Where does the time go

Kenia 2014 1547It was yesterday, exactly a year ago, that I got on a plane in Amsterdam and headed to first Cairo and then Nairobi.

It was today that I arrived in Kenya, in the midst of the night.

Since I got back after 5 weeks, Kenya has been in my thoughts every day. Close to every hour, to be honest. Though these days it’s not just the highlights, the best moments and experiences, that cross my mind, but every little feeling, fragrance and detail. Memories are playing themselves like movies in my head. And I have a feeling that this will go on for the next couple of weeks. Today feels strange, but yesterday felt really melancholic. Sometimes I wonder if I do not hold fast too tightly, if I do not over-romanticize. Yet is is true that I was happy, and above all, felt alive. It wasn’t necessarily being in Kenya, but being surrounded by love and lovely people and every moment experiencing and exploring this new way of life.

I remember riding back into Nairobi after spending a few days on the coastside, the modest skyline ahead of us, back in what after the humid ocean air felt as chillier air now, and although the coast-life made me feel more comfortable because of its laid-back pace, it felt as coming home, knowing that familiar people and places were waiting.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA few days ago I received this photo of my sweet Ciro, all dressed up in uniform in front of her school on her first day. I can see some nerves on her face, but her eyes are shining as always.

I remember how she’d come to sit on my lap and count the Maasai burns I got on my left arm real slowly, while tenderly touching them one for one. This girl had stolen my heart, and I’m glad that I can support her for her education – something that has a far bigger (and probably far better) impact than volunteering.

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Kenya

Kenia 2014 864Kenya, oh Kenya. Where should I begin? What should I tell you? There is so much. From spending time with the beautiful children at my orphanage, to kissing giraffes. From spending a day with the Maasai and getting maasai burns, to crossing a broad river leading to a big, wild waterfall. From having a tiny little sick girl curled against my chest, to snorkeling in the Indian Ocean. From seeing people live in the most inhumane circumstances, to having 4 amazing days of safari. From seeing a lot of pain in the eyes of some, to seeing so much joy in the eyes of others. I have met so many amazing people, seen so much beautiful as well as touching and eye-opening things, and had so many wonderful experiences. I’ve been living in the slumlike suburb of Githurai, about 45 minutes from Nairobi, in the apartment of my very sweet ‘mama’ Amina, en her 4 years old son. From the very first moment I stepped inside I’ve felt at home. I’ve shared my room for almost the whole period with a nice girl from Canada – other volunteers have come and gone. The orphanage I’ve been working at is the home to 85 children in total. The smallest children are attending the kindergarten in the orphanage – in the afternoon, when the children who are going to primary school and some to high school, have come back there are about 56 children. The others are in boarding school. Three girls of 17 finished high school this year and received their results in the beginning of March. They are now at the orphanage the whole time till the new school year starts. One of them is going to study laws at university, the other two weren’t sure yet. It is beautiful to see that also orphans can get a good future and can make their dreams come true. I doubted the auntie a bit, but all in all I can say House of Mercy is a loving environment. The directress has the best intentions. Kenia 2014 058 Contradictions are huge. How can the world be so unfair? How is it possible that some people live a life that is so normal to them but is actually very luxurous, while others barely have a house en food to eat. I’m not only speaking about the western world in contradiction to Africa, but also about the unbelieveble differences in Kenya itself. As a volunteer you experience that at its best. In the morning you are walking through Kibera, or through Githurai, and then, in the afternoon, you are enjoying some good food in a luxurous mall. Kenya is one of the most developed and rich countries in Africa, but only for some. I’m more than ever aware of the priviliged position I’m in, and I’m very, very thankful. Kenia 2014 346 We only have one life and these are the things we will look back at later in our lives and which we will regret in the end if we didn’t do them. It’s been my first trip going so far and on my own, and it’s unbelieveble how much self-confidence it gave me. The power I can see in myself now! As well as the resilience of people. I’ve become a warmer person. I’ve learned to give love to people, and to allow people to give love to me, without thinking of myself. I’ve learned to open myself up to people, without being selfish. My belly still feels full and tingling from all the warmth and love. A fuse that is lightened in Kenya is still glowing inside me. And I am very, very thankful. Two fishermen took me and my friend on their boat at Diani Beach. “There are three things we can learn from”, one of them said. “Family, friends, and traveling. If you can afford it, you should definitely travel.” I can imagine how much they would want to leave and sail far beyond Africa with their little, wooden boat. Please, people: if you can, go travel! Kenia 2014 306 Kenia 2014 291 Kenia 2014 971 Kenia 2014 996 Kenia 2014 1312 Kenia 2014 1492 DSC_0015 - kopie (2)More stories to come!