Hello, hello, hello :) Since returning to Saskatoon, it's been a whirlwind for many reasons and just now taking a couple minutes to say thank you. Thank you for your country...it's beautiful. The people are beautiful, the country is beautiful, the simplicity is beyond beautiful and I absolutely love it. I feel like home when I'm in the village.
My experience volunteering in the village was phenomenal...absolutely phenomenal :) It was such an experience because I asked the team I was working with to let me be part of the entire process which included buying the material, figuring out transport, taking part (of course) in the building, etc. The learning experience of transporting material was the most interesting and eye opening. We built the home just outside the village of Adako in East Asembo, Rarieda District. Either we carried the supplies from the market, wheelbarrowed them, had them brought by motorbike not just from the market but the reeds came by motorbike from the lake. We were able to build a building with two nice sized rooms that will house the boys on one side and the girls on the other; we built an outhouse with three stalls (one was for bathing and the other two for eliminating). Because we didn't have enough to fence the yard, I just decided to purchase a bike for Paul (one of the children), who walks an hour to get to school in the morning and back at night. He was overjoyed to be able to sleep in a bit in the morning and not have to walk so long in the rain after school. We also purchased three bunk beds and mattresses. Again, the children were so happy and comfortable with the beds, that one of them even over slept in the morning because she was so comfortable. To see how happy those children were/are really helps me feel good about what we've done for them. I know that right now we may not see the change in them but over time, all this support is going to make a huge impact on their life and I'm so thankful to have been part of it.
I also paid some of the children's school fees especially for the two 16 year old boys that were not able to attend school because they were late with their fees.
Without questions, the children are so hard working...even the little ones. On their lunch break, they were at home washing clothes or washing dishes. And through it all, not once did I see or hear sadness. And it is for this reason that I love the people that I met and live with while there. They have become my family and I feel somewhat attached.
They are all such hard workers but like I said...not once did I hear or see anything that resembled sadness. I was greeted with a friendly handshake practically everywhere I went in the village. The children ran out to the road to greet me or called from in their year - mzungo. How are you? They circled around me wherever I went, wanted their picture taken, they were so excited to know that they might be seen in America. They were happy when I talked with them and even though a few asked for money, for the most part everyone was great.
I had a marriage proposal by a pedal bike driver in Kisumu; another guy who sat down beside me when I was sitting at the fish pond in Kisumu who wanted to kiss me; one who walked with me on the street back to Palmers Hotel where I stayed in Kisumu and one who worked there who wanted to 'get to know me better'...hmmmm. It was interesting...and yes, I was careful. I also met a homeless man who was such a nice young man. He never once asked me for anything in the entire time we talked or while he showed me around.
My time in Kenya was absolutely amazing, so much so that I am going back in September to do some more work at the Children's Home and my intention is to stay til April or May. I'm happy there and it just feels right to be there.
Oh, this has been a long story...I should let you process. Ohhhhh....please, if you are on Facebook, go to my volunteer page at www.facebook.com/handupwithonestep and check out my pictures. There are a few :)
By Penny Gustafson