We just finished our last evening discussion at the close of our safari. In addition to having a wonderful safari that included sightings of lions, elephants, impala, hippopotamus, ostriches, and many more, the group has had some valuable time to reflect on what they have each learned during their time with IPI in Kenya. Although the learning process has just begun, some of the initial lessons that they learned are included below.
In the morning, we will begin our drive from the Samburu Game Reserve to Nairobi. We then fly out on Saturday night, and if all goes as planned, we will land in Houston at 2:20 p.m. on Sunday, July 10 on British Airways flight 195 from London. Everyone is healthy, happy, and eager to share more about their experiences once they are home.
Mike and Allison
Tatum Reece- On one of our first days at KACH Dr. K said that “that we must learn to dance with life” and for some reason that really stuck with me. Everyone always says to “go with the flow” but I think what she said has a much deeper meaning. I’ve been thinking a lot about it and have come to the understanding that we as teenagers or adults cannot simply just go along with what is happening in life but we must revel in and thrive within it. If we just move through things without feeling or acting we are not succeeding. I don’t know if this all makes sense but that statement has just really stuck with me. Dancing insinuates that we are laughing and loving life, but it also allows us to see whether or not we are the ones leading the dance or simply just following.
Michael Resnick- At the end of our time at KACH Dr. K talked about the importance of someone’s presence and how kids just need to be loved. From the water fight on the first day to saying goodbye on the last the kids had a smile on their faces. Many of these children don’t have anyone to go to be loved, or played with, or even laugh with. It would be so easy for these kids to “give up” and not enjoy life and themselves, but they don’t do that. A major reason why they don’t do that is because of people like us who come to KACH just to be with them and defeat the stigma about orphans and HIV. One cannot tell these children that they love them and it doesn’t matter that they have HIV or don’t have parents. One has to be there with them, and love them more than anything and make them feel normal and accepted.
Owen Kingsbury- My time in Kenya at KACH and Tiriji has taught me to always make the most of what I have. Many of the people we meet in Kenya did not have much, however they still used what they could and got the most out of it. Dr. K said many people saw the area that is now KACH as a rocky wasteland; however, all she could see was an area for children to play and have fun. Dr. K took a pretty poor piece of land and turned it into something incredible. She made the most of that land and created a children’s home that will provide shelter and love for many children. When I go home I hope to make the most of the opportunities I have in America. If the people here can work hard and be happy despite tough circumstances, than I should strive to for greatness with the advantageous situation I’ve been given.
Carter Carey- The time I spent at KACH I learned how important it is to not take anything for granted. Everyone, even if they did not have much, had such a positive outlook on life and did not let the obstacles they faced stand in their way. All the kids at KACH were all so happy, despite having had to deal with hard circumstances. You would never even know that they come from difficult backgrounds. It is inspiring to see how they go about life. KACH provides all of these children with peace, and not just peace meaning the absence of war, but Dr. K’s idea of peace. Also, my time here has shown me how important it is for me to really appreciate my education. I have kind of taken for granted that I have been able to receive such a great education, but after seeing how much all of the kids I have met love school, I want to make the most of my opportunities.
Miranda R. Barker- First off, I just want to say that what Dr. K and the team at IPI have achieved since the very beginning of their “idea” is nothing short of incredible. We only spent a couple of weeks working with the community on the Tiriji eco-center, and with the kids at KACH, but I already feel like a part of the family. After only eight workdays, I learned not only the literal skills to create a sustainable shamba in a less-than-likely-area and to construct a working, eco-friendly home, but also the skills to become a better person in this world. In the first couple of days, I worked closely with Purity and Katherine on the eco-cottage. As I told Mike and Allison, I was frustrated for them. I dropped cement, wasted resources (on accident of course), worked painfully slowly and generally looked like an idiot in front of the entire team. Nonetheless, both Purity and Katherine took the time to teach me the correct way to lay the bricks, pour the cement, seal it in, et cetera. They maintained patience and a sense of humor throughout our project work, and for that I am both incredibly grateful and impressed.
Jessica Harrington- The time we spent at KACH has made me realize that I take a lot of things for granted. All of the kids at KACH have such positive attitudes and wonderful personalities, and I have come to realize that I tend to focus more on the negative aspects of life, rather than the positive ones. Dr. Karambu mentioned something similar to this in her talk about the kids of KACH, and how if you only look for the negative aspects of things, you will stay in that mindset, which will eventually influence others. I have also come to realize how privileged we as Westerners are to have such a great education system. These children have so much dedication towards their education, and it really makes me reconsider what I have to worry about, versus what the children in Kenya have to worry about. It amazes me that some of the children walk four kilometers everyday to get to school, and you don’t hear them complain about it. Our time in Kenya has influenced me to be more grateful for what I have, look at the positive aspects of life, and to not let stigma influence me as a person.
Lily Formato- There has been so much compassion inside me for a long time, and I have never let it out of my shell. Compassion for peace is something that most people strive to accomplish in an outside perspective, but as Dr. K said, it has to come from one’s self to reflect on others. As I have matured on this trip, I have come close to finding my inner peace. Since I am fifteen years old, I still have so much time to grow. However, coming to Kenya has sparked compassion for me and is now starting a fire. Getting to play with the KACH children gave me an array of peace and the energy from these happy kids is untouchable, getting to stand side-by-side with women who empower themselves is untouchable, and the community that Dr. K has created is untouchable.
Alex Gomez- We go in live thinking that success and money or other materialistic stuff will bring us happiness. We try to move mountains and stress a lot to reach our goals that we believe will ultimately bring us happiness. But when we finally accomplish what we most desire in live, some people are shocked to realize that they are not happy at all. So we continue and decide to set another goal until it becomes a never-ending cycle for a non-existent happiness.
Therefore, I can say that happiness is not really found at the end of the road, but during the whole journey. Many people forget that, and they can go through an entire lifetime looking for a happiness that will never come. However, this is something that I really didn’t see during my trip and experience. I truly saw some very happy kids who are loved and supported. I met many different Kenyans and IPI staff with goals but at the same time enjoying every single day and living in the moment. Everybody was smiling and grateful all the time, and that is something that I don’t see a lot back home.
So, what I have really learned from this trip is to be happy and grateful with what I have. I should remember to enjoy everyday as the Kenyans that I met would. This can be sometimes difficult in our very goal-oriented and busy lives. But I will really try to remember this valuable lesson and enjoy every single day and live to he fullest.
John Linn- When most people hear about people with HIV/AIDs they think, “oh how sad.” And yes, it is very sad that people have to live that way, but the people I met were all very happy and what I learned from it is that even in a terrible situation people can still be really happy if they are together and they have people that care about them and that they care about around.
The happiness that I saw at KACH and in people I met throughout the trip was a huge surprise to me and it showed me the power that small actions and quick conversations can have on a whole community of people that now stretches across the world because of the connections we made with all the people we met. Thank you for everything. Asante sana.