I want to close the chapter on our adventure in Kenya with one last memory, probably one of my fondest memories ever in Kenya.
As you know from my previous posts, I lost my heart to the children we have come to call “our boarders.” In Kenya, it is actually very common and admirable if one is able to go to boarding school. While I personally think that a young child belongs at home with his family, it is acceptable and in many cases necessary to send a child away to school. So, these children that live at the school call themselves “boarders” as if they are far away from home attending school.
During my time there, I really wanted to take them somewhere special. I believe that adventure is vital in the building of well rounded young people. I think that is why we as parents try to make “fun” times happen for our children. It’s why we go out for ice cream on a whim, take vacations to national parks and historical sites around our country. It’s why we go hiking or to the beach-because we all know there is little relaxing at the beach when we take our children! It is our goal as parents to build our children-and one way we do it is through adventure! I want to see that in our children at school as well.
So, we decided to take them to the city! Our friend, George, drove his van for us and we loaded twenty plus children, three teachers, and the Smiths and set off for our adventure! I should probably tell you it was more like stuffing than loading! George’s van is made to carry about eight passengers comfortably. But, you would never tell that the kids were scrunched, hot, or a bit uncomfortable. They just sang and laughed their way to the Nairobi City Center. I later realized, that for most of these kids, this was their first glimpse of life outside of the slum.
We started our tour at the statue commemorating Jomo Kenyatta-Kenya’s first president.
Our next stop was the High Court of Kenya. I personally still get butterflies in the pit of my stomach whenever is see it.
After that, we went by Kenyatta’s burial site. The kids were kind of funny when we told them that his body was still in the casket sitting on the platform.
After the educational part of our trip, it was time for a little fun. We sent Samuel and Phoebe off to find some lunch, and we headed for Uhuru Park. Our first stop-Face Painting!
After that, we rested by the lake while the studious in our group “perfected” their notes from the educational part of our trip.
Then, we went boating. I opted to keep Jasiri on dry ground, but the rest of the children had a blast. Just for a moment, imagine you had never stepped foot outside of Soweto, and here you are in a boat! Can you imagine how you would feel? Probably a little scared, but beyond thrilled!
After we finished our boating, it was time to eat. The kids were treated to nyama choma (roasted meat), and chips (french fries). For kids who eat ugali (corn flour) and rice all the time, this was a real treat.
We topped the day off with ice cream cones for everyone!
So, I almost forgot to tell you the best part of the story…at least in my opinion! After the kids had their ice cream, I asked Samuel to take Jasiri out on the boats. I didn’t trust anyone else to watch him closely enough, so he missed out the first time and was quite upset. So, Samuel, Damon, Jasiri, Emmanuel (Sam’s son) and a few others set out.
Samuel toured the whole lake, trading kids every time he came close to land. When the ride was over, Samuel was trying to step out of the boat when Emmanuel turned the wheel promptly landing his daddy waist deep in the lake! I would give anything to have a picture of that one!! Of course, but the time we saw Sam again, he had changed his clothes and acted as if nothing had every happened! Again, I would pay to have a picture!
I expected the ride home to be much quieter than the ride out, but I was surprised to hear the kids sing the whole way home as well. They were hot, they were dusty, but they had had such a time! We ended the day with an early birthday party for Damon. Damon really enjoyed passing out little bites of his cake. He only complained because he felt like his friends did not get enough. My little man really enjoyed sharing with his friends in Kenya. I was a very proud mama.
So, I guess this closes the chapter on the June 2010 trip. I have many fond memories of our time in Kenya, but nothing beat seeing the look of wonder and excitement on the faces of the children I have come to love so dearly. In a small way, I believe they are a little bit more whole. I think adventures like this one allow their minds to grow and interests to develop outside of the dust, hunger, and hopelessness one finds in a slum. For a child of seven or ten, it gives fodder for daydreams and mind adventure. It allows one to know there is life outside of poverty. It gives one a goal. We left for home that night, and for the boarders, life went on the next day as if we had never been there, but I like to think that their lives are a little more hopeful and their dreams a little more broad. It is my prayer that we will be able to secure a van for the school so that these adventures are not limited to once a year. I would love to see them have the ability to go to the library, the zoo, the game park, giraffe center, the clinic, the doctor’s. I would love for them all to be vaccinated-it’s free, but transportation is extremely limiting. Yes, we need a van. When I started dreaming of a van, I thought it could never happen, but after looking into it, I decided that yes, it will be hard, but at $10,000-it can happen. Sure, it’s not like a well-people won’t die of thirst without it, it’s not like food, no one will starve to death, but I look at it like water and food for the soul. If we see these children as our own, then why not? Let’s try to give them dreams for the future. Let’s give them something they can hope for-something more than the slum they live in. If they don’t see that there is life outside of where they live, they will have nothing to aspire for. It will also help us fulfill our commitment to good medical care as we will be able to take them to the clinics for testing and immunization.
So, I guess I am closing the chapter with my hope for their future. Thank you to all who have traveled the journey with us these past two months. Thanks for your prayers and heartfelt support. We are so grateful. Moving forward, I will be sending out a post every other week at the very least. Over the next few months, I hope to introduce you to every child in the school. I hope to give you a glimpse of life when we are not there. I hope to make it so real to you that you feel with every post that you are a bit more of Kenya than you were the month before. Thanks for reading, thanks for being a part, after all, WE ARE KENYA, isn’t it??