A Touching Experience

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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.

After we discussed how much she valued education for her children, I was touched by her appreciation for schooling as a way to help them escape poverty.  We later saw that they used three communal pit toilets and one spigot of water for washing clothes, both for the entire complex. 

Even though they were gracious hosts and I appreciated their kindness, I immediately started crying when we left their complex.  The squalor in which they live is everywhere in Kenya; the people in African slums that National Geographic shows are not a small percentage of the population. Poverty is widespread and the life of the family we visited seems typical.

I allowed that sadness to weigh on me for a few hours afterwards, but after contemplating the experience, I realized how much hope was also involved.  The way the student’s mother spoke of her children’s education was truly inspiring.  I feel so grateful that I have the opportunity to be here in Kenya meeting these people and seeing the way they live.  This is the only way that we can expose the hardships present in the world, by allowing the next generation to see them firsthand. 

Even though my time in Kenya has been extremely shocking, it is eye opening and beautiful.  Thank you for all your financial support and for helping me see that my help is needed in the world.  The sky is dark now and I should be getting to bed.  I want to be well rested for a day of hard work at the school tomorrow!  We are redoing the school’s garden in a permaculturally sound manner.  Lots of physical labor is involved, but it feels great.

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If you know a high school student who is interested in applying for our 2018 Summer Abroad program, please click here. Applications open August 1, 2017.

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