Over the March Break, I went to Kenya on a trip organized by the Canadian organization, Me to We (a sister charity of Free the Children). Along with my husband and daughter and two other families, we spent a week in the Maasai Mara region of Kenya, learning about Me to We’s health programmes and helping to build a school. We absolutely loved it!
After arriving in Nairobi and spending a couple of days there, we flew to the countryside (the “Mara”) which is about 2 hours away by plane. Everything was lush and green because the rainy season had begun. From the plane, we saw open pasture, rolling hills, and a few small, round huts. Nearby were herds of cattle and goats, and we could also see the occasional group of zebras. We landed on a small airstrip and met our group leaders from Me to We, which included a Canadian, a Kenyan and a Maasai warrior.
We drove along some pretty bumpy roads to get to the Me to We camp and were warmly greeted by the staff with a song, a snack, and a glass of freshly-squeezed juice. We then went to our cottages, which were spacious, clean, and beautifully decorated with local artisanal work. Every day we would roll up our sleeves and work for 2-3 hours on a local school project. Our work included mixing mortar, choosing the best stones and packing the mortar around the stones. After lunch we would continue on to some other activity, like shopping at a local market, or visiting another one of Me to We’s projects, such as their new medical clinic or the Kisaruni High School for girls.
We were greeted warmly everywhere we went, especially by the children. As we drove along the bumpy road, local children would recognize the vehicles and run from the fields, huts and sometimes even trees (!) to stand at the side of the road and yell “Jambo!” (hello in Swahili) every time we passed. We were smiling, waving and yelling “Jambo” every time we were on that road. The Kenyan children loved to talk to us at the schools, and had lots of fun with our children.
Near the end of the week, we did two half-day safaris in the Maasai Mara Reserve and saw lots of animals, including lions, cheetahs, elephants, warthogs, giraffes, water buffalo, gazelles, impalas, and zebras. We spent several more days on the Mara and took a side trip to Lamu Island, off the coast of Kenya, before returning home.
We had been excited to go to Kenya, but left Canada with a little trepidation too – would we be safe? Would it be a hard trip, physically? What kind of conditions would we see? In the end, it was such a positive experience – we always felt extremely safe and found the whole trip very well organized. The work was hard, but satisfying and “doable”. The most amazing thing we saw in Kenya was that although there was a lot of poverty, the Kenyans were some of the happiest people we had ever met. The country itself was stunning, a little slice of paradise.
When we returned home, we really wanted to do something to help the communities we’d visited, so I taught two “Karma” Yoga for Better Bones classes at Creating Space Yoga Studio, where our students could make a donation toward Kenya. Me to We suggested we make Health Kits, which are simply a plastic bag containing a hand towel, a facecloth, a comb, a bar of soap, a toothbrush and a tube of toothpaste, and some band-aids. Our yoga students were so generous and donated $275 during the two classes (thank you!). Some people gave donations even though they weren’t able to come to the class! We put this money together with the money fundraised at my daughter’s school (Fern Hill School, Oakville), as well as a generous donation of toothbrushes from three local dentists/orthodontists.
In the end, we were able to put together 170 Health Kits for Kenya, which we delivered to Me to We in Toronto two weeks ago. They were so thrilled! Our contact there said that it was one of the largest donations they’d received of the Health Kits. The kits will be transported to Kenya over the summer and when they have enough for every child in the community, they will be given out.
Thank you to all of you in the Creating Space community for your interest in my trip and for your help with the Health Kits. They will be very much appreciated!