It’s my final day here in Nakuru and I will leave with mixed emotions. I came with no expectations and little knowledge about Kenya. I experienced a massive sense of culture shock when I first arrived but leave with an understanding of why some say Kenya is so dangerous for travellers. Don’t let that conjure images of violence, theft or corruption. No. It has been said that Kenya is dangerous because she lures you in, holds you captive and sets roots in your hear so that you might never wish to leave. And I fear this might just be true for me. But there are things I need to sort out at home and other places I need to explore before I come back.
At Gabriel’s School I am greeted like a friend. It’s hard to believe that I only met the men, women and children of this community last Monday. So welcoming have they been that it feels like months have passed. I especially like Francis, the Head of Security. We have enjoyed many long conversations about life, family, education, work and religion. I feel a deep respect for this man who speaks excellent English but still frequently says “thank you” when the required English words escape him.
Christopher and I ride off on Robert’s motorbike. Today we will visit some families who are not sponsored. These are Kaptembwa’s poor; the down and out in a community that is struggling. We sit in homes made of mud that leak in the rain and are dark, even during the day. The women we see are sick and poor with many mouths to feed. But they express such humble gratitude to us for our visit.
One woman bursts into prayer as Christopher gives her bags of maize flour, fat, sugar and salt. She has thirteen children but also cares for eight more. But still she is better off than most for she has a small clothes-making business and her children are in school. Many more have less and haven’t eaten in days.
Everywhere children call out and wave. It no longer disturbs me. I see that they just want hope, a smile and attention. It’s all any child wants. “Take a pichure. Taks a pichure.” And so I oblige. I can’t change the world but I can offer these young ones a chance to smile and laugh. And that’s exactly what they do as I show them photo after photo of their cute selves. More children come and more hilarity ensues.
Back at school the baby class children call to me. It is their lunch break and I am spotted en route to the washrooms. I sit on the ground and am swamped. Some fight for a place to sit on my knees while others play with my hair or reach out to touch my hands. Josephine from top class sees me with her brightly coloured had and assertive manner. She soon has the other girls from top class gathered round showing off as six year old girls do. Older children stop past to ask “How are you?”. Some are shy and hide when I wave or smile directly at them. I can’t help but believe some of these students will be the future leaders, not just of Kenya but also of our increasingly global world.
As I say my goodbyes I know I will be back. Probably not as a volunteer but almost certainly to visit an pay my regards to the Kenyans who have made me feel so welcome and who are changing the world one child at a time.
I have enjoyed my time in Nakuru and at Gabriel’s School. I wouldn’t say it was a holiday but it certainly was interesting, challenging and an experience I won’t easily forget. I’m ready now to go home and prepare for my next adventures. The past two weeks have shown me that the world isn’t as scary or dangerous as our Smart Traveller website makes out – we’re all just people trying to make the best of the life we’ve been given in this incarnation.