Because You Now Have My Heart
I haven't been back in Canada for 24 hours, and I feel like I left part of myself behind. As I’m assuming I didn't leave it in the Heathrow Airport, I can only conclude that I left my heart in Kenya. So I decided to compile this list of things Kenya taught me, to try to bring some closure to the sadness I’m feeling.
1. I learned that the most important thing when visiting a country is developing relationships. Eric Rajah modeled that...he and his wife showed me things that I will take to heart for the rest of my life. Everywhere we went, every hotel we stayed at, he would bring out the security staff, the housekeeping staff, the waiters, etc...etc...and thank them and give them a gift. They loved it. Heck, we loved it!! And neither of us will ever forget it.
2. I learned to ask questions. One of the schools on the Masai Mara was built by A Better World because Eric saw a man teaching a group of kids under a tree, and stopped his driver, got out and asked what this man was doing. Today, they have a beautiful school, accessible clean water (women used to have to trek miles to get water) and, in a culture where women's education is traditionally discouraged, almost half the students are female.
3. I learned you don't need rules on the road:) I'm being tongue-in-cheek here, of course. But there's a real testament to our safari drivers that they got us safely all around Kenya...and managed to look completely unconcerned and slightly bored. Plus, people don't seem to have road rage here. They're cutting each other off, passing each other with only a hair's breadth between them and oncoming traffic, and NO ONE GETS MAD!!! In fact, they have special waves and signals to help each other out. Our Canadian drivers could learn a lot...(They also have speed bumps on the highway, which I personally founnd hilarious.)
4. I learned about hospitality. If a Masai warriour came to my house and wanted to see what it looked like inside, I would, in the words of Desirea "call the police"!!!! And yet, these people brought us into their homes, answered all our probing questions, and made us feel welcome. Wherever our vans went, little kids would run out of their homes and wave wildly. Their homes weren't anything great by our standards, but it was their home... and we were honored to be allowed to step into their world for a little while.
5. I learned that there are some exceptional teenagers at PAA. I'm kind of afraid of teenagers, even when I was a teenager (talk about AWKWARD) but this trip with this particular group showed me that we could learn a lot from them. They have a perspective on life that is refreshing...and the comedy that they provided was top-notch.
6. I learned that we're somewhat spoiled by Canada's healthcare. Sure, we have long wait times...but at least we get a bed to ourselves. We visited the labor and delivery floor in Nakuru hospital. Often there were indeed two women to a bed. And I've had patients complain that they didn't have a room to themselves.
7. I learned the value of medications. I know this makes me sound kind of like an addict, but I don't know what I would have done without Cold and Sinus medication, Pepto-Bismol, and Imodium. Glorious Imodium. If it were personified, it would be a knight in shining armour. Riding a horse named Pepto.
8. I learned that I don't really need a watch to be on time. Andrea (my friend who accompanied me) had brought two watches, I had brought none. Within the first few days, both her watches went kaput. We learned to tell time by the sun (it always rose at about 6:30) and by listening to see if the other people we were with were getting up, etc. We were only late once, and that was when her watches were still working.
9. I learned that I don't need to be a parent to love a child so much my heart hurts. There are 6000 orphans wandering the streets of Nakuru on any given night. There are 64 orphanages in this same city working frantically to make a dent in this number. I met two exceptional little boys at the orphanage we visited; Greg, who is about 10-going-on-22 and Jonathan with the bright eyes and the dimples. They both latched onto me the first day, and I was smitten. I'm sponsoring them, not because I'm a great person, but because I can't bear to let them go. Come to think of it, they're probably the thieves who took the part of me that's now missing. Little rascals...thank you...
Kenya, I don't know why you let this wasteful, wealthy-by-comparison, ignorant North American girl see your secrets. I certainly didn't deserve it. But now that you've shown me your breath-taking scenery, your amazing wildlife, let me meet your beautiful people and wonderful children...I don't want to let you down. I want to take this experience with me and not waste it. I want to do something with it, however small. Because it will matter to someone...
...and because you now have my heart.—Sarah Reisweg