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My name is Rich and I have now been on three different charity excursions to different parts of Kenya. We aided the local communities by undertaking building projects, such as constructing girl’s dormitories, kitchens and refurbishing class rooms.
I cannot highlight enough how phenomenal these experiences have been, they have truly given me a love of Kenya, a passion for travel and a sense of appreciation and gratitude.
I had been to Kenya before on a normal holiday, and had fallen in love with the country and culture, so when I was presented with the opportunity to go back and give something to a deprived community I was eager to do so.
When we arrived I was expecting a massive culture shock, and I was not mistaken. I was truly shocked when I witnessed the conditions of the community. This made us all the more keen to help, and it was fantastic to see our group getting stuck in and working hard to help others, knowing that we would not get anything in return apart from the sense of well-being and fulfillment. I personally often reflect upon this experience and will keep it for the rest of my life.
We slept in tents and the first two weeks were spent helping the community. The food we ate was all local produce, which was another great experience. We ate traditional Ugali (flour, rice, water and sault mixed into a cake) and Nnummachumma (barbequed goat). We partly cooked our own food, and the rest of the time we were catered for by local tribesmen who were hired to guard us and keep us safe at night. These tribesmen took very kindly to us and we grew very fond of each other.
Each time we were assisted by people from Kenya and Tanzineere, who worked for the company involved with the project and who lived in Kenya. They, in my eyes, were the backbone of the projects, serving as translators, labourers, and guides. They also became very good friends.
We also bought presents and offerings for the local community, such as clothes, stationary and school books for the children. The gratitude of the community was fantastic, not only did they help in the building process, they also held an appreciation festival for us, serenading us with local songs of praise and thanks, and giving us personal possessions, symbolising various cultural positions of status and friendship.
I was fascinated by the community’s way of life, and made an extra effort to learn from them, and as a result was invited to become an honorary member of their tribe. To do this I had to partake in the sacrifice of a goat, which was then served at dinner.
When we had completed the project we could not quite believe the effect we had had on this community. Everyone was overcome with emotion, all of the build team were not only weeping from happiness but also from exhaustion due to the sheer amount of time and effort we had put in, but it was all worth it. Even the community elders were crying with appreciation, knowing that their children would have better opportunities than they had.
After we completed the project, we were allowed several days to relax, we were able to go on safari (both driven and camel back), fishing, visit a giraffe manor house, abseil. We were even invited to a local wedding, were we presented them with a cow as a wedding present, as cows represent wealth and prosperity, and are a viable source of food.
Looking back on my time in Kenya I cannot remember a single dull or down moment, and I would highly recommend it to anyone. It was an experience that has shaped me as an adult and given the opportunity I would definitely go back, not only to once again help a deprived community, but to also see some of the friends that I made along the way.
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