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A Trip to Remember, volunteering in Kenya

Posted on: 29th March 2018

I went to Kenya with Surval, to a little town call Homa Bay. At the beginning I was afraid, and had questions on my mind… was the place dangerous; what were the people like; would it be tiring? The only thing I knew for sure was that we were going to build a house for a poor family, and help change their lives completely.

Finally, the journey began and on the day we arrived in Homa Bay, I found all the people really welcoming. Everyone I saw smiled at me from ear to ear and waved their hands, saying hi, surprised to see a white person, given that they are not used to seeing them.

The next day was our first day working, and we were all really nervous, but at the same time excited about what our new adventure would be like. It was a long way from the hotel to our place of work, so we had a lot of time to appreciate our surroundings. We travelled down a bumpy road and suddenly I heard a noise, it was some women singing, which was when I notice we had arrived. They were welcoming us with a celebration of a traditional song and dance. What they were singing said “thank you for bringing these wonderful visitors”.

Later on, they presented to us all the members of the family. I was surprised that the woman we were building the house for was a widow with six children. The roof of her small house had been destroyed by the wind.  I started imagining how difficult and hard it was for her to find food for all of them, because she didn’t have a job, and lived in such a small house where they didn’t have a proper place to sleep, eat, or for their kids to do homework. Seeing these conditions was a real motivation for me and all of our group to build the house and work hard.

Just like we did every day, we started that day by praying and then stretching. After that we started working by carrying a lot of bricks and digging the soil. And as the days were passing we started making cement for the floor, later to pass the bricks, and finally to raise the walls. When we were constructing the house with the other workers everybody was really kind. They were always trying to see what they could help us with, when actually we were the ones who were trying to help them. In some ways, it felt as though they were looking up to us, though actually we were the ones who should really learn from them. At first, I wondered how they were able to find happiness with living a life with few material possessions. Within a few days, I found out the answer, it’s because they have everything they need in their hearts.

When the last day came I didn’t want it to be over. I was in love with Africa and the people. We worked that day and then after lunch they had a party for us, to say goodbye. They sang and danced just like the first day but this time we all felt connected, like we were a family. They even invited more local people to the party for it to be bigger and to celebrate the accomplishment with more people. When we said goodbye it was really sad. It felt wrong because we really got along with them and we all knew we would probably never see each other again. Bentner, the woman we made the house for, said a few words during the party. She told us how happy she was with her new house, that we were amazing girls to whom she was always going to be grateful, and that she hoped God blessed us forever.

I am really grateful for this experience and I’m sure everybody in the group is, too. Not only did we learn about and experience a new culture, but we had the privilege of sharing with our new friends every amazing moment that we had together. Personally, I felt this was a life changing experience because I learnt to appreciate what I have, and the opportunities life gives me each day. It is really gratifying to know that we were part of changing someone’s life completely. I say this because we didn’t only build a house, we built a home, where they can start having a more decent life with the ones they love. Therefore, as time goes by they can also improve little by little their life style.

I started this experience thinking we were the ones giving and they were the ones receiving. But actually, the ones who received were us. We received life lessons, experiences, happiness, and love. Finally, it was incredible to see how women can do work that is traditionally more common for men to do. Seeing what we all did is amazing and I’m really proud of saying “GIRLS, WE MADE IT”.

Daniela, Guatemala, Liberal Arts

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