Kenya week 1

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As the first week in Kenya winds down, I am left with much mixed feelings and questions to self. The week hasn’t exactly gone by easy, nor was it extremely grueling in any sense. There were highlights and uplifting moments, as there were low points as well but more importantly, I find myself wondering what kind of person am I really and who do I want to be actually.

First day homestay at George’s left me in bed most parts of the day due to fellow Canadian volunteer, Pat’s reservations about wandering out of the home and distrust of the house help, Ann who seemed to be soliciting for money. The meals Ann provided were wholesome though, with pasta and vegetables in curry sauce for lunch and chapatti with fried cabbage strips for dinner. In spite, I was still left feeling unwell by the night of New Year’s Eve amidst the screaming and shouting out in the streets at the stroke of midnight as the New Year was ushered in and Pat and I broke chocolate to eat as our own little celebration.

I was in bad form by orientation though, although it was good to be amongst the other volunteers who would soon be posted to different locations for their program. By the time we got ourselves Kenyan SIM cards for our phones, I didn’t realize how long I had not been in touch with loved ones back home already, leaving them mostly worried for the past 2 days. Nonetheless, it was good to touch base again.

Alonso, a fellow volunteer from Mexico, and I, were whisked to the Shelter Children’s Home later in the afternoon and it was indeed refreshing to see a children’s home in the middle of nowhere, with forests and dirt roads about it. The best part was the welcoming and uninhibited love the children came forth to us with.

I felt worse for wear the very next day at the home, after helping the girls with some gardening and weeding that left me dizzy and was bedridden with a fever, headache and cough for the most parts of the rainy day. I guess my body just wasn’t reacting well to the perpetual cold everyday to the point of almost misery.

The following 2 days left of the week before school officially opens saw a more productive me helping out in the kitchen with washing tomatoes, plums and passion fruit fresh from the garden the children maintained, picking of vegetables for meals, folding truckloads of clothes, mopping up the classroom floor for the new term and transporting load from a makeshift store room into a spare volunteer bedroom so the store could be freed up as another classroom for the children. No matter how much effort I put in though, the children were always multiple times niftier than me at the tasks and I felt the weight of age catching up on me all too soon.

Pastor spoke to Alonso and I this morning about us leaving an impact on the school before we leave and I see how all the other volunteers are always so eager to splurge on new clothes, food, necessities etc for the children, even funding of new facilities such as a playground and basketball nets. Yet I felt it beyond my means to fund anything on such a scale and very truthfully, deep down inside was a jaded soul who had seen one too many of such poverty in other countries in my younger expedition days already, that being impassioned about helping the children did not strike a chord with me easily anymore. I honestly saw myself as a passing through volunteer for this four weeks before I embark on my venture (which still seems too huge a dream to take on and fulfill given my age).

I also find myself realizing that perhaps I am really a very shy and introverted person after all each time I am taken out of my comfort zone. As I take on my volunteer tasks each day doing the work diligently, the older children started to ask me too, why do I always do the work quietly and not talk to them? I honestly don’t know. Maybe I am not such a social person as I always thought myself to be after all, or perhaps life has really worn me down to the bone that am left taking things too seriously and don’t know how to loosen up and have fun while contributing to others in great ways with great and innovative ideas anymore? Or maybe I just need to learn to focus on my convictions rather than selfish little pursuits and distractions as this Kenya stint? I don’t know and I know I need to get my act together by the end of this trip to make good what’s ahead of me in life with surety.

At least the little things still matter despite my feeling overwhelmed for now, like the connections made with Ruth, Rachel and Rebecca today after lunch, like how little Queen would still want to hold my hand as I walk alongside her and like how Edward would look to me for attention first, despite being in his own little lonely world. Maybe I need to reach out further and stop doubting myself now.

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