We woke up today to the sound of rain falling on the metal rooftop of the Amani Community Home. Still jet-lagged and somewhat exhausted from our extensive travels, the zombie-like group woke up slowly to cups of chai, toast, and sandwiches. We then spent an hour or so going over some Kiswahili phrases and words. I was optimistic about the language until I realized one hour later that only one phrase had stuck with me- “˜Habari yako’- meaning “˜how are you’. Even more unfortunately, I remembered this only because it was written in pen on my hand. The group started the project work when the rain cleared up and was divided into three teams based on the three separate tasks at the home.
Emmy, Christian, Audrey, and I spent the day digging holes and planting posts to support a water tank in the Amani home’s garden. Eventually, the water tank will help make the home self-sustainable, as it will help irrigate a garden of avocados, mangos, “˜popo’ (papaya), and other fruits and vegetables. I was initially surprised by the task at hand. We flew 30 hours and traveled thousands of miles to a remote village in the middle of Africa to dig holes and cement wood posts into the ground. Yet soon I was able to grasp a ground-level understanding of our work here. People dig holes all over the world regardless of skin color, race, origin, or ethnicity. Although we do stand out as “˜muzungu’ (white people) to the Meru locals, we fit in perfectly with the Kenyans as workers helping to create a better living standard for others in need.
Emmy found a quote today that described “˜real leaders’ as “ordinary people with extraordinary determination”. The only way we can make an impact on the lives of others is by making a conscious effort to help them learn how to help themselves. Although the people digging holes in the ground may look and sound much different, the holes that are dug will always look the same. I believe that we, as a group of students, as a community, as a nation, and as a world, need to focus on digging the holes rather than worrying about who is digging them. And even though the focus may be on a task as small as digging holes, it is this sort of focus that can bring change to our world and can help define the “˜real leaders’ in our society.