Into The Mountains

I was told this would be the trip of a lifetime. A trip unlike any I’d experienced before. I believed every word. I just don’t think I understood the weight of those words until driving back to our hotel one evening. Through the valley and up the mountain; passing livestock, children walking home from school, women carrying large woven baskets on their backs through the fields and people grouped together squatting by the roadside.

During our time in the mountains we experienced a world so unlike our own. On our first day we hiked (uphill I might add) to a small village, home to one of the Fu Hui girls. We had the opportunity to not only see where she comes from and how her grandmother lives, but what she endures regularly to get home.

With eyes wide open and a deeper understanding of life in Butuo, we carried out our next few days. We visited different schools where we had the opportunity to interact with the incredible children of Fu Hui. We shared games, songs, crafts and held workshops. In return they shared their dreams, inspiration and genuine kindness.

We headed back to the city, every last one of us feeling motivated and changed in some way. We were excited to meet the girls we would be running our empowerment camp with, knowing we wouldn’t have to say goodbye that day.

The camp turned out to be a bigger success than I could have imagined. The girls were eager and excited to learn. I can’t explain the feeling I got watching the girls put their newfound knowledge to use and knowing we had taught them something. We formed bonds with these girls that will not soon be broken, and had the pleasure of taking them into the city and sharing some exciting ‘firsts’. For everything we taught them, they taught us something in return.

I don’t think the empowerment camp would have had such a deep impact on not only the girls, but on us, had we not ventured to Butuo and learned about Yi culture. Seeing how far these girls had come continued to inspire me day after day. So, what did I learn? Stay tuned.

-Kirstie Keys

Welcoming us into their home on our home visit
Welcoming us into their home on our home visit
Our hike back down the mountain
Our hike back down the mountain
Learning traditional Yi dance
Learning traditional Yi dance
Showing off the puppets we made
Showing off the puppets we made
Beautiful faces in Butuo
Beautiful faces in Butuo
Children on their walk home from school
Children on their walk home from school
Sharing our dreams
Sharing our dreams
Our last day in Butuo
Our last day in Butuo
Team three at Torch Square
Team three at Torch Square

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