One Month Later, the Permanence of Kenya in My Heart

It has been one month since I have returned from Kenya. I just finished the last of my chocolate from a layover in Switzerland and all of my mosquito bites have finally cleared up. I have had a negative tuberculosis test and no symptoms of malaria. The only thing that lingers, is a permanent place in my heart for the experience I endured. A permanent place for that humbling, heart-wrenching, incredible journey.

The first week after I came back, I had no desire to speak about the trip. I didn't want to show photos, I hardly wanted to smile. I was in a very dark place of guilt, sadness and anger. I wanted nothing to do with my family and if Ben hadn't been so understanding, I think that my demeanor could have been grounds for divorce (haha). That first week, I cried nearly every day over nothing significant. I became enraged after Ben watered the flowers, flowers with no fruit or vegetables, no purpose. Flowers that drank more clean water in that ten seconds than a Kenyan child had in months. The conditions that I was witness to were deplorable. I think that was the reason I couldn't express myself and probably the same reason it took a long time to write this post. How could I put two weeks of a very personal, raw, emotional experience like that into words? I could talk until I am blue in the face about what I saw, I could show you photo upon photo and you still couldn't understand completely. That is why I was so angry. Coming home and listening to others complain about things with no real significance and not being able to express what I had seen to make them reevaluate their priorities, made me a little insane. 

The second week started off with giving a presentation to Ben's 5th graders who donated a large amount of the medical supplies that I took with me. I made a PowerPoint with a large amount of pictures and explained what I could. Those cute, private school children healed me in a way that is difficult to process. They were so respectful (partly because they were interested and partly because Ben threatened their lives haha). They asked so many questions and were so intrigued as I explained all about a world that is much different from theirs. A world where children have never seen themselves in a mirror, children who have never been to a doctor, children with no toys, no shoes . I did an nutrition activity with them to represent how bad the malnourishment is in the slums of Kenya, this was visibly eye opening to them and that warmed my heart. I felt accomplished and for the first time in a week, I felt genuine happy. I also visited family and happily shared my experience with them.

The third and fourth week have flown by with work, online classes and the craziness that summer usually brings. Overall I feel pretty much like myself again. I feel more empowered after my experience. I have visited and helped in a third world country. Not many people can say that. At first, my reasons for visiting Kenya were selfish. I wanted to study abroad, travel and see a different culture, buff up the resume, and I have done all of that. However, I didn't expect those two weeks to change my outlook on life. I haven't become a minimalist and I still like to shop, take showers, use electricity and drink clean water. However, I can acknowledge these things as privileges, not rights. I think about Kenya on a daily basis. I believe in God, some of you may not so whether you see yourself as blessed or just lucky. I hope you consider yourself so. Consider that you are blessed or lucky to have been born where you were born, blessed or lucky to have what you have.

Comments

  1. Liz, my first week back was exactly the same way! It's difficult to express to others not only what we saw, but the emotions of the experience.

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  2. Liz, your post brought tears to my eyes. Though I haven't personally been to Africa, my son, Todd, has a charity in Uganda and I sponsor a child in the village of Kamuli. I've heard him talk about his experiences and I have seen the changes in him, so I recognized those same things in you. You are changing the world in so many ways, ways that you may be unaware of, but you are doing important work. God bless you, sweetie.

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