built one brick at a time



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