By Jake G. Sirineo
It was 2 days after since we have arrived in Nairobi, Kenya when I first wrote in my journal about all the things that I have witnessed so far. It was approximately 11:00 AM in Kenya, 4:00 AM in Toronto on October 25th of 2016. I wrote about how we passed through the city using the highway and saw a mixture of infrastructure ranging from modern buildings to roofless vendors on the side of the road. It was rare to find paved sidewalks so you will frequently see people walking just about anywhere, including on the side of the 3-lane highways which we traveled on often. We arrived at our destination to adjust to the new environment, acclimatize (it was about 2000 m above sea level where we stayed), rest up to meet the kids the following day as I completed my first journal entry.
It was the morning of October 26th of 2016, the first day on our agenda to visit the school, when I woke up at approximately 7:00 AM not to the sounds of roosters, but to the sounds of wild African animals mingling to write on my journal about all the excitement that I felt to be finally waking up in Kenya for a volunteer trip. We repeated the wake-up-early-and-have-breakfast for 4 more days to build desks and bond with the children. We had the opportunity to teach the kids how to play Octopus and playing with them made me realize how slow I actually am at running. I also did not realize how much those 4 days would feel like such a workout, but I have never felt so rewarded to use tools and build desks just so that more students would be able to attend school. The days we spent with the kids came to an end and I reflected; as many games and short lessons we taught the children’s classes I learnt more from them than I have expected to. They utilized the simplest of objects and turned them into toys to play with and they would all play with one another like one big family. I have never met kids who had so little in material yet had so much heart along with the biggest smiles. I will definitely miss the kids, their positive energy, gratitude, and their leading example of what a community should be like.
It was the morning of November 4th, 2016 when I wrote my final journal entry before departing back to Canada the next morning. I recapped all the adventures that were experienced, lessons that were learned and how weird it was to say that we were finally going home. Like all good dreams we must wake up and have them come to an end but as I wrote in my journal and looked back at the time spent in Kenya; I feel nothing but immense love knowing how fortunate I was to have been a part of this adventure. From the 2 weeks spent in Kenya I have learnt so much about the country, the world, myself and how they are all just a funny reflection of one another. Apart from witnessing the indescribable beauty found in the footsteps taken on this journey, what I take most with me is the reality of injustices and how important it is to be a conscious and global citizen. I encountered gender inequalities, animal rights issues, poverty, but have also met with inspiring heroes and activists who will stand against the unjust to make a difference no matter how big or small. I end my journal with a quote that Muhammad Ali once said, “A rooster crows only when it sees the light. Put him in the dark and he’ll never crow. I have seen the light and I’m crowing.”